“Americans to America! Germany for the Germans!” The 1951 political programme of the National-Democratic Party of Germany (NDPD), communist East Germany’s party of ‘German nationalism’
The National-Democratic Party of Germany (NDPD) was officially founded at the behest of communist authorities on 16th July, 1948, only a few months after the official conclusion of ‘denazification’ efforts within nascent East Germany. This timing was not a coincidence. Legally-recognized political parties within the DDR were conceived as having an essentially corporatist function; each party represented the interests of a specific social group, and alongside various mass organizations they were welded directly into the organism of the state through their direct incorporation into various collaborative government structures. Following the dénouement of denazification, the dominant Socialist Unity Party, in conjunction with the Soviet Military Authority, was keen to integrate former members of the National Socialist and broader nationalist movements back into the developing East German nation as productive members of a socialist Germany. The NDPD was intended to be their political home, a means of providing a ‘safety net’ for denazification by giving ‘rehabilitated’ NSDAP members, radical-nationalists, professional soldiers, and nationalist bourgeoisie an official mechanism for representing their interests within the system (thus preventing their alienation), as well as a vehicle for ensuring their continued ‘re-education’. The NDPD was thus as much a communist propaganda tool as it was the political representation of a new ‘socialist nationalism’ – at the same time as the new Party was expending its resources on (often quite successfully) lobbying for the provision of employment rights and property reinstatement to former NSDAP, SA, and Wehrmacht members, it was attempting to inculcate in its recruits a revised form of nationalist ideology acceptable to the Marxist-Leninist tenets underpinning the DDR. The NDPD did this in large part by repurposing certain elements of National Socialist and deutschnational ideology for pro-Soviet ends, such as by redefining the word ‘National’ to give it a progressive and democratic flavor, or by redirecting traditional anti-Westernism into a more overt and aggressive anti-American direction. The following translation of the 1951 party programme of the NDPD is instructive in showing the creative way in which the Soviet-backed authorities attempted to recast German nationalist sentiment into a form that was amenable to their goals. Even the triple-oak-leaf emblem adopted by the NDPD was an attempt to overtly appeal to German nationalists: the oak tree and oak leaf have been a symbol of German nationalism for centuries.
Programme of the
National-Democratic Party of Germany
The National-Democratic Party of Germany arose at a time of deepest national distress. America was preparing to tear Germany apart; then, on 21st April 1948, a group of patriotic1 Germans in Halle raised a call for the founding of a party that should be both national and democratic. On 16th July 1948 the National-Democratic Party of Germany was founded, two days before America split the German currency unit. This marked the beginning of a series of measures which, from the introduction of a separate West German currency to the creation of a separate West German state (that American protectorate on German soil), would lead to the rearmament of West Germany and were intended to end in a German brothers’ war to the benefit and advantage of American world conquest.
This danger demanded the alliance of all patriotic Germans, with the aim of foiling America’s attack against the existence of our nation. We raised the banner of our national liberation-struggle in the name of our living rights:
Unity, Peace, Independence, and Prosperity!
In the three years which have since passed, our Party has tirelessly and without faltering carried on a policy whose principles were, are, and shall remain:
To place the interests of the Nation above everything else; to advance a national policy which is consistent from beginning to end, a policy whose yardstick and justification is the Nation, a policy that always and only commits itself to the Nation and puts it first at every moment, because it represents the safeguarding of the rights of our German Volk2 just as decisively as it respects the rights of other peoples.
Therefore, the 3rd Party Congress of 18 June, 1951 in Leipzig ratifies the following with the votes of all delegates:
On the Nature of our Party
It concerns Germany! It concerns our continued existence as a nation! Our German Volk have the same entitlement to respect for their national living rights as do any other people!
This was guaranteed in binding, international, legislative form by the Potsdam Agreement. But America, and in its wake England and France, openly flouted the Potsdam Agreement; they trampled all over the right of our Volk to unity, peace, independence, and prosperity.
The first and most urgent task for our Volk is to assert these, their national living rights.
The experience of our history, and the histories of other nations [Völker], teaches us that national living rights can only be rooted firmly in the soil of democracy, and that any threat to democracy also threatens our national rights to life.
Our vital national issues must be resolved; they can only be resolved on a democratic foundation. That is our goal, and for this reason our party is called the National-Democratic Party of Germany.
It concerns every German! It concerns happiness, yes, concerns the life of every one of us, every German man and every German woman, it concerns the happiness and life of our children!
