ADGB – Allgemeiner Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (General German Trade Union Federation)
Founded in July 1919, the ADGB was the largest and most important federation of German trade unions. It represented the interests of workers until the National Socialists dismantled the free trade unions in May 1933, which also meant the end of the ADGB.
The term for enmity against Jews as a people or a race was coined at the end of the 19th century, among others, by historian Heinrich von Treitschke, theologian Adolf Stoecker and journalist Wilhelm Marr. In order to counter the legal equality of the Jews, Marr accused the Jews of a culturally enforced "Semitism" in his 1879 propaganda work Der Sieg des Judenthums über das Germanenthum (The Victory of Judaism over Germanism). The term "anti-Semitism" was first used as an official term in the name of the "Anti-Semitic League" founded by Marr at the end of 1879. This brought about a paradigm shift from anti-Semitism focussing on the religion to racist anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism was an integral part of National Socialist ideology. Under Nazi rule, Jews were ousted from all areas of society, persecuted and murdered (Holocaust)
ATSB – Arbeiter-Turn- und Sportbund (Workers' Gymnastics and Sports Federation)
Founded in 1893, the association initially joined the many newly created gymnastics clubs together as the "Arbeiterturnerbund" (Workers' Gymnastics Federation). From 1919, the association called itself the ATSB, highlighting its expansion beyond gymnastics to other sports. After the Nazis took power in 1933, the ATSB was banned.
Austro-fascist Ständestaat (corporative state)
In 1933, the Austrian Federal Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss tried to establish a system of "Austro-fascism" in Austria, which followed the model of Italian fascism while at the same time opposing National Socialism in Germany. In May 1934, by adopting a constitution that was ultimately never enacted, Dollfuss attempted to establish an authoritarian corporate state in Austria, which was dissolved when the Wehrmacht (the German army) invaded and occupied Austria in March 1938.
Bloody May (Blutmai) 1929
In reaction to the ban on demonstrations in Germany pronounced by the German police effective from 1 May 1929 "to safeguard security", the KPD, whose rallies on Labour Day were thus prohibited, organised a peaceful mass demonstration. The police in Berlin, under the leadership of the Chief of Police Karl Zörgiebel, responded by deploying thousands of policemen: aggressive police violence provoked bloody street battles that went on for three days. Over 30 people were killed and several hundred were injured. As a result, the RFB (Roter Frontkämpferbund - Alliance of Red Front Fighters) was banned.
The "Aktion wider den undeutschen Geist" (campaign against the un-German spirit) organised by the German Student Union on 10 May 1933 was part of a larger campaign against "undeutsche" (“un-German”) writers planned by the Student Union and the Main Office for Press and Propaganda after the National Socialists seized power. In May 1933, this campaign was implemented in many German university cities, where literature not considered "German" was burned.
Communist International (Comintern)
Also known as the Third International, founded in 1919 in Moscow on Lenin's initiative, an international alliance of communist parties, including the KPD. The aim of the Comintern was a proletarian world revolution that was to be achieved through individual national revolutions, as well as through sometimes clandestine, targeted financial support for associations. After 1924, under the leadership of the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union) it became heavily Stalinised and after the VI World Congress in September 1928, advocated the theory of Social Fascism. In 1943, the Comintern was dissolved, probably as a concession by Stalin to the Western Allies.
Dadaism, also referred to as Dada
An international critical art and literature movement that became established in 1916, first in Zurich and then in Berlin, and reached its high point in the 1920s. Dada was characterised by total artistic freedom and revolutionary ideas and has continued to influence various later art forms to this day. For the artists, Dada presented a form of protest to demonstrate their opposition to the prevailing system and bourgeois art forms.
DAF – Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labour Front)
Founded on 10 May 1933 after the dissolution of the free trade unions, the DAF was intended to give the National Socialist regime control over the workforce. It quickly lost its purpose of safeguarding the interests of the workers. It organised community activities within the meaning of the "Volksgemeinschaft" (the people's community), such as parades on May 1st, and formed the "Kraft durch Freude" (KdF – Strength through Joy) leisure organisation. In December 1942, the DAF had 25 million members, making it the largest mass organisation in Germany. It was banned on 10 October 1945 by the Allied Control Council.
