Parliamentary Council

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50 years of the Parliamentary Council, German commemorative stamp 1998
Preamble to the Basic Law in its current version ( historical wording )

The Parliamentary Council was an assembly elected from eleven German state parliaments of the three western zones , which met in Bonn from September 1948 to May / June 1949 . After the suppression of the Nazi dictatorship three years earlier at the end of the Second World War , it was intended to usher in a new political beginning for Germany based on democratic principles .

On May 8, 1949, the Parliamentary Council passed the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany , a constitutional and state law basis for the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany ( West Germany ), which still depended on the approval of the state parliaments and the approval of the military governors of the western zones. In addition, with the election law for the Bundestag election and the provisions for the Federal Assembly, he created the legal requirements for the first Bundestag election on August 14, 1949 and for the first election of the Federal President , which took place on September 12, 1949.


Based on the Frankfurt documents the victorious Western powers , including the country managers in on the Knights fall conference adopted resolutions Koblenz took position should, for the new, provisional western state only a " basic law " to be created. The name “Parliamentary Council” also arose from this provisional idea, since a national assembly by name as a constitution- maker was considered too final. In addition to the task of drawing up a basic law as a constitution from the preparatory work of the Herrenchiemsee Convention , this also included the legal regulations for a free election of the future legislature and a federal assembly .

On August 13, 1948, the eleven West German Prime Ministers and Mayors (Hamburg, Bremen) decided that the Parliamentary Council in Bonn should draw up a constitution. Bonn was preferred to Karlsruhe, Frankfurt and Celle. The decision that Bonn should be the “provisional seat of the federal organs” was made by the interior ministers and interior senators on October 11, 1948 at a preparatory constitutional convention in Düsseldorf .

Election of the Parliamentary Council

On July 26, 1948, the state chiefs of the three western occupation zones reached an agreement between the prime ministers through the parliamentary council on the basis of a corresponding agreement with the three military governors on the same day . In it they undertook to submit a draft law for the election of members to the Parliamentary Council to the parliaments of their countries and to communicate the names of the elected members to the joint office they established on July 15, 1948 by August 16, 1948 at the latest. A constitutional committee then worked out a model law for the establishment of the parliamentary council , which was adopted by the state parliaments without any major changes. Only the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia renounced its own electoral law and elected its 17 council members without further ado on August 6, 1948.

The sixty-five voting members were not elected by direct general election, but by the individual state parliaments. The same applied to the five non-voting members who were elected by the Berlin City Council on September 6, 1948. Apart from that, the structure and structure of the Parliamentary Council corresponded to that of a democratic legislature with MPs , Presidium , parliamentary groups and committees .


Museum Koenig in Bonn - location of the opening ceremony of the Parliamentary Council
Memorial plaque in the Koenig Museum

The opening ceremony of the Parliamentary Council took place as part of a ceremony on September 1, 1948 in the Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn. Karl Arnold (CDU) gave the opening speech as the host Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia. Then the Hessian Prime Minister Christian Stock (SPD) spoke as chairman of the Prime Minister's Conference . The constituent meeting on the same day, which Konrad Adenauer (CDU) elected President and Adolph Schönfelder (SPD) and Hermann Schäfer (FDP) as Vice-Presidents of the Council, took place like all other plenary and committee meetings in the Pedagogical Academy , which later became the Federal Palace . The CDU / CSU parliamentary group found accommodation in Königswinter , the SPD parliamentary group in the Bad Honnef district of Rhöndorf and the remaining parliamentary groups in Bonn. The occupying powers maintained liaison staffs at the Parliamentary Council: France and the USA in a twin villa in Joachimstrasse and Great Britain in the Villa Spiritus .

The MPs

The Parliamentary Council consisted of 65 delegates from the western zones of occupation who were entitled to vote and five delegates from West Berlin who were not entitled to vote . During the deliberations of the Parliamentary Council, six members resigned and one, Felix Walter (CDU), died on February 17, 1949. Therefore there were seven successors and a total of 77 members . The MPs formed factions and groups . The stalemate of the major parties forced an agreement on the crucial issues and prevented one party from being able to put its stamp on the Basic Law alone.

