The Christian Social People’s Service

The Christian Social People’s Service

While the Center Party advocated the reconstruction of Germany under a republican constitution, the small group of Protestant Christian Socialists clung to the monarchical idea after the collapse of 1918 and saw that this was an indication of the rallying movement of the political right in the German National People’s Party. The Siegen MP Reinhard Mumm confesses of himself that he was “not far removed from the Pan-German Association with regard to the war aims.” (Reinhard Mumm , The Christian-Social Thought, Berlin 1933, p. 83)He had lively relations with the Flemish activists during the war, so he was an opponent of the Restoration of Belgium. In the summer of 1918, the center delegate Trimborn tried itto prove wrong in vain. On November 9th he wrote an article about “the people’s emperors of the Hohenzollern”, which could actually appear in the Berlin “Reichsbote” and in the Siegen “people”. That was more faithful than it betrayed a clear political vision. In fact, the endeavor to bring the Christian-social idea to bear in the German National Party should end with a grave disappointment. In terms of election tactics, however, under the new conditions of proportional representation, joining a larger party was highly recommended. The old Westphalian-Nassau property of the Christian Socials was torn apart by the new division into large constituencies with voting by lists. You would hardly have had any success with your own lists. Gutscame on the German national list in Westphalia-Süd and was elected. He had now mainly worked in the Siegerland, where he led his old party friends to the German Nationals. A black, white and red bordered election leaflet for the election to the National Assembly contained a picture of Stoecker and some quotes from his speeches and writings. (Archive J. Henrich ) Anyone who wants to work in his spirit on the renewal of the people, “join us in the German National People’s Party, it is consciously on StoeckersGround – -“. This was substantiated with a few sentences from the German national “principles”. The signature read: “German National People’s Party [Christian-Social].” The new party wanted to simply be the continuation of the Christian-Social for Siegen.

Mumm found the unionist Franz Behrens and the leader of the homeworkers, Margarete Behm, as close comrades in the parliamentary group of the National Assembly. His field of activity was mainly the “Evangelical Reich Committee,” which the German Nationalists formed alongside a “Catholic Committee”. A large number of Catholics who could not make up their minds to accept the Center Party’s republican program joined the German Nationalists. Their leaders were Professor Martin Spahn , the son of Peter Spahn , and the former Lord Mayor of Cologne, Max Wallraf , who was led by Michaelis and HertlingState Secretary in the Reich Office of the Interior. But neither the Catholics nor the Protestant Christian Socials could prevent radical ethnic groups, extreme nationalists and those interested in capitalism from gaining ever more ground. The German Nationals did not become a Christian conservative party.

 It was then that politically active Protestant Christians in the democratic south of Germany first became convinced that they had to separate from the German nationals. In Württemberg there was the “Bürgerpartei”, which was an offshoot of the German Nationalists. Two men from the Herrnhut-like community of Korntal near Stuttgart, Paul Bausch and Wilhelm Simpfendörfer, separated from the reactionary slogans of the Citizens’ Party from around 1920 because they considered a positive attitude towards the democratic state to be essential. They did not believe that the Christian must always be a monarchist. Therefore they did not consider the transition of the center to the republic to be reprehensible, but rather to be exemplary. To Stoecker or Mumm they never had had relations. They accused them that the Christian Socialists from the lack of understanding of Wilhelm II. and would never have drawn the appropriate conclusions from the abandonment of the Tivoli program by the Prussian agrarians. They perceived the nationalism of the German Nationals as unchristian. But it was several years before they went public. It was not until March 21, 1924 that they placed an advertisement in the “Schwäbische Merkur” in Stuttgart (Bausch Archive in Korntal) with the heading: “ Christian-Social ?! «And called for gathering in a new Christian-social community. Only in the course of the years did the community of interests become a permanent organization, which on January 1, 1927, took on the name ” Christian People’s Service “. The term “Christian-Social” was therefore initially given up becausethe connection with the successors of Stoecker had not come about. But Bausch and Simpfendörfer set up a “Reich Secretariat” for the People’s Service in Korntal as a sign that they were willing to expand the organization beyond their home country. to the end / register of persons

