This article aims to give a historical outline of liberalism in Germany. The liberal parties dealt with in the timeline below are, largely, those which received sufficient support at one time or another to have been represented in parliament. Not all parties so included, however, necessarily labeled themselves "liberal". The sign ⇒ denotes another party in that scheme.


The early high points of liberalism in Germany were the Hambacher Fest (1832) and the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states. In the Frankfurt Parliament National Assembly in the Frankfurt am Main Frankfurt Paulskirche (1848/1849), the bourgeois liberal factions Casino and Württemberger Hof (the latter led by Heinrich von Gagern) were the majority. They favored a constitutional monarchy, popular sovereignty, and parliamentary rule. Organized liberalism developed in the 1860s, combining the previous liberal and democratic currents. Between 1867 and 1933 liberalism was divided into progressive liberal and national liberal factions. Since 1945 only one liberal party has been significant in politics at the national level: The Free Democratic Party (Freie Demokratische Partei, FDP).


Pre 1860s

Main article: Old Liberals

From German Progress Party to German State Party

German People's Party (1868)

National Liberal Party / German People's Party (1918)

National Liberals

Liberal Union

Freeminded Union

National Social Union

Democratic Union

From Liberal Democratic Party of Germany to Alliance of Free Democrats (GDR)

Free Democratic Party

Liberal Democrats

New Liberals

Liberal leaders

Liberal thinkers

In the Contributions to liberal theory the following German thinkers are included:

See also

Further reading