Even if the "fathers of the Basic Law" are spoken of at the time, there were also four women (6%) among the MPs, namely Friederike Nadig (SPD), Elisabeth Selbert (SPD), Helene Weber (CDU) and Helene Wessel (center), who are now referred to as the mothers of the Basic Law .

The Parliamentary Council was dominated by lawyers and civil servants. Including successors, twelve of the deputies were state ministers, including five ministers of justice. 47 MPs were previously or at the time of the Parliamentary Council civil servants. 51 MPs had an academic degree, including 32 a law exam and 11 an economics degree. Many MPs had already held important offices in the Weimar Republic . Eleven MPs were previously members of the Reichstag and three had already worked on the drafting of the Weimar Constitution of 1919. Hermann Höpker-Aschoff (FDP) was Prussian Finance Minister between 1925 and 1931, Paul Löbe (SPD) was President of the Reichstag for many years . There were also numerous professors, including recognized constitutional experts such as Carlo Schmid (SPD). The Secretary of the Parliamentary Council was Oberregierungsrat Hans Troßmann (CSU).

Many MPs suffered from persecution, professional bans or imprisonment during the Nazi era . Some MPs had to flee abroad, five MPs were interned in a concentration camp.

Other MPs looked back on more or less influential careers during the Nazi era or were involved in the terror of the Nazi regime after the “ seizure of power ”. This group of people included the CDU delegate Hermann von Mangoldt (professor for public law), the FDP delegate Höpker-Aschoff (chief lawyer of the main trust agency East ), the DP delegate Hans-Christoph Seebohm (co-founder of the Egerländer Bergbau AG, which as " Auffanggesellschaft "was founded to take over " aryanized " property), the aryanization expert of the Dresdner Bank Paul Binder (CDU) or the former SA senior squad leader Adolf Blomeyer (CDU).

Results of the deliberations

The main goal of the creators of the Basic Law, determined by the Allied Western Powers, was to learn from the mistakes of the Weimar Republic and the dictatorship of the National Socialists . In terms of content, the Basic Law was supposed to create a democratic order on a federal basis with constitutional guarantees and thus an alternative to the totalitarianism of the National Socialist injustice regime . In deliberate delimitation to this and to the people 's democracies of the Soviet style, most of the members of parliament supported parliamentary democracy, the idea of ​​the substantive rule of law and the principle of the separation of powers .

Basic Law of May 23, 1949
Annunciation formula

To the drawn by the Parliamentary Council lessons from the failure of the Weimar Republic as the definition of material barriers were constitutional amendments in Art. 79 para. 3 GG . There was agreement on the primacy and normativity of the constitution, which was to bind legislation, case law and administration. Above all, fundamental rights have been strengthened and the role of the chancellor has been upgraded. For example, instead of a simple one, the so-called constructive vote of no confidence was introduced. The position of the Federal President has also been redesigned.

The mothers and fathers of the Basic Law were representatives of a militant democracy and wanted to ensure that - unlike in the Weimar Constitution - precautions were taken to make it impossible for enemies of democracy to legally undermine it again. As "guardian of the constitution" one equipped with comprehensive powers was Constitutional Court provided. It should ensure that the law is recognized as the foundation of human society and that political expediency is not made the highest principle. Law should precede power . The rule of law and the legal binding of all state power statement and its procedural safety were in Art. 20 para. 3 and art. 19 4 of the Basic Law. Committed.

The primary goal of the Basic Law was to restore the unity of all Germans, as expressed in the preamble and in Article 23 . In doing so, however, the interests of the (Western) Allies had to be taken into account, who demanded improvements in detail; This concerned in particular the role of Berlin, which the Parliamentary Council wanted to be a German federal state with equal rights , while the victorious powers insisted on the special status of the city, which was expressed, for example, in the fact that the Berlin deputies in the German Bundestag were not given the right to vote.

Adoption and enactment of the Basic Law

Exactly four years after the end of the Second World War, the Parliamentary Council passed the Basic Law on May 8, 1949 at 11:55 p.m. (due to the political significance of the fourth anniversary of the Liberation Day ) after 36 amendments with 53 to 12 votes. The two MPs from the KPD, the Center, the DP and six of the eight CSU MPs voted against the Basic Law.

