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Information bulletin
(January 1952)

Plischke, Elmer
[Government and politics of Berlin],   pp. [10]-15 PDF (3.4 MB)

Page 14

ters, administrative courts serve as a means of protection
Dr. Reuter is shown delivering a typical fighting speech
at mass rally in Tiergarten.      (PROD HICOG photo by Jacoby)
-but only tangentially in conformity with -the tempo-
rary constitution of 1946.
The constitution of 1950 provides that Berlin is both a
German state and a city. The government it created is
of the "cabinet" type, as distinct from the "presidential"
type based upon a clear-cut separation of legislative,
executive and judicial powers among three equal and co-
ordinate branches of government.
The new legislature - the House of Representatives-
is unicameral. It supplants the hybrid bicameral system
existing under the 1946 temporary constitution, in which
there was a city assembly and a Magisiraf, the latter
serving as executive but also being possessed of legis-
lative authority, which it shared with the assembly. Under
the present constitution of 1950 only the House of Rep-
resentatives exercises legislative responsibility.
The executive is collective, comprised of a Senate
headed by the governing mayor, famed Prof. Ernst Reuter,
and the mayor, Dr. Walther Schreiber.
The members of the Senate are "responsible" to the
legislature, being elected and removable by it. Its ses-
sions are in the nature of cabinet meetings, where deci-
sions are made on governmental policy and programming.
Senate members head the various administrative depart-
Prior to the split of the city in November 1948, the
judicial system of Berlin comprised 14 local courts, one
state (or district) court and the supreme court of Berlin.
West Berlin currently has nine local courts, one state
(or district) court and its supreme court. The highest court
of appeals is the Supreme Federal Court of Germany.
Besides these ordinary courts for civil and criminal mat-
against questionable administrative measures. By a law
promulgated in early 1951, there is one administrative
court and a court of appeals, to which individuals may
appeal against orders and decrees of an administrative
The government of Berlin under the 1950 constitution
is a workable government. It is based upon democratic
principles. Many of the weaknesses of the traditional
German governmental pattern under the Weimar Con-
stitution and under the National Socialists have been
rectified. Its success thus far has been due, in part, to the
ability, vision and statesmanship of its leaders, such as
Governing Mayor Reuter, Mayor Walther Schreiber and
Dr. Otto Suhr, president of the House of Representatives.
Of noteworthy interest from the long-range point of
view, is the fact that the government of Berlin was de-
vised in such a fashion as to accommodate East Berlin.
It was planned to apply to the entire city, which it pre-
sumes to do de jure. For East Berlin to come under the
constitution of 1950 and the Berlin government, it would
be necessary to hold an election to select its share of
the members of the House of Representatives and to form
a new government.
West Berlin is eager for this to happen. But the leaders
of the East Berlin government realize that, should this
occur, they very possibly would be relegated to the posi-
tion of an extremist minority in the opposition.
Berlin and the West German Republic
Among the more acute governmental problems of Ber-
lin is its relationship to the German Federal Republic.
Berlin is not a constituent part of Western Germany.
Although denied original membership by the Allies, the
government and people of Berlin have never given up
their desire or their campaign for inclusion in the West
German government.
Berlin hopes for the eventual rescinding of the Allied
reservations with respect to both the German Basic Law
and the Berlin Constitution of 1950, which denied it the
privilege of becoming the 12th integral state of the Fed-
eral Republic. In the meantime, the Berlin authorities
have been seeking by various means to circumvent the
limitations of those reservations. The '12th state ques-
tion" therefore is far from settled.
There appears to be an increasing fear in Berlin that
the Federal Government and the people of Ves tGerimayV
are growing cool toward its aspirations and that the
West Germans are reconciled to the status quo. One of the
results of this trend has been the genesis of a new policy,
namely, the establishment of an independent City of Ber-
lin, perhaps under United Nations auspices and control.
While this policy is only in its infancy -and viewed
merely as a secondary choice -nevertheless, its very
emergence reflects the seriousness with which Free Berlin
has been groping for a solution to its problems.
East Berlin
East Berlin continues under the control of its own pup-
pet government, engineered in a rump session of the city

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