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Blood and Iron – Germany’s road to modernity​

1861-1929
-Part Two -​

The Four Traditions​

German politics was dominated through the period of 1861-1929 by four broad ideological traditions, in order of significance – Centrism, Liberalism, Conservatism (or Reaction) and Socialism. Each of these traditions had a major impact upon Germany and her political culture, and each tradition drew noticeably different conclusions from the analysis of German history.

Centrism
Variants: Christian Democracy (Radical, Moderate and Conservative), Political Catholicism, Karlist-Monarchism
Major Parties: Free People’s Party (FVP), German Centre Party (DZP) in various forms
Minor Parties: Republican People’s Party of Germany (RVPD), German Centre Party (DZP) in various forms

The German Centre Party that rose to national significance in the 1870s and 1880s was to create a movement with influence far, far beyond the Catholic heartlands of the South it was born it. From 1873 onwards parties originated in the Centrist tradition never failed to capture less than 30% of the vote, winning less than 1/3 on just four occasions and frequently finishing with a far higher share. Over the course of the period the Centre Party (in its various guises) and the Free People’s Party provided two Presidents, serving for a combined 21 years and six different Chancellors serving on eight separate occasions for a combined 31 years (only a shade under half of the entire period). With Centrists so defining the early Kaiserreich, the First Republic and even the Imperial Regency period of the Third Reich there is no German political tradition equal to Centrism.

Centrism was consistently defined by a commitment to democracy, to religious freedom, to Christian principles, to social stability and equality (to varying degrees) and a certain regionalism. Every political tradition viewed the unification in a slightly different way, for the Centrists the unification was only ever partially complete before the union with Austria in 1887 – widely celebrated as the greatest moment in German history. Likewise the era of 1869-1887 is often viewed darkly with Prussian domination identified as a threat to democracy and the individual cultures of the German peoples. This antagonism with the Prussian in turn made 1898 a highly celebrated date in the Centrist calendar – the foundation of the First Republic being seen, even by conservatives, as the moment when Prussian hegemony was broken forever. Although the splintering of the movement from the last decade of the 19th century through to the 1920s makes a single Centrist reading of history after the early 20th century problematic, the movement always retained a certain ideological coherence.

Major Figures:

Ludwig von Windthorst​


Born: Hannover
Lived: 1812-1893
Leader of Centre Party: 1869-1887
Chancellor: 1873-1878 and 1883-1887​

Although other political figures held power for longer, Windthorst is arguably the most influential politician in the history of Germany from 1861-1929. Founding the Centre Party in 1869 he led it until 1887, serving as Chancellor for nine and a half years over two terms – most famously leading the DZP to an absolute majority (the only such majority ever achieved after 1863) in 1883. Defeating the Kulturkampf, Anti-Socialist Laws, laissez faire capitalism and Prussian centralism his governments also passed a significant amount of social legislation and, of course, led the march towards the unification with Austria in 1887. All elements of Germany’s Centrist tradition look back to Windthorst as their founder – for the Populists he was a fighter for the poor and needy, for the moderates a guardian of democracy and for conservatives the man who faced down efforts to destroy the traditions of non-Prussian Germany and won. A truly titanic figure.


Adam Stegerwald

Born: Bavaria
Lived: 1874-1938
Leader of Free People’s Party: 1898-1920
Chancellor: 1898-1901
President: 1904-1919​

Whilst Windthorst’s legacy was clearly of far less appeal beyond the Centrist tradition, Adam Stegerwald became a beloved symbol, not only of Populism, but of Republicanism as a whole. Popular with Socialists, Populists and Social Liberals alike he was actually a divisive figure within the Centrist camp, many being uncomfortable with his drift towards secularism, his close association with Germany’s Socialist movement and early radicalism. Becoming Chancellor at the mindboggling young age of 24 in 1898 (rising to the top of a highly youthful FVP during the chaotic years of Civil War and Revolution), he totally dominated the First Republic’s governments. Although his governments were successful in protecting the democratic character of the Republic, passing through a great deal of social legislation (building on the legacy of Windthorst), restoring German influence abroad and modernising the economy despite the relative economic hardships of the 1910s his legacy was greatly tarnished by his final years. The years leading up to 1920 saw the Republican camp splinter, Hindenburg claim the Presidency in 1919 (thereby removing the FVP and its allies from power) and finally his party face destruction at the polls – leading to his retirement from politics at the age of 46. Although he would re-enter politics during the 1930s as a moderate Republican, never again would he achieve national influence. At icon to ‘progressives’ of all ideological shades and a controversial figure, Stegerwald held governmental power for longer than any other individual during the period.


Franz von Papen

Born: Westphalia
Lived: 1879-1964
Leader of German Centre Party (Monarchist): 1919-1920
Leader of German Centre Party: 1920-1925
Chancellor: 1920-1925​

Franz von Papen is a highly controversial figure in German political history. It was his rebellion, more than any other single factor, which allowed the Hindenburg to rise to the Presidency and the support of his Monarchist Centre Party that allowed the right and far right to achieve power in the 1920s. However, without his individual contribution Karlist Monarchism (a monarchism that combined support for the Habsburgs with demands for constitutional monarchy in Germany) would never have emerged as a nationally significant movement and conservative Centrism would never emerged independent of its moderate Republican leadership. Therefore, for a certain brand of conservative Centrist – Papen is a heroic figure who stood against the Republican mainstream and came within a slither of guiding the Habsburgs back to power all in the space of a few years. Although ultimately failing in his aims, Papen’s position in German, and Centrist, history is unassailable.

Liberalism
Variants: Social Liberalism, Progressive Liberalism, National Liberalism, Classical Liberalism
Major Parties: German Progress Party (DFP), National Liberal Party (NLP), Free People’s Party (FVP)
Minor Parties: Liberal Union of Germany (LVD), German Democratic Party (DDP), German National Liberal Party (DNLP), Republican People’s Party of Germany (RVPD)

German Liberalism, although a highly significant force in German political history (especially up until 1890s) was often at odds with itself. The central cleavage regarded the relationship between the economy and elites. Pre-War Liberalism was divided between the Progressive Liberalism of the DFP, with its undying commitment to democracy, its anti-elitism and willing to compromise over its belief that it stood up for the common man, and National Liberalism that was highly supportive of the Prussian establishment, was more ambivalent towards democracy, carrying an altogether more authoritarian edge. After the war Liberalism was again divided as Social Liberalism (arguably the successor of Progressive Liberalism) turned away from laissez faire whilst retaining the anti-elitism and democratic commitments of old, National Liberalism appeared to strip itself of much of its Liberal nature in dissolving into the DNVP (although also having an influence on the DDP) whilst the DDP stood up for a traditional Progressive and Classical Liberalism with a rather more firebrand insistence on laissez faire leading the party towards National Liberalesque conclusions and collusion with the Right.