The three western military governors gave their consent on May 12, and the federal states also voted on May 18-21. May 1949 approved the draft - only the Bavarian state parliament voted by a majority against the Basic Law, which it did not consider federalist enough, but with the stipulation that the Basic Law would be recognized if two thirds of the federal states would ratify it, which was the case ( Art. 144 para . 1 GG).

The Basic Law was promulgated at the last session of the Parliamentary Council on May 23, 1949 and published in the Federal Law Gazette on the same day. It came into force in West Germany (except initially in Saarland , which only became part of the Federal Republic in January 1957) at the end of that day ( Art. 145 GG). The Basic Law contained some special regulations for Berlin (West) .

The electoral law for the 1st German Bundestag and the 1st Federal Assembly was promulgated in the Federal Law Gazette on June 15, 1949 ( Federal Law Gazette No. 2 ) and an amendment on August 5, 1949 ( Federal Law Gazette No. 3 ). The Parliamentary Council disbanded after these preparations. The election for the first German Bundestag took place on August 14, 1949.


The Parliamentary Council consisted of 65 members who were elected by the respective state parliaments. One MP represented around 750,000 residents at a time. In addition, there were five Berlin MPs who only had advisory status. The oldest member was the SPD deputy Adolph Schönfelder (1875–1966), who was also elected senior president; the youngest member of parliament was Kaspar Seibold (CSU) (1914–1995). The last living MP was Hannsheinz Bauer (SPD) (1909–2005).


On September 1, 1948, the first meeting for the election of the president was chaired by the senior president Adolph Schönfelder (SPD) and then handed over to the elected Konrad Adenauer.

president Political party Deputy Political party Secretary Political party
Konrad Adenauer (1876–1967) CDU Adolph Schönfelder (1875–1966) SPD Helene Weber (1881–1962) CDU
Jean Stock (1893-1965) SPD
Hermann Schäfer (1892–1966) FDP Helene Wessel (1898–1969) DZP
Max Becker (1888-1960) LDP

Distribution of seats

The deputies came from the state parliaments of the three western zones and were divided as follows:

Allocation of seats in the Parliamentary Council
Zone Seats state CDU / CSU SPD FDP DZP DP KPD total
American zone of occupation 25th Bavaria 8th 4th 1 - - - 13
Bremen - 1 - - - - 1
Hesse 2 3 1 - - - 6th
Württemberg-Baden 2 2 1 - - - 5
British zone of occupation 32 Hamburg 1 1 - - - - 2
Lower Saxony 2 4th 1 - 2 - 9
North Rhine-Westphalia 6th 6th 1 2 - 2 17th
Schleswig-Holstein 2 2 - - - - 4th
French zone of occupation 8th bathe 1 1 - - - - 2
Rhineland-Palatinate 2 2 - - - - 4th
Württemberg-Hohenzollern 1 1 - - - - 2
Subtotal 65 27 27 5 2 2 2 65
only advisory function 5 Berlin 1 3 1 - - - 5
total 70 28 30th 6th 2 2 2 70


Three factions and three groups were formed.

Political groups / groups of the
Parliamentary Council
A total of 65 seats
fraction Chairman Deputy Remarks
CDU / CSU Robert Lehr (1883-1956) Heinrich Rönneburg (1887–1949) until December 1948
Anton Pfeiffer (1888–1957) Robert Lehr
Adolf Süsterhenn (1905–1974)
from December 1948
Theophil Kaufmann (1888–1961) Heinrich von Brentano (1904–1964) from May 1949
SPD Carlo Schmid (1896–1979) Walter Menzel (1901–1963)
Andreas Gayk (1893–1954)
Gustav Zimmermann (1888–1949)
Paul Löbe (1875–1967)
FDP / LDP / DVP Theodor Heuss (1884–1963)
group Chairman
DZP Johannes Brockmann (1888–1975)
DP Hans-Christoph Seebohm (1903-1967)
KPD Max Reimann (1898–1977)


The following committees have been set up in the Parliamentary Council :