In a Tübingen lecture from 1929, the Protestant theologian Adolf Schlatter stated that it was not the German Nationalists, but the cooperation of the Center in the new state that had prevented a sharply anti-Christian course from being steered in the Weimar Republic. Unfortunately , Reinhard Mumm and his friends had so far closed themselves to this insight . Schlatter rightly saw in the People’s Service the urgently needed, albeit very belated, departure of the Protestant Christians to the final co-determination of the democratic state. to the end / register of persons From

There was no lack of attempts on the part of the People’s Service to gain a foothold outside of southern Germany. Paul Bausch in particular was on the road a lot in Wuppertal and other evangelical areas of the Rhineland as well as in Siegerland. Frictions could not be avoided. He found support from the pastor Lic. Albert Schmidt in Bochum. In Siegen, the Christian social paper “Das Volk” was still on a German national course. Hugenberg’s “Rumpelstiltskin”, Adolf Stein , who had been Stoecker’s election supervisor in Siegen in 1898, explained to the “people” at the beginning of October 1927 that the election of Hindenburgto become President of the Reich could not yet create “change”, but that a German national Reichstag majority would first have to be created. That the Christian Socials could have the most effect within a large party was the main argument that the “Bergfrieder” Henrich used time and again in the weekly popular rounds of the newspaper “Volk” entitled “Lookout”. In the Reichstag elections of May 1928, a list drawn up under the heading of “Christian-Social People’s Community” achieved 16,000 votes in the Westphalia-South constituency. Henrich was able to point out that this splitting off had caused the Christian social publisher Otto Rippel, who was in second place on the German national list, behind Mumm , did not receive a mandate. The old Siegen supporters of Stoecker were reluctant to have their say that the Christian social demands in the party program from the political practice of the German nationalists were less and less recognizable.

In the meantime, however, the Christian People’s Service achieved the first electoral successes that were noticed throughout Germany. In the Württemberg state elections in 1928, three members were elected on their own lists, including Bausch and Rector Kling from Stuttgart, while Simpfendörferwas subject. Then the Baden state elections in autumn 1929 and even the Prussian municipal elections showed that the movement was spreading rapidly. This did not leave an impression on the Westphalian Christian Socialists either. The German National Party grew up through the negation of the Weimar state. It was ruled by an extreme nationalism and by a monarchism that was only evaluated for propaganda purposes and was often internally spurious. The loyal Stoeckers in Siegen didn’t like that. They did not want to be “nationalist” but “national”, not “monarchist” but “monarchical”, just as they rejected the “socialist” extreme out of “social” sentiments . (Oral statement by the surveyor’s surveyorGädeke in Siegen) With the nationalist fanatics in the German national camp, however, the ruthless interest politics of big capitalist circles united more and more, whose spokesman was the former Krupp director and now owner of the Scherl concern Alfred Hugenberg . He was miles away from Christian social thinking and came entirely from the “King Stumms” school of thought and the former national liberal-free conservative cartel, which had been Stoecker’s worst adversary. Reinhard Mummand his friends couldn’t hide that. With the Christian People’s Service, a group appeared that uncovered mammonism and the seemingly idolatrous nationalism among the German nationalists. A brochure from Bauschwith the title »The Struggle for the Freedom of Evangelical Christians in Political Life – Socialist? Civil? Or Christian? ”Demanded that the Christian politician learn to measure the materialism of the bourgeoisie with the same standard as the materialism of the class-struggle workers’ movement. Christian thought should not make a principle out of either the bourgeois or the socialist social order. “Whether the private sector or the public economy, the free or the bound economy, is to be used for the production of certain goods, is a pure question of expediency – -. As far as these economic questions are concerned, the Christian People’s Service belongs neither to the bourgeois nor to the Marxist camp. … he will be regardless of the confusion,

