| Adoption of Draft
Constitution by the Council, May 8, 1949:
Statement by Secretary Acheson on May 11, 1949
I should like to say a few words on the approval by the Bonn Parliamentary
Council of the draft German Constitution.
has labored diligently for eight months and to good effect. The members
of the Council are to be congratulated upon the successful outcome of
The basic law is
being studied in detail, and the terms of approval will be communicated
by the Military Governors after the necessary review has been completed.
THE BONN CONSTITUTION (BASIC LAW FOR THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY)
Approval by Western
Letter from the
Three Western Military Governors to the President of the Parliamentary
12 May 1949
Dr. KONRAD ADENAUER
President of the Parliamentary Council
DEAR DR. ADENAUER:
1. The Basic Law passed on 8 May by the Parliamentary Council has received
our careful and interested attention. In our opinion it happily combines
German democratic tradition with the concepts of representative government
and a rule of law which the world has come to recognize as requisite
to the life of a free people.
2. In approving this constitution for submis-sion to the German people
for ratification in accordance with the provisions of Article 144 (1)
we believe that you will understand that there are several reservations
which we must make. In the first place, the powers vested in the Federation
by the Basic Law, as well as the powers exercised by Laender and local
governments are subject to the provisions of the Occupation Statute
which we have already transmitted to you and which is promulgated as
of this dates
3. In the second place, it should be understood that the police powers
contained in Article 91 (2) may not be exercised until specifically
approved by the Occupation Authorities. Likewise, the remaining police
functions of the Federation shall be governed by our letter to you of
14 April 1949 on this subject.
4. A third reservation concerns the participation of Greater Berlin
in the Federation. We interpret the effect of Articles 23 and 144 (2)
of the Basic Law as constituting acceptance of our previous request
that while Berlin may not be accorded voting membership in the Bundestag
or Bundesrat nor be governed by the Federation she may, nevertheless,
designate a small number of representatives to attend the meetings of
those legislative bodies.
5. A fourth reservation relates to Articles 29 and 118 and the general
question of the reorganization of Laender boundaries. Excepting in the
case of Wuerttemberg-Baden and Hohenzollern our position on this question
has not changed since we discussed the matter with you on 2 March. Unless
the High Commissioners should unanimously agree to change this position,
the powers set forth in these articles shall not be exercised and the
boundaries of all of the Laender excepting Wuerttemberg-Baden and Hohenzollern
shall remain as now fixed until the time of the peace treaty.
6. Fifthly, we consider that Article 84, paragraph 5 and Article 87,
paragraph 3, give to the Federation very wide powers in the administrative
field. The High Commissioners will have to give careful consideration
to the exercise of such powers in order to insure that they do not lead
to excessive concentration of authority.
7. At our meeting with you on 25 April we proposed to you a formula
to interpret in Eng-lish the intention of Article 72 (2), 3. This formula
which you accepted as conveying your meaning read as follows:
the maintenance of legal or economic unity demands it in order to promote
the economic interests of the Federation or to insure reasonable equality
of economic oppor-tunity to all persons."
We wish you to know
that the High Commissioner will interpret this article in accordance
with this text.
8. In order to eliminate
the possibility of future legal controversy, we would like to make it
clear that when we approved constitutions for the Laender we provided
that nothing con-tained in those constitutions could be interpreted
as restricting the provisions of the Federal constitution. Conflict
between Laender con-stitutions and the provisional Federal constitution
must, therefore, be resolved in favor of the latter.
9. We should also like it to be clearly under-stood that upon the convening
of the legislative bodies provided for in the Basic Law, and upon the
election of the President and the election and appointment of the Chancellor
and the Federal MInisters, respectively, in the manner provided for
in the Basic Law, the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany
will then be established and the Occupation Statute shall thereupon
enter into force.
10. On the completion of their final task as laid down in Article 145,
1, the Parliamentary Council will be dissolved. We wish to take this
occasion to compliment the members of the Parliamentary Council on their
successful com-pletion of a difficult task performed under trying circumstances,
on the manifest care and thoroughness with which they have done their
work, and on their devotion to the democratic ideals toward the achievement
of which we are all striving.
B. H. ROBERTSON
General. Military Governor, British Zone
PIERRE KOENIG Général
d'Armée. Military Governor, French Zone
LUCIUS D. CLAY General,
U.S. Army. U.S. Zone
(Germany: The Story
in Documents, 1947 - 1949. p. 279. Department of State, 1950)