There is no joyful future, no security for our lives, no assured prosperity, so long as our Fatherland is ruptured and our peace is endangered, so long as America keeps West Germany subjugated and threatens the world with war. The destiny of every single member of our Volk is inextricably linked with the destiny of our Nation.
The resolution of the vital issues which are placed before every single one of us requires resolving the national questions of life. The individual can only live in peace and prosperity when peace and prosperity are secured for his Volk. This is what we believe, and for this reason our party is called the National-Democratic Party of Germany.
When it comes to Germany, no patriotic German can stand on the sidelines!
The plight of our Fatherland makes no distinction between men and women, old and young, laborers and salaried employees, peasants and retailers, craftsmen and intellectuals, the religious and non-religious, between past merits and past mistakes.
The plight of our Fatherland demands the union of all Germans of good will – whether woman or man, girl or boy – without distinction as to status3 or profession, religion or worldview, and without regard for previous party affiliation.
Every German of good will must strive honestly and tirelessly so that he can dedicate his entire strength to our common Fatherland in its deepest need.
The union of all will enable us to surmount every form of obstacle and will give us the strength to overcome our national misery, to free all of Germany, and to win for it unity, peace, independence, and prosperity.
To contribute to this is the first duty, the supreme responsibility of every German. Whoever is of good will cannot exclude themselves from this, nor can they be excluded from it.
We understand democracy to mean equal duties and equal rights for all involved in the endeavor to safeguard the interests of the nation. We regard the realization of this principle as the pledge for the victory of the just cause of our Volk, and for this reason our party is called the National-Democratic Party of Germany.
On our National Plight
National Socialism bears the blame for our national plight. The curse of our people is owed to it.
National Socialism deprived our Volk of their right to self-determination and gave them in return a mess of pottage consisting of racial delusions, Lebensraum lies, and Führerprinzip. It sparked off the Hitler War and left a Germany of graves and ruins in the middle of a Europe which it had devastated. It brought our Volk to the brink of national collapse.
That is why we fight National Socialism, along with every variety of its evil spirit and its lies about Lebensraum, the master race, Führerprinzip, and the naturalness of war. That is why we remorselessly oppose every attempt to whitewash or even to revive National Socialism, or part of its heresies. That is why we make a clear distinction among the former members of the NSDAP between those who committed crimes and those who are guilty of no crime, between those who lied and those who were led astray, and why we say:
To combat National Socialism – we National-Democrats consider this the duty of every German, but above all it is the duty of every former member of the NSDAP.
Prussian militarism bears the blame for our national plight. The curse of our people is owed to it.
Prussian militarism directed its weapons towards the suppression of the freedom of our German Volk, as well as against the freedom of foreign peoples. It was one of the foundations of National Socialism, and a willing tool of it; it too bears responsibility for the Hitler War and for Germany’s catastrophe.
That is why we fight Prussian militarism. That is why we remorselessly oppose every attempt to whitewash or even to revive Prussian militarism. That is why we make a clear distinction between those whose sense of duty has been misused, and those who misused it.
To combat Prussian militarism – we National-Democrats consider this the duty of every German, but above all it is the duty of former officers and professional soldiers.
The governmental, economic, and cultural powers who sired and reared Prussian militarism and National Socialism bear the blame for our national plight. The curse of our people is owed to them.
The rulers of Prussian-German history, the large land-owners and the industrial and financial magnates, made the state into an instrument for the service of their wicked self-interest. In just a quarter of a century they thus plunged the world into two wars and, as an inevitable consequence, Germany into two catastrophes.
That is why we National-Democrats are for the elimination of the influence of the large land-owners and the industrial and financial magnates in state and administration, in economy and culture, and support instead that the determination of our German destiny through land reform, industrial reform, judicial reform, administrative reform, and cultural reform be placed into the hands of our German Volk.
The Potsdam Agreement draws a line under the past history of the old Germany, a history of wars and catastrophes, and opens up the future to a new Germany, a future of peace and of development.
The victory of the Soviet Union forced the unconditional surrender of Hitler’s Germany on May 8, 1945. In this way National Socialism and Prussian militarism were destroyed, and the opportunity was created to deprive Germany’s corruptors of their power within the state, administration, economy, and culture.
The Potsdam Agreement committed its signatories to the denazification, demilitarization, and democratization of our German Fatherland, in particular to the dismantling of the armaments industry and to the safeguarding of the peace industry.
The Potsdam Agreement treats Germany as a political and economic whole. It assures Germany the conclusion of a peace treaty, and makes the moment when we can take our place among the peace-loving and liberal nations of the world contingent only upon our will to transform our lives on a democratic and peaceful basis.