DDP – Deutsche Demokratische Partei (German Democratic Party)
The DDP was founded on 16 November 1918 by members of the Progressive People's Party and the left wing of the National Liberal Party. It supported the idea of parliamentary democracy and liberalism. When the political mood turned against the Republic and liberalism, members increasingly moved to the right-wing German People's Party. From July 1930, the remaining members also joined other groups to form new parties. The DDP was eventually officially dissolved on 28 June 1933 within the context of the enforcement of political conformity ("Gleichschaltung" or co-ordination) by the National Socialists.
Deutsche Christen (German Christians)
Based on a political theology, this was a Protestant movement formed in Germany in 1932 that promoted the conformity of the Protestant church with National Socialism and the establishment of a "Reichskirche" (Church of the Reich). Many German Christians were subsequently given positions of power in regional churches, but the requirement that the Church adopt the so-called "Aryan clauses" (Section 3 of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service) led to a split in the group and to many people leaving the movement.
DNVP – Deutschnationale Volkspartei (German National People's Party)
Various conservative groups joined forces to become the DNVP following a call for its foundation in November 1918, which was supported, among others, by industry and the right-wing national press. The DNVP demanded an authoritarian and anti-Semitic state and became increasingly radical following the rise of the NSDAP. In 1933, by entering into a coalition with the NSDAP, giving Hitler the absolute majority, but was unable to survive alongside the Nazi Party and finally disbanded in June 1933.
Dollfuss, Engelbert (4 October 1892–25 July 1934)
As the Austrian Chancellor, with a close relationship to Italian fascism, Dollfuss shut down parliament and formed an authoritarian regime by means of emergency decrees in March 1933 and, in May 1934, tried to establish an Austro-fascist Ständestaat (corporative state). The founder of the Fatherland Front (Vaterländische Front), which was opposed the Social Democrats but also the National Socialists, was murdered during a coup attempt by Austrian National Socialists in July 1934.
Eiserne Front (Iron Front)
On the initiative of the Reichsbanner (Black, Red, Gold Banner of the Reich organisation), at the end of 1931, the ADGB, the SPD and other small groups, such as a few workers’ sports clubs, joined together as Iron Front to build up resistance against the Nazis and the Harzburg Front. The alliance broke up with the dissolution of the trade unions and the prohibition of the Banner of the Reich in March 1933.
Emergency Decree (Article 48)
Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution allowed the Reich’s President to impose laws without a parliamentary majority as so-called emergency decrees, as soon as he considered public safety to be under threat. Due to the lack of majorities in the Reichstag after 1930, emergency decrees became a common instrument of legislation. For Adolf Hitler, this practice provided a "jump start": he thus repealed the fundamental rights of the Weimar Constitution, for example with the Reichstag Fire Decree of 28 February 1933, which was adopted the day after the fire.
FDJ – Freie Deutsche Jugend (Free German Youth)
In the 1930s, the first groups of the communist youth organisation had already formed in exile: in Paris in 1936, in Prague in 1938 and Great Britain in 1939. After the outbreak of the Second World War, only the FDJ group in the United Kingdom was able to continue its work. It published several anti-fascist publications (in part with the involvement of John Heartfield) such as Und sie bewegt sich doch! Freie deutsche Dichtung (1943), or the magazine Freie Tribüne. In 1946, the British FDJ ceased its work. In the Soviet occupation zone of Germany, the youth organisation was officially founded on 7 March 1946, but also had members and groups in the Western occupation zones. In the GDR, the FDJ became a mass organisation that was to provide a socialist education system for young people according to the teachings of Marxism-Leninism in coordination with school education. It was banned in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1951.
FDK – Freier Deutscher Kulturbund (Free German League of Culture)
Founded 1 March 1939 in Great Britain by Austrian and German emigrants. Under the leadership of the artist Oskar Kokoschka, its members included John Heartfield and his future wife Gertrud Fietz, who were both actively involved. Its objective was to preserve different forms of art and free German culture as well as to promote encounters between exiles and the local British population, for example through exhibitions, readings and plays. These efforts were aimed at getting through the Nazi era together. The FDK was dissolved in the spring of 1946.
