After the constitution of 1871 , the emperor appointed an imperial chancellor . State secretaries who each headed a Reich Office , for example the Reich Office of the Interior or the Naval Office, were subordinate to this . There was no Reich government as a collegiate body ; instead, the term Reichsleitung became established .
It was not until 1919 that the German Reich received ministers and a collegial government. Initially, the head of government was still called Reich Minister President until the Weimar Constitution reintroduced the traditional title of Reich Chancellor .
A national government with Chancellor Adolf Hitler and Reich ministers were in Germany, although after 1933, but of which met NSDAP asked government during the dictatorship in the era of National Socialism increasingly rare and soon lost all its meaning.
In 1949 the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany introduced the term federal government (with federal chancellors and federal ministers). The name of the German Foreign Ministry remained a peculiarity. It is the former Prussian Foreign Ministry that became the Foreign Office of the North German Confederation in 1870 . Even today, for reasons of tradition, it is still called the Foreign Office .
Imperial government during the revolutionary period (1848/1849)
On June 28, 1848, the National Assembly passed an imperial law on the introduction of a provisional central authority for Germany . According to this, the central power consisted of an imperial administrator and ministers who assumed executive power in all matters relating to the “general security and welfare of the German federal state ”. The imperial administrator appointed and dismissed the ministers. On July 12, 1849, the Bundestag decided to transfer its powers to the Reichsverweser. On July 15, the Reichsverweser appointed the first three ministers, and in August the first all-German cabinet came into being, the Leiningen cabinet .
Subsequently, in accordance with the custom in constitutionalism at the time , the totality of the ministers was referred to as the Reich Ministry . In addition, there are the terms Reich Government and Council of Ministers for the meetings of the ministers. The emerging German empire during the revolutionary period had few employees of its own and hardly any power apparatus (among other things, the empire was responsible for the federal fortresses and the imperial fleet ). Ultimately, it did not succeed in subordinating itself to their governments and armed forces. It was dependent on the goodwill of the individual states, which continued to maintain power in Germany.
Despite the violent end of the National Assembly in May 1849, the Reichsverweser remained in office with his newly appointed governments. It was not until December 20, 1849 that he transferred his powers to an Austrian-Prussian Federal Central Commission . Although in 1851 the restored Bundestag declared the Reich legislation to be invalid, the legitimacy and legality of the Reichsverweser government was never questioned.
Monarchical federal state (1867-1918)
Development until 1914
In the North German Confederation , founded in 1867, there was only one responsible minister , not in name but in substance. The Chancellor had no colleagues; the heads of the highest federal authorities were subordinate to him as civil servants and were bound by instructions. In 1871 the North German Confederation was renamed German Reich and the Federal Chancellor was renamed Reich Chancellor . Even in the empire there was officially no imperial government.
As the highest body , the Federal Council was considered to be the body of the allied governments , the mostly princely governments of the federal states . The Prussian king was the holder of the Federal Presidium and from 1871 he assumed the title of emperor. The chancellor was only mentioned very succinctly in the constitution:
- Art. 15 para. 1: "The chairmanship of the Federal Council and the management of the affairs belongs to the Reich Chancellor, who is to be appointed by the Kaiser."
- Art. 17: “The emperor is entitled to draw up and proclaim the imperial laws and monitor them. The orders and orders of the emperor are issued in the name of the empire and require the countersignature of the imperial chancellor to be valid, who thereby assumes responsibility. "
Even if Bismarck had banned the term Reichsregierung in official parlance, expressions like Imperial Government were used against foreign countries. The deputy Act of 1878 made it possible that the Secretaries of State (the head of the supreme Reich authorities) instead of the Chancellor against recorded . In 1913, Vice Chancellor Clemens von Delbrück said in the Reichstag that the Reich government was already giving in to the matter, if not the form. The common expression for the executive was Reichsleitung . This expression can still be found today as state leadership in German political science .