That is why we National-Democrats are for the Potsdam Agreement; we recognize the obligations which it imposes upon us, and we demand the rights which it guarantees us.
America broke the Potsdam Agreement and deliberately plunged we Germans into the greatest national plight of our history.
America, and in its wake England and France, transformed the occupation of Germany – justified under international law – into an intervention which was in violation of international law. They made the denazification, demilitarization, and democratization processes in their occupation zones into a travesty and a caricature. They preserved and strengthened those powers in state, administration, economy, and culture which nurture National Socialism and militarism. They protected the armaments industry and dismantled the structures of the peace industry. Eventually they began overtly making preparations for the Third World War – the American War – on German soil.
America tore apart our Fatherland. On 18th June, 1948, it split the German monetary unit with the introduction of a separate currency. On 7th September, 1949, it shattered Germany’s territorial unity through the creation of a separate state, the Federal Republic. The Federal Republic is being rearmed by it. It is in fact part of the North Atlantic Treaty, and is even officially incorporated into the Council of Europe. America does all of this to transform our homeland into an American armory staffed by German workers, into an American supply point for German mercenaries, into an American battlefield strewn with German corpses.
The American War must not and will not take place! Germany will live! That is why we National-Democrats demand: Americans to America! Germany for the Germans!
The Federal Republic is a child of national betrayal.
After the collapse of the Hitler State, Germany’s corruptors established a regressive fall-back position in the Federal Republic. The Federal Republic is a playground for open and covert National Socialists and militarists, as well as for war-profiteers from industry, the financial sector, and the large estates, whose numbers were increased substantially by the war criminals who fled from eastern Germany. The Federal government sold off the Saar territory, of whose surrender to France not one word is mentioned in the Potsdam Agreement; through the Marshall Plan, the acknowledgement of debts, and the Schuman Plan, it handed over German raw materials, factories, and labor power to America. As the obedient servant of this foreign master, it rejected every offer by patriotic [vaterlandliebender] Germans towards a common effort for German unity and German peace. In politics, economy, and culture, it operates in conscious preparation for the American War, thus putting our nation in mortal danger.
That is why we National-Democrats demand: Away from the Bonn government of national betrayal, and towards German unity as the foundation for peace, independence, and prosperity for our entire German Fatherland.
On our National Duty
A united country in the hands of a united Volk is the only guarantee of our national existence.
Only the unity of our German Volk makes possible the restoration of Germany’s unity upon a democratic basis. The unity of our Fatherland is crucial for the preservation of peace in Europe, as it is for the establishment of a peace treaty with Germany as a whole; it is crucial for regaining the independence of an all-German4 state and for a lasting prosperity for our Volk. Both Germany’s past and present-day West Germany teach us that division among the productive strata of our Volk is to the advantage of Germany’s corruptors. But a Volk who stand together in harmony, and who employ all of their strength to resolve the issues of life in a democratic way, are unconquerable.
That is why we National-Democrats demand the unification of our Volk, that they might exercise mastery over themselves and their country, over their lives and their destiny, over their state, their economy, and their culture. United Volk! United Country!
The National-Democratic Party of Germany commits itself to the Democratic Bloc.5
The constant cooperation of the antifascist-democratic parties and mass-organizations in the Democratic Bloc makes possible the unanimous resolution of all political issues.
The Democratic Bloc is that form of political activity which compels the various parties, social groups [Stände], economic interests, and worldviews to put aside their special interests and to make the common interest which unites them all the basis for joint decision-making – that is, to pursue a national politics.
The Democratic Bloc was and also is the great school of national politics, which is not based upon unprincipled and therefore disingenuous rhetoric about friendship, on unity with one and all at any price, but rather, to the contrary, has as its foundation the persistent, never-budge-an-inch struggle for clearly-defined, unshakable principles.
The Democratic Bloc is the alliance of truly national – and therefore also truly progressive – forces against those regressive and thus also anti-national forces operating outside and inside of the parties and mass-organizations which belong to the Democratic Bloc.
That is why the political and organizational principles of the Democratic Bloc, like its decisions, are just as binding for every unit and every member of the National-Democratic Party of Germany as are the decisions of their own party.
The National-Democratic Party of Germany commits itself to the National Front of Democratic Germany.6
In the National Front of Democratic Germany, the amalgamation of all Germans of good will – from the old antifascists to the former members of the NSDAP – into a larger community of national action becomes a reality.
