University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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

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

5. Police policy and administration,   pp. 16-[19] PDF (2.8 MB)

Page 16

"Freedom of Speech". While this deals with 'a
specific aspect of civil liberties, the film will pre-
sent the history of the struggle in Germany for
civil liberties, to show that it is in the German tra-
dition and not alien in character.
"Searches and Seizures". This will be related to
the very successful pamphlet of the Bavarian soci-
ety mentioned under C above.
"Equality of the Sexes". This is important be-
cause of the traditionally subordinate place which
women have occupied in Germany and because of
their further loss of status under the Nazi regime.
"Equality before the Law". If a pending case has
a successful outcome the film will probably present
a struggle between a refugee war cripple and a
deputy police president for possession of living
quarters. To date the cripple has the law on his
side, but the police president has the apartment.
"I am a Citizen". This will dramatize in film
form the idea expressed in writing in "Gottfried
Schulze, Citizen", described in (4) above.
Consideration is also being given to U.S. films
on civil liberties to determine whether they can
be edited and synchronized for exhibition to Ger-
man audiences.
The democratic concept of police as an agency to
serve the citizens, and to be responsible to and
directly controlled by the people, has never been
widely accepted in Germany. Traditionally, the
German police has been an enforcement arm of a
government which was master of the people and
which regulated the daily life of its citizens in
many aspects.
There has always been a large degree of state
control of local police, and the large cities were
served by state police. Over the years police of-
ficials have become so accustomed to centralized
police administration that they regularly consider
this method of organization the only efficient one.
Under the old system, police officers possessed
substantial judicial powers. They could assess and
collect fines on the spot at the scene of violations.
Furthermore, the concept of "police" extended to
administrative fields, such as building affairs,
health and trade.
The German police possessed stronger powers in
the performance of their duties than were neces-
sary according to democratic standards. They were
not considered as servants and protectors of the
citizen, but as the agent of an authoritarian state
whose orders had to be implicitly obeyed.
With this background the citizen has little con-
cept of his own proper relation to the police, of
his obligations to the community, and of the value
of cooperation between police and citizen. Sub-
stantially the first opportunity for such coopera-
tion was given through the establishment of the
traffic safety programs.
To aid the German leaders and groups includ-
ing police officials and associations to:
(1) Decentralize police organization so that each
community or governmental area, without inter-
ference by a higher jurisdiction, is responsible for
and controls the police force for that community.
(2) Establish legal controls over the police to
insure observance of the constitutional and legal
rights of citizens and educate the police to af-
firmative observance of these rights; restrict their
functions and authority to the maintenance of pub-
lic order, the prevention of crime and the bring-
ing of offenders to justice; establish in practice
that they are the servants of and responsible to
the people; and hold the policeman individually
responsible before the law for his acts.
(3) Eliminate the legislative and judicial func-
tions of the police.
(4) Free the police from political influence and
protect them from becoming the agent of interests
which might utilize their power against the people.
(5) Educate the citizen to his obligation in re-
spect of the police and in the value of cooperation
with them.
(6) Establish and carry out programs to pro-
mote traffic safety with broad public participa-
The police system  is decentralized in the U.S.
Zone. The Buergermeisters and city councils are
generally in accord with the new system and will
offer resistance to any regional, state or federal
endeavor to centralize the police in the future.
As a result of a survey in Wuerttemberg-Baden
of house searches by the police and its publication
through radio and press, the public brought pres-
sure to bear on the Landtag and the Ministry of
Interior issued decrees that "searches without
search warrants will be the exception rather than
the rule in the future."
Police chiefs have formed Regional State and
Zone (US) "Associations of Chiefs of Police." These
organizations sponsor and participate in programs
with governmental officials and the people in fur-
therance of the objectives stated in B. The local
authorities are now becoming sensitive, however,
to police assertion of the right to introduce reforms
in the police system. In other words, the local au-
thorities like decentralization, but they do not like
reform except under their own control.
Visiting US police experts have been welcomed
warmly by the German police and other govern-
mental agencies, and their personal contacts with
German police chiefs,presidents of police chiefs' as-
sociations, police officials of the Ministry of Interior
and other leading personalities have resulted in a
changed attitude toward reform. Many changes in
practice have been inaugurated by German police
executives as a result.
Special progress is to be noted in those cities
whose police leaders visited the U.S. Following are
a few examples:
(a) One police chief has arranged for the deten-
tion of arrested juveniles by welfare agencies or
church homes and has prohibited the incarcera-
tion of juveniles in police jails or prisons.
(b) In several cities the police chiefs have or-
dered strict enforcement of the regulations pre-
viously violated, prohibiting the incarceration of
persons against whom no specific charges have
been filed, and the detention of persons who
have not been given a hearing by the end of the
second day of arrest.

Go up to Top of Page