9. West Germany (1949-63)


Introduction to the FRG (West Germany)

The Basic Law was an agreement between the Allies in relation to the western zones. A key point of the Basic Law was that it could be changed in the event that the zones of Germany decided to reunite. It was largely based on the constitutional framework provided by the Weimar Republic.

The new constitution placed special emphasis on human and civil rights.

In the new constitution, the powers of the president were diminished. Their term in office was reduced to five years and they were only re-electable for one further term. The president was appointed by a special assembly made up of members of the Bundestag

The new constitution was made up of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. The Chancellor had to be selected by the Bundestag. 

The new constitution upheld the importance of the coexistance of political parties for a stable democracy. If a party received less than 5% of the vote in an election it was barred from parliament.

A new agency was created with the power to prevent anti-democratic activities frm both the left and right. This led to the banning of some parties, including the right-wing Socialist Reich Party and, most controversially, the Communist Party

The results of the 1949 elections were positive for the FRG (West Germany) because the votes for the three major parties were a strong endorsement of the democratic process. The CDU received 139 seats, and the SPD 131. The obvious solution would have been a coalition between the CDU and the SPD. However, Adenauer (leader of the CDU) did not want to form a coalition with the SPD as they disagreed on economic and foreign policy.

The formation of Adenauer's government after the 1949 elections: on 15 September 1949, Adenauer was elected Chancellor. Heuss was invited to become the first president of the FRG. 

Adenauer was a strong Catholic and had supported the Catholic Centre Party. He was against communism. He wanted a strong alliance with the West.

Initial Problems

Economic problems: in 1949 the new economy in th FRG suffered a recession. Unemployement was also a major problem (2 million people).

Social problems: there was an urgent need to build millions of houses to make up for the impact of the bombing during the war. 

Political problems: the FRG was still occupied, and only the Allies could administer trade and national security.

Integration - Political Aims

In relation to integration, Adenauer mistrusted the Soviets and looked to the West for protection.

In relation to the 'Germany question', Adenauer strongly believed that if Germany was to be reunified it would need to be a capitalist state. He tried to attract East Germans to West Germany through his 'magnet theory'.

Social and Economic Aims

In relation to economic aims, Adenauer was determined to create stability, and


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