Adolf Stoecker

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Adolf Stoecker, c. 1875

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


Hofprediger Adolf Stoecker und die christlichsoziale Bewegung.jpg

Stoecker was born in Halberstadt, Province of Saxony, Kingdom of Prussia, German Confederation. A staunch Protestant, Stoecker was a believer in German Kultur Protestantism. 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, in turn becoming one of the early leaders of the modern Jew-wise 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 Workers Party. In keeping with the sectarian lines in politics then prevalent 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 in combating the influence of materialistic radical Marxist Social Democracy among workers. However, by the 1870s, the anti-nationalist and anti-Christian movement of the Comintern 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 openly persecuted, investigation by Stoeker showed a predominant Jewish Communist and Anti-Christian element was behind the attacks. Stoeker therefore began openly 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 his party great successes in his region, the CSWP never united behind his agenda especially in regards toward making the discussion of the Jewish Question a central tenet. 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 significant 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 and 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 Jew-wise movement.


Stoeker died on 2 February 1909 in Gries near Bozen, Grafschaft Tirol, Austria-Hungary.

See also


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