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United States. Office of the US High Commissioner for Germany / A program to foster citizen participation in government and politics in Germany
(1951)

4. Civil liberties,   pp. 14-16 PDF (2.1 MB)


Page 15

scale regional meetings. The proceedings of the
main meeting will be published. The individual as-
sociations have planned periodic meetings in their
localities where prominent German experts will
discuss current problems. The associations will be
encouraged to send representatives to speak to
other citizens' groups on the subject.
The local associations will undertake the litiga-
tion of a number of selected cases before the courts
and administrative agencies. Unfortunately these
will be limited in number because of the lack of
funds and free time on the part of lawyers.
A number of the local groups are either engaged
in or planning the examination of existing laws
which infringe upon constitutional guarantees but
are nevertheless enforced without question. It is
planned to identify these, bring them into public
discussion, and seek repeal or judicial correction.
It is hoped that the associations will also interest
themselves in the judicial system for the protec-
tion of constitutional rights. While the U.S. Laender
have, and the Federal Government anticipates, -a
constitutional court, few individuals so far as we
know have had recourse to them. This may be due
in part to the fact that the constitutions themselves
or the implementing laws facilitate the review of
governmental and jurisdictional questions rather
than infringements of personal rights and some-
times make it extremely difficult for the latter to
be asserted. We shall never know whether the new
courts will accept the broader responsibility in-
tended by the constitutions until they have had
cases presented to them. The field is one which will
repay study by associations.
(2) Consultants
Two U.S. experts have been requested for 1950
and two for 1951. In addition, the head of the
American Civil Liberties Union is expected to visit
Germany in 1950 at the Union's expense.
This year the experts will continue consultations
with leaders and with existing and prospective
groups and will examine ways to make the pro-
gram more practical and effective. There is some
evidence that certain groups suffer from an ab-
stract and intellectual approach.
The program of the experts for 1951 will only
be determined after observing progress during the
current year.
(3) German Visits to U.S. and European Countries
In addition to the six Germans presently in the
U.S., 12 more will go during 1950 and 12 in 1951 in
groups of six each. Like the present group they
will spend three months working with the Ameri-
can Civil Liberties Union, observing U.S. methods
of meeting various problems.
(4) Pamphlets
The following pamphlets are planned:
"From Subject to Citizen." This will describe in-
dividual constitutional rights, how they are most
frequently violated, and why their assertion and
protection are essential to a decent life for every
individual and to the establishment of a democratic
society.
"Your Constitutional Rights". This deals with the
constitutional guarantees and forms of violation,
but in this case, with emphasis on possible reme-
dial action which in Germany is by no means
simple. The two are companion pamphlets but have
been separated in order to make each so short that
it will be read by the ordinary citizen.
"Civil Liberties in German History". This will
be a short popular presentation of the struggle for
civil liberties in Germany, emphasizing the fact
that the movement and the rights sought to be
guaranteed are German and not alien.
"Freedom of Speech and Assembly." This will be
a simple presentation of the constitutional aspects
of those rights which are perhaps most frequently
violated by the German authorities.
"Gottfried Schulze, Citizen." As noted in an
earlier part of this report, the average German has
no conception of the term "citizen" as we under-
,stand it. Indeed, there is no word in the German
"language adequate to convey that concept. This
pamphlet will be an attempt to explain in work-
aday terms the idea of an individual as a particip-
ating member in a community and a society in
which he has rights but also responsibilities.
(5) Land Offices
The Land Offices should bring to the attention of
civil liberties associations cases of violations which
come to their attention, and consult with the as-
sociations as appropriate upon the prosecution of
individual cases. They should also act as liaison
between the associations and (through the Kreis
Offices) local citizens' organizations to arrange
meetings and speakers which will gradually build
up an interest of the local organizations in the
subjects. They should also advise Kreis Officers
upon cases which may be handled at the local level.
(6) Kreis Offices
In addition to the general work under part III
subd. 4 the Kreis Resident Officers should be alert
for significant cases of civil liberties' violations in
their localities, should call these to the attention
of civil liberties associations and the Land Offices,
and wherever possible should interest local groups
in action to correct the violations. With the Land
Offices they should act as liaison between the civil
liberties associations and local citizens' groups in
order to stimulate the interest of the latter in the
subject.
(7) Newspapers and Radio
IPG, through ISD, will circulate feature articles
on civil liberties and their protection, with copies
to the Land Offices and Resident Officers. The Land
Offices should take similar action, and they and
the Resident Officers should attempt to publicize
significant and interesting action of the local civil
liberties unions, and violations of civil liberties.
The Land and Resident Officers should further
group consultation and discussion between the local
civil liberties associations and newspapers.
A program of twelve radio discussions has been
planned in cooperation with the Radio Program
Branch, ISD. In addition, local associations will
continue their contacts with local stations for
speeches and discussions.
(8) Films
Five motion picture shorts are to be prepared by
the Motion Picture Branch, ISD, in collaboration
with this Division.
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