This contribution analyses the Ligue française des droits de l’homme et du citoyen (LDH), founded in 1898, and the Deutsche Liga für Menschenrechte (DLM), established in 1922, as early forms of a civic democracy protection, which emerged in France during the 19th century, found a number of imitators in other republics, among them Weimar Germany, after the First World War, was crushed in many cases by nationalist regimes, and re-emerged in new forms after the Second World War. The essay situates both organisations in the political and social history of their countries by attempting to answer these questions, mainly on the basis of the research literature: What were the historical traditions of the leagues? What understanding of democracy did the league activists have? Who did they consider to be guarantors or threats to democracy? What political and social functions did both organisations fulfil? What was their relationship to political parties and the state? What political impact did the leagues have in the French Third and the Weimar Republic? And to what extent was the protection of democracy they practised a model for militant democracy after 1945?