With the creation of the National Front our German Volk took the decisive step towards national self-reflection and thus towards national rebirth. They reflected upon their dignity and their strength, affirmed their duty as well as their right to the sovereign shaping of their present and future, and took the resolution of the questions of life into their own hands. Born from our national misery, called upon for our national self-help, it will guide us through all obstacles to the goal which we have set for ourselves: the national rebirth of our Fatherland.
The creation and continual expansion of the National Front affirms the correctness of our policies and the historical necessity of our party which, from the very first hour of its existence, demanded that all Germans of good will unite to resolve our national questions of life upon a democratic basis.
That is why the manifesto and the programme of the National Front of Democratic Germany, and the decisions of its National Council, are just as binding for every unit and every member of the National-Democratic Party of Germany as are the decisions of their own party. The promise of the National-Democratic Party of Germany is: the best within the National Front!
The German Democratic Republic is the independent fatherland of democracy upon German soil.
The day of its founding is the day there was a turnaround in German history. Twice, in two wars which shook the world, we saw our fathers and brothers – and, in the second, our mothers, wives, and children, too – bleed to death. Twice did we lose our goods and possessions, the second time losing our national unity into the bargain. We have absorbed this lesson. We wish to go a different way. We want to be mindful of our history and to expend our energies on taking a different course. Ultimately, we want to use all of our abilities for peace. To this end, we want to build a different Germany. We have laid the foundation for this in the German Democratic Republic, and thereby have begun the turnaround for the whole of Germany.
The German Democratic Republic is a state of national pride, a free and independent, truly German, and truly democratic republic in service of peace and progress. By means of its policies it has given Germans around the world an honest name, and provided peace-loving peoples with the belief in a better Germany. In our just struggle for unity, peace, independence, and prosperity, it has won for us great and powerful allies. It is not a democracy of empty promises, but a democracy of proven achievements.
That is why we National-Democrats swear allegiance to our German Democratic Republic, and call out to all Germans: “Whoever is loyal to the German Democratic Republic, is loyal to all of Germany!”
Our economic planning is national planning.
With the planning of our national economy, with the fulfillment of our economic plans and the successful conclusion of each planned year, we tackle decisions on fundamental national issues with complete independence and under our own absolute authority. Our economic planning is primarily based upon our own strength and upon the exploitation of our own opportunities; it protects us from the dangers of a humiliating entanglement in foreign debt, and is the foundation and guarantee of our economic and therefore also our political independence.
Our economic planning and its outcomes also prove to the population of West Germany that we are capable of building a finished home by our own efforts – not a home in which an American puts his feet up on every floor while we occupy the servants’ quarters in the basement, but a home which belongs to us, from the basement to the attic. In this way our economic planning consolidates and expands the National Front of Democratic Germany. It thus becomes the hammer of our unity.
Our economic planning has as its objective the common interest of every productive stratum of our people – the workers and the peasants, the craftsmen and the tradesmen, the white-collar employees and the intellectuals – and it creates the economic foundation for a policy of togetherness, a policy of reciprocal trust among all Germans of goodwill.
Our economic planning enables our national economy to develop without crises and unemployment.
By continuously improving and safeguarding our population’s standard of living, it helps even recent repatriates7 achieve the same standard of living as the rest of the population, and ensures the elderly and the disabled are always well-cared for.
Our economic planning exclusively serves to build a strong peacetime economy. Its first requirement is the preservation of peace; its most important outcome is the safeguarding of peace.
That is why we National-Democrats see, in the national economic plan, our economy’s law of development and thus also the basis for our economic policy; that is why the National-Democratic Party of Germany demands of all its members that they do their utmost to fulfill and surpass the national economic plans in terms of their deadlines, quantity, and quality of production.
The German middle-class belongs in the great community of national action.
The intellectuals, the craftsmen and tradesmen, the white-collar employees in administration and public and private enterprises, all have at their disposal a wealth of knowledge and ability, skill and experience, which they have an obligation to use for the benefit of our Volk.
However, broad segments of the German middle-class, particularly the intellectuals, cannot spare themselves the reproach that they were all too often on the wrong side during the turning points of our history, and fought on the side of regression to their own detriment.
Today, in the German Democratic Republic, the intellectual worker, the craftsman, the tradesman, and the white-collar employee liberate themselves from old prejudices and travel the path of progress, which calls for a relentless confrontation with regression and a commitment to the great community of national action, to the National Front of Democratic Germany.