From 1900 to 1910 the Chancellor made himself more independent of the Kaiser, the Federal Council and Prussia . For example, when Chancellor Leo von Caprivi wanted to dissolve the Reichstag in 1893, he had the Federal Council meet, where numerous Prussian ministers, Reich State Secretaries and representatives of the federal states discussed and approved the dissolution. Bülow, on the other hand, only briefly consulted the governments of the federal states in 1906 about his intention to dissolve the Reichstag. They could hardly advise under time pressure. The Federal Council as an institution was only informed after the fact and in passing, writes the historian Manfred Rauh. He sees the meeting on June 20, 1914, in which the Reich Chancellor and ministerial heads agreed on future draft laws , as the “first meeting of the Reich Ministry”, that is, a government in the true sense of the word.
The highest Reich authorities were called offices. Their bosses were called State Secretaries and were responsible to the Reich Chancellor. They strived to manage their department independently; they succeeded to a large extent towards the end of the empire. The staff for these authorities tripled between 1876 and 1914. In the last year there were:
- Reich Chancellery as the office of the Reich Chancellor
- Foreign Office , the Prussian Foreign Ministry
- Reich Office of the Interior
- Reich Justice Office
- Imperial Treasury
- Reich Colonial Office (since 1907)
- Reichseisenbahnamt (the head of which was not a State Secretary)
- Reich Post Office
- Reich Office for the Administration of the Reich Railways (in Alsace-Lorraine and Luxemburg ), headed by the Prussian Minister of Public Works
First World War (1914-1918)
There were further steps towards parliamentarization during the First World War . Since 1917 there have been slow steps in the direction of a Prussian electoral reform and also parliamentarization, partly under the influence of the Russian Revolution in March. In May, the center and the two liberal parties in the constitutional committee proposed that the emperor's orders should be countersigned by the chancellor and that the chancellor should take responsibility for the Reichstag.
An important point of contention between liberals and conservatives was the incompatibility under Art. 9 sentence 2 of the constitution, according to which no one was allowed to be a member of the Reichstag and the Bundesrat at the same time. A member of the Reichstag who entered the government and then usually also became a Prussian representative in the Bundesrat lost his mandate. Federalism and anti-parliamentarism were linked in this way.
The Hertling cabinet (November 1917 to October 1918) was the first to come about after consultation with the three majority parties of the Intergroup Committee and to receive its government program from them. Hertling from the center-right wing was against parliamentarization, while his vice-chancellor, the left-wing liberal Friedrich von Payer , wanted to give parliamentarization a longer transition period. A rush would be dangerous, as the parliamentary majority would have to become even more stable. Initially, the chancellor should still be appointed by the crown, but act in agreement with the majority parties.
The Social Democratic Party of Germany had not wanted to join the cabinet in order not to make it more difficult to form it. Above all, she was dissatisfied that the reforms were progressing slowly and that Hertling was not pushing back the influence of the Supreme Army Command. She made her entry into government dependent on a consistent reform and peace policy.
Because of the poor military situation, Kaiser and OHL decided to form a government on a broad parliamentary basis, which should make the USA an armistice offer as soon as possible . Chancellor was on October 3, 1918 at the instigation of Vice Chancellor Payer of nonparty Max von Baden , the center of the man except Payer Karl Trimbornstraße and the Social Gustav Bauer to his Cabinet resumed. There were also under-secretaries who also came from parliament. In order to retain the mandate of the parliamentarians, they only took over their offices on a provisional basis. Since von Baden did not come from the Reichstag, the parliamentary principle was not yet fully implemented.
The incompatibility was abolished when, on October 8, the Federal Council accepted a proposal from the Reichstag dated October 5. The Cabinet did not think of any other constitutional amendments besides this and a few smaller ones. Now it would have taken time to practice parliamentary governance. But the US-American President Woodrow Wilson only wanted to agree a ceasefire if the old warmongering powers of Germany were disempowered (to be understood: emperor and military). The majority parties and the National Liberals made amendments to the constitution.
