Friedrich Naumann Biography

Friedrich Naumann

Friedrich Naumann, after whom the Foundation is named, is considered to be the founder of modern liberalism in the German Empire at the beginning of the last century. With his political commitment and his personal charisma he made a decisive contribution to a fundamental reshaping of political liberalism. In 1958, his disciple, the first president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Theodor Heuss, together with liberal friends,

founded the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Bonn as an institution of political education.

Friedrich Naumann’s political vision was to consolidate diverse liberal movements of the country into a broad reform league, uniting liberal groups from social liberals up to national liberals. This league would constitute a basis for a transformation of the restrictive and hierarchic political and economic system of the empire towards a free and democratic republic. The cornerstone of Friedrich Naumann’s political belief was the responsible citizen who actively stands up for democracy, the rule of law and free market economy.

This is why after Germany’s defeat in the First World War Naumann pinned all his hopes for the rebuilding of Germany on a liberalization of the country by means of internal reforms. Naumann was among the founding members of the liberal and pro-republican German Democratic Party and was elected first president of the party. Shortly before his death, he participated in discussions on the Weimar Constitution. His influence is especially noticeable in the basic rights catalogue of the constitution. Friedrich Naumann died few days after the adoption of the Weimar Constitution in August 1919.

Friedrich Naumann’s concept of a free and democratic civil society is based on the idea of political education work, which he realized in a “Citizen School” founded by him especially for this purpose. This tradition is still alive today and is carried on by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in its domestic and international work.