GHDI logo

Authorization for Convocation of a Constituent Assembly in the Trizone (July 1, 1948)

Beginning in February 1948, the Western Allies met in London for deliberations on Germany’s political and economic future and the still unresolved future status of the Ruhr region. Tensions between the Western powers and the Soviet Union grew steadily worse and led to the collapse of the Allied Control Council in Berlin in March 1948. The situation was further exacerbated by the currency reform in the Western zones and the Soviet blockade of Berlin in June 1948. This state of affairs led the Americans and the British to advocate the establishment of a West German constituent state with broad sovereignty. They eventually managed to overcome French opposition to their position. The following documents, which were given to the minister presidents of the West German Länder [federal states] at their joint meeting on July 1, 1948, were based on the London decisions of June 7th. The first document contained provisions for convening a constituent assembly and framing the constitution of a West German state. The constitution to be drafted would be subject to ratification by the military governors. The second document addressed the boundaries of the Länder, and the third document dealt with the occupation statute. In drafting these proposals, the Allies reserved a number of controlling rights for themselves, even in the period after the establishment of the new state. They included rights in the area of foreign and security policy.

print version     return to document list last document in previous chapter      next document

page 1 of 3

The London Documents: Directives regarding the future political organization of Germany, drafted at the London Conference of the Western Foreign Ministers in June 1948 and handed to the Ministers President in the Western Zones of Germany by the military governors at their joint meeting on July 1, 1948.

DOCUMENT I: Constituent Assembly

The Military Governors of the US, UK and French Zones of Occupation in Germany, in accordance with the decisions of their respective Governments, authorize the Ministers President of the states of their respective zones to convene a constituent assembly to be held not later than September 1, 1948.

The delegates to this assembly will be chosen in each of the existing states under such procedure and regulations as shall be adopted by the legislative body of each of these states. The total number of delegates to the constituent assembly will be determined by dividing the total populations at the last census by 750,000 or some similar figure as may be recommended by the Ministers President and approved by the Military Governors. The number of delegates from each state will be in the same proportion to the total membership of the constituent assembly that its population is to the total population of the participating states.

The constituent assembly will draft a democratic constitution which will establish for the participating states a governmental structure of federal type which is best adapted to the eventual re-establishment of German unity at present disrupted, and which will protect the rights of the participating states, provide adequate authority, and contain guarantees of individual rights and freedoms.

If the constitution as prepared by the constituent assembly does not conflict with these general principles, the Military Governors will authorize the submission for ratification. The constituent assembly will thereupon be dissolved. The ratification will take place by each participating state by means of a referendum requiring a simple majority of the voters in each state under such rules and procedure as it may adopt. When the constitution has been ratified by two-thirds of the states, it will come into force and be binding upon all states. Thereafter, any amendment to the constitution must be ratified by a like majority of the states. Within thirty days following the coming into force of the constitution, the institutions for which it provides shall be established.

first page < previous   |   next > last page