On June 30, 1928, the Siegen people’s “lookout” read: “There seems to be a reorganization, a regrouping of the parties and associations. So it is good that we reflect again on what has called us into public life and work and has kept us there. That is the Christian-social idea. “With this, Henrich welcomed the establishment of a special” Christian-Social Reich Association “within the German National Party, which had been decided in Bielefeld by representatives from Berlin, the Siegerland and others in order to be able to oppose Hugenberg . Soon afterwards the MP Walter Lambach protestedagainst the demagogic abuse of the monarchical idea. But the party majority elected Hugenberg as chairman in the fall of 1928 , thereby transferring control of the party apparatus to big business. (For the following cf. Writings of the Christian People’s Service No. 5, “To the New Front,” 1930, pp. 5 ff.) What that meant, Hülser , a member of the Reichstag, stated in the newspaper of the Christian trade unions, “Der Deutsche”, in a commemorative article on StoeckersOn the twentieth anniversary of his death in February 1929: the expectation that the Christian-social idea in the German National People’s Party would lead to victory. be disappointed. On the contrary, it had been pushed back further and further by socially reactionary conceptions of society. In April, Protestant workers’ leaders met in the Johannis Abbey in Spandau and, after a lecture by the Rostock theologian Friedrich Brunstäd, adopted a resolution that clearly stated that the internal separation from the Hugenberg party was already sealed:

“We regret to note that the good will of the Protestant workforce to participate politically in the national right-wing parties has not found the necessary echo. Our goodwill has been rewarded with ingratitude and suspicion. The cooperation of organized entrepreneurship in industry, agriculture and the middle class was taken for granted and recognized, while the advocacy of the workers’ leaders for the rights of the evangelical workers was dismissed as unreliable party politics and one-sided political interests. Our striving for cooperation was publicly denounced by the responsible party office, suggestions for the complete reorganization of our entire social insurance, which mean a threat to their previous basic ideas, are published and emphatically propagated by relevant party authorities. Our efforts to win back the workforce for the Christian-national idea are as good as canceled out by an anti-social and instinct-less attitude of the national legal press in questions of Christian folk culture, which is getting worse from year to year. The feeling of party-political homelessness fills our circles to an extent that cannot be increased any more. ”

Nevertheless, at a meeting of the Christian-Social Reich Association held in Bielefeld in August, the decision to look for a new political home was not yet made. It remained that the deputy Hülseraccused the political right of camouflaging itself on false principles. For fear of Bolshevism, the bourgeois camp committed itself to ideal and Christian social principles in 1918 and 1919. But when it attracted enough voters, the materialist forces emerged again. These are no better than with the Marxists, but all the more unbearable since they are hidden behind the figurehead of Christianity. The dignity of Christianity demands that it be the real foundation of the whole. “Every class interest and every special requirement has to justify and bow to the eternal commandments of Christianity.”

Howthe workers’ representatives also saw the evangelical clergy being deprived of their influence. Reinhard Mumm was pushed aside in the Evangelical Reich Committee of the German Nationalists by Magdalene von Tiling , a Hugenberg satellite , who had the party leader’s funds at his disposal. (R. Mumm , Der Christian-Sozial Gedanke, Berlin 1933, p. 128) The Landtag MP Pastor Kliesch from Breslau was not doing any better. The speeches by Professor Brunstäd and Duisburg trade union secretary Dudey remained at the Königsberg party congress of 1928without echo. At the Kassel party congress of November 1929, the lack of interest in the lectures of Professor Veidt and Member of Parliament Hartwig was even more striking. The organ of the Reichsvereinigung, the “Christian Social Voices”, explicitly stated this. Shortly after the party congress, Hugenberg submitted a motion to expel all party members who refused to approve the most radical demands in the referendum against the Young Plan. (Writings of the CVD No. 5, p. 7 ff.) In the party board meeting, Hartwig spoke against Hugenbergand accused him of making it impossible for the workers’ leaders to ever speak to him in detail. In addition, his cultural policy is just as disastrous as his lack of social understanding. While the Protestant and Catholic circles make the greatest effort to make the moral forces of Christianity effective in public life, the Scherl press promotes the most anti-Christian efforts and brings the Ufa, on whose supervisory board the party leader is significantly involved, dirty and people-destroying pieces of film . “One cannot be the responsible leader of a large Christian national community and at the same time the head of a commercial enterprise that unscrupulously uses all acquisition methods and opportunities, regardless of Christian customs and commandments.”Hülser and Behrens , Mumm and Kliesch , followed Hartwig’s remarks. Most recently, they declared their departure from the party in solidarity. They had been driven out by Hugenberg and felt that the process was a repetition of Stoecker’s treatment when he was forced to separate by the conservatives in 1896.

