We are the DDB: The Library of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

As part of the Archive of Social Democracy of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (Friedrich Ebert Foundation), the library makes an important contribution to the supply of primary and scientific secondary literature with its special inventory profile. It supplements its extensive historical holdings, which almost completely represent the history of the German Social Democracy, with new publications on the history and present of the German and international, in particular the European labours' movement. As a special historical-scientific library, she also acquires new literature on German and international social and contemporary history.

Die Bibliothek der Friedrich Eber Stiftung, Innenansicht, Copyright: Archiv der sozialen Demokratie der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
The library of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, interior, Copyright: Archiv der sozialen Demokratie der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

In addition, the FES library maintains an extensive inventory of so-called "grey literature". The publications are collected and made accessible by trade unions and parties from the left-wing political spectrum of selected European countries as well as by international trade union organisations. This is done both in printed form and – now predominantly – in digital form.

The library of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung contributes to the rich holdings of the DDB with its digital collection “Historische Presse der deutschen Sozialdemokratie online” (Historical Press of German Social Democracy Online). Since 2017, we have been offering a full-text search compilation of 18 central social democratic newspaper titles from the years 1865 to 1940, including the historical "Vorwärts", on our portal of the same name. These titles can now also be viewed and searched within the much broader context of the newly developed German Newspaper Portal of the DDB.

Drawing of the Vorwärts editorial office in the anniversary edition of 31.03.1909 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)

Our collection contributes significantly to the representation of Social Democracy as an important part of the political spectrum in the German Empire and in the Weimar Republic in the portal. The German Newspaper Portal thus comes one important step closer to its goal of mapping the entire political spectrum in the history of the German-language newspaper industry. A prerequisite for the integration of our collection into the portal was an elaborate data conversion, in which the DDB supported us in a thankful way with great commitment.

Especially, two new newspaper titles should be mentioned in particular at this point, whose digitisation we were able to realise in 2021 with the support of the funding project "Targeted digitisation funding for cultural institutions from the network of the Deutschen Digitalen Bibliothek (German Digital Library)". The project was funded by the Commissioner of the  "Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien (BKM)" (Federal Government for Culture and Media) as part of the programme "NEUSTART KULTUR" (RESTART CULTURE).

Deutsche Freiheit vom 20/21. August 1933. The cover shows a photo of Crown Prince Wilhelm with Joseph Goebbels (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)

The newspapers “Deutsche Freiheit – einzig unabhängige deutsche Tageszeitung” (German Freedom - the only independent German daily newspaper) (Saarbrücken, 1933–1935) and the “Sozialdemokrat – Zentralorgan der Deutschen Sozialdemokratischen Arbeiterpartei in der Tschechoslowakischen Republik” (Social Democrat- Central Organ of the German Social Democratic Labour Party in the Czechoslovak Republic) (Prague, 1921–1938) have one important thing in common: they are social-democratic daily newspapers that could appear outside the German Reich after the Nazis seized power.

After it was founded in June 1933 as a vote against National Socialism, the "Deutsche Freiheit" could be published until the integration of Saarland into the German Reich after a referendum in 1935. The Prague “Sozialdemokrat”, which had already existed since 1921, had to be discontinued only in the course of the destruction and occupation of the First Czechoslovak Republic by Nazi Germany in November 1938. In both cases, the access of the German Reich to its sphere of appearance meant political persecution and escape for the employees of the newspapers. Both titles offer unique perspectives on political developments in Europe before the Second World War.

You can find the issues of the "Deutsche Freiheit" here

You can find the issues of the "Der Sozialdemokrat" here