How successful was the constitution of the new West German Federal Republic in establishing a stable and long-term democracy?

  • Created by: becky.65
  • Created on: 01-05-18 15:05

The end of the Second World War brought about a period of significant upheaval in German society and politics

1943 - US, Britain and the USSR set up the European Advisory Commission to discuss what shape Germany would take after the war

Yalta conference:

  • 4 - 11 February 1945
  • Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill met
  • they agreed to destroy German militarism and Nazism and ensure Germany would never again be able to disturb the peace of the world
  • how Germany exactly would be reconstructed remained uncertain
  • it was agreed at the conclusion of the war, Germany would be divided into four separate zones
  • Berlin would also be divided into four occupation zones
  • this division was meant to be temporary 
  • the USSR and France wanted to punish Germany with reparations, but the USA and Britain were wary of imposing another Versailles Treaty, which had played a role in undermining democracy during the Weimar period 

Potsdam conference:

  • July 1945
  • fractures that would lead to the Cold War were becoming apparent 
  • Truman, the new president, was much more suspicious of Stalin and the motivations of the USSR
  • at Yalta, all three countries had agreed that democratic elections would be held in all liberated Europe, but it was becoming clear that Stalin had no intention of allowing free elections in the Eastern bloc
  • there was some agreement made at Yalta, that Germany would be ne-Nazified and demilitarised and would undergo economic restructuring - how this was to be achieved was not clearly answered 

Key disagreements concerning the future of Germany, reparations and political structure led to the permanent division of Germany 

April 1948 - West zones united

Before this, significant political structuring in West Germany had taken place:

  • January 1946 - Germans within the American zone had been able to vote for local councils 
  • March 1946 - elections for town and county areas in American zone
  • Americans constructed new Lander for their zone
  • June 1946 - Lander elections in American zone
  • May 1947 - Lander elections in French and British zones

Two main parties dominated the 1946 and 1947 elections:

  • the reconstructed SPD, led by Karl Schumacher
  • the CDU, led by Konrad Adenauer. It was a conglomeration of supporters of the old Centre Party, German Nationalists and Populists. It represented both Catholic and Protestant middle-class voters in the north and south of Germany through the values of Christian Socialism. The 'Union' aspect of its name asserted the idea that they were a confederation of differing political groups and ideas that were determined to work together for a common vision

February and March 1948 - London Conference - countries in Western Europe accepted the likelihood of a permanent division of Germany, meaning the creation of permanent democratic institutions in West Germany

July 1948 - Lander ministers were instructed to begin discussions on a new constitution 

The new German constitution:

  • Parliamentary Council - 65 members of the Lander parliament met in Bonn to draw up a constitution 
  • At this stage, they believed the constitution would only be…


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