Geneva Disarmament Conference (1932-1934)
At this conference organised by the League of Nations, Germany demanded equality on a military level, after the German army had been limited by the victors of the First World War through the Treaty of Versailles. This was approved in December 1932. After Hitler came to power, he accepted the long transitional periods and monitoring by the League of Nations on a pro forma basis, only to withdraw Germany from the conference and the League of Nations shortly thereafter and take the rearmament, which had already begun in secret, to the next level.
German-Soviet Nonagression Pact (also called the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Nazi-Soviet Nonagression Pact and Hitler-Stalin Pact)
The non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union was concluded for ten years on 23 August 1939. In a secret additional protocol, the partition of Poland and other territorial claims were determined. The contract played into the hands of Hitler's war plans, as he was able to use it to safeguard against an alliance between the Western powers and the Soviet Union and so, in September 1939, he was able to attack Poland. Hitler breached the pact by launching the German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941.
Gestapo/Geheime Staatspolizei (Secret State Police)
With the appointment of Security Service Chief Reinhard Heydrich as Head of the Political Police and Reich Leader of the SS Heinrich Himmler as Police President in Munich, Minister President Hermann Goering formed the Gestapo on 26 April 1933 with the purpose of ensuring the "security of the state" by law and fighting political enemies. In 1934, following the takeover by Heydrich, it was gradually expanded and, among other things, was responsible for deporting people to the concentration camps and monitoring enemies of the state. It was banned on 10 October 1945 by the Allied Control Council.
At the invitation of the DNVP Chief Alfred Hugenberg, on 11 October 1931, the NSDAP, the Stahlhelm (League of Front Soldiers), the Pan-German League (Alldeutscher Verband), the DNVP and other right-wing organisations met in Bad Harzburg in order to found a merger against the Weimar Republic and Brüning's cabinet (March 1930 – June 1932). However, the individual groups acted against each other and not uniformly. In particular, Hitler refused to subordinate himself to a united right-wing front, thus demonstrating his claim to leadership.
Hindenburg, Paul von Beneckendorff und von (2 October 1847-2 August 1934)
During the First World War, Hindenburg became a war hero as Commander-in-Chief of the Eighth Army thanks to the victory over the Second Russian Army at the Battle of Tannenberg. After the war, he was lauded by the right as a "faithful Ekkehard of the German Reich", in reference to the literary character "faithful Eckart", as used by Ludwig Tieck and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In 1925, as the candidate of the right-wing forces, he became Reich’s President of the Weimar Republic, even though he supported monarchist views. He was responsible for starting the extremely frequent use of emergency decrees, the establishment of presidential cabinets and finally the appointment of Hitler as Reich’s Chancellor.
HJ – Hitler-Jugend, BDM – Bund Deutscher Mädel (Hitler Youth, League of German Girls)
The Nazi youth movement, the Hitler Youth, was founded on 4 July 1926 by the NSDAP, and four years later the BDM was also formed on this basis. Initially insignificant, the Hitler Youth became a state organisation after the seizure of power by the National Socialists in 1933. Under the Hitler Youth Law of 1 December 1936 and its expansion on 25 March 1939, membership was compulsory for all young people from the age of ten (youth service obligation), so that it had nearly 9 million members by 1939. Its activities included propaganda parades, excursions and evening events, accompanied by paramilitary training and the teaching of Nazi ideology. For the BDM, this also included culture and home economics. Both organisations were banned on 10 October 1945 by the Allied Control Council.
(Classical Greek: holókaustos, completely burned) The term was already in use by 1943 to designate the Nazi genocide of the European Jews. The Jewish population was dispossessed, systematically persecuted and murdered en masse in concentration camps throughout Europe. From 1933 to 1945, over six million Jewish people were murdered. In the meantime, the term has also come to refer to other groups who fell victim to Nazi terror. In contrast, the Hebrew word "Shoah" is only used in reference to the genocide of the European Jews.
