Unit 4 Political Parties

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Social Democrat Party (SPD)

Founded: 1863

Constituency: The working class, mainly urban industrial workers and craftsman. Main strength in Prussia, including Berlin and the Ruhr.

Leaders: Friedrichh Ebert, Phillip Schiedemann, Gustav Bauer, Hermann Muller.

Attitude to the republic: Divided. Many within the party strongly supported parliamentary democracy. Others were more ideologically driven, seeing the republic as "bourgeois democracy".

Domestic Policy: Committed to the class struggle. Supported social reform and the idea of an extension of socail welfare including unemployment benefit

Foreign Policy: Supported the policy of fulfilment

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Independent Socialists (USPD)

Founded: Broke away from the SPD in 1917

Constituency: Industrial workers disillusioned by the policies of the SPD, especially Ebert's use of the Army and Freikorps and cooperation with the Centre Party and German democratic party (DDP)

Leaders: Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht

Attitude to the Republic: Wanted the replacement of parliamentary democracy with workers soviets.

Domestic Policy: The party supported the idea of revolution but was bitterly divided as to how to proceed and which policies to follow. In october 1920 it split into two wings, the left wing joining the KPD and the right wing merging with the SPD.

Foreign Policy: Opposed war and the Versailles treaty.

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German Democratic Party (DDP)

Founded: Creted in November 1918 from the left wing of the National Liberals.

Constituency: Business interests, the middle classes and intellectuals

Leaders: Hugo Pruess (Author of the constitution)

Attitude to the Republic: Fully supportive of the republic and constitution in the early years of the Weimar republic.

Domestic Policy: Supported constitutional reform, democracy, some social reform, civil liberties.

Foreign Policy: In Favour of a policy of fulfilment

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German People's Party (DVP)

Founded: December 1918 from the right wing of the National Liberals.

Constituency: Business interests, industrialists and white-collar workers.

Leaders: Founder and dominant leader of the party until his death in 1929 was Gustav Stresemann

Attitude to the Republic: Ambivalent. Recognised the Republic but instinctively preferred a return to a more autocratic system of goverment.

Domestic Policy: Pro-Business, anti-union and anti-labour.

Foreign Policy: Instinctively hostile to the Versailles treaty but foreign policy of fulfilment driven by Stresemann.

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German National People's Party (DNVP)

Founded: 1918

Constituency: Conservative, nationalists, landowners, upper middle classes.

Leaders: Count Westarp, Karl Helfferich, Alfred Hugenberg.

Attitude to the Republic: Consistently Hostile to the republic, which it believed to be illegitimate. Wished for a return to the Imperial Reich and the restoration of the Kaiser.

Domestic Policy: Conservative, anti-socialist and anti-Semitic

Foreign Policy: Strongly nationalist and rejected versailles treaty. Proposed union with Austria.

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Centre Party

Founded: At the unification of Germany 1870

Constituency: The party representing Germany's catholics.

Leaders: Konstantin Fehrenbach, Wilhelm Marx, Franz von Papen and Ludwig Kaas

Attitude to the Republic: Initially strongly supportive of the Republic as a barrier against revolution. An important element in virtually every cabinet of the Weimar Republic. From 1930 onwards less supportive of democracy.

Domestic Policy: Essentially on the moderate right, a party of political compromise. Supported social reform. Looked to protect the catholic church

Foreign Policy: Supported the policy of fulfilment.

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German Communist Party (KPD)

Founded: By members of the spartacist union in december 1918.

Constituency: Communist revolutionaries. Attracted many ex-members of the USPD. Mainly working class.

Leaders: Paul Levi, Ernst Thalmann

Attitude to the Republic: Hostile to the republic which it believed to be a bourgeois capitalist political system. Its aim was to overthrow the republic by revolution.

Domestic Policy: Supported the idea of a violent revolution and the destruction of capitalism. Violently opposed the SPD.

Foreign Policy: Dictated by the Soviet Union.

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Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP)

Founded: As the German Workers Party in1919 and the National Socialist Workers Party 1920.

Constituency: Ex Servicemen, radical Anti-Semites

Leaders: Adolf Hitler, Gregor Strasser 

Attitude to the Republic: Extremely Hostile, condemning the "november criminals"

Domestic Policy: The restructuring of society on racial grounds. The creation of a People's Community

Foreign Policy: Destruction of the Versailles Treaty, non-payment of reparations, destruction of communism, Lebensraum (Living Space)

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