This path must be taken by the middle-class across the entirety of Germany. They must be facilitated in this by ensuring that, in the German Democratic Republic, every possibility prevailing in the law for the promotion of handicrafts is fully realized, that the performance-enhancing competition of private retail trade is promoted, and that the intelligentsia and white-collar employees continue to be further supported. Creating the economic preconditions for these goals is a matter for our national economic plans; creating their political preconditions is primarily a concern for the middle-class itself.
That is why the National-Democratic Party of Germany calls out to every productive strata in town and country, but especially to the German middle-class: “In alliance with all progressive forces: forwards, and only forwards!”
Maintaining our German culture and protecting it from American cultural barbarism is a national duty.
It is part of the nature of national politics to make the accomplishments and possibilities of cultural life available to every layer of the Volk on an equal basis. The workers and the peasantry are therefore entitled to be represented – in accordance with their proportion of the nation as a whole – in all educational institutions, but above all in colleges and universities, and they also have the right to be compensated for their previous experiences of discrimination and exclusion. For this reason the children from the other productive classes must not be disadvantaged. Universities and university places must therefore be expanded so that each of our children, regardless of their background, also have the opportunity to study, so long as they have the desire and the aptitude to do so.
Our cultural life must be imbued with a democratic spirit and must be dedicated to resolving the questions of life in a democratic way.
In its forms it must build upon our best national traditions, which in the past have often been misused, distorted, or suppressed. It is important to study our cultural heritage in which our national experience is embodied, and to separate, via a careful examination, the progressive from the regressive in order to embrace, cultivate, and further develop the progressive. Only in this manner can the design of a content be discovered that, comprehensible to our Volk, is able to find the shortest route to their hearts.
The way in which National Socialism cut us off from the progressive cultural works of other peoples, especially those of the Soviet Union and our other eastern neighbours, was solely to our detriment. Thorough study of the best cultural assets of all peoples – even those of the American, English, and French, which today are persecuted and repressed, concealed or distorted by the ruling powers in those countries – will be of great benefit to us in the promotion of our own culture.
We will have to defend our German culture against America’s efforts to fill all expressions of cultural life with a regressive spirit and to rob nations of their individual character and personalities.
That is why we National-Democrats demand: Our culture must be democratic in its content and German in its forms.
On our Natural Strength
The question of trust between workers and the other productive strata of our Volk is the core issue of bloc politics, and it is above all the core issue motivating the establishment of the National Front of Democratic Germany.
It was the distinguishing feature of our history that the rich always ruled over the poor, that the well-fed always ruled over the hungry – sometimes in a veiled form, at other times quite openly. In the end those who had little or nothing were expected to sacrifice their lives so that those who owned everything could retain it all, or could yet acquire still more. Large entrepreneurs in Germany knew only one policy: Against Workerdom. If we ask ourselves today which segment of the German Volk has a right to mistrust the others, we must reply to ourselves with the bitter answer: Our Working-Classes. From this it follows, however, that every other productive strata of our Volk have an obligation to fight for the trust of the workers. The only way they can do this is by proving to the workers: “We have studied our history honestly; we have learned from its lessons; we are resolutely turning away from the politics of the past and are sincerely committing ourselves to a new policy, to a policy of alliance between middle-class and working-class which is founded upon the realization that the resolution of our national questions of life is impossible without or even against the working-classes. On the contrary, our national questions of life can only be solved if the workers receive the numbers and influence in politics, the economy, and cultural life which they rightfully deserve.”
That is why we National-Democrats declare: German workerdom should know that they can place their trust in our National-Democratic Party of Germany and that their confidence will not be disappointed.
The question of trust between the Soviet Union and we Germans is the core issue motivating the successful struggle of the National Front of Democratic Germany.
The Soviet Union is the largest contiguous national territory on our planet; it possesses all the raw materials it needs, is the most productive industrial country and the most efficient agricultural country in Europe, is a gigantic supplier of raw materials and foodstuffs, and is a prosperous trading partner.
There are no conflicts of interest between Germany and the Soviet Union. These simple facts and their sober considerations require us to have good, neighborly relations with the Soviet Union.
What is decisive is the Soviet Union’s steadfast advocacy for German unity, the conclusion of a peace treaty with Germany, and the evacuation of all occupation forces from Germany within a year of the peace treaty’s conclusion. This obliges from us a deep expression of gratitude.
Ultimately, the past and present teach us that peace is our Volk’s primary basis for existence. It is impossible to preserve it without or against the Soviet Union. It can only be defended – defended successfully – alongside the Soviet Union. If the German Volk throughout Germany come together with the people of the Soviet Union in the struggle for peace across all state and party lines, surpassing all differences in class [Stand] and profession, all differences in religion and worldview, then nobody will dare to violate the peace. Thus will peace be secured within Europe. The Soviet Union’s commitment to peace imbues in us a most sincere and immutable friendship.
