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The Ahlen Program of the CDU (February 1947)

Issued in February 1947, the Ahlen Program of the CDU in the British occupation zone was openly critical of the capitalist economic system. With its support for economic planning and guidance, the decartelization and nationalization of large-scale industry, and extensive codetermination rights for workers, the program constituted the clearest expression of the Christian Socialist position within the CDU, even though the term itself was avoided. The CDU put the Ahlen Program to successful use in the campaign against left-wing parties in the Landtag elections in North Rhine-Westphalia on April 20, 1947.

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The CDU Zone Committee in the British Occupation Zone issued the following programmatic declaration at its meeting on February 1-3, 1947, in Ahlen:

The capitalist economic system has served neither the state’s nor the German people’s vital interests. After the terrible political, economic, and social collapse that resulted from criminal power politics, a new order is required, and it must be built from the ground up.

The content and goal of this new social and economic order can no longer be the capitalistic pursuit of power and profit; it must lie in the welfare of our people. A socialist economic order must provide the German people with an economic and social framework that accords with the rights and dignity of the individual, serves the intellectual and material development of our nation, and secures peace both at home and abroad.

Based on this realization, the CDU party platform of March 1946 put forth the following principles:

The goal of all economic activity is to meet the needs of the people.

The economy must unlock the productive forces of both the individual and the community. The starting point of all economic activity is the recognition of the individual. Personal freedom in the economic sphere is closely related to freedom in the political sphere. Efforts to shape and guide the economy must not deprive individuals of their personal freedom. Therefore, it is necessary to:

Strengthen the economic position and freedom of the individual and prevent economic forces from becoming concentrated in the hands of individual persons, corporations, or private or public organizations, as this could endanger economic and personal freedom. Coal is the most crucial product of the entire German national economy. We demand the nationalization of mines.

In pursuit of these principles, the CDU has decided on the following program for the reordering of the economy.

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