Alfred Hugenberg (19 June 1865 – 12 March 1951) was a DNVP politician and party chairman from 1928 to 1933. In January 1933, he was appointed Hitler's cabinet minister for economic affairs, agriculture and nutrition and in this capacity attended the World Economic Conference in London in mid-June, where he was forced to submit a memorandum of demands regarding the return of German colonies. After the demands were rejected by the conference participants, this was presented as his personal opinion, so that he felt forced to resign.
Kabinett der nationalen Konzentration (Cabinet of National Concentration)
Term used in reference to Hitler's presidential cabinet, in which he was appointed Reich’s Chancellor on 30 January 1933. Initially, this cabinet consisted mainly of conservative German Nationalists (DNVP) and fewer National Socialists. This was to serve as a form of protection against the enforcement of National Socialist policies, which ultimately could not be prevented.
Katholische Aktion (Catholic Action)
Established as an organisation as early as 1886, in the 1930s in Germany it began trying to assert its interests and to influence society and politics as an umbrella organisation for all Catholic associations. This was achieved in Italy in particular. In Germany, the Nazis began to take measures against the Action, because they feared Christianity would take over people's lives and thus regarded the organisation as a threat. Its Berlin leader Erich Klausener was murdered by the SS on 30 June 1934.
Kellogg-Briand Pact (Pact of Paris)
A treaty under international law that was signed on 27 August 1928 in Paris, initially by eleven nations and later by a total of 62, that stipulated the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy. In the future, conflicts were to be resolved peacefully. The treaty was named after US Secretary of State Frank Billings Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand. As it did not contain any time limits, the Pact continued to apply even after the Second World War in various forms.
KPD – Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (Communist Party of Germany)
Founded at the end of December 1918 by members of the Spartacus League and the International Communists of Germany, the party had a strong Bolshevik orientation. After a brief ban, it gained votes during the Reichstag elections in 1924; by 1932 it had become the third largest party. In 1933, the KPD was banned, followed by arrests and the targeted assassination of functionaries. Many members were arrested and murdered, others went on to work illegally in the German resistance movement.
League of Nations
After the First World War, the Paris Peace Conference stipulated in the Treaty of Versailles the foundation of the League of Nations, which began its work on 10 January 1920. Its objective was to ensure lasting international peace through arbitration courts, disarmament and a collective security system. The 32 founding states were joined by a further 13 members in 1920. The US was never a member of the League of Nations; the Soviet Union (1934-1939) and the German Reich (1926-1933) only temporarily. On 18 April 1946, after the United Nations (UN) had been founded, the members decided to dissolve the League of Nations.
Lutetia-Kreis (Lutetia Circle)
An association based on the idea of a Popular Front brought together by Willi Münzenberg in 1935 and named after its meeting place, the Lutetia Hotel in Paris. It was made up of members of the KPD and the SPD, as well as members of the bourgeoisie. The idea behind it was to join the oppositional forces against fascism. The different interests and opinions, especially in 1938 after Münzenberg's expulsion from the KPD, meant that they could not come to an agreement and the Circle had already ceased its work by 1937.
Münzenberg, Willi (14 August 1889-October 1940)
A leading functionary of the KPD during the Weimar Republic, a member of the Central Committee of the KPD and a member of the Reichstag from 1924 to 1933. In 1921, he founded Workers International Relief. He was the publisher of various newspapers, including the Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ). In 1933 he went into exile in France and continued his anti-fascist publications in Paris. In 1935, Münzenberg initiated the joining together of socialist groups and individuals as the Lutetia-Kreis (Lutetia Circle). After criticising Joseph Stalin, he was excluded from the KPD in March 1938. Having fled from the Wehrmacht in June 1940, he was found hanged in France. The circumstances of his death remain unclear to this day.
November Revolution 1918 in Germany
After the defeat of the German Empire in the First World War, the population was hungry and in need, and dissatisfaction was rife, leading to increasing unrest in the country. After the abdication of the Kaiser and the proclamation of the Republic in November 1918 by Social Democrat Philip Scheidemann, the Revolution took a brutal turn when the radical left tried to build a Socialist Soviet Republic by force. Nevertheless, representatives of parliamentary democracy prevailed, the monarchy was replaced by the Weimar Republic, and the Revolution ended in the spring of 1919.