The Liberal vision of German history clearly divided between National and Progressive-Social Liberal traditions. In contrast to Centrism and Conservatism, Liberals tend to originate their narrative of German unification in the Revolutions of 1848, where they believe the project of unification truly began. The Forchenbeck Prussian government of 1861-1863, which unified Northern Germany, is regarded as the force that restarted the process begun in 1848 and unleashed the unstoppable force of German nationalism – which eventually achieved the full unification of Germany in 1869. With 1887 seen as being of secondary importance, especially for non-Austrian Liberals, it is in 1869 that the united Liberal viewpoint diverges into two different accounts. Whilst National Liberals stand firmly behind the ‘Prussian camp’ in the ideological struggles of 1869-1887, Progressive and especially Social Liberals tend to be more ambivalent – many even tactically supporting the ‘Centrist camp’! There were no stronger proponents of colonialism in the 19th century that the Liberals, of all shades, such was the popularity of Liberal imperialism that as late as the 1920s prominent Liberal commentators still talked about the possibility of acquiring a new Empire at the expense of Spain, long after colonialism had ceased to be either desirably or feasible. 1898 remains a contentious date within the Liberal School. For Social Liberals, it marks the birth of a golden age of democracy complimented by the good governance of the FVP, for the Classical Liberals of the DDP the Weimar Republic was a cherished for its institutions but derided for the tyrannical economic interventionism of the FVP and their governments whilst National Liberals staunchly opposed the regime – disliking both the governments it produced and the institutions it was founded upon. In contrast to other school of thought, Liberalism was actually brought much closer together through the trials of the 1920s – Social, National, Progressive and Classical Liberals all uniting behind the Second Republic in their mutual loathing of dictatorship.

Major Figures:


Max von Forchenbeck

Born: Westphalia
Lived: 1821-1888
Leader of German Progress Party: 1860-1863
Leader of National Liberal Party: 1863-1869
Leader of Liberal Union of Germany: 1877-1883
Minister-President: 1861-1863​

Forchenbeck is many things to German Liberalism; the founder of modern party politics, of modern Liberalism, of the Progress Party, of National Liberalism, the man who kick started the process of unification and who stood consistently for Liberal unity. He is also the man who divided Liberalism, failed miserably to return to power after 1869 and oversaw the rapid decline of Liberalism under his ill-fated LVD between 1877-1883 – the period when Centrism definitively supplanted Liberalism as the dominant ideological school in Germany.

History will best remember Forchenbeck for his role in the unification of the 1860s. After stunning leading the DFP to power in 1861, in the process revolutionising German politics in his reorganisation of Prussian Liberals into a modern political machine, his policies quickly provoked the conflict with France that allowed the North German states to unite under Prussian leadership. Seeing his party grow unwieldy, Forchenbeck split off from the DFP to form the National Liberal Party – retaining governmental power from 1863-1869 as the junior partner in an alliance with the Bismarckian conservatives that successfully achieved unification in 1869. However, his moderate positions within the NLP saw his lose the leadership to radicals in 1869 and travel through the political wilderness over the course of the following decade his politics, somewhere between Progressive and National Liberalism, leaving him alienated from both the DFP and NLP. His dramatic comeback came in 1877 when he led a campaign to achieve Liberal unity, forming the Liberal Union. It was believed that under a single party Liberalism would be capable of overcoming the rising might of Centrism, and a resurgent Conservatism. Instead the LVD achieved the worst results in German ‘Liberal’ parties would ever achieve before 1920 with 1878 and 1883 both seeing the LVD achieve a pathetic ¼ of the vote (considering that the two Liberal parties had been used to gaining a minimum of 40%, this was a dramatic fall from grace). Forchenbeck never recovered from the dissolution of the Union in 1883 – failing even to be granted a ministerial position when the Liberals returned to power in 1887. Despite his mixed legacy, Forchenbeck can safely be regarded as the father of German Liberalism.


Eugen Richter

Born: Brandenburg
Lived: 1874-1938
Leader of German Progress Party: 1883-1897
Leader of German Democratic Party: 1897-1909
Chancellor: 1887-1893 and 1901-1909​

For 26 years Eugen Richter dominated the Progessive-Classical wing of German Liberalism. Leading the reconstituted DFP from 1883 he infamously supported Windthorst’s removal of the Anti-Socialist Laws in that year on democratic grounds, despite his virulent hatred of Socialism. Becoming Chancellor from 1887-1893 (the only man to serve in the role in both the Kaiserreich and First Republic), at the head of a an alliance of Progressive and National Liberals, and with the parliamentary backing of Conservatives he returned to power after the Great War at the head of the newly formed German Democratic Party which regrouped various Liberals around a democratic-Republican laissez faire agenda. Initially working with the revolutionary parties (FVP and SPD), he coordinated the shift of the DDP and DZP from alliance with the revolutionaries to alliance with the monarchist. Becoming Chancellor of this conservative government from 1901-1904 he retained the Chancellory even after the FVP and SPD returned to government with Adam Stegerwald’s Presidential victory of 1904. However, in the last years of his political career he witnessed the rise might of the Austrian School influenced radical economists with the DDP – who’s eventually towering influence within the party led the DDP into opposition, obscurity and eventually alliance with the Right.


Adam Stegerwald

Born: Bavaria
Lived: 1874-1938
Leader of Free People’s Party: 1898-1920
Chancellor: 1898-1901
President: 1904-1919
Just as he was a hero of Centrism, Adam Stegerwald was the symbol of Social Liberals across Germany for decades. His governments that so defined the First Republican came to embody the ideals of Social Liberalism, arguably to a greater extent than they did Christian Democracy and Moderate Socialism. Social Liberalism would never again play a major role in German politics – the rise of Socialism providing a challenge from the Left and the continued strength of Christian Democracy and competing Liberal tendencies barring the ideology from growth to its right. Bearing this in mind, Stegerwald’s Presidency can be regarded a pinnacle that was never again emulated from the Social Liberal viewpoint.


Gustav Stresemann

Born: Brandenburg
Lived: 1878-1947
Leader of German National People’s Party: 1913-1924
Leader of German National Liberal Party: 1924-1935
Chancellor: 1919-1920 and 1928
President: 1928-1933
Stresemann played a prominent role in German politics for three decades from the 1910s into the 1930s. Although his personal National Liberal politics lacked the social base to propel him to power alone, he possessed an impressive ability to compromise with competing factions – appealing to both authoritarians and democrats, Prussians and Southerners, Republicans and Monarchists. Always a member of the minority National Liberal wing of the DNVP, he was appointed as leader in 1913 in response to the perceived alienation of the party from the moderate right – the isolation of the DNVP making it impossible for the Populists’ grip on power to be broken. Stresemann was to successfully maintain the balancing act of retain the support of the conservatives within his own party and the Fascists of the German Workers’ Party whilst also bring the DDP and eventually the Papenite Monarcho-Centrists into a broad Anti-Republican (or at least Anti-Populist) coalition – his crowning achievement being the election of Paul von Hindenburg as President in 1919.

After 1919 he served a brief one year term as a transitional Chancellor – rapturously welcoming the Right wing coalition that brought down the First Republic following the 1920 elections and enthusiastically supporting its early years in government. This enthusiasm was not to last, as the Regency regime lurched from crisis to crisis, all the while failing to establish a solid constitution (Hindenburg serving as Regent from 1920-1925 due to disputes between Habsburg and Hohenzollern claimants to the Imperial throne) Stresemann turned against his own parties. In the end it was not his collaboration with Fascists nor Republican Liberals nor even Catholic Centrists that brought an end to the always strained relationship between Stresemann and his party, it was his decision to turn against the fundamental basis of the German National People’s Party – unconditional support for the House of Hohenzollern. When Stresemann voiced support for the claims of Karl von Habsburg whose commitment to constitutional monarchism had impressed him he was expelled from the party along with a small band of followers who groups with Republican Liberal groups to form the German National Liberal Party (DNLP).

