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Information bulletin
No. 145 (October 5, 1948)

Elliott, John
Constitution-making at Bonn,   pp. 7-10 PDF (2.6 MB)

Page 8

hoven as well as the seat of an an-
cient and famous university. But there
is one vital difference between the
Frankfurt and Weimar congresses and
the gathering at Bonn. While the
earlier conventions represented all of
Germany, no delegates from the
Soviet Zone are permitted by the
Russian authorities to attend the
sessions of the "Parliamentary Coun-
cil." Bonn is therefore no German
National Assembly. And although it
is the most important step that has
been taken since the war to obtain
the political unity of Germany, the
Russians and theirCommunistsuppor-
ters are shouting from the housetops
that the Bonn convention is "splitting
The political leaders at Bonn are
very sensitive about this accusation-
so sensitive that they are careful to
emphasize the fact that what they are
doing now is laying the foundation of
what they call "a provisional govern-
ment of a state-fragment" and not the
definitive constitution of a united
Germany. This all-German con-
stitution, they contend, can only be
written when the representatives from
all over the Reich can convene and
when Germany's political sovereignty
has been restored. And this con-
stitution, they assert, cannot be draft-
ed while Germany is under Allied
This German point of view was
aptly expressed by Dr. Carlo Schmid,
eminent professor of political science
from the University of Tuebingen, in
his address before the Social Demo-
cratic Congress in Duesseldorf early
in September. Said Schmid: "No
definitive solution will be sought in
Bonn. All who work there, at least
all Social Democrats, know that only
a provisional government can be
created. We will be able to create a
state in the true sense of the word
only when an agreement of the four
occupying powers has been reached
concerning an all-German policy.
Every other solution would be bought
at the risk of a world catastrophe."
This fear of leaving themselves
open to the charge of being guilty
of "splitting" Germany was the cause
of the protracted debate on nomen-
clature between the three Allied
Ambassador Robert D. Murphy (center), special political adviser to
the US Military Governor, and other observers at Bonn representing
the French and British occupying powers.
Military Governors of western Ger-
many and the ministers president
of the 11 states. The Germans objected
to calling the document which they
were summoned to draw up a "con-
stitution" as stipulated in the London
Agreement concluded by the US,
British  and  French  governments,
which constitutes the legal basis of
the Bonn meeting. The Germans suc-
ceeded in getting the name changed
to "Fundamental Law of a Provisional
Constitution," (Grundgesetz Vorlau-
fige Verfassung). Likewise, instead of
labeling itself a "Constitutional Con-
vention," the Bonn gathering styles
itself a "Parliamentary Council."
Finally, the German ministers pre-
sident objected to the proposal to
have their constitution ratified at a
referendum. They feared that this
would give a binding character to a
document- a distinction which they
felt should be reserved for the de-
finitive constitution of Germany. They
pleaded that this charter should be
ratified by the parliaments of the
states. The Allied Military Governors
in the end agreed to pass on the
German objections to their respective
governments. While no decision has
as yet been taken on this point, it
now appears likely that the German
wishes will be respected and that
ratification of the document will
made by the state parliaments.
THE DELEGATES to the Bonn c
vention were named by the 0
parliaments according to the polt
strength of the political parties
presented in them, in the ratio of:
delegate to every 375,000 inhabits
Hence, the Bonn convention refli
the political division of Germanl
recorded by the last state pai
mentary elections (these were he4
the US Zone in November andl
cember, 1946), and do not indl
existing German political thoug1
The Bonn Convention is made
CDU/CSU . 27
SPD  ......       .  . 27
Liberals . .5... . 5
Communists ... .   . 2
Center Party .... .   2
German Party . . . . 2
Total ......      ... 65
It will be seen that the
amentary Council" is dominatedb!
two big parties, Christian DeMOC
Union bloc (including its sister P
the Christian Social Union of Ba
and the French Zone) and the S
Democratic Party.
The Bavarian Party, which is t
rivaling the CSU in that state, b
represented at all in the conVU
because it did not exist at the t9

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