Structure and Tasks of the Federation
Section I. The Federation and the
Art. 1. The German Federation is a
republic. Supreme power emanates from the people.
Art. 4. The rules of international law,
universally recognized, are deemed to form part of German federal law
and, as such, have obligatory force.
Art. 9. In so far as there is need for
uniform regulation, the Federation may legislate upon all matters
(1) public welfare,
(2) the maintenance of public order and security.
Art. 10. General principles may be laid
down by federal legislation concerning the following subjects, viz.
(1) The rights and duties of religious bodies
(2) Public education, including the universities and scientific
(3) The status of officials of all public corporations.
(4) Land laws . . .
(5) The disposal of the dead
Art. 12. So long and so far as the
Federation has not exercised its legislative powers, the states continue
free to legislate. This does not, however, hold good of subjects as to
which the federation has sole power to legislate . . .
Art. 13. Federal law overrides state
law. . . .
Art. 14. The federal laws are executed
by the authorities of the states, in so far as federal laws do not
Art. 15. . . .The state governments are
bound at the request of the federal government to remedy defects
discovered in the execution of federal laws. . .
Art. 17. Every state must have a
republican constitution. The representatives of the people must be
elected by the universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage of all
German subjects, men and women. Each state government requires the
confidence of the state parliament . . .
Section II. The Reichstag
Art. 20. . . . The deputies are , each
of them, representative of the whole people. They are subject to their
conscience alone and are not bound by instructions.
Art. 22. The representatives are
elected by the universal, equal, direct, and secret suffrage of all men
and women over twenty years of age in accordance with the principle of
proportional representation. . . .
Art. 23. The Reichstag is elected for
four years. . .
Art. 25. The President of the
Federation may dissolve the Reichstag, but only once for any one cause.
The general election is held not later than on the sixtieth day after
Section III. The President of the
Federation and the Federal Government
Art. 41. The President of the
Federation is elected by the whole German people. Every German who has
completed his thirty-fifth year is eligible. . . .
Art. 42. When entering upon his office,
the President . . takes the following oath before the Reichstag,
"I swear to devote my
strength to the welfare of the German people, to further its interests,
to guard it from harm, to observe the constitution and the laws of the
Federation, to fulfil my duties conscientiously, and to do justice to
Art. 43. The President . . remains in
office for seven years. Re-election is permitted.
Art. 47. The President . . has supreme
command over the whole of the defense force of the federation.
Art. 48. If a state fails to perform
the duties imposed upon it by the federal constitution or by federal
law, the President . . may enforce performance with the aid of the armed
If public order and security are seriously disturbed or endangered
within the Federation, the President . . may take all necessary steps
for their restoration, intervening, if need be, with the aid of the
armed forces. For the said purpose he may suspend for the time being,
either wholly or in part, the fundamental rights described in Articles
114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153.
The President . . has to inform the Reichstag without delay of any steps
taken in virtue of the first and second paragraphs of this article. The
measures to be taken are to be withdrawn upon the demand of the
Where delay is dangerous a state government may take provisional
measures of the kind described in paragraph 2 for its own territory.
Such measures are to be withdrawn upon the demand of the President . . .
or of the Reichstag. . . .
Art. 50. All orders and decrees of the
President . . , including those relating to the defense force, in order
to be valid, must be countersigned by the Federal Chancellor or by the
competent Federal Minister. . .
Art. 53. The President . . appoints and
dismisses the Federal Chancellor and, on the latter's recommendation,
the Federal Ministers.
Art. 54. The Federal Chancellor and the
Federal Ministers require the confidence of the Reichstag for the
exercise of their offices. Any one of them must resign if the Reichstag
withdraws its confidence from him by an express resolution.
Art. 56. The Federal Chancellor settles
the political program, for which he is responsible to the Reichstag . .
Section IV. The Reichsrat
Art. 60. A Reichsrat [upper house] will
be formed for the representation of the German states in federal
legislation and administration.
