Are the fundamental rights necessary

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What does the Basic Law say?

The Basic Law has 146 articles.

The first section of the Basic Law contains the most important articles: the fundamental rights. The people in our country have these rights vis-à-vis the state, authorities and courts. They are also important for how people interact with one another.

For example, these articles say:

  • The dignity of man is inviolable.
  • The freedom of a person is inviolable.
  • All are equal before the law.
  • Freedom of belief, conscience and freedom of religious and ideological creed are inviolable.
  • Everyone has the right to freely express their opinion in words, in writing and in pictures.

The Basic Law not only determines the rights of every citizen.

Its other sections also specify who has which rights and tasks in which offices. There are, for example, the Federal President, the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Minister, the Bundestag or the Bundesrat and also the Bundeswehr. The Basic Law states what they should do and what they are allowed to do.


What is a Federal Republic?

With so many "federal states" in the Basic Law, it quickly becomes clear what kind of state the country should be: a federal republic.

“Republic” means above all that there is no king or queen. A monarchy would have a king or a queen. A republic is simply a non-monarchy.

"Federal" Republic is called Germany because the various German states such as Brandenburg, North Rhine-Westphalia or Bavaria make up Germany. They should work together in this covenant.

The individual rights and tasks of the states and the joint tasks of the entire federal government are also laid down in the constitution. Here you can read which of them drafts the laws, who monitors them and who enforces them.

So the Basic Law is a bit like very good and fair "house rules" for Germany. In many foreign countries the house rules are called the “constitution”. Not with us, however.


Why is the constitution of the Federal Republic called "Basic Law"?

When this law was invented, no constitution could be passed for all of Germany. The Soviet Union occupied the eastern part of Germany in 1945 after the Second World War. The USA, Great Britain and France occupied the western areas of Germany.

Because of its history, the Soviet Union had completely different ideas about a state and its constitution. France, the USA and Great Britain were more likely to find similarities in their history.

In 1948 an agreement was reached in the American, British and French zones. The occupiers allowed the Germans to draft a new constitution. A meeting was called for this purpose. In this meeting a preliminary "Basic Law" was agreed. Because the establishment of a divided Germany was not initially planned.

The aim of this Basic Law was to become part of a constitution for all of Germany at some point - for East and West.


Parliamentary Council and German People's Council: What is it all about?

The Basic Law was passed on May 8, 1949 by the Parliamentary Council. The Parliamentary Council was a kind of West German substitute government because there was still no elected government. In it sat 65 MPs from various parties, including only four women.

The deputies had been elected by the then eleven state parliaments of the western occupation zones. They voted on whether the Basic Law should apply as a constitution in the future. There were 53 votes in favor, ten against and two abstentions.

In contrast to the Parliamentary Council, there was the German People's Council in the Soviet occupation zone. The People's Council had already approved its own draft constitution in March 1949. He founded the German Democratic Republic (GDR for short) with its SED dictatorship.

It took more than 50 years for the East German and West German parts of Germany to reunite. The Basic Law now applies to the entire German people.

Make yourself a picture of the Basic Law!

Here you can read the original text of the Basic Law or download it as a file.