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Military government weekly information bulletin
Number 98 (June 1947)

Political parties,   p. 11 PDF (698.8 KB)


Page 11

POLITICAL PARTIES
THROUGHOUT Germany the va-
riout authorized political parties
are slowly approaching national ex-
istence if not national legal status.
The Social-Democrats, organized cen-
trally with headquarters at Hanover
under the chairmanship of Dr.Kurt
Schumacher, have virtually returned
to their pre-1933 organization. Only
in the Soviet Zone of Occupation is
the party not authorized.
The Communists have always been
strongly organized centrally-and their
party machinery has now extended
itself into the international field, send-
ing a special group of fraternal dele-
gates to the 19th National Congress
of the Communist Party of Great Bri-
tain held in London in late February.
Throughout the US Zone there has
been much discussion of possible
amalgamation of the KPD with the
Socialist Unity Party (SED) establi-
shed in Berlin and the Soviet Zone in
April 1946.
The various Christian Democratic
parties (CDU in the British and So-
viet Zones, the larger part of the
French Zone, and in Hesse and
Wuerttemberg-Baden; CSU in Bava-
ria, and the Baden Christian Social
People's party in South Baden (BCSV)
climaxed a series of conferences and
joint committee meetings with a ga-
thering in mid-March in Berlin. It
should be emphasized, however, that
the CDU-CSU-BCSV committee is a
neo-federalist conference and in no
sense of the word a national party.
Each Land or Zone organization re-
tains complete freedom of action and
the gatherings are meetings of party
leaders rather than the assembling of
delegates elected from various geo-
graphical sub-units of a single natio-
nal party.
SOMEWHAT more confusing is the
picture of that group of parties
labeled variously as "Liberal Democ-
ratic," "Free Democratic," and "De-
mocratic Peoples." In the past year
conferences have been held at Bad
Pyrmont, Coburg, and Rothenburg,
but none of these can be said to have
been really representative. These par-
ties are not well organized and con-
23 JUNE 1947
ferences are likely to be held without
representation of several Laender (or
even a whole zone); nonetheless, the
Rothenburg gathering in March took
steps to set up a new organization to
be called the German Democratic par-
ty as a sort of over-all holding com-
pany with independent share-holders.
As with the CDU groups, a party of
neo-federalist units is envisaged, each
zonal organization remaining a free
agent; however, the democrats did go
so far as to name two co-leaders for
Germany: Dr. Theodore Heuss (US-
Zone) and Dr. Wilhelm Kuelz (Soviet
Zone).
While the left parties - SPD and
KPD - have already attained orga-
nic unity in Germany, several diffi-
culties have beset the unifiers of the
non-Marxist parties, difficulties which
have led in both parties to confeder-
ation as a solution of their problems.
These difficulties have been both pro-
grammatic and organizational. In the
first category, the parties associated
with the CDU have a considerable
problem in synthesizing their right
and left wings on socio-economic pol-
icy and their federalist and centralist
wings on policies of German govern-
mental structure. While the Democ-
ratic parties are much more centralist-
minded and are troubled less by the
issue than the Christian Democrats,
the question of socio-economic policy
is just as real to them. Even within
the US Zone, the DVP of Wuerttem-
berg-Baden maintains it is the "golden
mean" between CDU reaction and
SPD-KPD Marxism while the LPD in
Hesse holds forth as the last-ditch
defender of free enterprise against
attacks from SPD and CDU alike.
These problems of policy in the
two non-Marxist parties are further
complicated by  the organizational
difficulties inherent in the coming
together of independent zone political
groups. In each zone - even in each
Land - various local political leaders
have claims to recognition, claims
which the left is sometimes able to
sublimate in a crusade for socialism,
but claims which become of primary
importance in parties which are
more-or-less status quo. These claims
of personal leadership are further
complicated by the very natural ma-
neuvering of the present CDU and
Democratic party top committees to
establish themselves in a favorable
position pending approval of national
political parties.
HE first efforts to extend the lines
of the developing national parties
into an over-all quasi-representative
German body failed last month when
Dr. Schumacher, the SPD leader, re-
jected suggestions of the CDU that a
four-party committee be set up to dis-
cuss the peace terms and make a Ger-
man contribution to the Moscow con-
ference. In Dr. Schumacher's view
such a committee could be set up
only when the parties were licensed
in all the zones under free democra-
tic conditions; such a view-point may
also indicate the attitude of the SPD
towards participation in future Ger-
man central agencies or a provisional
government.
In this connection the problem of
the participation of German parties
in the apparatus of German govern-
ment is one which appears to be con-
cerning more and more political lead-
ers, especially in the SPD. Some So-
cial-Democrats have expressed the
view that the SPD should withdraw
from all Land cabinets, basing their
attitude on the alleged impossibility
of realizing socialism in a disunited
Germany, the impossibility of accept-
ing responsibility for affairs in Ger-
many today under military occu-
pation ("... total victory is total re-
sponsibility...," and the political un-
desirability of having the SPD saddled
with the collaborationist label when,
as, and if the occupying powers leave
Germany. The large group, especially
the party bureaucracy, the office-hold-
ers, and the older party leaders,
seem willing to maintain the present
position, at least for the time being.
The status-quo organizations (CDU
and Democratic) are much less affect-
ed by this type of thinking than the
SPD, but any action by the latter
would place a great extra burden on
the non-Marxist parties. Since the
KPD would almost certainly join any
Social-Democratic movement of this
nature, if only to add fuel to the
fire, government would become a pro-
vince of the non-Socialists.
WWEEKLY INFORMATION BULLETIN
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