That is why we National-Democrats combat every agitation made against the Soviet Union – seeing in each a betrayal of the national interests of our German Volk – and strive to point every German towards the realization that the following pledge should apply in our relationship with the Soviet Union and its peoples: “Friendship forever!”
Together with the Peoples’ Democracies, we stand in the great peace camp of the Soviet Union.
This camp extends across the entire world. It has millions of adherents even in those countries whose governments are pushing for war. But what binds us particularly closely with the Peoples’ Democracies is the fact that in them the people and government, just as in the Soviet Union, are united in the defence of peace and thus constitute the strongest pillars of peace in the world.
That is why we National-Democrats deepen all solidarity with the Peoples’ Democracies.
The German-Polish state-border along the Oder and the Neisse rivers is a border of peace.8
Not German democracy but Hitler brought about the revision of the eastern border through his invasion of Poland.
The agitators against the Peoples’ Republic of Poland only prove to the Slavic peoples the need for protection against a potential new attack. Poland rightly demands security. The relationship between our people and the Poles, contaminated over the centuries through German guilt, must be detoxified. America’s hopes of provoking an American War against the peace- and freedom-loving nations through a German-Polish conflict must be dashed. A steadfast peace and good, neighborly relations should prevail between our people and the Poles.
That is why we National-Democrats declare: To call the Oder-Neisse line into question means provoking war; endorsing it means safeguarding peace.
The peace alliance of the millions is stronger than the war alliance of the millionaires.
Millionaires prefer war to peace because they earn more from war than than they do from peace. Every day in which peace prevails is a losing proposition for the American financial and armaments magnates. They would have started a war long ago if only they’d been able to. In the meantime they have had to face the reality that the times are not working for them but against them, that the number of those willing to render them assistance [Hilfswilligen] is declining more and more, and that the numbers of those fighting for peace even in their own countries, and in the countries which are subjugated to them, are growing by the millions. But this is precisely why they are in such a terrible hurry, rushing pell-mell to create the conditions required that they might possibly provoke a war. That feeling of growing weakness drives them to a feverish urgency.
Yet the world peace movement continues to grow inexorably. Nations are binding themselves together more closely than America is able to unite the governments which are presently servile to it. Between these nations there are no contradictions, but only one common goal: the maintenance of peace. And, in unison with the peace movement, the national-liberation movement of the peoples of Asia is growing, just as it is in Europe – and not least among the German Volk. Like all peoples, the German Volk too assert their just claim to national independence, to having their own home in which they can show Americans the door. The Americans wish to drive us Germans into war as serfs. We shall know how to wrest the peace of our freedom from them.
We National-Democrats declare: Our national-liberation struggle is the struggle for peace! The German home belongs to we Germans, and to peace!
The National-Democratic Party of Germany calls all Germans of good will, all Germans who love our common Fatherland and who commit themselves to it in its hours of need.
The National-Democratic Party of Germany is a party of responsibility. It does not demand responsibility as its right, but principally defines responsibility as a firm duty. Because we recognize above all this sense of responsibility as a duty in the word “National” – in particular, the responsibility of freeing this word from everything objectionable in its former meaning, and giving to it a new, beautiful, and honorable definition – for this reason alone have we have won for this word the right to be expressed with the respect and love which we associate with the word “National.”
Those who accept responsibility as a duty shall be reminded in every hour of their work that a National-Democrat must give to his Volk first before he can receive anything from them. Whoever acts to the contrary has no right to be called a member of our Party.
The National-Democratic Party of Germany accepts responsibility for each of its members, for their reliability and conduct; that is to say, for their political knowledge, their professional expertise, and their moral irreproachability, for their convictions and their actions as National-Democrats.
Each of our members in turn accepts responsibility for our party, for its political thought and actions, for its virtue, and for keeping it clean of enemies of the nation and enemies of democracy.
The National-Democratic Party of Germany is a party of trust. Trust – genuine, unqualified trust between all productive classes [Ständen] and strata of our German Volk, yes, simply between all Germans of good will – is an undeniable necessity. This trust provides us, amidst our national state of emergency, with the certainty that the National Front of Democratic Germany is forging the great instrument of our national self-help and is leading us to victory throughout Germany.