After the wilderness years of the military dictatorship that ruled Germany from 1925-1928 Stresemann once again returned to the forefront of German politics as he played a leading role in transitioning Germany from the military dictatorship of the Third Reich to the parliamentary democracy of the Second Republic, serving as Chancellor through much of 1928 before being elected as President in the same year. During these turbulent months he negotiated with leading members of the dictatorial ruling junta, the Imperial court, Karlist Centrists, Moderate Republicans, Conservative magnates and most crucially Socialists – a unique ability to find a degree of common ground with such a myriad of groups allowing him to stand out as the unlikely face of the 1928 Revolution.

Conservatism
Variants: Prussian Traditionalism, Bismarckian Conservatism, Authoritarian Monarchism, Fascism, National Integralism
Major Parties: German Reich Party (DRP), German Conservative Reich Party (DKRP), German National People’s Party (DNVP), German Fatherland Party (DVP)
Minor Parties: Conservative Party (KP), German Workers’ Party (DAP)

Conservatism was the third ideological force in Germany through the era, always battling between an internal conflict between the an obsessive fascination with backward looking traditionalism and a strong desire to see a Prussian led Germany secure her destiny as Europe’s mightiest nation. The initial rift within Conservatism was caused by the creation of the North German Federation in 1863 as the Prussian Traditionalists clashed with Bismarck and his followers who aligned themselves with the National Liberals – achieving unification with the Southern states in 1869 and then embarking upon their infamous project of ‘nation building’ famously typified by the Kulturkampf. The early 1870s would see Conservatism evolve yet further, with the unification allowing the division between the Traditionalist KP and more modern thinking DRP to fade away as the parties united into the DKRP German Conservatives also distanced themselves from the National Liberal project. Seeing that policies like the Kulturkampf were, rather than conducive to order, a major source of instability – the rise of a radical regime of Progressive Liberals and Centrists to power in 1873 proving to be a major shock – Conservatives moved into a position of neutrality in the struggle between National Liberals and Centrists, playing both groups off one another. Uncommitted to any grand project of restructuring the German nation, unlike Liberals and Centrists, German Conservatives were primarily focussed on fostering internal stability and preventing the international isolation of Germany. Both these missions collapsed in spectacular fashion from 1896-1898, leaving German Conservatism in a state of crisis.

The Conservatism that emerged from the closing months and years of the 19th century idolised the Kaiserreich, the House of Hohenzollern, the Prussian military establishment (including, in many circles, the Ludendorff dictatorship) and all values in opposition to the First Republic. Aside from a brief spell in government from 1901-1905, and of course the late 1910s; German Conservatism remained relatively stable but isolated from the rest of the political establishment. Despite this, the tendency remained surprisingly vibrant. The emergence of Fascism in the latter Noughties split an aggressively vibrant revolutionary faction from the Conservative mainstream (consisting of roughly 1/3 of the Conservative voting public) as Anti-Democratic, Anti-Republican, Anti-Marxist and Anti-Semitic viewpoints hardened on the Right. After so many years in opposition Conservatives were brought to power from 1919-1928 – gaining free license to crack destroy the First Republic, crack down on ‘democratic excesses’ (most notably after the coup of 1925) and enter battle with the Socialist dominated labour movement. However, rather than look to radically restructure society, or even decide upon a clear form of government, the Conservatives merely restored decrepit old elites and undermined those within their camp whose Totalitarian ideas might have given the listless regimes of the 1920s a degree of energy with which to restructure society, or those whose more democratic outlook would have made a conservative leaning democratic regime possible. The 1920s once more divided Conservatism – the moderates aligning with either a revived National Liberalism or Karlist Centrism, the radicals rallying around the Integral Nationalism of the Fatherland Party.

Unsurprisingly, the Conservative view of German history differs wildly from both the Centrist and Liberal traditions. Although during the 19th century itself Conservatives were divided on the merits of unification, by the 20th century the hold of German nationalism meant that unification was viewed as a complex inevitability. The central theme of Conservatives viewing the unification period was that German unity had to be achieved, but only in a way that would not cause chaos and social strife within the country and would not line up the Great Powers of Europe against the German nation – threatening her continued existence. It is for these reasons that the defeat of the Liberal Revolutions of 1848 is identified, not as a glorious failure, but as an important victory – although unification was delayed, a Revolutionary regime that would threaten the social fabric of the nation and instantly become an enemy to Europe’s crowned heads was avoided. The unification of the 1860s is identified as the only true unification of the German nation – with the process being completed upon the proclamation of the Empire in 1869. The credit for this triumph is laid at the feet of the mighty Prussian Army – twice victorious over France during the decade – and the diplomatic genius of Otto von Bismarck, the darling of Conservatives nationwide. The following two decades are seen as a golden age with the Conservatives, under Bismarckian tutelage, ensuring internal stability by arbitrating between Centrists and National Liberals whilst having a calming influence over foreign policy – Germany’s strong position during this period despite the conquest of an overseas colonial Empire being a source of endless praise.

The great disaster was the annexation of Austria in 1887 – destroying the balance of power, the annexation made German isolation and war inevitable, it provided the country with a large injection of Catholics and ethnic minorities to threaten the internal stability of the Empire and set the troublesome precedent of removing a crowned head from power in the case of the Austrian Habsburgs. Left in a concerningly weak state at the outbreak of war in 1896 German was then betrayed by Jewish influenced Socialistic and Liberal movements who caused the collapse of the Prussian war machine and created a Jew-Republic in 1898 having failed to achieve a Communist style social revolution the previous year. The First Republic then became the earthily representation of all that was wrong with the world – its eventual destruction in 1920 being universally welcomed. However, the unity of Conservative opinion ends here. After 1920 opinion divides between the scattered advocates of a conservative constitutional monarchy, ultra-traditionalist monarchists, militarists, revolutionary Fascists and Integral Nationalists.

Major Figures:


Otto von Bismarck

Born: Prussian Saxony
Lived: 1815-1895
Leader of Free Conservative Party: 1863-1869
Leader of German Reich Party: 1869-1873
Leader of German Conservative Reich Party: 1873-1888
Chancellor of North German Federation: 1863-1869
Chancellor of German Empire: 1869-1873 and 1878-1883​

Otto von Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor, remains the most towering figure in German Conservatism to this day – a hero to Nationalists and Conservatives of all shades and varieties. Having first come to prominence in 1848, playing an important role in the defeat of the Revolution of that year in Prussia, Bismarck gradually rose to the top of Prussian politics. In 1863 he led a breakaway faction of right wingers who formed the Free Conservative Party – his modernising Conservatives, committed to German unification – would enter government that year alongside the National Liberals to forge an alliance that would allow Bismarck to remain Chancellor of North Germany and later the German Empire from 1863-1873. During this period he played a key role in the unification of Germany – his diplomatic acumen allowing a Prussian led German Empire to emerge without a coalition of Great Powers emerging, strong enough to prevent the unification. During the mid-1870s he changed his course from being a strong advocate of the National Liberal project to a more neutral position regarding the conflict between the North and South – attempting to build a general national consensus around the Imperial regime and against potentially dangerous revolutionary movements. In the end, his attempt to balance both the Great Powers and the forces of Liberalism and Centrism failed in the mid-1880s – the Centre Party’s spectacular electoral victory of 1883 bringing an end to the Anti-Socialist Laws, seeing a single political movement emerge as dominant and facilitating the annexation of Austria, a move which was seen to have led directly to Germany’s international isolation. A great prophet of doom, when Bismarck was bundled away from the leadership of the DKRP, a party he had founded, in 1888 after three decades at the forefront of German politics, he predicted that the annexation of Austria would lead Germany into a conflict against a coalition of Great Powers that she would inevitably lose, causing the downfall of German civilisation.


