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The "Koblenz Decisions" of the West German Minister Presidents (July 10, 1948)

From July 8-10, 1948, the minister presidents of the West German Länder [federal states] held a conference in Koblenz, where they agreed in principle to the Allied directives laid down in the London Documents (also known as the Frankfurt Documents). To make clear the provisional character of the West German constituent state and to emphasize ongoing restrictions on German sovereignty, however, the minister presidents advanced their own counterproposals: a parliamentary council was to be elected instead of a “constituent assembly” and a preliminary basic law was to be drafted instead of a constitution. Additionally, the minister presidents requested that the rights of the Allies be spelled out in a detailed occupation statute. The German requests for changes meet with opposition from the Americans and the British.

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Comments of the Minister Presidents’ Conference regarding Document I

1. The Minister Presidents will assume the powers delegated to them on 1 July 1948 by the Military Governors of the American, British and French Zones.

2. The convening of a German National Assembly* and the preparation of a German constitution shall be postponed until a solution for all of Germany is possible and until German sovereignty has been sufficiently restored.

3. The Minister Presidents will recommend to the Landtage [state parliaments] of the three Zones that they elect a representative body (Parliamentary Council) which will have the task of:
a) Drafting a basic law for the uniform administration of the Occupation Zones for the Western Powers;
b) Enacting an electoral law for a popular representation based upon general and direct elections.

The participation of the Land [state] governments in the deliberations of the Parliamentary Council must be assured.

The representation shall be formed in accordance with the figures proposed in Document No. I and shall convene not later than 1 September 1948. Each Land shall put up at least one delegate; for a remaining fraction of at least 200,000 votes a further delegate shall be appointed.

4. The elections for the popular representation shall be carried out during the year 1948.

5. The basic law must provide, in addition to a popular representation elected directly by the people, for Länder representation to take part in Legislation.

6. As soon as the delegates elected by the Landtage have accomplished their task (para. 2), the Minister Presidents, after consultation with the Landtage, will submit the basic law, with their comments, to the Military Governors and ask them to authorize the Minister Presidents to promulgate the law.

7. The representative body shall fulfill all functions to which a democratically elected parliament is entitled.

8. The common executive organ envisaged for the occupation area of the Western Powers shall be appointed under the provisions of the basic law.

* i.e., the Constituent Assembly referred to in the London Documents.

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