If we call for trust then we must also have the courage to recognize that trust is something that has to be struggled for. This is true for every segment of our Volk as well as for all parties. From the standpoint of the National-Democrats, this applies in the first instance to we National-Democrats. We demand trust, thus we must struggle for trust. We have struggled over it, and therefore will continue to struggle over it. We have acquired it, and will acquire even more. For we act according to the guiding principle:
Unity is Germany’s right!
Unity is the German people’s duty!
In the struggle for our national living rights
unity guarantees us victory!
1. “Patriotic” – in German, “Vaterlandliebenden”, lit. ‘Fatherland-loving’’.
2. “Volk” – I spent lot of time vacillating over how to translate this word within the text. In English, the word ‘Volk’ has acquired a strong association with National Socialism, with the perception being that it was used exclusively by völkisch groups as a racist way of distinguishing the German ‘folk’ from other distinct ethnic groups. While there is truth to this, the word ‘Volk’ has a broader meaning and use which extends well beyond National Socialism. The word ‘Volk’ has an earthy, populist sense to it, with a complex set of possible definitions (‘people’, ‘nation’, ‘ethnicity’, ‘race’, ‘population’, ‘people of a nation’) which are derived from the context in which the word is used. Its employment in a political sense (as a way of identifying a united German people, bonded by a common identity) goes back at least to the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon, and it additionally appears frequently in writings from the 1848 liberal revolution and from the socialist labor movement (Marx, for instance, spoke of the Opium des Volkes, “opium of the people”). The word ‘Volk’ continued to be used in a non-völkisch sense by social-democrats and communists throughout the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s, and the word is still employed for political purposes by people throughout the political spectrum. Because simply translating the word as ‘people’ or ‘nation’ does not communicate the full weight of its meaning, in most instances I have left it untranslated as ‘Volk’. It should be kept in mind that this does not mean, however, that the NDPD accepted NS racial theories. The word in this instance was probably intended more to convey the idea of a united German people in the face of division by the East/West border-line.
3. “Status” – The word used here in German is “Stand”, or “estate” in English. As has been mentioned on this blog before, the word Stand was commonly used by National Socialist, national-revolutionary, and conservative theorists as a nationalist alternative to the word ‘class’, with the word deriving from the old ‘Estates of the Realm’ (nobility, clergy, peasants, bürghers) which formed the major sectors of socio-economic life during the Feudal era. The word ‘Stand’ was also used as the German equivalent for the word ‘corporation’ (in the fascist/syndicalist sense of the term), hence Ständestaat or ‘estates-state’ being the German term for the ‘corporate state’. For purposes of clarity I have translated the word as ‘class’ or ‘status’ in the text depending on context. Its use by the NDPD seems more than deliberate, an evocation of interwar nationalist terminology in order to make nationalists comfortable with the idea that the NDPD represented their interests. It is telling that the German word for ‘class’ (Klasse) does not appear once within the National-Democratic programme, even though the NDPD’s establishment was sponsored and encouraged by the ruling communist party.
4. “All-German” – in German, “gesamtdeutsch”. After the Second World War, Gesamtdeutschland (‘All-Germany’ or ‘Germany as a Whole’) emerged as an alternative term to the more nationalist-oriented Großdeutschland (Greater Germany) and Alldeutschland (Pan-Germany). The term related to Germany’s territorial extent and, like ‘Volk’, conveyed different meanings depending on context. Usually it signified the idea of either: Germany reuniting with Austria; Germany returning to its 1937 borders; or the unification of East and West Germany under a single government. The last example is generally the meaning intended when used by East German writers.
5. On 10 June, 1945, the Soviet Military Authority in the occupied Soviet Zone of Germany published Order No. 2 permitting the legal establishment of “anti-fascist” political parties, trade unions, and social organizations within the Zone. The four parties formed following the Order’s appearance (the Communists, KPD; the Social-Democrats, SPD; the Christian Democrats, CDU; and the Liberal Democrats, LDPD) met in Berlin on 14 July and agreed to form an anti-fascist ‘Democratic Bloc’, a committee of equal members to draft and pass unanimous policy decisions related to the Zone. The Democratic Bloc, however, very quickly turned into a mechanism of communist control. Disagreements within the Bloc were almost always resolved in the KPD’s favour through threat of force, arrest, and intimidation deriving from the KPD’s close ties to the occupying Soviet authority. The independence of the LDPD and CDU was weakened over time by arrests and communist interference, and both parties came to be outnumbered within the Bloc regardless: first, in April 1946, when the SPD merged with the KPD to form the Socialist Unity Party (SED); secondly, in 1947, when two new parties (the NDPD and the Democratic Farmers’ League, DBD) joined the Bloc; and finally in 1948, when mass organizations like the Free German Youth, FDGB, and the Kulturbund were also admitted. As the SED reshaped the Soviet Zone into a more overtly Stalinist structure from 1948 onwards, the Democratic Bloc (renamed the ‘Democratic Bloc of Parties and Mass Organizations’ in 1949) ceased to have even symbolic power. It remained in existence until December 1989, though without any real influence.