Committee Chairman Political party Deputy Political party
Main committee Carlo Schmid SPD Heinrich von Brentano CDU
Rules of Procedure Committee Adolph Schönfelder SPD Theophil Kaufmann CDU
for delimitation of responsibilities Friedrich Wilhelm Wagner SPD Walter Strauss CDU
for the occupation statute Carlo Schmid SPD Heinrich von Brentano CDU
for questions of principle and fundamental rights Hermann von Mangoldt CDU Georg-August Zinn SPD
for suffrage issues Max Becker LPD Georg Diederichs SPD
for financial matters Paul Binder CDU Jean Stock SPD
for the organization of the federal government Robert Lehr CDU Rudolf Katz SPD
for the Constitutional Court and the administration of justice Georg-August Zinn SPD Walter Strauss CDU

See also


  1. Volume: Johannes Volker Wagner (arrangement): Prehistory . No. 1 , 1996, ISBN 978-3-486-41611-4 .
  2. Volume: Peter Bucher (arrangement): Constitutional Convention on Herrenchiemsee . No. 2 , 2014, ISBN 978-3-486-81734-8 , pp. 816 .
  3. Volume: Wolfram Werner (edit.): Committee for the delimitation of responsibilities . No. 3 , 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-70232-3 , pp. 856 .
  4. Volume: Wolfram Werner (edit.): Committee for the Occupation Statute . No. 4 , 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-70233-0 , pp. 192 .
  5. Volume: Eberhard Pikert / Wolfram Werner (edit.): Committee for questions of principle . No. 5 , 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-70234-7 , pp. 1160 .
  6. Volume: Harald Rosenbach (edit.): Committee on Suffrage Issues . No. 6 , 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-70235-4 , pp. 914 .
  7. Volume: Michael Hollmann (edit.): Drafts for the Basic Law . No. 7 , 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-70236-1 , pp. 688 .
  8. Volume: Michael F. Feldkamp (arr.): Relations between the Parliamentary Council and the Military Governments . No. 8 , 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-70237-8 , pp. 370 .
  9. Volume: Wolfram Werner (arr.): The plenum . No. 9 , 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-70238-5 , pp. 739 .
  10. Volume: Michael F. Feldkamp (arrangement): Council of Elders, Rules Committee and Transition Committee . No. 10 , 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-70227-9 , pp. LXXXIII (255 pp.).
  11. Volume: Michael F. Feldkamp (arrangement): Intergroup discussions . No. 11 , 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-70228-6 , pp. 309 .
  12. Volume: Michael F. Feldkamp / Inez Müller (edit.): Committee for financial questions . No. 12 , 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-70229-3 , pp. LXIII (595 pp.).
  13. Volume: Edgar Büttner / Michael Wetterengel (edit.): Committee for Organization of the Federation / Committee for the Constitutional Court and the Administration of Justice . No. 13 , 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-70230-9 , pp. XXXIX (1608 pp.).
  14. Volume: Michael F. Feldkamp (arr.): Main Committee . No. 14 , 2010, ISBN 978-3-486-70231-6 , pp. LIV (1976 pp.).
  • Michael F. Feldkamp: The emergence of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany 1949. A documentation . Ed .: Reclams Universal Library . No. 17020 . Reclam-Verlag, Ditzingen 1999, ISBN 3-15-017020-6 , p. 228 .
  • Michael F. Feldkamp: The Parliamentary Council 1948–1949, the creation of the Basic Law . with a foreword by President of the Bundestag Norbert Lammert . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1998, ISBN 3-525-01366-3 , pp. 231 (revised new edition).
  • Michael F. Feldkamp: The Parliamentary Council and the Creation of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany 1948 to 1949 . Option for European integration and German unity. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung , Sankt Augustin 2008, ISBN 978-3-940955-09-8 , p. 36 ( PDF; 377.5 KiB [accessed on October 26, 2014] full text on the KAS website).
  • Klaus-Berto von Doemming , Rudolf Werner Füßlein, Werner Matz: History of the origins of the articles of the Basic Law . 2. to extend an inlet. Ed., New ed. In: Peter Häberle (Hrsg.): Yearbook of the public law of the present , N. F. Volume 1 . Mohr Siebeck, 2010, ISBN 978-3-16-150432-7 , ISSN  0075-2517 , p. 824 .
  • Thomas Hertfelder, Jürgen Hess: Disputes over the state fragment. Theodor Heuss and Thomas Dehler report on the creation of the Basic Law . with an Int. Michael F. Feldkamp (=  Scientific series . no. 1 ). Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1999, ISBN 3-421-05220-4 , ISSN  1861-3195 , p. 328 (Federal President Theodor Heuss House Foundation).
  • Konrad Hesse : The Unitarian Federal State. CF Müller, Karlsruhe 1962.
  • Lukas C. Gundling: Does Natural Law Influence the Basic Law? An annotated reconstruction of the natural law discussion in the Parliamentary Council. Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3-8382-1010-0 .
  • Bruno Schmidt-Bleibtreu , Hans Bernhard Brockmeyer : Commentary on the Basic Law . Ed .: Hans Hofmann. 13th edition. Carl Heymanns Verlag, Cologne 2014, ISBN 978-3-452-28045-9 , pp. XXXII, 3150 .
  • Helmut Vogt: I need quarters for me, the driver and the car . The working environment of the Parliamentary Council in Bonn 1948/49. In: Stadtarchiv Bonn (Hrsg.): Bonner Geschichtsblätter (=  yearbook of the Bonner Heimat- und Geschichtsverein . Volume 57-58 ). 2008, ISSN  0068-0052 ( ).
  • Edith Ennen, Dietrich Höroldt: From the Roman fort to the federal capital. A short history of the city of Bonn . 4th, through Edition. Stollfuss Verlag, Bonn 1985, ISBN 3-08-614094-1 , p. 270 ff . (First edition: 1965).
  • Franz Möller : The Rhein-Sieg district in the field of tension between the federal and state levels . In: 943 History of Germany; 320 politics . Rheinlandia-Verlag, Siegburg 2006, ISBN 3-938535-20-2 , p. 148 .
  • Peter Schindler : Data Handbook on the History of the German Bundestag 1949 to 1999 . Complete edition in 3 volumes. tape 1-3 . Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-Baden 1999, ISBN 3-7890-5928-5 , p. 4393 ( [ ZIP ; 49.0 MB ; accessed on October 26, 2014]).


