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Principles of the German People's Party (1919)

The German People’s Party (DVP) emerged in the early days of the Weimar Republic as the successor to the National Liberal Party of the Kaiserreich. Led by Gustav Stresemann, the DVP was not an early supporter of the Republic, voting against the Weimar Constitution in 1919. Despite his open support for the restoration of the monarchy, Stresemann recognized that such a return would only be possible through a bloody coup, which he was unwilling to support. Represented in nearly all of the Weimar governments from 1920-1931, the DVP’s cooperation with the supporters of the Republic increased as the threat from more radical parties on the Right grew. Principally, the DVP represented the interests of the established Right, especially powerful German industrialists and large corporations, and also many smaller property holders. As such, it constantly hedged its political commitments, placing a higher priority on its low tax, pro-business stances than the success of the republic. The DVP advocated for greater political and economic cooperation between nations, while simultaneously demanding a revision of the Treaty of Versailles. In addition, the DVP championed causes that defended the “national particularities” of Germans, including cultural, spiritual, and moral values. In this manner, the DVP often supported anti-Semitic policies during the 1920s, though never as openly or forcefully as more extremist political movements.

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Leipzig, October 19, 1919

I. On the Body Politic.

1. State authority. A strong, firmly established state authority—buttressed not only by the diligent cultivation of a consciousness of civic duty, but ultimately also by the indispensable instruments of power—is the primary condition for the successful development of national strength, both internally and externally. If the Reich’s instruments of power grow weaker, it becomes all the more necessary to keep alive, among the German people, a sense of lifelong duty to the state, discipline and camaraderie—the cornerstones upon which our German national army was founded. These qualities will always be supported by the German People’s Party.

The party demands full political equality for all citizens, but it regards the voluntary, faithful allegiance of the people to their chosen leaders to be a fundamental requirement for Germany’s liberty and advancement. It will devote itself especially to cultivating this ethos.

2. Foreign policy. Just as it does for the individual within the national community, the German People’s Party demands the German people be accorded due respect and the freedom to pursue national and economic development within the community of nations.

The party is committed to a political and economic reconciliation between nations, but regards this as impossible to achieve as long as the honor of the German people is trampled upon by our enemies; as long as the unification of all Germans who have been torn from us or who profess allegiance to the Reich, including Austrian Germans, is prevented; and as long as the dictated peace imposed upon us is maintained.

Our foreign policy requires prudent, purposeful and competent leadership [ . . . ].

The German people are also entitled to contribute to the intellectual and ethical elevation of nations with a low level of cultural development.

3. Form of government. The German People’s Party will promote the rebuilding of the Reich by all available means. To this end it will work within the prevailing form of government in accordance with the party’s political principles.

The German People’s Party calls for both a unified German state endowed with extensive powers of self-administration and the safeguarding of the special character of historically, culturally and economically connected regions. However, as long as all German lands are not integrated into a unified German state, the German People’s Party will oppose every attempt to break up Prussia.

We demand the restoration of the glorious black, white and red colors of the Reich.

The German People’s Party sees the empire that the people have freely decided to establish by legal means as a symbol of German unity and as the most appropriate governmental form for our people in light of their history and disposition.

[ . . . ]

6. National identity and family. Current adversities, repression by our enemies, the hatred and slander encountered everywhere by the German people, make it imperative for Germans to become aware of their particular ethnic character and develop all the intellectual and moral values that reside within them. The German People’s Party will contribute to this process by all means possible. [ . . . ]

The richest source of our national strength is the German family. If schooling becomes increasingly subject to influences foreign to the German character, the family must assume a greater responsibility for fostering the knowledge of German history and German patriotism. The German People’s Party will energetically promote all measures designed to protect and strengthen the family, particularly with regard to land use, housing and taxation policy.

7. Population policy. The German People’s Party regards the fostering and promotion of the physical and moral health of the people as its earnest duty. It will seek to ensure that the German people remain German and it particularly opposes the inundation of Germany by foreigners that has taken place since the revolution.

[ . . . ]

9. The women’s question. The German People’s Party supports political, economic and legal equality of the sexes [ . . . ].

11. Youth welfare. The German People’s Party supports a dynamic expansion of youth welfare systems in the interest of maintaining and consolidating German national strength. All measures that serve to strengthen young people physically, intellectually and morally should be emphatically advocated. Public welfare systems and private charity for young people should be expanded and combined, particularly by establishing youth welfare offices.

12. Religion and church.

[ . . . ]

The German People’s Party supports the complete freedom and right to self-administration of all religious communities. Churches shall be free of state paternalism and continue to be recognized as corporations under public law, which grants them the right to levy taxes from their members. Other religious communities must be given the possibility of attaining the same rights through recognition by the state.

[ . . . ]

II. The National Economy.

[ . . . ]

15. Working community. In the view of the German People’s Party, the solution to social problems lies not in outer forms of economic activity, whose increased pressures only reduce productivity, but in the inner equality of all members of the nation and the moral resolution of the antagonisms between the different spheres of the population, between cities and rural areas, between business owners and their workforces. The party rejects the nationalization of the German economy and believes that compromises between the economic demands of the individual occupational groups must be reached through amicable or arbitrated agreements.

[ . . . ]

21. Trade and shipping; colonies. In recognition of the great importance that the banking and insurance industries, trade and shipping have for our entire national economy, the German People’s Party will use all means at its disposal to help these sectors regain the international standing they enjoyed in the past. They must not be hampered by cumbersome restrictions.

[ . . . ]

The German People’s Party will do everything in its power to enable Germany to recover colonial territory commensurate with its economic needs.

[ . . . ]

Source: “Grundsätze der Deutschen Volkspartei” (1919), in Deutsche Parteiprogramme 1861–1954, ed. Dr. Wolfgang Treue, vol. 3 of Quellensammlung zur Kulturgeschichte (Göttingen, Frankfurt, Berlin: Musterschmidt Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 1955), 113–22. Translated by Adam Blauhut.

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