Well it was almost a matter of course that those who had left tried to come to an understanding with the People’s Service. On December 6, 1929 a meeting took place in Stuttgart. Further conferences followed in Frankfurt. Most recently delegates from all over the Reich were called to Berlin. On December 21st, both groups discussed, still separately, in the Reichstag building. There were still great differences in political views. Above all, the previous German nationalists had to decide to view the democratic and parliamentary state more positively than since then. At the unification rally the next day, Professor Veidt declared, not entirely without a lingering resignation: “We have tried to understand each other, and we can say: We succeeded.”

On December 28th, the People’s Service and the old Christian Socials agreed in a joint meeting on common principles and an appeal. On the same day they held a public rally in the meeting room of the former Prussian mansion. In essence, the Christian Social Reich Association, as it logically had to happen after its failure with the German Nationals, transferred to the basis of the people’s service. Point 6 of the guiding principles (for the wording of the guiding principles, see CVD publications No. 5, p. 14 ff.)uttered: “Working as Christians demands from us the honest recognition of today’s state. If we have to practice sharp criticism of the present-day state and some of its institutions, this does not lead us to a fight against the state, but only to an all the more intense fight for the state, “Point 7 demanded” respect and appreciation for history valuable ones in the past «, point 8 the rejection of the class fronts equally on both sides.

The old parties were felt to be an expression of the immovable class fronts, and so in point 4 they said that they didn’t want to be a party, but a “movement.” In point 9 it was said that the practical work inside and outside the Parliament would show who one could work with. So it was left to decide whether this would one day be the Social Democrats or the German Nationals. There is little doubt that the People’s Service Leaders and the Christian trade unionists primarily thought of cooperation with the Catholic fellow Christians at the center.

The public rally of December 28, 1929 (Writings of the CVD No. 5, p. 14 ff.)was addressed “to the German Protestant Christian people” and announced that the Christian People’s Service and the Christian Social Reich Association had merged under the name of “Christian Social People’s Service”. Among the goals for which the new organization wanted to fight was again “freedom”, Christian freedom differentiated from unchristian licentiousness.

The Christian upbringing of children, the indissolubility of marriage and many other things are threatened. “Let us … standing on the soil of today’s state, lend a hand in shaping our state, cultural and economic life. Let us work and fight under the slogan: not revolution, but reformation! … Everything for Germany, Germany for Christ! “

The call was signed by Bausch , Kling and Simpfendörfer on the one hand , and Hartwig , Hülser and Kliesch on the other. The black-white-red language of the German Nationals was dismissed, but that of the Dutch anti-revolutionaries was adopted. The word “not revolution!” Naturally also referred to the coup d’état from above, the political conception of the Hugenberg party, which wanted to replace the Weimar constitution with a form of dictatorship that seemed appropriate to it. Thus, with the Christian Social People’s Service, the Protestant constitutional party came into being, which could trust itself to bring considerable Protestant electorate into the positive relationship to the Weimar Republic, which had long been created for Catholic Germany from the center. It was not unjustified when SimpfendörferAt the unification rally the new Christian-social movement called the “last reserve” “which our people have to deploy”. Basically, it was so far that the severe global economic crisis hit Germany and that that mission came too late. Simpfendörferturned to the conservatives, who took offense at the sentence in the imperial constitution, “State authority comes from the people.” “From our Christian conception we have to add the sentence that expresses only half a truth: State power emanates solely from God and is today given to the people by God through historical development. Ultimately, however, their bearers are responsible to God and not to the masses …. Based on the sovereignty of God, the sovereignty of the state must take away its authority. Inwardly, we do not bow to the masses or tyrants, but only to God and a government that takes its rule from God’s hand and makes it responsible to God. ” (Writings of the CVD No. 5, p. 36)