Art. 61. In the Reichsrat each state
has at least one vote. In the case of the larger states one vote will be
assigned for every 700,000 inhabitants . . . No single state may be
represented by more than two-fifths of the total number of votes.
After joining the German Federation, Austria will be entitled to be
represented in the Reichsrat by a number of votes proportional to her
population. Meanwhile the Austrian representatives may take part in the
deliberations, but may not vote. . . .
Section V. Federal Legislation
Art. 68. Bills may be introduced by the
Federal Government or may originate in the midst of the Reichstag
itself. Federal laws are enacted by the
Art. 70. The President . . must
authenticate all laws constitutionally enacted . . .
Art. 73. A law passed by the Reichstag
shall, before its promulgation, be submitted to the popular vote if the
President . . so decides within one month.
A law the promulgation of which has been postponed at the instance of
one- third of the members of the Reichstag [as provided by art. 72] is
to be submitted to the popular vote upon the demand of one-twentieth of
those entitled to vote. . .
Art. 74. The Reichsrat may protest
against laws passed by the Reichstag. . .
In case of such protest the law is referred back to the Reichstag for
further consideration. If then the Reichstag and the Reichsrat cannot
agree, the President . . may, within three months cause the matter in
dispute to be submitted to the popular vote . . .
Art. 76. The constitution can be
amended by legislation. However, resolutions of the Reichstag in favor
of an amendment of the constitution are effective only if two-thirds of
those present consent thereto . . .
Section VII. Administration of Justice
Art. 102. Judges are independent and
subject to the law only.
Art. 105. Exceptional courts [i.e.,
those not established according to legal administrative procedures] are
forbidden. No one may be withdrawn from his lawful judge. . . Military
courts of honor are abolished.
FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF GERMANS
Section. I. The Individual
Art. 109. All Germans are equal before
the law. . . Titles of nobility . . may no longer be conferred.
Art. 114. Personal freedom is
inviolable. No restraint or deprivation of personal liberty by the
public power is admissible, unless authorized by law. . . .
Art. 115. The residence of every German
is a sanctuary for him and inviolable. Exceptions are admitted in virtue
of the law only.
Art. 116. No one may be punished for an
act unless such act was legally punishable at the time when it was
Art. 117. The secrecy of
correspondence, as well as the secrecy of postal, telegraphic and
telephonic communications is inviolable. Exceptions may be admitted by
federal law only.
Art. 118. Every German is entitled
within the limits of the general law freely to express his opinions by
word of mouth, writing, printing, pictorial representation, or
otherwise. . .
There is no censorship, but the law may otherwise provide as regards
cinematographic performances. Legislative measures are also permitted
for the purpose of combating base and pornographic publications . . .
Section II. Social Life
Art. 121. By legislation illegitimate
children are to be offered the same opportunities for their physical,
mental and social development as legitimate children.
Art. 124. All Germans have the right to
form societies or associations for any object that does not run counter
to the criminal law . . . The same provisions apply to religious
societies and bodies. . .
Art. 125. Freedom of elections and
secret voting are guaranteed . . .
Section III. Religion and Religious
Art. 135. All inhabitants of the
Federation enjoy full liberty of faith and of conscience . . . . .
Art. 137. There is no State Church. . .
Section IV. Education and Schools
Art. 144. The
whole of the educational system is under the supervision of the state;
the latter can assign a share in this task to the local communities . .
Art. 145. School attendance is
compulsory . . . up to the completion of the eighteenth year.
Instruction and the accessories thereto are gratuitous in elementary and
continuation [i.e., high] schools.
Art. 148. In every school the
educational aims must be moral training, public spirit, personal and
vocational fitness, and, above all, the cultivation of German national
character and of the spirit of international reconciliation.
Section V. Economic Life
Art. 151. The organization of economic
life must accord with the principles of justice and aim at securing for
all conditions of existence worthy of human beings. Within these limits
the individual is to be secured the enjoyment of economic freedom. . . .
Art. 159. Freedom to combine for the
protection and betterment of their conditions of labor . . is guaranteed
to all and in all occupations . . .