6. The National Front of Democratic Germany was founded in May 1949, ostensibly as a means of encouraging a ‘politics of alliance’ among all political, economic, and social organizations within East Germany – in short, to rally all political parties, mass organizations, and associations (who were obligated to join the Front) around government-approved propaganda objectives. The Front distributed patriotic and pro-regime propaganda to its member groups; coordinated member groups and individual citizens into community-oriented projects (fairs, celebrations, social campaigns, etc.); and, most importantly, promoted and ran the East German electoral system.
7. A reference to returning POWs, to Germans returning from imprisonment in Soviet camps, and to war refugees and ethnic-Germans displaced from Silesia, the Sudetenland, East Prussia, Pomerania, etc. by the war. POWs and political prisoners continued to filter back into Germany throughout the late ’40s and ’50s, and the NDPD sent recruiters to Soviet-run camps in Germany and the USSR during this time to try and drum up its membership numbers. The NDPD also targeted its propaganda towards those Germans who had been forced from their ancestral homelands in the eastern territories by the Polish, Czech, and Soviet governments, directly appealing to their sense of aggrievement and nationalism.
8. “Border of peace” – in German, “Friedensgrenz”. Following the end of WWII, the Soviet Union and Poland sought to make territorial gains at the expense of Germany’s eastern frontiers. This involved redrawing the German-Polish border so that it ran across the Oder and Neisse rivers (the “Oder-Neisse line”), a move which resulted in Germany losing much of its eastern territories and in a mass expulsion of ethnic Germans from those territories by the Polish government. The Oder-Neisse border decision was immensely unpopular with Germans in both East and West. Even the Socialist Unity Party initially pushed back against the idea of accepting it, with Otto Grotewohl stating in March 1947 that nobody could ever force the SED to accept the redrawn boundary. He was wrong; the Soviet Union put pressure on East Germany to comply with the new frontier, and Walter Ulbricht formally did so on 22 October, 1948, following this verbal agreement with an official border treaty with Poland in 1950. The propaganda slogan “border of peace” (Friedensgrenz) was employed by the SED and the USSR as a means of trying to convince the German people that the unpopular new border was in fact beneficial to their interests, hence its appearance here.
When you first brought this post to my attention, I had the feeling that some aspect of National Socialism could still survive somewhere within the DDR. Reading this translation suggests that the truth of what happened after 1945 in the DDR was somewhere in the middle.
It is obvious that the DDR authorities tried their best to assure the Soviets that the Hitlerists were not in the DDR, but in the nascent pro-US BRD or “West Germany.” They also identified Prussia (in particular its rich military traditions) with the BRD and National Socialism. As you pointed out in an endnote about how “Gesamtdeutschland” was chosen instead of “Großdeutschland,” I do agree that this was an intentional decision on the part of the East German authorities. National Socialism is Pan-Germanist and indicative of all German-speaking lands in Central Europe. The East Germans needed to appease the Soviets, so compromises had to be made in order to make it fit with the Marxist-Leninist ideology of the DDR.
The reason why I had insisted earlier that National Socialism survived in the former DDR is because, after the Cold War, the ideology cropped up again within the former DDR from the 1990s onward. I do not think this is a deliberate coincidence or post-1945 National Socialism finding a political base, but that there was already a receptive audience to begin with. This, however, should be attributed to the “Oder-Neiße Line” mentioned within the original text.
You are correct in asserting that the “Oder-Neiße Line was unpopular within the BRD and the DDR. East Germany probably recognized its “eastern border” with Poland out of pragmatic reasons like avoiding potential infighting between them that could be exploited by the Western Bloc.
But what we tend to forget from history is that its legitimacy was secured by the “2+4 Agreement” or the “Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany” of 1990. The 2+4 Agreement, signed between the old Allied Powers (US, UK, France and USSR) and the BRD and DDR, was more than just a legitimization of the Oder-Neiße Line and a legitimization of the BRD’s legal takeover of the DDR.
It also served as the legal “Peace Treaty” to the Second World War and was written similarly to the Versailles Treaty of 1918.