November 1932 German federal election

Federal elections were held in Germany on 6 November 1932.[1] They saw a four percent drop in votes for the Nazi Party and slight increases for the Communists and the national conservative DNVP. It was the last free and fair all-German election before the Nazi seizure of power on 30 January 1933, as the following elections of March 1933 were already accompanied by massive suppression, especially against Communist and Social Democratic politicians.

The results of the November 1932 election were a great disappointment for the Nazis. Although they emerged once more as the largest party by far, they had fewer seats than before, and failed to form a government coalition in the Reichstag parliament.

Previously, Chancellor Franz von Papen, a former member of the Catholic Centre Party, had governed without parliamentary support relying on legislative decrees promulgated by Reich President Paul von Hindenburg according to Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution. However, on 12 September 1932 Papen had to ask Hindenburg to dissolve the parliament in order to preempt a motion of no confidence tabled by the Communist Party, which was expected to pass (since the Nazis were expected to vote in favour, as they also desired new elections). Following this dissolution of parliament in September, the election of November 1932 was held. The DNVP, which had backed Papen, gained 15 seats as a result.

After the election, Chancellor Papen urged Hindenburg to continue to govern by emergency decrees. Nevertheless, on 3 December he was superseded by his Defence Minister Kurt von Schleicher who in talks with the left wing of the Nazi Party led by Gregor Strasser tried to build up a Third Position (Querfront) strategy. These plans failed when in turn Hitler disempowered Strasser and approached Papen for coalition talks. Papen obtained Hindenburg's consent to form the Hitler Cabinet on 30 January 1933.

The next free elections were not held until 1949 in West Germany and March 1990 in East Germany; by the time of the first postwar elections in East Germany in May 1949, a Communist regime was rapidly consolidating. The next free all-German elections took place in December 1990 after reunification.

November 1932 German federal election

6 November 1932

All 584 seats in the Reichstag
293 seats needed for a majority
Turnout80.58% Decrease 3.52 pp
  Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1987-0703-506, Adolf Hitler vor Rundfunk-Mikrofon retouched Ottowelsportait Ernst Thälmann 1932
Leader Adolf Hitler Otto Wels Ernst Thälmann
Leader since 28 July 1921 1919 October 1925
Last election 230 seats, 37.27% 133 seats, 21.58% 89 seats, 14.32%
Seats won 196 121 100
Seat change Decrease34 Decrease12 Increase11
Popular vote 11,737,395 7,251,690 5,980,614
Percentage 33.09% 20.43% 16.86%
Swing Decrease4.18% Decrease1.15% Increase2.54%

  Ludwig Kaas Konkordatsunterzeichnung mini AlfredHugenberg1933.jpeg Heinrich held 102 01176crop
Leader Ludwig Kaas Alfred Hugenberg Heinrich Held
Party Centre DNVP BVP
Leader since September 1928 1928 27 June 1924
Last election 75 seats, 12.44% 37 seats, 5.91% 22 seats, 3.23%
Seats won 70 52 20
Seat change Decrease5 Increase15 Decrease2
Popular vote 4,230,545 3,792,563 1,206,247
Percentage 11.93% 8.34% 3.09%
Swing Decrease0.51% Increase2.43% Decrease0.14%

Reichstag composition after election of November 1932
Composition of the Reichstag after the election.

Chancellor before election

Franz von Papen

Elected Chancellor

None (Schleicher appointed shortly afterward)


