Which countries have written a constitution?

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The history of the Basic Law
starts before 1949.
We explain:
What happened in Germany before 1949?
Why did Germany need new rules
for politics and the law?

1933-1945: Dictatorship and Second World War

From 1933 to 1945 there was a dictatorship in Germany.
In a dictatorship only one person has
or a small group of people all the power.

In Germany, Adolf Hitler was in power.
Adolf Hitler's party was called
"National Socialist Party of Germany".
The abbreviation for it is: NSDAP.
One also says: the National Socialists.
You have determined what will be done.

A lot of things were forbidden back then.
People weren't allowed to speak their minds.
Nobody was allowed to be against Hitler or his party.
The people no longer had any freedom.
The state was unfair to the people.

The National Socialists murdered many people.
For example:

  • Jews,
  • People with a disability,
  • People who had a different opinion.

From 1939 to 1945 there was the Second World War.
Germany started this war.
A great many people were killed in the war.
More than 60 million people.

End of war and occupation

On May 8, 1945 the war was over.
Germany lost the war.
The winners were:

  • the USA
  • France
  • Great Britain
  • Soviet Union.

These 4 countries are also called: Victorious Powers.

The 4 victorious powers divided Germany.
Therefore there were 4 areas.
Each victorious power has occupied an area.
These areas were then called occupation zones.

The USA, Great Britain and France
have occupied the western part of Germany.
These 3 countries were also called Western Powers.
Soviet Union
has occupied the eastern part of Germany.

A constitution for the West German state

The 3 Western Powers had similar ideas
of a state and of politics.
The Soviet Union had different ideas.

The Western powers allowed the Germans
to found a West German state.
That was a long time ago.
Over 70 years ago in 1948.

A state needs rules.
Therefore a constitution had to be drawn up.
All important rules are in a constitution.
They are rules for politics
and for people to live together.

Why is the constitution of Germany called the “Basic Law”?

In Germany the constitution is called the Basic Law.
The reason for this is:
The Soviet Union did not participate in the constitution.
She wanted different rules for the eastern part of Germany.

So there was no constitution for all of Germany.
That is why the politicians voted
another name for the constitution.
They named the West German constitution: Basic Law.

With the other name they wanted to show:
The Basic Law is a transitional solution.
It is so long
until there is a constitution for all of Germany.

The Parliamentary Council draws up the Basic Law

The Western Powers commissioned an assembly
to work out the Basic Law.
This meeting was called:
Parliamentary Council.

The Parliamentary Council had 65 members:
61 men and 4 women.
They were politicians
from the western occupation zones.

The 1st session of the Parliamentary Council
was on September 1, 1948.
The members worked for a few months
on the new rules for Germany.
These new rules are supposed to
protect the people in Germany.
There should never be a dictatorship in Germany again.

Very important for the members of the Parliamentary Council was:

  • Not a single person and not a group
    should alone have the power.
  • Everyone can express their opinion.
  • All people have the same rights.
  • Everyone is valuable.

May 23, 1949: The Basic Law is promulgated

The Basic Law was promulgated on May 23, 1949.
The Basic Law came into force on May 24, 1949.
This means:
The Basic Law has been in force since that day.
The Federal Republic of Germany was thus founded.

In 1990 did
the West German and the East German part of Germany
reunited.
The Basic Law now applies to all of Germany.
The name “Basic Law” has remained.

The past 70 years have shown:
The Basic Law is
a good and just order for Germany.