Paul von Hindenburg

Born: Posen (East Elbian Prussia)
Lived: 1847-1933
President: 1919-1920
Regent: 1920-1925​

Unlike the other figures mentioned in this text, Paul von Hindenburg was not primarily a political figure but a military one. A member of the old, East Elbian, Prussian military-aristocracy he had a long and distinguished record in the Prussian, and later German, Army – beginning his career in the 1860s he retired in 1915 as Chief of Staff. Having remained largely apolitical during his military career, if always a staunch conservative, Hindenburg was lured into politics in 1919 when he stood as an independent, Anti-Republican, candidate for the Presidency and shockingly triumphed. Hindenburg’s victory allowed the long awaited triumph of the Right over the Republic to take place the following year – with Hindenburg retained as Head of State until 1925 as Regent of the newly reconstituted German Empire. Adopting a monarchical approach to the Regency he remained ‘above politics’ (in theory at least) before giving the 1925 coup his tacit consent by wilfully surrendering his position as Head of State to Wilhelm II in the aftermath of the seizure of power by his old comrades in the army. A Post-War hero for the Anti-Republican Right, left untarnished by significant participation in avowedly dictatorial regimes of 1897-98 and 1925-28 yet with Anti-Democratic credentials still strong enough to attract Right-wing Radicals. His funeral in 1933 drew crowds in Berlin almost twice the size of those who had greeted the declaration of the Second Republic five years before.


Gustav Stresemann

Born: Brandenburg
Lived: 1878-1947
Leader of German National People’s Party: 1913-1924
Leader of German National Liberal Party: 1924-1935
Chancellor: 1919-1920 and 1928
President: 1928-1933
Stresemann’s personal politics stood upon the traditionalist wing of National Liberalism that fit somewhere between the Liberal mainstream and Conservatism. Just as he was a prominent figure of German Liberalism, the long reigning DNVP leader remains a highly significant component of the Conservative tradition – a part of that tradition that belatedly came to terms with Republicanism from 1928.


Franz von Papen

Born: Westphalia
Lived: 1879-1964
Leader of German Centre Party (Monarchist): 1919-1920
Leader of German Centre Party: 1920-1925
Chancellor: 1920-1925​

Just as one part of the Conservative tradition embraced National Liberalism and the Republic after 1928, another part retained an Anti-Republican character and instead shifted its loyalty from the House of Hohenzollern to the House of Habsburg. Although Karlist Centrism would always remain a primarily Southern, and especially Austrian, vocation; from the 1920s growing numbers of old-DNVP supporters would turn towards the old party of the Centre founded in the image of its first leader – Franz von Papen. Having been the man to bring down the First Republic, Papen refounded the Centrist movement on a plane upon which it could compete as a legitimate inheritor of the Conservative, as well as Centrist traditions.

Socialism
Variants: Orthodox Social Democracy (19th century Marxism), Communism, Social Democracy, Democratic Socialism
Major Parties: Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) (Post-War), Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED)
Minor Parties: Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) (Pre-War) Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD), Communist Party of Germany (KPD)

For German Socialism the period of 1861-1928 was one of a slow and gradual rise. No other political tradition came under such virulent attack during the period, and no other political tradition came so close to be totally extinguished. Yet, for all that, the Socialists can identify a more clear march forward in their strength through the period than any other group. Socialism first began to emerge in Germany as a force to be reckoned with in the decades after the 1848 Revolutions, the onset of capitalist developed produced a social base for the movement in the burgeoning working classes of urban Germany whilst the theories of Karl Marx, amongst less prominent figures, provided a strong ideological backing for a radical labour movement. In 1872, with trade unionism and socialist political parties in a state of semi-legality, two small Socialist groups united to form the Social Democratic Party of Germany. As Orthodox Marxism rapidly became the predominant school of thought within 19th Century German Socialism, the movement was hamstrung by the oppressive Anti-Socialist Laws that left the SPD permanently on the precipice of destruction. After a highly impressive electoral debut in which the party earned a little over 10% of the vote, the Socialist vote went into steep decline through the 1870s and into the 1880s as the Anti-Socialist Laws strangled the movement in the cradle and Christian Democracy stretched out its influence into an apparently leaderless labour movement (the ancestors of the Centrist labour leaders of the period eventually forming the FVP at the end of the century). Even after the repeal of the Anti-Socialist Laws in 1883 the SPD failed to blossom into a major political force, struggling even to exert hegemony over its core constituency of industrial workers in large cities. The Great War was to change everything.

German Socialism was totally transformed by the years 1896-98, with the old society shattered and discredited by the war a wave of revolutions swept Europe and did not spare Germany. The genuine fears of the establishment that the Socialist Left might seize power may have been largely without foundation, but the strength of this myth nonetheless had a major effect on German society. Even in spite of a major split within the Socialist movement between radical revolutionaries (within the USPD and later KPD) and moderates with little taste for social revolution (within the SPD) German Socialism was vastly more influential after the Revolution. In the elections of 1898 and 1903 the combined vote of the SPD and USPD or KPD stood at around 28% and 24% respectively – results unthinkable the decade before. Despite at one point threatening to overtake the SPD as the leading force on the Socialist Left, German Communism collapsed in the late Noughties, allowing Social Democracy to rise as the clear leader of German Socialism – finally absorbing the KPD in 1917 with the formation of the Socialist Unity Party, essentially a rebranded SPD. During the same Republican period Social Democrats established themselves as a party of government, in stark contrast to political pariahs Kaisserreich era SPD the party took part in FVP led governments from 1898-1901 and 1905-1917 (and 1917-1918 as the SED). Whatsmore, during this period the labour movement’s leadership grew gradually more homogenised, at the onset of the 20th century the labour movement was divided into roughly equal Social Democratic, Communist and Populist branches. With the retreat of the FVP from its old radicalism and the death of German Communism, the Social Democrats were able to become totally dominant within the trade union leadership.

The regroupment of the entire movement within the SED allowed German Socialism to take the step forward from a mere supporting role in the ‘progressive’ coalitions of the FVP towards a role of leadership within the Republican movement. The narrow defeat of the SED candidate in the 1919 Presidential election was followed by a renewed alliance with the moderate Republicans in the lead up to the 1920 elections. Although the Left was defeated, the spectacular defeats suffered by the other Republican parties meant that the Republican movement came under heavy Socialist influence. Standing as the strongest poll of opposition to the Right, with its intransigent or openly hostile view of democracy, through the 1920s the SED won by far the largest share of the vote in the 1928 election, coming close to reaching 1/3 of the vote. Although forced to compromise with the National Liberals, the Socialists ensured that Germany would never again come under monarchical rule and secured the rise of the first ever Socialist Chancellor in the form of Otto Braun, the first Chancellor of the Second Republic.