October Revolution 1917 in Russia
The violent seizure of power by the communist Bolsheviks under Lenin at the end of October/beginning of November 1917 resulted in the foundation of the Soviet Union in 1922. One day after the call to occupy important locations in the capital city of Petrograd (later Leningrad, today St Petersburg) on 25 October 1917, the Winter Palace was stormed and the members of the provisional government arrested, bringing the democratic developments since the February Revolution of 1917 and the abdication of the Tsar in March to an end. At the same time, Lenin's Bolshevik expansion of power began.
Papen, Franz von (29 October 1879-02 May 1969)
Von Papen was a member of the Prussian state parliament for the Centre Party from 1921 to 1932 but broke with the party in 1932, when he formed the so-called "cabinet of barons" in his capacity as Reich’s Chancellor. In 1933, he became Hitler's Vice Chancellor, but was largely stripped of power from 1936 on and was only active as a diplomatic envoy thereafter, especially in Austria. After the Second World War, he was acquitted in 1946 during the Nuremberg Trials, sentenced to eight years in a labour camp as part of a denazification process and granted early release three years later.
This term was used in the 1930s in reference to the amalgamation of left parties and groups in the fight against fascism. The cooperation between communist, socialist and social democratic forces only became possible after the Communist International had distanced itself from the theory of Social Fascism at the VII World Congress in Moscow in 1935. As a result, popular fronts formed in France and Spain., The executive of the Socialist Workers' International had also been appealing for the working class to form Popular Fronts in order to save the peace since its congress in Brussels (1935). Within the German left, the Lutetia-Kreis (Lutetia Circle) (1935) was founded in French exile. The Popular Front policy of the Comintern ended in 1939 with the German-Soviet Nonagression Pact.
Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold (Black, Red, Gold Banner of the Reich)
Merger of the SPD and the Centre Party, the DDP and various trade unions for the protection of the Republic, founded on 22 February 1924 in Magdeburg. The aim was to protect the Weimar Republic against both left and right-wing extremist opponents. At its high point, the organisation had up to three million members. In 1931, the Banner of the Reich was one of the founding organisations of the Eiserne Front (Iron Front). After the seizure of power by the National Socialists in 1933 and the associated persecution of its members, the Banner of the Reich was dissolved.
Reichsparteitag (Nuremberg Rally, NSDAP)
The NSDAP used the Nazi Party rallies, which mainly took place in Nuremberg from 1923 to 1938, to outwardly demonstrate the power and unity of the Nazi Party. The meetings were already taking place before the party was officially founded and developed into mass events, especially after 1933, where the NSDAP promoted itself and Hitler propagated and manifested his role as leader. After 1935, the Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg were extended according to a design by Albert Speer but remained unfinished by the end of the Second World War.
In the night from 27 to 28 February 1933, the Reichstag building in Berlin was set on fire. A Dutch socialist, Marinus van der Lubbe, was accused of being responsible at the Reichstag fire trial. The National Socialists took advantage of what they saw as a "Bolshevik terrorist attack" to consolidate their power. A day later, Hindenburg issued the "Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and State" ("Reichstag Fire Decree"), which eliminated the fundamental rights of the Weimar Constitution and, in particular, legitimised the persecution of political opponents
Reichstag Fire Trial
During the Reichstag fire trial, five communists, including Dutchman Marinus van der Lubbe, were accused before the Reichgericht supreme court of having set fire to the Reichstag on the night of 28 February 1933. While van der Lubbe was sentenced to death as the person held primarily responsible, the court acquitted the other defendants for lack of evidence. The National Socialist leadership was so enraged about this that it transferred responsibility for such offences to the People's Court, founded in 1934. One of those acquitted was a native Bulgarian and later General Secretary of the Comintern, Georgi Dimitrov (1882-1949), who defended himself so effectively in his statements and arguments that he turned himself from the defendant into the judge. The weak evidence was made clear by Dimitrov's questioning, especially in the case of Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels' testimony. Who was really responsibility for the act is still debated to this day.
