This document was transcribed onto the King David High School, Manchester Website at kdhs.org.uk/history/articles/nazi_opposition.htm

This site went down in October 2004, so I have copied it here.

 

The foreword and selection of key articles was made by Gideon Leventhall-Airley

 

The Constitution of the German Federation of August 11, 1919

(The Weimar Constitution)

The defeat of Imperial Germany by the U.S. and Allied states in 1918 offered the opportunity for the complete recasting of German government through the election of a parliament constituted on the basis of democracy and elected under universal suffrage by the German people. Thus a new German National Assembly met in the town of Weimar in February 1919 and the post-war German state acquired its first democratic constitution six months later. It was a federal constitution for the German confederacy of seventeen states large and small comprising some 62 million Germans (1925 census).
The democratic intent is clearly evident, though it must be said that rights and duties inscribed on paper do not always hold out against the intrusions of economic crises and ideological rifts. And such was the case in Weimar Germany as political extremism and economic collapse helped pave the way for the destruction of the 1919 constitution under the hammer blows of Nazism in 1933.

 

Selected Articles:

PART I

Structure and Tasks of the Federation
Section I. The Federation and the States

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 concerning
(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 libraries.
(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 otherwise provide.

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 dissolution.

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 all men."

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 forces.
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 Reichstag.
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 Reichstag.

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.

PART II

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 committed.

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 Bodies

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 . . .

[Ref.: H. Oppenheimer, The Constitution of the German Republic--JJ Call No. JN3953/O7]

 

 

2001-2004 Leventhall-Airley