Just like the three other main traditions of German political thought, the Socialists maintain a distinctive reading of the history of the period. Like the Liberals, the Socialists tend to begin their narrative of the period not in the 1860s but in 1848. Rather than a glorious failure, 1848 represented a defining moment when it first became apparent that the aims of the working class were incompatible with the leadership of the bourgeoisie and the dominance of their ideologies as the interests of the two classes for the first time appeared sharply in conflict. As the decades that followed 1848 saw the gradual emergence of an ideology of proletarian character in the form of Marxian Socialism capitalist economic development saw a large urban working class emerge across the country and the proletarianisation of large parts of the economy – wage labour becoming the dominant mode of production. With the potential constituency of Socialism always growing, the working class was seen to have experienced a long and gradual process of political education. Struggles against the old autocracy of the Kaiser and then authoritarian regimes in 1897-98 and 1920-1928 contributed to a political education that, combined with the daily struggles of the labour movement, drove ever greater numbers of workers toward the ideas of Socialism. Inevitably, theorised the Socialists, the overwhelming majority of the population would be won over to Socialism – allowing for the overthrow of the capitalist system and the ushering in of a peaceful, democratic and egalitarian future.

Major Figures:


August Bebel

Born: Rhineland
Lived: 1840-1912
Leader of Social Democratic Party of Germany: 1872-1896​

For nearly ¼ of a century August Bebel led the Social Democratic Party from its foundation until the Great War. Whilst his political career came to a decisive end in 1896 and he did not once even approach political power, the titanic legacy he bequeathed to Post-War Socialism was immense. At a time with Far Left thought was extremely fluid, when Marxism competed with various other schools of Revolutionary thought and when the SPD itself was caught between competing pulls towards ultra-leftism and reformism Bebel ensured the party constructed a solid identity built around Orthodox Marxist ideology and mass work. Although the divisions within the Socialist movement, that Bebel arguably helped keep in check during his tenure as leader, eventually came to the fore during the First Republican era both Communist and Social Democratic movements retained a character that was heavily influence by the party of Bebel. Likewise, from the 1920s onwards study of 19th century Social Democracy by those within the milieu of the SED became increasingly common – many seeking to draw lessons from the founding father of the Socialist movement.


Viktor Adler

Born: Bohemia
Lived: 1852-1923
Leader of Socialist Democratic Workers’ Party of Austria: 1882-1887
Leader of Social Democratic Party of Germany: 1897-1909​

Whilst under Bebel’s leadership Social Democracy would survive, under Adler’s it would take another step up. Having been involved in the founding of Austrian Social Democracy (even leading the party during its brief 5 year existence), Adler quickly became one of the first Austrian politicians to have a national impact on the rest of Germany. Taking over the leadership of the SPD after the Great War he participated in the Revolution of 1898 and then proceeded to bring Socialists into government for the first time – participating in the administrations of 1898-1901 and 1905-1909 as a high ranking minister. It was during this early phase of Republican history that the Populist led coalitions were at the height of their reforming zeal, much of which would fall away during the 1910s, allowing Social Democracy to justify itself as the true bearers of the interests of the working class at a time when Communism was able to present a genuine challenge (in 1903 the KPD had come within an inch of overtaking the SPD to become the largest Socialist party in the Reichstag). Although failing to take the SPD from the status of a major political party to a potential leader of the Left, the period of Adler’s leadership was a highly important one for the development of Socialism.


Adam Stegerwald

Born: Bavaria
Lived: 1874-1938
Leader of Free People’s Party: 1898-1920
Chancellor: 1898-1901
President: 1904-1919​

Although neither Stegerwald nor the vast majority of his supporters ever claimed to be Socialists, the dominant figure of the First Republic had an inevitably major effect upon German Socialism through virtue of two decades of alliance between the Populists and Socialists, the majority of which was spent in government. During the First Republican era the proper relationship between the Socialist Left and FVP was perhaps the biggest debate in German Socialism. Communists called for the rejection of the Populists, the supporters of Friedrich Ebert (SPD leader 1909-1914) called for total acceptance of the policies of government even if the party should debate with its coalition partners within government. Arthur Crispein (leader of the SPD 1914-1917 and the SED 1917-1919) brought the Socialists into conflict with Stegerwald’s regime at a time when it was shifting alarmingly towards the Right – eventually resulting in a split in the Republican movement that allowed Hindenburg to rise to the Presidency. Finally the party returned to alliance with Stegerwald and his party in the final year of the Republic in a failed attempt to restore the unity of the Republican movement against the Right. Yet, for more than twenty years Adam Stegerwald, more than any undeniably Socialist figure, had shaped the way that Socialist leaders of all shades defined themselves. Degrees of radicalism or disagreements over theoretical concepts came to be subservient to the question over whether one was pro or anti Stegerwald.


Otto Braun

Born: Bavaria
Lived: 1872-1955
Leader of Socialist Unity Party of Germany 1926-1933
Chancellor: 1928-1933​

Otto Braun was a lifelong Socialist who slowly but surely worked his way up to the top of Social Democracy. Although hardly appearing to be made in the mould of a great national leader, he oversaw the SED finally achieve power in 1928, not as a minor coalition member, but as the leader of the Republican movement, albeit a leader forced into serious compromises by their newly acquired National Liberal allies. In 1928 Otto Braun became the first ever, but certainly not the last, Socialist to become Chancellor of Germany the stabilisation of the Republic during his five year term helping to solidify its existence. Although he lost both the party leadership and the position of Chancellor in 1933, it was under his leadership that the SED became fully mature as a national leader – ending German Socialism’s own road to modernity.
 

Tommy4ever

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Well that ended up being ridiculously long. This update topped out just over 6,500 words, combined with the first one I've just written around 9,000 words over viewing this AAR's history :p. Slightly more than I initially intended ...

None the less, just one more update to go and then Blood and Iron is officially, and entirely, completed!
 

DensleyBlair

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None the less, just one more update to go and then Blood and Iron is officially, and entirely, completed!
When can we reasonably expect it?
 

unmerged(211960)

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That damn Adam Stegerwald, he has had his fingers in EVERY cake possible, yes; even the Coconut one with raisins that nobody likes. But what I like about this AAR is that it almost went the same way the the original time line went, take and give a few events. :p
 

LordTempest

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I think I speak for most Germans when I say that for much of its life, the face of the Zentrumpartei was not some von Windbag whom nobody had ever heard of, but the Honourable Herr Khalep. How such a man, the most influential Chancellor Germany never had, could be omitted in any list of Great German Christian Democrats is beyond me.

In other words Tommy, Get on with it! :p
 

Tommy4ever

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When can we reasonably expect it?
I think I speak for most Germans when I say that for much of its life, the face of the Zentrumpartei was not some von Windbag whom nobody had ever heard of, but the Honourable Herr Khalep. How such a man, the most influential Chancellor Germany never had, could be omitted in any list of Great German Christian Democrats is beyond me.

In other words Tommy, Get on with it! :p

I've started working on it, got together some stats and am currently finding pictures to represent the illustrious posts who shall enter the Hall of Fame.

As of right now no one further can qualify for the Hall of Fame and all the stats will remain fixed. So hopefully the update will be up today or tomorrow.
 

