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Adolf Stoecker.

Adolf Stoecker (December 11, 1835 – February 2, 1909) was the court chaplain to Kaiser Wilhelm, a politician, and an German Lutheran theologian who founded one of the first Christian Social Gospel political parties in Germany, the Christian Social Party.

Contents

Life

Stoecker was born in Halberstadt, Province of Saxony.

A staunch Protestant, Stoecker was a believer in German kulterprotestanism. His theology was compbined with political philosophy which believed that German culture was being corrupted by materialistic economic dogma. A favorite theme in his sermons and speeches was the new capitalist system was allowing the rapid centralized accumulation of capital in a small group of individuals thereby increasing wealth disparities, upseting social order, and de-Christianizing the German nation. Upset with the dislocating socio-economic effects brought on by rapid industrialization and the new capitalist system, he called for German society to rededicate itself to Christian faith and return to Germanic rule in law and business. Overtime he increasingly laid blame on this cultural change on Jewish capitalists becoming one of the early investigators of the Jewish Conspiracy theory, in turn becoming one of the early leaders of the modern anti-semitic philosophy.

As Parliamentary democratcy spread throughout Germany and in particular Prussia, Stoeker saw the need for mobilizing grass roots support for his reforming agenda. In 1878, Stoecker founded the Christian Social Party (CSP). In keeping with the sectarian lines in politics then prevelant throughout Europe, and focused on restoring a Christian and progressive orientation in society, the party was exclusively Christian. The early strategy of the party was i combating the influence of materialistic radical Marxist Social Democracy among workers. However, by the 1870's, the anti-nationalist and anti-Christian movement of the Commintern and leftist Socialists had already had nearly three decades of organizational development within the broad socialist movement. Additionally, the party's Christian and Nationalist message as well as its ties to the royal court, caused it to be considered a significant threat to the left. As a result, its efforts at organizing a Christian Socialist Progressive movement within socialism was met with bitter resistance. Consequently the party at first enjoyed little success, and in the 1878 elections it obtained less than 1% of the vote.

However, as its representatives within the socialist movement become more and more openely persecuted, investigation by Stoeker showed a predominant Jewish Communist and Anti-Christian element was behind the attacks. Stoeker therefore began openely discussing his conclusions of there existing a Jewish conspiracy. To his initial surprise, he found his message resonated strongly with his audience of workers. Thus, while antisemitism was a minor theme at the early stages, Stoecker saw that the party gained in popularity after it adopted a more aggressive antisemitic agenda. In turn, with increasing backing and a larger audience, he used the party as a platform to attack Jews and publicize his findings and solutions.[1]

Stoecker believed that Jewish Emancipation and integration had worsened the effects of the new capitalist system by allowing Jewish capital to increase its holdings and influence. Stoecker proposed that Jews innate anti-christianity and foreign origin made it impossible for them being properly integrated without secularizing the rest of society and watering down German national values. In Stoecker's opinion this only aggravated the problems caused by capital centralization and rapid industrialization. Therefore, Stocker proposed first severely limiting the civil rights of Jews in Germany and returning them to a position where their ability to use their wealth in influencing the new Parliamentary democracy would be limited and in turn allowing for giving a chance for Parliamentary democracy to reform the new social order back towards traditional German values. In September 1879, he delivered a speech entitled "What we demand of modern Jewry", in which he spelled out several demands of German Jews, among them:

  • that Jews renounce their ambition to financially control Germany,
  • that the Jewish press cease its bigoted attacks on German culture and become more tolerant
  • that quotas be placed on the number of Jews in certain professions and universities especially those with overt Christian missions.

While Stoecker's speeches and his organizing gave the CSP great successes in his region, the CSP never united behind his agenda especially in regards toward making the discusssion of the Jewish Question a central tenent. Furthermore, his successes in Prussia where the landed aristocracy remained powerful, was viewed with concern given his mobilization of the industrial working classes. Additionally, his proximity to the royal court which relied upon signficant Jewish financial support was seen as upsetting and embarrassing to the ruling court. Given that his support in the Reichstag relied heavily on this conservative aristocratic support, his position was tenuous. Thus, when the Conservative Party withdrew its support from Adolf Stoecker he was forced from the coalition government eventually lost his seat.

Stoeker continued to draw significant crowds because of his Christian Social Gospel and Jewish Question sermons and speeches, remaining an influential figure both in the socialist movement and the growing anti-semetic movement. Stoeker died on February 2, 1909 in Bozen Gries, Germany.

See also

References

  1. ^ Ben-Sasson, H.H., ed. (1976): A History of the Jewish People. (Harvard University Press, Cambridge). ISBN 0-674-39730-4, p.875

Further reading

  • Harold M. Green (2003). "Adolf Stoecker: Portrait of a Demagogue". Politics & Policy 31 (1): 106–129.  
  • D. A. Jeremy Telman (1995). "Adolf Stoecker: Anti-Semite with a Christian mission". Jewish History 9 (2): 93–112. doi:10.1007/BF01668991.  

External links

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