Germany: a Self-Portrait: A Collection of German Writings from 1914 to 1943

By Harlan R. Crippen | Go to book overview

even this was settled by compromise. The document was passed on 31 July, at its third reading. It was signed by Ebert on 11 August and published three days later. The Assembly adjourned by electing Ebert Reich President, dispensing with the formality of a popular vote.

The symbolism of meeting in Weimar was deliberate and artificial, and the constitution made there was equally deliberate and artificial. The lawyers and professors achieved a perfect state document. But it was ominous that this document, so letter-perfect, so well planned for any exigency except that of preserving itself (in fact it had, in Article 48, a suicide clause), should be written without a trace of democratic passion. Its words were never fire--simply plain ink applied to plain paper.

This cold legal beauty, with which each promise or right was withdrawn as it was given, inspired neither ardor nor devotion. It simply certified that the revolution of desperation and hunger had not possessed sufficient vigor to rise to the higher plane of living, expanding democracy. Weimar was the formulation of stalemate-- no section of the population was satisfied, but none had strength or determination enough to bring any other decision. The compromise of Weimar was tolerated rather than supported, suffered rather than welcomed. Germany had found the outward form of democracy. It could not breathe life into the form it had created.


THE CONSTITUTION OF THE GERMAN REICH OF 11 AUGUST 1919

translated by Marguerite Wolff

THE GERMAN PEOPLE, united in their racial elements and impelled by the will to renew and strengthen their Reich in freedom and justice, to serve the ends of peace at home and abroad and to further social progress, have established this Constitution.

-142-

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