Constitutions and Constitutional Trends since World War II: An Examination of Significant Aspects of Postwar Public Law with Particular Reference to the New Constitutions of Western Europe

By Arnold J. Zurcher | Go to book overview

8 *
Federalism -- The Bonn Model

By John Brown Mason FORMERLY OBERLIN COLLEGE

T HE geography of Germany has contributed much to the growth of her federalism, although it has also lent itself to intra-Balkanization. In the central and southern upland area -- as large a part of the Reich as its northern plains -- nature acts as a barrier to communication, while fostering autonomous development of small areas, furthering their cultural individuality, and increasing the difficulties of political unity. The Alps and their foothills in the far South bring out local characteristics again, rather than nationwide similarities. Germany is also a country of regional diversity in regard to population characteristics, which have long ceased to coincide with political borders. For instance, both the lighthearted Rhinelander and the stolid Pomeranian are (or were) Prussians, although their political outlook tends to differ as much as their degree of natural cheerfulness. Certain pronounced sectional sentiments have had strong effects on the development of federalism, often accentuated by a pronounced religious schism until the recent flood of German refugees from the East and the Balkans tended to lower the dikes of regional religious diversity.

The historical confluence on German soil of Eastern and Western cultural and political tendencies produced uneven results, causing some distinct differences between the eastern and western parts of the country. These are now being accentuated by the contrasting

____________________
*
This essay was read at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in New York on December 28, 1949, before the writer joined the staff of the United States High Commissioner in Germany. The views expressed herein do not, therefore, in any way represent the views of the Department of State.

-134-

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