Simpfendörfer renounced the misunderstanding of political freedom as it emerged in the French Revolution, but not the principle of popular sovereignty, which has a good Christian meaning. As soon as it is understood as a sovereignty bestowed by God, it has its right “through historical development” in the present-day state, just as the sovereignty of the princes or a ruling aristocracy or a class parliament has its right in other times. Sovereignty of princes and sovereignty of the people both lose their feet when they forget their derivation from the sovereignty of God or even deliberately deny and deny it. Just like the state, society is an order of God. From this point of view, the social question must be resolved, which is not only a labor, but above all a peasant question.

These two classes must join hands so that the state can rest securely on this basis. However, no political or social criticism can prevent the People’s Service from stepping onto the soil of the existing republican state “with a firm step”. But the state must not be idolized; he must not strive for omnipotence, which would like to make all areas of life subservient to itself,. Next to the state there are other educations endowed by God with equal rights: family and community Church and science, cooperative society and economy are spheres of life that not only have their own legality, but also have their own sovereignty before God. “Above the state, however, stands” the community of consciences “,” the highest moral authority, if it applies, against injustice and violence,(Writings from CVD No. 5, p. 36)

The MP Franz Behrens spoke for the workers who were not only held down by the authorities and employers if they were social democrats. When the Christian unions emerged they were even more uncomfortable for the employers than the socialist ones. The Catholic workers found representation in the center; the Protestants were mostly homeless, only stickstook care of her. When they come to the people’s service now, they want above all to be treated equally. “The workers are not only concerned with wages and constitutional equality, but rather with working out a new attitude towards life that is also valid in practical life.” »After my separation from the German National People’s Party, my heart was lighter again. Now we are no longer lonely in political life, but there is a possibility of being able to create again in the old sense of Christianity.

The main theme of the party political development was the two Württembergers Kling and Bauschshown. Kling said: “The struggle between faith and unbelief is the great theme of world history.” Bausch emphasized: “The decisive contrast that determines the whole of today’s development is the great contrast between Christ and Antichrist.” Kling pointed to England, where unbelief has not become so much a public power and neo-paganism has not been inoculated into the masses with the scientific thoroughness peculiar to us. England has a largely Christian workers’ party. How different would Germany be if Bismarckor his successors had the insight to steer a Christian-social course in time. The unique power of Christianity to bridge party and class differences was highlighted by many speakers; And so Bausch , who was the last to speak, probably hit the right note when he summed up the whole point of the rally in Florian Geyer’s saying: “The German discord in the heart!” was quite a leader. The Christian trade unionists from the north readily joined them. They were happy to have lost their ties with the German Nationals. The intellectual leaders of the old Stoecker group like Veidt were much more alarming and guts . “I fully agree,” said Vimes , “with what the Korntaler Christian People’s Service recently wrote about the core issues of the political task.” independent group of the “Christian National Working Group” had joined, which had a parliamentary group of 21 members. in addition, the Christian Social People’s Service is represented in the Prussian, Baden and Württemberg state parliaments and in many urban and rural communities. The Prussian leader, except for the trade unionists, did not enter without silent grief the new path they not looked at with the same clarity as Simpfendörfer, Bausch and Kling . Professor Veidt concluded his speech with the certainly gravely felt prayer: “Lord, You show us the way!”

There was, however, also some old Christian Social who did not want to part with the Hugenberg party. Paul Rüffer was one of them, who later sharply attacked the People’s Service. In Siegerland and Sauerland and in Nassau, many a veteran from the Stoecker period found it difficult to understand that he was now going to stand up for the center chancellor Briining and against the “national opposition.” But most of them showed that nothing other than the Christian-social thought was the core of their conviction. The impression of a party rally held in Kassel at the end of April 1930 by the People’s Service was very effective in keeping them going. “The leaders in the people’s service from the south and west,” wrote Henrich in the Siegen “people”, “spoke Christian-social.” “You could call the people’s service the younger Christian-social if that wasn’t historically a bad catch. “The difference is that these” young “today are united with the” old “in the unbroken position to the Word of God. (Lookout in the “Volk” on May 3, 1930) But even the mistrustful were genuinely satisfied with this unity.