Party Votes % Seats +/–
National Socialist German Workers Party 11,737,021 33.09 196 –34
Social Democratic Party of Germany 7,247,901 20.43 121 –12
Communist Party of Germany 5,980,239 16.86 100 +11
Centre Party 4,230,545 11.93 70 –5
German National People's Party 2,959,053 8.34 51 +14
Bavarian People's Party 1,094,597 3.09 20 –2
German People's Party 660,889 1.86 11 +4
Christian Social People's Service 403,666 1.14 5 +2
German State Party 336,447 0.95 2 –2
German Farmers' Party 149,026 0.42 3 +1
Agricultural League 105,220 0.30 2 0
Reich Party of the German Middle Class 110,309 0.31 1 –1
German-Hanoverian Party 63,966 0.18 1 +1
Radical Middle Class 60,246 0.17 0 0
Thuringian Agricultural League 60,062 0.17 1 New
Christian-National Peasants' and Farmers' Party 46,382 0.13 0 –1
People's Justice Party 46,202 0.13 0 –1
Socialist Workers' Party of Germany 45,201 0.13 0 0
Poland List 32,988 0.09 0 0
For Hindenberg and Pope 27,752 0.08 0 New
Kleinrentner, Inflationsgeschädigte und Vorkriegsgeldbesitzer 15,727 0.04 0 0
Free Economy Party of Germany 11,002 0.03 0 0
Schicksalsgemeinschaft deutscher Erwerbslosen, Kleinhandel und Gewerbe 9,250 0.03 0 New
Social Republican Party of Germany 8,395 0.02 0 New
Handwerker, Handel- und Gewerbetreibende 5,189 0.01 0 0
Radical Democratic Party 3,789 0.01 0 New
Kampfgemeinschaft der Arbeiter und Bauern 3,308 0.01 0 0
National Social Party of the Middle Class 3,052 0.01 0 New
Enteigneter Mittelstand 2,737 0.01 0 0
National Freedom Party of Germany 1,810 0.01 0 0
Schleswig Home 1,694 0.00 0 0
Greater Germany People's Party 1,311 0.00 0 0
Interessengemeinschaft der Kleinrentner und Inflationsgeschädigten 1,086 0.00 0 0
Nationalist Party 588 0.00 0 New
People's Socialists 518 0.00 0 New
Haus- und Landwirtepartei 461 0.00 0 New
National Communist Party of Germany 381 0.00 0 New
German Social Monarchist Party 355 0.00 0 0
German Reform Party 352 0.00 0 0
German Workers Party 308 0.00 0 0
Unitarianist Union of Germany 290 0.00 0 0
Greater German Middle Class Party for Middle Class Dictatorship 286 0.00 0 New
Gerechtigkeits-Bewegung-Meißner 280 0.00 0 New
German National Citizen Bloc 192 0.00 0 New
Party for the Unemployed for Work and Bread 140 0.00 0 0
National German Catholic Reich Party 137 0.00 0 New
German Socialist Struggle Movement 101 0.00 0 0
German Reich against Interest Rate Movement 97 0.00 0 New
Freiheitsbewegung Schwarz-Weiß-Rot 92 0.00 0 New
Middle Class Party 85 0.00 0 New
Kampfbund der Lohn- und Gehaltsabgebauten 63 0.00 0 New
Invalid/blank votes 287,471
Total 35,758,259 100 584 –24
Registered voters/turnout 44,374,085 80.58
Reichstagswahl November 1932
Electoral map.
Popular Vote
Reichstag seats


  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p762 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
German Democratic Party

The German Democratic Party (German: Deutsche Demokratische Partei, DDP) was founded in November 1918 by leaders of the former Progressive People's Party, left-wing members of the National Liberal Party and a new group calling themselves the Democrats (German: Demokraten).

In 1930, the party changed to the German State Party (German: Deutsche Staatspartei).

Reichstag fire

The Reichstag fire (German: Reichstagsbrand, listen ) was an arson attack on the Reichstag building, home of the German parliament in Berlin, on Monday 27 February 1933, precisely four weeks after Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany. Hitler's government stated that Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch council communist, was found near the building, and they attributed the fire to communist agitators in general—though a German court decided later that year that van der Lubbe had acted alone, as he claimed. After the fire, the Reichstag Fire Decree was passed. The Nazi Party used the fire as a pretext that communists were plotting against the German government, and the event is considered pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany. The term "Reichstag fire" has come to refer to false flag actions facilitated by an authority to promote their own interests through popular approval of retribution or retraction of civil rights.

The first report of the fire came shortly after 21:00, when a Berlin fire station received an alarm call. By the time that police and firefighters arrived, the main Chamber of Deputies was engulfed in flames. The police conducted a thorough search inside the building and found van der Lubbe. He was arrested, as were four communist leaders soon after. Hitler urged President Paul von Hindenburg to pass an emergency decree to suspend civil liberties and pursue a "ruthless confrontation" with the Communist Party of Germany. After passing the decree, the government instituted mass arrests of communists, including all of the Communist Party parliamentary delegates. With their bitter rival communists gone and their seats empty, the Nazi Party went from being a plurality party to the majority, thus enabling Hitler to consolidate his power.

In February 1933, Bulgarians Georgi Dimitrov, Vasil Tanev, and Blagoy Popov were arrested, and they played pivotal roles during the Leipzig Trial, known also as the "Reichstag Fire Trial". They were known to the Prussian police as senior Comintern operatives, but the police had no idea how senior they were; Dimitrov was head of all Comintern operations in Western Europe. The responsibility for the Reichstag fire remains a topic of debate and research. Historians disagree as to whether van der Lubbe acted alone, as he said, to protest the condition of the German working class. The Nazis accused the Comintern of the act. Some historians endorse the theory proposed by the Communist Party that the arson was planned and ordered by the Nazis as a false flag operation. The building remained in its fire-damaged state until it was partially repaired from 1961 to 1964, then completely restored from 1995 to 1999.

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