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Liberalism in Germany
This article aims to give a historical outline of
liberalism in Germany. The liberal parties dealt with in the timeline below are, largely, those which received sufficient support at one time or another to have been represented in parliament. Not all parties so included, however, necessarily labeled themselves "liberal". The sign ⇒ denotes another party in that scheme.
The early high points of
liberalism in Germany were the Hambacher Fest (1832) and the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states.
In the National Assembly in the Frankfurt Paulskirche (1848/1849), the bourgeois liberal factions Casino and Württemberger Hof (the latter led by Heinrich von Gagern) were the majority. They favored a constitutional monarchy, popular sovereignty, and parliamentary rule.
Organized liberalism developed in the 1860s, combining the previous liberal and democratic currents. Between 1867 and 1933 liberalism was divided into progressive liberal and national liberal factions. Since 1945 only one liberal party has been significant in politics at the national level: The Free Democratic Party (Freie Demokratische Partei, member LI), ELDR.
From German Progress Party to German State Party
1861: Liberals united in the
( German Progress Party Deutsche Fortschrittspartei) 1867: The moderate faction seceded as the ⇒ National Liberal Party
1868: A radical South German faction seceded as the ⇒ Democratic People's Party
1884: The party merged with the ⇒ Liberal Union into the
( German Freeminded Party Deutsche Freisinnige Partei) 1893: The party split in the
( Freeminded People's Party Freisinnige Volkspartei) and the ⇒ Freeminded Union ( Freisinnige Vereinigung) 1910: The FVP merged with the ⇒ Freeminded Union and the ⇒ German People's Party into the
( Progressive People's Party Fortschrittliche Volkspartei) 1918: The party is reorganised into the
( German Democratic Party Deutsche Demokratische Partei), incorporating parts of the ⇒ National Liberal Party 1930: The DDP in an attempt to survive reorganised itself into the
( German State Party Deutsche Staatspartei) 1933: The party is forced to dissolve itself
German People's Party (1868)
1868: A radical faction of the ⇒ German Progress Party formed the
( German People's Party Deutsche Volkspartei) 1910: The DVP merged into the ⇒ Progressive People's Party
National Liberal Party / German People's Party (1918)
1867: A right-wing faction of the ⇒ German Progress Party formed the
( National Liberal Party Nationalliberale Partei) 1871: A conservative faction of NLP formed the Imperial Liberal Party (
Liberale Reichspartei) 1880: A left-wing faction seceded as the ⇒ Liberal Union
1918: The NLP is reorganised into the
( German People's Party Deutsche Volkspartei), part of the party joined the German Democratic Party 1933: The party is dissolved
1880: A left-wing faction of the ⇒ National Liberal Party formed the
( Liberal Union Liberale Vereinigung) 1884: The party merged with the ⇒ German Progress Party into the ⇒ German Freeminded Party
1893: The ⇒ German Freeminded Party split into the
( Freeminded Union Freisinnige Vereinigung) and the ⇒ Freeminded People's Party 1903: The ⇒ National Social Union joined the Freeminded Union
1908: A left-wing faction seceded as the ⇒ Democratic Union
1910: The party merged into the ⇒ Progressive People's Party
National Social Union
( National Social Union Nationalsozialer Verein) is formed 1903: The party is dissolved and members joined the ⇒ Freeminded Union
1908: A left-wing faction of the ⇒ Freeminded Union formed the
( Democratic Union Demokratische Vereinigung) 1918: The remnants of the Union joined the German Democratic Party
From Liberal Democratic Party of Germany to Alliance of Free Democrats (GDR)
Free Democratic Party
1945-1946: Liberals in West Germany re-organised themselves in regional parties
1948: The regional liberal parties merged into the
( Free Democratic Party Freie Demokratische Partei) 1956: A conservative faction seceded and formed the
Free People's Party (Germany) ( Freie Volkspartei) 1982: A left-wing faction seceded as the ⇒ Liberal Democrats
1990: The FDP incorporated the ⇒ Association of Free Democrats
1982: A left-wing faction of the ⇒ Free Democratic Party formed the present-day ( Liberal Democrats Liberale Demokraten), without success
2014: A left-wing faction of the ⇒ Free Democratic Party formed the present-day ( New Liberals Neue Liberale), contested in Hamburg state election 2015
Contributions to liberal theory the following German thinkers are included:
Swedish and German Liberalism: From Factions to Parties 1860–1920 (2011) Anderson, Margaret Lavinia.
Practicing democracy: Elections and political culture in Imperial Germany (2000) Eyck, F. Gunther. "English and French Influences on German Liberalism before 1848."
Journal of the History of Ideas (1957): 313–41. in JSTOR Gross, Michael B.
The war against Catholicism: Liberalism and the anti-Catholic imagination in nineteenth-century Germany (University of Michigan Press, 2004) Harris, James F.
A study in the theory and practice of German liberalism: Eduard Lasker, 1829–1884 (University Press of America, 1984) Jarausch, Konrad, et al. eds.
In search of a liberal Germany: studies in the history of German liberalism from 1789 to the present (1990), essays by scholars Jones, Larry Eugene.
German liberalism and the dissolution of the Weimar party system, 1918–1933 (University of North Carolina Press, 1988) Krieger, Leonard.
The German idea of freedom: History of a political tradition (University of Chicago Press, 1957) Kurlander, Eric.
The price of exclusion: ethnicity, national identity, and the decline of German liberalism, 1898–1933 (Berghahn Books, 2006) Langewiesche, Dieter.
Liberalism in Germany (Macmillan Press, 2000) Kwan, Jonathan.
Liberalism and the Habsburg Monarchy, 1861–1895 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), Concerns the Austro-Hungarian Empire Langewiesche, Dieter.
Liberalism in Germany (2000) Mork, Gordon R. "Bismarck and the 'Capitulation' of German Liberalism,"
Journal of Modern History (1971) 43#1 pp: 59–75 in JSTOR Palmowski, Jan. "Mediating the nation: liberalism and the polity in nineteenth-century Germany."
German History (2001) 19#4 pp: 573–98. Palmowski, Jan.
Urban liberalism in imperial Germany: Frankfurt am Main, 1866–1914 (Oxford University Press, 1999) Sheehan, James J. "Liberalism and society in Germany, 1815–48."
Journal of Modern History (1973): 583–604. in JSTOR Sheehan, James J.
German liberalism in the nineteenth century (1995) Sheehan, James J. "Liberalism and the city in nineteenth-century Germany."
Past and Present (1971): 116–37. in JSTOR Sheehan, James J. The career of Lujo Brentano: a study of liberalism and social reform in imperial Germany (University of Chicago Press, 1966)