  1. ^ Origin of the Federal Republic: Rittersturz. German Historical Museum , accessed on October 21, 2014 .
  2. ^ Origin of the Federal Republic: The Basic Law. German Historical Museum, accessed on October 21, 2014 (Lebendiges Museum Online).
  3. Andreas Grau: Origin of the Federal Republic: Traditions der Verfassungs. In: Living Museum Online. Foundation House of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany , accessed on October 21, 2014 .
  4. Decision for the seat of the Parliamentary Council - result of the telephone vote: Bonn , contribution in the text archive of the Federal Council , August 13, 2018. Retrieved on August 15, 2018.
  5. Formation of the Federal Republic: Provisional capital. German Historical Museum, accessed on October 21, 2014 (Lebendiges Museum Online).
  6. The Saarland and West Berlin were not included.
  8. ^ Richard Ley: The Members of the Parliamentary Council. Your choice, membership in parliaments and governments. A balance sheet after 25 years , in: Journal for Parliamentary Issues, 4th vol., Issue 3, September 1973, pp. 373–391 ( online ); Rudolf Morsey : Documents on the future political development of Germany ["Frankfurter Documents"], July 1, 1948 , .
  9. C Rep. 001 (1.1): City Council of Greater Berlin , .
  10. a b Data handbook on the history of the German Bundestag 1949 to 1999. Complete edition in 3 volumes. (ZIP; 48.2 MB) Scientific Services of the German Bundestag , accessed on October 26, 2014 .
  11. Andreas Grau, Antoinette Lepper-Binnewerg: Origin of two German states: Parliamentary Council , LeMO of the House of History of the Federal Republic of Germany .
  12. ^ Origin of the Federal Republic: Parliamentary Council and Basic Law. German Historical Museum, accessed on October 21, 2014 (Lebendiges Museum Online).
  13. Observations - The Parliamentary Council 1948/49: Ceremony , Foundation House of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  14. Observations - The Parliamentary Council 1948/49: Constitution , Foundation House of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
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