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The German Fatherland Party (September 1917)

In the early summer of 1917, amid mounting skepticism about the success of the submarine offensive, Catholics in the Reichstag turned to the left, to join the Progressives and the Majority Social Democrats in sponsoring a public resolution in favor of a compromise peace. In an effort to reinvigorate the war effort, Ludendorff gave his blessing to the founding of the German Fatherland Party in September of 1917. The party was an enormous new patriotic organization designed to mobilize popular sentiments in favor of a victorious peace – in other words, to intimidate the new majority in the Reichstag.

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Broad sectors of the German people disagree with the position of the current Reichstag majority on the most vital questions that face the Fatherland. They regard the attempt to provoke domestic conflict and constitutional issues at just this moment, when the fate of the Reich is at stake, as a threat to the Fatherland and a benefit, albeit inadvertent, to the enemy. They believe that the Reichstag that was elected before the war no longer genuinely represents the will of the German people.

Who does not yearn with all his heart for peace! The peace resolutions of the weak-nerved, however, only postpone peace. Our enemies, who are bent on the destruction of Germany, see in them only the symptoms of the collapse of German strength. And this at a time when, according to the testimony of our Hindenburg, our military situation is more favorable than ever before. If we convince the enemy that he can have an honorable negotiated peace at any time, he has every reason to continue the war and nothing to lose.

In the light of past events, our government is in a predicament. Without strong support from the people, the government cannot by itself master the situation. To pursue a powerful policy, it needs a powerful instrument. Such an instrument must be a great party, which is supported by the broadest patriotic sectors of the people.

Partisan strife must not be allowed to divide the German Empire. Instead, the unbending will that is focused exclusively on the victory of the Fatherland must unite it! In grateful reverence for our beloved, unforgettable first Emperor and his iron Chancellor, the unifier of the German peoples, mindful of the titanic struggle against a ruinous spirit of partisanship, which Otto von Bismarck condemned with stirring words before God and history, the undersigned men from East Prussia, true to the traditions of their forefathers, have constituted the German Fatherland Party in this greatest and gravest hour of German history, in order to protect and shield the German Fatherland from the hereditary evil of disunity and partisanship.

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