Weimar Republic (1918–1933)
- November Revolution 1918
How the new constitutional reality would have developed after the October reforms remains speculation. Above all, a reform of federalism and a new right to vote in Prussia would have been important. When the mood among the workers became more radical, the parties began to demand the emperor's abdication. This took place on November 9, 1918, Chancellor Baden handed over his office unconstitutionally to the SPD chairman Friedrich Ebert . In the November Revolution, the Council of People's Representatives was at the head of the executive, as a supervisory body, from November 10th , while State Secretaries continued to head the Reich offices. Three majority Social Democrats and three independent members formed this council, with Ebert ( MSPD ) and Haase ( USPD ) as equal chairmen. On December 29th, the USPD members left the council in protest that the Social Democrats had put down the revolutionary unrest and that the Central Council of Workers 'and Soldiers' Councils approved it.
- National Assembly (1919–1920)
The Weimar National Assembly , elected on January 19, 1919, passed a law on provisional imperial power on February 10 . The next day she elected Ebert as Reich President , who had his party colleague Philipp Scheidemann put together a government. The title of head of government was then Reichsministerpräsident , the heads of department were called Reichsminister for the first time . The new imperial constitution was adopted on August 11th.
According to this constitution, there was an imperial government in the Weimar Republic , which consisted of the imperial chancellor and the imperial ministers. The Reich Chancellor and the Reich Ministers proposed by him were appointed by the Reich President. Chancellors and ministers were dependent on the confidence of the German Reichstag . The chairmanship of the Reich government lay with the Reich Chancellor, and according to the constitution, he determined the guidelines of politics . Each Reich Minister independently headed a department. Most of the Weimar governments were not supported by a parliamentary majority; they were tolerated by the Social Democrats . In addition, from 1930 onwards, the Reich President supported the government with emergency ordinances , which largely replaced the legislation of the Reichstag (so-called presidential cabinets ).
Period of National Socialism (1933–1945)
With the Enabling Act of 1933, the Reich government as a college obtained the right to legislate (including constitutional breaches ). However, during the Nazi era , the Reich government , although formally continued to exist until 1945, very soon lost its character of a collegial cabinet: the number of cabinet meetings in the German Reich rapidly decreased dramatically, the last one took place in 1938. Adolf Hitler ruled preferably through special representatives. The individual Reich Ministers were strictly subordinated to the Fiihrer principle enforced by him .
In the final phase of the Second World War (after Hitler's suicide) there were two short-lived governments led by Joseph Goebbels ( Goebbels cabinet ) and Johann Ludwig Graf Schwerin von Krosigk ( Schwerin von Krosigk cabinet ), both of which, however, no longer have any de facto power could exercise.
- Ralf Heikaus: The first months of the provisional central authority for Germany (July to December 1848). Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main [a. a.] 1997, ISBN 3-631-31389-6 , pp. 61-63.
- Heinrich August Winkler : The long way to the west. Volume 1: German History 1806–1933. Bonn 2002, ISBN 3-89331-463-6 , p. 108.
- Helmut Jacobi: The last months of the provisional central authority for Germany (March-December 1849). Diss., Frankfurt am Main, o. O. 1956, p. 186.
- Michael Kotulla : German Constitutional Law 1806-1918. A collection of documents and introductions. Volume 1: Germany as a whole, Anhalt states and Baden , Springer, Berlin [a. a.] 2006, ISBN 3-540-26013-7 , p. 279.
- Manfred Rauh: The parliamentarization of the German Empire , Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf 1977, pp. 29-30.
- Manfred Rauh: The parliamentarization of the German Reich , 1977, p. 17 f.
- Manfred Rauh: The parliamentarization of the German Reich , 1977, p. 34.
- Manfred Rauh: The parliamentarization of the German Reich , 1977, pp. 369-370.
- Manfred Rauh: The parliamentarization of the German Reich , 1977, p. 380.
- Manfred Rauh: The parliamentarization of the German Reich , 1977, p. 388.
- Manfred Rauh: The parliamentarization of the German Reich , 1977, pp. 401, 423.
- Manfred Rauh: The parliamentarization of the German Reich , 1977, pp. 441-443.
- Manfred Rauh: The parliamentarization of the German Reich , 1977, p. 445.
- Manfred Rauh: The parliamentarization of the German Reich , 1977, p. 449.
- Heinrich August Winkler: The long way to the west , Vol. 1, Bonn 2002, p. 387.
- Heinrich August Winkler: The long way to the west , Vol. 1, Bonn 2002, p. 395.