LordTempest

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As of right now no one further can qualify for the Hall of Fame and all the stats will remain fixed. So hopefully the update will be up today or tomorrow.
Wait, there's stats? :huh:
 

GreatUberGeek

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Great update, Tommy! This was a great AAR and I can't wait for the last pieces. :)
 

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DensleyBlair

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There's always stats.
And pictures, too, it would seem. On the off chance you need something to represent Kapitänoffentsichlich Blair, I'd be happy to oblige.
 

LordTempest

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And pictures, too, it would seem. On the off chance you need something to represent Kapitänoffentsichlich Blair, I'd be happy to oblige.
Dumas. Job done. :)
 

Enewald

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So many heretics everywhere. Foolish politicians leading the nation towards certain doom...
 

Khalep

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A great update! This AAR is truly blessed with an historical overview which gives such a prominent place to the Centrists. Glorious times!
Political Catholicism has always stood up to the challenge.

As to good Herr Tanzhangs remarks: thank you! Though I, being the humble moderate that I am, regard Herr Windthorst with the greatest respect. ;)
 

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Truly God has blessed the DZP as the greatest and most pious party in the entirety of Germany!
 

alxeu

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my Hitler finger painter must be mentioned! I employed him until he became a politician!
 

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The Hall of Fame

Over the course of this AAR there have been 83 different posters and a large number of individuals who have contributed a great deal in making Blood and Iron the AAR that it was. I would love to include a greater number of individuals in the Hall of Fame but decided to use a clear cut off. The six posters included in this Hall of Fame are those who made more posts than me in this thread, between them contributing 53.4% of all the posts in the thread. Without further ado, let us examine the live of the most illustrious individuals of German history in the period 1861-1929.



Herr Tanzhang

Born: Berlin, Brandenburg
Lived: 1840-1930
Posts: 867 (19.3% of thread)
Voting History: 1861: DFP, 1863-1873: NLP, 1878-1883: LVD, 1887-1893: DFP, 1898-1914: FVP (as DVF in 1898), 1920: DZP M, 1928: DNLP​

Herr Tanzhang was undeniably a giant in the history of German intellectual thought and politics. His debates with Herr Khalep in the 1870s and 1880s and with Frau Howard in the 1900s and 1910s will forever be remembered as defining moments in the intellectual life of the country. Born into a prosperous bourgeois family in Berlin in 1840, Tanzhang’s father sympathised with the 1848 Revolutions, although refused to commit himself to open support – passing down a heritage of moderate Liberalism to his son none the less. Having enrolled at the Frederick Wilhelm University in Berlin, he graduated with flying colours in 1861. It was during his University years that Tanzhang truly formed his inseparable connection to what would become the twin passions of a lifetime – Liberal politics, and journalism.

During the 1860s Tanzhang strong supported German unification and Liberal leader Max von Forchenbeck, always maintaining a suspicion of Bismarck and his party of aristocrats. The joyous unification of Germany in 1869 was to come alongside personal tragedy for Tanzhang as his father passed away – bequeathing unto his only son a small fortune. Using his inheritance and his contacts within Berlin journalism, Tanzhang set up a small newspaper named the ‘Free German’ as owner and chief editor he would rapidly rise to fame and riches with the Free German emerging as Germany’s most popular paper in Liberal circles. Engaging in the greatest debates of his age Tanzhang sparred most famously with the Spiritual Centrism of Khalep, with a slowly emerging Socialism and with those reactionaries who would threaten the democratic development of Germany’s institutions. Yet, even as his own fortunes improved the Liberal movements he attached himself to, and maintained an impressive degree of influence over, saw their fortunes decline noticeably through the Kaisserreich. The Kulturkampf was defeated, the Anti-Socialist Laws (the maintenance of which had been an emotionally charged issue for Tanzhang) were repealed, laissez faire economics drifted away from the economic mainstream, the annexation of Austria saw Germany grow diplomatically isolated and most catastrophically Germany fell to defeat in the Great War – seeing its cherished colonial Empire lost and its society risk falling apart.

Rather than despair at the collapse of the old world, a by aging Tanzhang merely rejuvenated himself and adjusted to the new. Moving away from a 19th century conception of Liberalism to a modern Social Liberalism, Tanzhang became one of the most important ideologues of the Free People’s Party ironically now aligned with his old, foe Herr Khalep, Tanzhang proceeded to proselytise for the FVP and expand its reach far beyond its traditional Left-Centrist core. From the 1900s and 1910s, as the Republic appeared to be planted firmly in place under Populist leadership, the Republican camp began to fracture as the militant Austrian School political economists began to make their voices heard. The most prominent of these, Frau Howard, rapidly became the greatest intellectual foe of Tanzhang – haranguing his claim to be a true representative of Liberalism, accusing him of pseudo-Socialism and economic manslaughter for his advocacy of interventionist policies. By the end of the 1910s Tanzhang had been largely victorious in this dispute – the DDP of Frau Howard and the Austrians declining significantly.

Rather than rest and retire in his dotage, Tanzhang was to become involved in one last great political dispute as he sought to bring an end to the very Republic that he had supported for nigh on two decades. Struggling against the Socialist dominated Republican movement, and the Anti-Democratic forces on the Right Tanzhang attempted to forge out a middle path, his 1923 book ‘’On the Need for a Modern National Liberalism’’ playing an influential role in the formation of the DNLP, essentially becoming its central ideological text. The betrayal of the constitutional monarchist cause by the DNLP leadership in 1928, when the formed a Republican compromise with the Socialists, hurt Tanzhang deeply and shortly thereafter he retired from public life to write his memoirs at the age of 88 – passing away two years later.


Frau Howard

Born: Vienna, Austria
Lived: 1879-1955
Posts: 487 (10.9% of thread)
Voting History: 1903-1920: DDP​

Although her fire did not perhaps burn quite so brightly as some of the longer lived intellectuals of the period, no one can claim to have burned quite so brightly as Frau Howard during the first two decades of the 20th century. Coming from a prosperous family of Jewish Viennese industrialists, Liberalism was always the likely end point of Frau Howard’s political development. However, it was only through contact with the particular intellectual milieu she became involved within during her studies at the University of Vienna in the first years after the Great War that her ‘ultra-Liberal’ viewpoint became crystallised. In a deeply patriarchal society, Howard rise to the pinnacle of German intellectual life was highly impressive and quite unique with only a handful of other German women ever gaining the recognition she enjoyed during her early 20th century heyday. Quickly becoming the leading mind behind the ‘market evangelists’ in the German Democratic Party, Howard exerted serious influence on DDP policy – the activities of her and other free-marketeers leading directly to the abandonment of the Populist led ruling coalition by the DDP in 1909 as the party sought to maintain Weimar’s democratic and Republican institutions whilst totally reshaping the state’s interaction with the economy. Engaging in polemic against Socialism, Social Liberalism (or pseudo-Socialism to Howard herself), Christian Democracy, Conservatism and Fascism, Howard was to become the idol of a particular brand of classical Liberal. However, the political realities of 20th century Germany meant that the declining DDP would ally with the Anti-Republican Right, against her expressed wishes, and eventually contribute to the events of 1919-1920 that saw the First Republic fall. With the DDP going into opposition before dissolving in the early 1920s, Howard went through a painful process of introspection that was mirrored by many of the generation of classical Liberals who had emerged in the years after the Great War. Whilst many drifted towards a conservative National Liberalism during the 1920s, and others towards the Social Liberalism of the RVPD smaller groups still went along more bizarre paths – some towards Anarchism and one individual infamously towards ‘Vegan-Cannibalism’. Although clearly being affected by the changes in the political scene Howard remained committed to a classical Liberal outlook until the end.