Revolutions started to spread out across Europe in 1848, in Italy in January and in France at the beginning of February. In Germany, after several crises, the population began to fight against the prevailing political system and for the formation of a nation state. The Republic was proclaimed in France on 24 February 1848. In Germany, freedom of the press and freedom of speech, as well as the independence of the judiciary were demanded in particular. In May 1848 at St. Paul's Church in Frankfurt, the Constituent National Assembly of the planned German nation state convened. The democratic demands failed to be met in 1849 due to the violent suppression of the Revolution.
RFB – Roter Frontkämpferbund (Alliance of Red Front Fighters)
On 18 July 1924, the KPD founded the RFB fighting organisation, calling on all workers with "class consciousness" to join. Under the leadership of Ernst Thälmann, the RFB had approximately 110,000 members in 1927. These received paramilitary training and were familiarised with the ideas of Marxism-Leninism. The RFB rejected the Weimar Republic and went against the SA in bloody street battles. After Bloody May in 1929, it was banned throughout the Reich by the Interior Ministers of the states, but continued to exist illegally until it was dissolved by the National Socialists in 1933.
Röhm Putsch (Night of the Long Knives)
In June/July 1934, on Hitler's instruction the National Socialists murdered leading members of the SA, including their chief, Ernst Röhm. He had allegedly planned a coup, because Hitler did not meet his demand to make the SA part of the Reichswehr. Hitler invited the SA leadership to a meeting at the end of June at Tegernsee. There, he had them arrested and then killed by the SS and the Gestapo. The Night of the Long Knives or the Röhm Putsch, so called to cover up this party purge, was subsequently legitimised by law as "emergency defence of the state".
SA – Sturmabteilung (SA/Brownshirts)
The SA was founded in August 1921 from the gymnastics and sports department of the NSDAP for the purpose of fighting political opponents. The brown-uniformed combat troops were initially used by Hitler for propaganda marches and as stewards at events; they later fought bloody street battles. With over four million members and its own leadership, after the seizure of power by the National Socialists, they represented a threat to Hitler's sole leadership position. He had leading members murdered in June 1934 (Röhm Putsch/Night of the Long Knives). By 1938, the membership had decreased significantly and the SA was only entrusted with less powerful tasks. It was banned on 10 October 1945 by the Allied Control Council.
The Treaty of Versailles separated the Saar region from the German Reich in 1919 and placed it under the administration of the League of Nations for 15 years. On 13 January 1935, the population was to decide by referendum in favour of Germany, France or maintaining the status quo. The advocates of joining the Reich came together as the German Front and managed to win the referendum by a considerable majority with the support of Goebbels' propaganda. On 1 March 1935, the Saar region became part of the German Reich as "Saarland".
Schuschnigg, Kurt Edler von (14 December 1897-18 November 1977)
Austrian Chancellor 1934-1938, successor to Dollfuss. The Austro-fascist politician sought to develop a closer relationship with fascist Italy and continued to lead the authoritarian system in Austria, though he opposed Hitler politically. In February 1938, Hitler threatened Austria with an invasion by the Wehrmacht, which forced Schuschnigg to agree to the National Socialists participating in his government with the signing of the Berchtesgaden Agreement. With further threats of an immediate occupation of Austria in March 1938, Hitler forced Schuschnigg to resign and marched into Austria in the same month. Imprisoned at various concentration camps until the end of the war, Schuschnigg emigrated to the US in 1947, returned to Austria in 1968 and died in Innsbruck in 1977.
SED – Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party of Germany)
After the end of the Second World War, voices advocating unification of the KPD and SPD were to be heard in favour of overcoming the divide in the workforce. After the experiences of the Weimar Republic, in which the division of the left parties (social fascism) benefited the seizure of power by the National Socialists, a united party was now to be created according to the Popular Front concept. This goal was vigorously pursued by the Soviet occupying forces, especially after the poor results achieved by the Austrian Communists at the National Council election on 25 November 1945. Despite some dissenting votes from the SPD camp, not least due to pressure and intimidation, on 21/22 April 1946, the SED was founded in the Soviet occupation zone. Following the foundation of the GDR in 1949, the SED developed into the state party whose claim to leadership was manifested in the GDR’s constitution of 1968.The Marxist-Leninist SED was strictly hierarchical and pursued "democratic centralism". In the GDR, it influenced almost every sphere of public life. Its most important institutions were the Party Congress and the Central Committee (CC), whose politburo and Secretary General of the CC at the top were in charge of the government. After the democratic changes in the GDR and the so-called "Wende" (The Turnaround), in December 1989, the SED added "Party of Democratic Socialism" (PDS) to its name. In February 1990, it removed "SED" from its name and called itself the "PDS" thereafter, until the party became "Die Linke" (The Left) in 2007.
