Politics and Government in Germany, 1944-1994: Basic Documents

By Carl-Christoph Schweitzer; Detlev Karsten et al. | Go to book overview

1
The Origins of the Federal Republic of Germany, 1944-1949

Robert Spencer

For forty years, until the tumultuous events of 1989/90, the Federal Republic of Germany celebrated its birthday on 23 May, the date in 1949 on which the Parliamentary Council (Parlamentarische Rat), meeting in Bonn, formally approved its constitution (Grundgesetz).* A provisional creation, the new state formed in the zones occupied in 1945 by the three Western Powers, it was intended to last, as the final article of the constitution decreed, only until 'a constitution adopted by a free decision of the German people comes into force'.1 The Federal Republic had both German and non-German origins.2 It was a product of the Second World War, at whose end unconditional surrender and the resulting absence of any central government in Germany had led to the unprecedented assumption by the four leading Allied powers of 'supreme authority with respect to Germany, including all the powers possessed by the German Government, the High Command, and any state, municipal, or local government or authority'.3 It was also even more directly a product of the Cold War, as East-West differences frustrated the four-power cooperation envisaged in the original post- surrender arrangements. But while Germany was a highly important object of international politics after 1945, the Federal Republic also owed to German initiatives and reflected German traditions, which merged with Allied (and especially American) policies directed towards the 'eventual reconstruction of German political life on a democratic basis'.4 The extent to which the Federal Republic was the result of the policies of the Western Allies and the extent to which it was the consequence of the endeavours of the Germans themselves is still the subject of academic debate.5

Given the wartime occupation agreements between the Allied powers, this outcome was largely unforeseen. True, as late as the

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*
Notes for this chapter begin on p.26.

-1-

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Politics and Government in Germany, 1944-1994: Basic Documents
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface to the First Edition xv
  • Preface to the Second Edition xvii
  • Introduction xix
  • 1 - The Origins of The Federal Republic Of Germany, 1944-1949 1
  • 2 - Berlin 29
  • 3 - The Two Germanies 48
  • 4 - Germany Reunited 1989--Her First Successful Revolution, And a Peaceful One 76
  • 5 - Foreign Policy 108
  • 6 - Defence Policy and the Armed Forces 150
  • 7 - Parliamentary Democracy: The Bundestag 175
  • 8 - Political Parties 201
  • 9 - Chancellor, Cabinet, and President 239
  • 10 - The Judiciary 272
  • 11 - Basic Rights And Constitutional Review 297
  • 12 - Federalism: Bund and Länder 325
  • 13 - Public Opinion: Interest Groups and the Media 371
  • 14 - Economic and Social Policy 401
  • Statistical Tables 432
  • Glossary 446
  • Select Bibliography 449
  • Notes on the Editors 458
  • Index 460
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