That said, few intellectuals of her stature were so well endowed with ‘eccentricities’. Frau Howard would famously fall in love and marry one of Germany’s most prominent Fascists – siring two children with Herr Contravarius despite his undying and virulent anti-Semitic views. Quite uniquely for someone of her heritage, Frau Howard had golden blonde hair but persistently dyed her hair dark for most of her life – attempting to highlight her Jewish roots in an effort to challenge anti-Semitism, not least that of her husband. After he husband’s untimely death in 1928 she would never remarry. Her home life was complimented by equally eccentric political tangents occasionally pursued by the Frau including advocating an alliance between the FVP and DNVP at the height of the conflict between the two powerhouses of the First Republic and becoming obsessed with the idea of a ‘Congress of Berlin’ in the 1910s and into the 1920s with hopes of acquiring a new colonial Empire at a time when such an idea was largely unthinkable. For all this, Howard was certainly a force to be reckoned with. Even as her fortunes declined with those of classical Liberalism through the first half of the 20th century there was a notable revival of interest in her thinking from the 1970s onwards as ‘neoliberals’ of all nations looked towards her polemics for inspiration and solid arguments to employ against their ‘statist’ opponents. If Howard was doomed to lose the battle against her political enemies in her own lifetime, she was much better placed in the decades after her eventual death.


Herr Khalep

Born: Bamberg, Bavaria
Lived: 1840-1947
Posts: 297 (6.6% of thread)
Voting History: 1861: KP, 1863: FKP, 1869-1898: DZP, 1903-1914: FVP, 1920: DZP M, 1928-1944: DZP
Born just five days before his illustrious contemporary, Herr Tanzhang, Khalep, more so than Windthorst, Stegerwald, Papen or even Karl von Habsburg, came to define German Centrism politically, culturally, ethically and intellectually. The most vocal and consistent defender of Centrist ideology from 1869 deep into the 20th century there are few more influential figures in German politics, especially considering Herr Khalep’s persistent victories in both the political and intellectual struggles of his day.

Born to a devoutly Catholic household of moderate means he moved to Silesia at a young age after his father inherited a small amount of land near Breslau. As he approached his late teens began a clerical education – eventually becoming a parish priest in the 1860s. During the first decade of his maturity he found himself an uncomfortable ally of Prussian conservatives whilst maintaining tacit support for German unification. Shortly after that unification eventually occurred in 1869 he moved from Silesia to his spiritual home in Munich, Bavaria – the city where he would reside for the rest of his life. Although he had been aware of Centrist politics during his time in Silesia, it was not until he arrived in the South that the potential of Centrism to shape German history became truly apparent. Here was a movement with potential mass appeal that could protect all regions of Germany from Prussian domination, which could fight for freedom of religion against the militant secular Liberalism of the North, which could see democratic and social reform gradually introduced. Here was a movement Herr Khalep could call his own. During the ideological and political struggles of the 1870s and 1880s, in which the Centrist tradition was formed, Khalep stood out as the outstanding defender of the Centre against Conservatism and National Liberalism. When the Pre-War Centre reached the pinnacle of its power in the mid-1880s with the absolute majority won in 1883 being followed by the long sought after repeal of the Anti-Socialist Laws and then, far more significantly, the unification with Austria in 1887, Herr Khalep was the single most influential intellectual in all Germany – having played a crucial role in reshaping the Political Catholicism of the first Centrists into a broad Christian Democracy with appeal to Germans of all regions, ethnicities and classes.

The good times were not to last. After 1887 Centrism saw a not insignificant decline in its electoral performances from the high of 1883 and more worryingly witnessed a split during the 1890s before the outbreak of the Great War. After the turbulent years of 1896-98 Khalep found himself a moderate member of the Republican movement – seeing the need for Christian Democracy as being far greater than even during the Kaisserriech era. Now, the Christian Democrats (of both the old Centre Party and the Free People’s Party) offered the only viable alternative to revolution from either the Left or the Right with an ideology that would protect the individual, the community and maintain harmony amongst the social classes all the while basing itself on a progressive Christian morality. For a devout Catholic and firm believer in tradition, even one so attached to modern political ideas as Herr Khalep, the temptation presented by the emergence of Karl von Habsburg as a viable claimant to the Imperial throne proved too much. Taking a not dissimilar view to many contemporary moderate Liberals and Christian Democrats, Herr Khalep believed that under the Republic the regime would be constantly beset by potential instability and the threat of violent overthrow from the powerful Anti-Democratic element, whilst he also noted concern that there would always exist the potential for the sort of regional domination he had fought against before the War. Although Karl von Habsburg and his Centrist supporters did not emerge from the struggles of the 1920s victorious – the constitution of the Second Republic proclaimed in 1928 dealt with many of Khalep concerns over the First Republic with the guarantee of regional autonomy and the presence of greater checks and balances on the various institutions of government (notably the upper house) creating a more conservative but stable regime. Outliving his great friend and rival, Herr Tanzhang, by a decade and a half the man who defined the meaning of Christian Democracy more than any other died at the age of 107 in 1947, still a card carrying member of the German Centre Party.


Herr Contravarius

Born: Leipzig, Saxony
Lived: 1874-1928
Posts: 268 (6%)
Voting History: 1903: DNVP, 1909-1920: DAP, 1928: DVP
Although Herr Contravarius undeniably contributed to the written history of German Fascism and the Radical Right, his writings were primarily polemical, only delving into deeper issues in the 1920s and perhaps a little earlier when his admiration for the French political system led to him outlining a vision of a German Integral Nationalism. In truth though, Contravarius was a man of actions above words – becoming the leader of the German Workers’ Party’s famed paper hat militias (Contravarius having invented the style of wearing a paper hat himself for reasons that remain shrouded by history), terrorising Jews, Socialists, Trade Unionists and even moderate Republicans through the 1910s and 1920s.

Herr Contravarius’s parents were small shop owners of relative means before the Great War and seemed destined to pass on a life of relative comfort to their children. Aged 22 at the outbreak of war, Contravarius was called up alongside his two brothers to serve in the German Army and repulse the invading armies of Russia, France, Italy and Great Britain. The war was to have a devastating effect upon the Contravarius family. The eldest son would be killed on the Eastern Front in Silesia; the youngest would become an avowed Communist and die during the Civil War of 1897-98 whilst the family business in Leipzig was destroyed by Russian artillery during the battle for control of the city as the Allied armies approach Berlin in mid-1897. The Great War had claimed his entire life; the reaction of Herr Contravarius to these events was perhaps not altogether surprising. With the armistice of 1897 being followed by a Civil War, Contravarius became involved in the pro-Ludendorff Freikorps and felt horrendously betrayed by the Revolution of 1898, refusing to cast a ballot during the election of that year in disgust at the fall of Ludendorff. Although he flirted with involvement in mainstream politics in the first years of the 20th century through participation in the DNVP, Contravarius always remained on the radical fringe – advocating violent and revolutionary tactics to overturn the Republic and the supposed domination of Germany by Jewish interests. The late 1900s and early 1910s would see Contravarius’ life transformed. Whilst in his personal life he began his perplexing affair with the Liberal Jewish intellectual Frau Howard, a woman who apparently represented everything that Contravarius regarded as wrong in Germany, his public life took a turn towards the spectacular.