Already September 14, 1930, the Christian Social People’s Service had to fight its first major all-German election battle because Brüning had dissolved the Reichstag. He passed it excellently. Election victories were not only achieved in Rhineland-Westphalia-Nassau and southern Germany, but also in Saxony the Member of Parliament Echte was directly elected. Seven seats in the constituencies were won, including one in Westphalia-Süd for the publisher Rippel and one in Württemberg for Simpfendörfer . In addition, there were enough votes to get seven seats on the Reichsliste, including Hartwig , Mumm , Kling and Bausch. This resulted in a Christian social representation of fourteen members in the Reichstag. In order to form a parliamentary group and thereby exercise influence in the committees, they united with the people’s conservatives under Treviranus , who had also split off from the German nationalists. Admittedly, in the same election on September 14, 1930, the previously insignificant National Socialists had become a party of millions. They won over a hundred seats in the Reichstag. The stream of the electorate towards Hitlerwas a sign that the people’s service appeared deplorably late. The old Christian Socialists should have decided to jump from the German Nationals earlier, so that the Protestant constitutional party could at least have appeared in the elections of 1928. It had what it takes to catch the numerous Christian-minded voters who succumbed to Hitler’s untruthful propaganda because they no longer knew a party they wanted to trust. Until 1930 their mood was still unstable and could easily be steered in a more sensible direction. But after the great Nazi success of September 14th, they were hypnotized by it. Even the People’s Service could no longer catch up with the Hitler party’s lead.

Since the winter of 1930/31, and especially during the elections of 1932/33, the Christian Social People’s Service regarded it as its main task to bring back as large parts of the Protestant electorate as possible from the sterile and state-destroying opposition of the National Socialists and German Nationals. While the other middle parties were terribly decimated and barely had any resistance, the People’s Service held on to its voters. He was the only group besides the Catholic parties and the Social Democrats who still had a serious will to fall into the spokes of the wheel that was rolling towards the abyss. That from Bausch. The pamphlet “What is Truth?” was one of the best pamphlets against National Socialism.

Thus the new Protestant Christian Socials became a reliable support for Reich Chancellor Brüning , whose line was in any case related to theirs. The people’s service leaders had an exchange of ideas with many center deputies such as Bolz, Andre, Ersing, and Dietz , which was fruitful after Hitler’s rule when the CDU was founded. On the other hand, these relationships often gave rise to serious suspicions. The Protestant pastor Albert Schmidtin Bochum, one of the earliest champions of the people’s service in the industrial area, his friends had to defend in a special pamphlet in June 1932 mainly against the dark propaganda specter of the “Protestant center” and “Protestant clericalism”. (Albert Schmidt , Der Christian-Sozial Volksdienst, an answer to worrisome questions, Hamburg 1932. – Schmidt is one of the victims of National Socialism.)

After the establishment of the Hitler dictatorship, the People’s Service, like the other parties, was dissolved. The press was suppressed. It had only contained a few sheets of paper. The South German “Christian People’s Service” was banned for three weeks because of an article dated February 11, 1933, that is, it was switched off before the last Reichstag elections. In Berlin the Christian Socials had had the “Daily Rundschau” in recent years; in Siegen still the “people”. They were silenced and “brought into line”. The “Volk” could only exist as a daily newspaper until the end of July 1933 and then continue to appear as a weekly paper. In this form, under Rippel’s leadership, it lived to see its 50th anniversary in 1938. It was a melancholy oneStoecker anniversary , shortly before the adventure of the Hitler war that led to its downfall.

(Source: State Library; HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN PARTIES IN GERMANY by Karl Buchheim, published by KÖSEL-VERLAG in Munich, first edition, 1953 )