Social Fascism, the theory of
After its VI World Congress in September 1928, Comintern supported the thesis according to which social democracy counteracted revolution, thus representing the moderate wing of fascism. In Germany, this led to a split in the labour movement, which prevented the SPD and the KPD from carrying out anti-fascist work together against the NSDAP. At the VII. World Congress of Comintern in Moscow in 1935, the decision was made to turn away from this theory, offering social democratic and socialist forces the opportunity to work together as a Popular Front.
Socialist Workers' International (SWI)
An international association of socialist and social democratic parties founded in Hamburg in May 1923, in the tradition of the Second International and differentiated from the Third International (Comintern) initiated by Lenin in Moscow in 1919. In 1928, 45 parties with a total of 6.6 million members were members of the SWI. The most influential parties within the organisation were the British Labour Party and, until 1933, the SPD. During the Second World War, the SWI ceased its work. In 1951, the successor organisation Socialist International (SI) was founded.
Spanish Civil War
In July 1936, fascist groups under General Francisco Franco in Spanish North Africa began to move against the ruling left republican Popular Front government, which soon resulted in a brutal civil war. The population was mobilised and armed, both sides were supported from abroad: Franco by fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, and the republican side by the Soviet Union and volunteer fighters, including many artists and intellectuals, organised as the International Brigades. Hitler intervened in the war, as he believed it promised a strengthening of fascism in Europe and the prevention of a socialist Spain. The war, to which millions of people fell victim, ended with Franco's victory in 1939.
SPD – Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Social Democratic Party of Germany)
The party was founded in 1890 as the successor to the Socialist Workers’ Party of Germany (SAP), which had existed since 1875 and was banned from 1878 to 1889. Until the First World War, it was the party with the largest membership in the German Empire and by 1912 the strongest parliamentary group in the Reichstag. Its members were primarily working class. During the First World War, its left wing rejected a continuation of war, which ultimately led to the exclusion of party representatives and, in 1917, benefited the spin-off of the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD). The SPD named itself the Majority Social Democratic Party (MSPD). After the Reichstag election in 1920, the USPD joined the KPD, then split from it again shortly thereafter; by 1922, some of the members of the USPD had returned to the SPD. From 1919 to 1925, SPD member Friedrich Ebert was Reich’s President and the party was involved in several Weimar Republic governments. During the Reichstag election on 20 May 1928, the SPD turned out to be the strongest party and, until 1930, SPD member Hermann Müller was Reich’s Chancellor. Over the next two years, it tolerated the policies of the Brüning cabinet (Centre Party) in order to prevent a takeover of political power by the National Socialists. In spite of resistance to von Papen, it was unable to stop the slide toward National Socialist dictatorship due to the lack of alliance partners. The seizure of power by the NSDAP was followed by a wave of arrests, the flight of party members and the party being banned on 22 June 1933. Some of the members continued to work illegally in Germany, others went into exile. After the war ended, the party reformed and was re-established in October 1945. In 1946, forced unification with the KPD to form the SED took place in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany.
Hitler appointed the SS, founded in 1925, initially as part of the SA, which reported to its supreme leadership, to ensure his personal protection and as security for events. As Reich Leader SS since 1929, Heinrich Himmler developed the SS into a party police force. Following the party purge (Röhm Putsch/Night of the Long Knives) in 1934, the SS reported directly to Hitler. It assumed sole responsibility for all concentration camps in the German Reich and during the Second World War was instrumental in the planning and implementation of war crimes. The SS was categorised as a "criminal organisation" during the Nuremberg Trials and banned on 10 October 1945 by the Allied Control Council.
