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

2. Local government,   pp. 9-11 PDF (2.1 MB)

Page 10

Two U.S. and three European experts on local
government spent the summer of 1949 in consul-
tation with German officials at all levels and eight
German local government leaders went to the U.S.
for two months.
The cumulative effect of these activities has
created a definite change in the thinking of many
German local government officials and among a
few officials in the Ministries of the Interior. How-
ever, genuine local autonomy is far from attain-
ment, either in law or practice.
(1) General
A prerequisite to active citizen participation in
local government and in movements for local autono-
my is an understanding of local government as it
presently operates. Programs for study and back-
ground material will be furnished to those Germans
who desire this assistance.
Advice and assistance will be extended to Ger-
mans who seek practical means for participating
in local government and ways of protecting them-
selves against official displeasure. Germans need
to be advised of their legal rights, but more partic-
ularly they need advice on how to go about enforc-
ing these rights and how to conduct themselves
to get results without recourse to the law. One of
the pamphlets described in (4) below will deal with
this subject. Since actual contact with the Germans
will rest largely with the Kreis Resident Officers,
seminars will be held with them to discuss various
approaches and problems.
The campaign for local autonomy presents an
equally practical political problem. It is unlikely
that much can be accomplished in this field by
citizens' groups until they understand and have be-
come actively interested in local government as
such. Group action will be encouraged, wherever
it is found to be practicable, and a simple pamphlet
described in (4) below will be available for distribu-
tion. Meanwhile, contacts with local and state of-
ficials and Landtag members will be expanded to
interest them in the extension of local autonomy.
Seminars with the Kreis Resident Officers will also
cover this subject.
Lecturers and other aid will be furnished when
desired to the local government schools in the three
southern Laender, and Kreis Resident Officers will
be kept in touch with this program so that they
may discuss problems with local council members
on the basis of a comprehensive and uniform ap-
(2) Consultants
Two U.S. and four European experts on local gov-
ernment have been requested for 90 days each dur-
ing 1950.
One of the U.S. consultants is a specialist on local
government finance, who will work with interested
Germans on analysis of the elaborate and com-
plicated system of local government subsidy by the
states which has developed in the last thirty years
and which presently makes the localities entirely
dependent upon the state treasury for existence.
The object is to secure practical suggestions for a
substitute system which will assure the localities of
financial independence.
Under the supervision of the Land Commissioners'
Office, the others will consult with citizens' groups,
local councils and officials, Landtag members, and
Kreis Resident Officers, and as requested, will give
talks before legislative schools. Their discussions
will cover practical aspects of citizen participation
in local government, and of local autonomy, as out-
lined above.
Four U.S. and eight European consultants have
been requested for 90 days periods each for 1951.
They will follow the same program.
(3) German Visits to U.S. and European Countries
Twenty German local officials will visit the U.S.
for 90 days during the summer of 1950. This group
will work with local government officials in the
U.S. upon practical methods of local government,
observation of policies and practices in relations be-
tween the citizens and local governments, and
relations between local governments and the states.
In the fiscal year 1951 twelve Germans will visit
the U.S. in two groups of six each, and sixteen Ger-
mans will visit Switzerland in two groups of eight
each, all groups for periods of 90 days. In the 1951
program, emphasis will be placed on the selection
of persons who are in a position to influence public
participation in local government, and such groups
will therefore include editors, councillors, union
leaders, representatives of civic groups, and pos-
sibly of the Landtag and Ministries of the Inte-
rior, as well as local officials. They will get a
preliminary view of the field in a university sem-
inar and will then observe civic associations as
well as local governments in operation, the rela-
tions between the two, attend public hearings, and
study the local finance system in the U.S. and
local autonomy in operation.
(4) Pamphlets
"Know Your Local Government." This will ex-
plain typical local government organization and
operation including its relations to the state, the
part which the citizen ought to play in local gov-
ernment, an analysis of his legal rights to do so,
and practical suggestions for establishing and
protecting citizen participation in local govern-
"Home Rule." This will review the history of
local autonomy in Germany, the extent to which
home rule is desirable, appropriate relations be-
tween the state and the localities, the existing
constitutional and statutory situation, and prac-
tical ways and means of furthering the exten-
sion of home rule.
"Local Finance." Eventually it will be desir-
able to prepare a pamphlet on the financial prob-
lems of local government, pointing out how their
present dependence upon subsidies from the
states impairs local autonomy, examining the
present system and possible changes. Whether such
a pamphlet will be published in the coming year
depends upon the progress made in the study
mentioned in (2) above.
In addition to the foregoing pamphlets, a dis-
cussion program will be prepared for use by
citizens' groups desirous of studying local gov-
(5) Land Offices
In addition to the general work of supervision
described under part III, subd. 3 and 4, the Land
Offices are particularly concerned with assistance
in the organization and operation of the local gov-
ernment schools and to maintain contacts with the
governments and Landtage in connection with
legislation in the field of local autonomy.

Go up to Top of Page