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Stoecker, Adolf°


STOECKER, ADOLF ° (1835–1909), German antisemitic preacher politician. Stoecker became a renowned figure in the 1870s as an influential and popular Protestant theologian and as an advocate for a conservative social reform movement. He founded the Christian Social Workers' Party in 1878 (renamed Christian Social Party in 1881), originally intended as an instrument against the Social Democratic Party, whose following he failed to attract. During the first year of its existence, the powerful, modern-style demagogue increasingly used the party to promote anti-liberal and antisemitic ideas. He was thereby able to create a right-wing mass movement of discontented artisans and small shop owners, who were later joined by members of the conservative educated classes, civil servants, officers, and students. In mass rallies Stoecker used stereotype slogans in attacking the Jews as the moneyed power in Germany and as a group which dominated German cultural life, and castigated the liberal press, in which he believed Jews to be prominent. Blending the religious issue with an extreme nationalism that stigmatized Jews as aliens, he advocated the limitation of Jewish civil rights, their exclusion from public office and from the staffs of public schools, and a *numerus clausus in high schools and universities, as well as the limiting of Jewish immigration. His inflammatory demagogy paved the way for the rampant antisemitic movement in Berlin in the early 1880s which spread to provincial cities and the countryside.

Imperial court chaplain from 1874, Stoecker was a member of the Prussian Diet from 1879 to 1898. In 1881 he was elected to the Reichstag for a Westphalian district which he represented (except for the years 1893–98) until 1908. After Stoecker had been invited to the Luther Festival in London in 1883, the lord mayor revoked his permission to speak at Mansion House; he thus suffered his first public defeat. Two libel suits in the following years brought him further adverse publicity. Public opinion began turning against anti-Jewish attacks and his influence declined from 1885. In 1889 he had to curtail his political activities, and in 1891 was forced to resign from his position as court chaplain. However, he continued to stir up antisemitic issues in the Reichstag. Stoecker's mass movement provided fertile soil for the more radical antisemitic parties which followed in the mid-1880s.


P.G.J. Pulzer, Rise of Political Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria (1964); M.A. Meyer, in: ylbi, 11 (1966), 139–45. add. bibliography: G. Brakelmann, M. Greschat, and W. Jochmann, Protestantismus und Politik. Werk und Wirkung Adolf Stoeckers (1982); D.A.J. Telman, in: Jewish History, 9 (1995), 93–112; G. Brakelmann, Adolf Stoecker als Antisemit (2004).

[Toni Oelsner /

Uffa Jensen (2nd ed.)]

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