Stahlhelm, (Bund der Frontsoldaten, League of Front Soldiers)
The "Stahlhelm" (“steel helmet”) was established in December 1918 as an association of veterans of the First World War with a national conservative orientation, but soon developed into a paramilitary organisation and the reserve army of the Reichswehr. By 1930, it had become the strongest defence association in Germany. It belonged to the Harzburg Front and stood against the policies of the Weimar Republic. When its founder Franz Seldte joined Hitler's cabinet in 1933, the Stahlhelm became part of the SA and was dissolved in 1935.
The name used for the German-speaking areas in Bohemia and Moravia (former Czechoslovakia), especially after 1918. Just over 3 million Sudeten Germans lived in closed settlements near the border with Germany and Austria. From 1935, the Sudeten German Party (SDP) propagated the formation of its own home front in approximation of the Nazi ideology and called to become part of the German Reich. With the Munich Agreement of 29 September 1938, this objective was achieved with the approval of the United Kingdom and France, and "Reichsgau Sudetenland" came into being. In March 1939, the rest of Czechoslovakia was occupied by German troops, prompting Heartfield's flight from Prague to the UK.
Thälmann, Ernst (16. April 1886–18. August 1944)
A Hamburg worker politically active in the SPD since his youth, in 1920, as chairman of the Hamburg USPD, he along with 98% of its membership joined the KPD; in 1924 he became deputy chairman of the party and a member of the Executive Committee of the Communist International. In 1925 he was elected chairman of the KPD; from 1924 to 1929, he was also chairman of the RFB and a member of the Reichstag from 1924 to1933. On 3 March 1933, Thälmann was arrested, charged with treason, detained at various prisons and taken into "protective custody" in 1935. On 17 August 1944, he was transferred to the Buchenwald concentration camp and shot a day later on Hitler's command.
Treaty of Versailles
The peace treaty signed by the victorious powers after the First World War, which held Germany solely accountable for the war (War Guilt clause) and set further conditions aimed at Germany in order to achieve peace. These included, among other things, the cessation of territory, the loss of the Saar Region (Saar plebiscite) and extensive demilitarisation and reparations. Germany agreed to this treaty following an ultimatum on 28 June 1919, after which it came into force on 10 January 1920.
Vietnam War, or the Second Indochina War
Since the partition of Vietnam in 1954, civil war had been smouldering in South Vietnam. In 1964, the United States intervened in the war on the side of anti-communist South Vietnam, after which the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China supported communist-dominated North Vietnam with war material. Starting in 1969, US troops were gradually withdrawn and in 1973 a ceasefire was agreed at the Paris Conference. North Vietnam won the war on 30 April 1975. It had cost millions of Vietnamese and almost 60,000 US soldiers their lives.
Volksbegehren gegen den Panzerkreuzerbau 1928 (Referendum against the building of an armoured cruiser 1928)
In the run-up to the Reichstag elections on 20 May 1928, the SPD campaigned with the slogan "Not armoured cruisers but food for children!” ("Kinderspeisung statt Panzerkreuzer"). The aim was to prevent the removal of subsidies for school meals in favour of the planned construction of Armoured Cruiser A. The armoured cruiser was a flagship project by the navy, as its new design allowed restrictions imposed under the Treaty of Versailles regarding the production of capital ships to be circumvented. As part of the newly elected grand coalition under the social democratic Chancellor Hermann Müller, however, the party agreed to the construction of the armoured cruiser, a decision that was met by a lack of understanding on the part of its own voters. The KPD then initiated a referendum against the construction of the armoured cruiser, but this failed in October 1928. Under pressure from the party base, in November 1928, the SPD submitted a request to the Reichstag for the construction of the armoured cruiser to be halted, which was rejected.
Workers International Relief (WIR)
Founded in 1921 by Willi Münzenberg on the initiative of the Comintern, the WIR provided social benefits for workers. With the help of donations, it supported the workforce in times of crisis with money, food and clothing. For propagandist purposes, the WIR ran a film production company, with Münzenberg having recognised the immense potential of film as a mass medium. After the seizure of power by the National Socialists in 1933, the WIR was forced to cease its work in Germany. In 1936, the international branches were also dissolved and partly incorporated into the International Red Aid.