The Battle of Kabel-Strasse might have secured his legend, but the organisation and leading of the paper hat militias had begun long before. The paper hats were, quite frankly, the most fearsome, long lasting, extra-legal paramilitary organisation ever formed in a developed country. By the 1920s Contravarius was essentially at the head of a parallel army, unified in ideology and structure and committed to the aims of the leadership of the DAP. It was this leadership that was seen to betray Contravarius when it appeared to accept the calls of the military dictatorship of 1925-1928 to dissolve the paper hat militias. By this time, Contravarius had already begun to move away from more radical variants of Fascism towards Integral Nationalism – the final stage in his ideological development. The defeat of the Right in the elections of 1928 left him despondent and depressed. Internally questioning his faith in every tenant of his ideology, Contravarius, always one for the spectacular, charged upon the Reichstag wielding a pistol in either hand, on an aging war horse along with a handful of diehard Fascists shortly after the election of Gustav Stresemann as President in 1928 (the event that finally sealed the security of the Republic). Although his body was never found, and he was frequently sighted in faraway lands, he was presumed to be dead as of that day in 1928.


Herr Lobenswert

Born: Elbing, East Prussia
Lived: 1844-1932
Posts: 248 (5.5% of thread)
Voting History: 1863: FKP, 1869: DRP, 1873-1883: DKRP, 1887: NLP, 1893: DKRP, 1898: FVP (through DVF), 1903-1920: DNVP, 1928: DVP​

Although he, very briefly, flirted with Liberalism in the last days of the 19th century Herr Lobenswert spent the vast majority of long and colourful life a committed Bismarckian Conservative (although he did vote against Bismarck in the 1887 election, instead supporting the party he viewed as the superior representative of his elderly hero’s politics). When compared to Liberalism and Centrism, German Conservatism (especially its more Traditionalist varieties) had a notable lack of intellectual backing behind itself – something that Herr Lobenswert strived throughout his life to combat. An influential chief of Conservative thought, Lobenswert was of fantastically wealthy East Elbian aristocratic stock – his family owning vast estates in East Prussia that would provide the Conservative gentleman with an opulent lifestyle (and a close relationship with a series of much younger Polish manservants).

Emerging from his schooling in the early 1860s, as a young pup Herr Lobenswert was in awe of the Prussian military machine and excitedly entered the aristocratic officer core of the Prussian Army – fighting in the German War of 1868-69 and then in the War of 1873. In both conflicts Prussian arms was resoundingly victorious over France (and in the earlier conflict Russia as well), and Lobenswert was recognised for his bravery. Rather than pursue a length military career, Lobenswert retired from the army to his estates and began to become more heavily involved in the political debates of his time – rallying behind the cause of German Conservatism throughout the era of the Kaisserreich. Like all Germans of the Right, Lobenswert regarded the period of 1896-1898 as a total disaster. Not least due to the loss of his ranks, titles and properties in the Revolutionary Weimar Constitution! Initial attempts to accept the changed political realities that the Revolution had brought (Lobenswert even voting for the revolutionary coalition of the Democratic People’s Front in 1898) were unsurprisingly short lived. By the dawn of the 20th century Lobenswert had regrouped within the DNVP and there he remained as a powerful ideologue of reaction – harking back to the lost golden age of the Kaiserreich and demanding the restoration of the pre-1898 order. The victory of the Right and the restoration of aristocratic titles (if not properties) in 1920 proved a triumphal moment for the old Conservative but it was not enough to leave him satisfied that Germany’s future had been secured. Through the 1920s Lobenswert voiced concern over the failure of the Right to implant a definite and immovable form of government upon Germany, with the vagary calls of Karlist Centrism and Gustavian National Liberalism proving strong temptations. Despite this, Lobenswert remained true to the House of Hohenzollern and became a late advocate of the Integral Nationalism of the German Fatherland Party. Reaching well into his 80s, Lobenswert mental stability started to flag after 1928, by 1931 he was in a sanatorium – lasting scarcely six months in the institution.


Herr Blair

Born: Canterbury, England
Lived: 1846-1937
Posts: 227 (5.1% of thread)
Voting History: 1861: DFP, 1863-1873: NLP, 1878-1883: LVD, 1887: NLP, 1893: DFP, 1898: DZP, 1903-1914: FVP, 1920: DZP M, 1928: DNLP​

Herr Blair was born in the Kentish town of Canterbury during his parents’ extended honeymoon in the British Isles (a sojourn that lasted a frankly obscene three years), and something of the land of his birth never quite left him. Growing up in the prosperous Ruhr region of the Rhineland his parents, whose wealth was built upon a mixture of incomes from landed estates and interests in the burgeoning coal and steel industries of the region, the child prodigy became intensely interested in Liberal politics from a very young age and was frustrated at the minimum voting again of 21 years. Fortunately for Herr Blair, he lived in a country whose political system was hideously corrupt, in which, provided one had the right contacts, one could vote at any age and potentially multiple times. Although Herr Blair frowned upon the latter practise he was strongly in favour of the former and placed his first ballot at the tender age of 15 for the recently formed German Progress Party in the Prussian elections of 1861. Throughout his life Herr Blair remained committed to a Liberalism that was perhaps a shade more conservative than his close colleague and ally, Herr Tanzhang, but was generally in agreement. Blair was distinctive in his polemical style which relied far more heavily on quick wit and humour than most of his contemporaries whose attempts to debate him in a rather drier tone allowed him to better popularise his Liberal ideals, at least amongst the privileged elites who paid attention to such discussions. Much more notable a feature of Blair’s politics was an intensive Anglophilia. Clearly a great admirer of Britain for its economic prowess (at least until Germany overtook it in the late 19th century), its culture and most notably its political system, Blair appeared to regard the degree to which Germany conformed with Britain as playing an important role in delineating the success and progress of the country.

Having flitted about various Liberal formations, both Progressive and National, from the 1860s until the 1890s Blair’s politics followed a major trend that was perceptible across a large part of the German electorate in adopting the Social Liberal ideology of the FVP during the 1900 and 1910s. Like so many of his fellow Social Liberals, the FVP was in turn abandoned in favour of Karlist Centrism in the 1920s and eventually the renewed National Liberalism of Gustav Stresemann – this party perhaps being the first since the outbreak of the Great War to truly represent the Anglocentric vision of good governance held so dearly by Herr Blair. Although disappointed by the failure to establish a constitutional monarchy after 1928, Blair reacted noticeably better to the formation of the Second Republic than his great Liberal contemporary – Herr Tanzhang – coming to accept the regime by the early 1930s. As one by one the men who had joined him in defining Germany’s road to modernity from 1861-1929 passed away Blair remained heavily active in politics and the National Liberal movement right up until his death in 1937 – the night after entertaining the British ambassador in his resplendent Berlin residence.
 
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Tommy4ever

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Congratulations to Tanzhang (譚張), ThaHoward, Khalep, Contravarius, Lobenswert and DensleyBlair for winning inclusion in the Hall of Fame, and to everyone else who took part in this AAR. This is the final ever update for Blood and Iron. I can now pronounce this as my first every completed interactive AAR, and quite possible the first interactive AAR by any author to be completed (although someone will have to fact check that for me).

See you all in the next one! :)