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Federal Republic of Germany (German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland) is state of Central Europe established in 1920. It is the political successor state of the majority of the territories of the German Empire, after defeat in World War I, the abdication of Wilhelm II (May 1920) and May Revolution. It is bordered by Denmark in the North, Poland in the east, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg in the west, and Austria-Hungary and Switzerland in the south.
As defeated party in World War I, it had to accept the terms of the Treaty of Versailles (1920) that created in the East: Free City of Danzig, East Prussia Republic and Memel Territory, and to the West: the territories of Saar and Ruhr.
Constitution of the FRG
The National Assembly, elected in 1920 and gathered in Weimar, approved the Constitution in 1921. The fundamental tenet of the Weimar Constitution is that Germany is a federal republic based on the parliamentary model with an assembly elected using proportional representation. Universal suffrage is established, with a minimum voting age of 20.
The first articles of the constitution stated that Federal Republic of Germany is a democratic and social Federal state and All state authority emanates from the people. The FRG is defined as the region encompassed by the German states (Länder). Other regions can join the FRG based on popular self-determination and federal legislation.
At Federal level, all political and legislative power resides in the Volkstag, seated in Berlin. It is composed of representatives elected for a four-year term by the German people by an equal and secret ballot open to all Germans aged 20 or older. Proportional representation principles govern Volkstag elections. The Volkstag can be dissolved by the Federal Ppresident on the recommendation of the Chancellor if the latter has lost a vote of confidence in the Bundestag. The Bundesrat consists of members of the Länder governments which appoint and recall them anytime. The Volkstag and the Bundesrat form together the National Assembly.
The executive power, at federal level resides in the Federal President, as Head of State and the Federal Chancellor has Head of Government. The Federal President is elected directly the people for a five year mandate. Reelection for a consecutive term is permitted only once. Federal Government consists of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers. The Federal Chancellor is elected by the Bundestag on the proposal of the Federal President. The Chancellor and ministers are compelled to resign in the event the Volkstag passes a vote of no confidence.
The judicial authority is vested in the judges. It is exercised by the Federal Constitutional Court (reform of 1925), by the Supreme Federal Court, by the Federal courts provided for by the Constitution and by the courts of the Länder.
Politics of Germany
The establishment of the Republic resulted in flourishing of political parties has mass organizations. In the old Imperial Reichstag, they where powerless because the Emperor installed the Chancellor, the head of government, with no need of political support in the Reichstag. The largest state, Prussia, established universal suffrage, after abolishing its three-class franchise system, with this the will of the people, has stated in the Constitution was fully established. One important innovation of the Weimar Constitution was the recognition of political parties has part of the political process and government.
The main political parties in the Left are Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD), Communist Party of Germany (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, KPD) and Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, USPD) until its reunification with the SPD. The political center, home of German liberalism as the German Democratic Party (Deutsche Demokratische Partei, DDP) and German People's Party (Deutsche Volkspartei, DVP). In 1930 the DDP and DVP where united in the German Democratic People's Party (Deutsche Demokratische Volkspartei, DDVP). Political Catholicism, organized in the German Center Party (Deutsche Zentrumspartei or Zentrum) and its Bavarian affiliate Bavarian People's Party (Bayerische Volkspartei BVP). The Christian Social People's Service (Christlich-Sozialer Volksdienst, CSV) has been able to establish itself has the protestant counterpart of the Zentrum. To the right are the German National People's Party (Deutschnationale Volkspartei, DNVP) and German Conservative Party (Deutsche Konservative Partei, DKP). The German Peasantry (Deutsche Bauernschaft) electoral list integrated by the German Farmers' Party (Deutsche Bauernpartei, DBP) and Bavarian Peasants' League (Bayerischer Bauernbund, BB)
Characteristic of Prussia are regional parties such has the German-Hanoverian Party (Deutsch-Hannoversche Partei DHP), South Schleswig Federation (Südschleswigscher Verband) and Rhenish People's Party (Rheinische Volkspartei, RVP).
States (Länder) of Germany
- More details in States (Länder) of Germany.
According to the Constitution a State's government must "conform to the principles of republican, democratic, and social government, based on the rule of law". The federal government can exercise authority only in those areas specified in the Constitution, in the rest of to the areas the länder have authority. However, federal law superseded or nullified länder law in the event of a conflict. Conflicts between the länder and the federal government are jurisdiction of the Federal Constitutional Court.
Usually the government of a state consists a Minister-President, a Governing Council and an elected legislative assembly (Landtag). The legislatures are popularly and directly elected every four or five years (depending on the state), and the Minister-President is then chosen by a majority vote among the Landtag's members. The Länder designate and can recall at any moment their delegates at the Bundesrat.
The Constitution states that the division of the federal territory into Länder .. may be revised to ensure that each Land be of a size and capacity to perform its functions effectively. The creation or merge of new states can be done by federal legislation (has it happen with the creation of Thuringia and break up of Prussian and territorial consolidation of the Länder), by referendum (like the union of Baden-Wurttemberg, Meklenburg, Schleswig-Holstein and others) or länder agreement (Freie Hansestädte and Rhein-Ruhr).
After World War I, Germany lost or did not fully control three industrial centers rich in coal and steel production: the Ruhr-Rhein area under partial control of the Allies, Saar under control of France and Silesia given to Poland. Only left were the centers of Saxony and Berlin.
The Germany had some of the most serious economic problems ever experienced by any Western democracy in history. Rampant hyperinflation, massive unemployment and a large drop in living standards were primary factors. From 1923–1929, there was a short period of economic recovery, but the Great Depression of the 1930s led to a worldwide recession. Germany was particularly affected because it depended heavily on American loans.
German Armed Forces
At the end of World War I, the forces of Imperial Army (Reichsheer), had mostly split up, the men making their way home individually or in small groups. Many of them joined the Freikorps ("Free Corps"), a collection of volunteer paramilitary units that were involved in revolution and border clashes between 1920 and 1925. Many of these groups would later be affiliated to political groups. The Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) had previously being destroyed at Scapa Flow in 1920 by its own officers after the loss of the land war on the Western Front of World War I.
The newly-formed Republic did need a military, though and on 1920 a decree established the Vorläufige Reichswehr ("Provisional National Defence"), consisting of a Vorläufige Reichsheer ("Provisional National Army") and a Vorläufige Reichsmarine ("Provisional National Navy"). About 400,000 men served in the Reichsheer.
In 1921 the Government decree the reorganization of the Vorläufige Reichswehr according to the limitations of the Treaty of Versailles into the Deutsch Nationalwehr (German National Defense), consisting of a Deutsch Nationalheer ("German National Army") and a Deutsch Nationalmarine ("German National Navy").
According to the Treaty, conscription is abolished. Enlisted men will be retained for at least 12 years; officers to be retained for at least 25 years. The Nationalheer was limited to no more then 100,000. The Deutsch Nationalmarine was limited to 15,000 men, six battleships (no more than 10,000 tons displacement each), six cruisers (no more than 6,000 tons displacement each), six destroyers (no more than 800 tons displacement each) and 12 torpedo boats (no more than 200 tons displacement each). No submarines are to be included. It was allowed to keep all previous ships as coastal guard.
Armed aircraft, tanks and armored cars are prohibited by the Treaty. However, aircraft designers and manufacturers continued their work, deploying their factories and models outside of Germany in East Prussia, FSR and China. German pilots trained in secret, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Initially, civil aviation schools within Germany were used, yet only light training planes could be used in order to maintain the façade that the trainees were going to fly with civil airlines such as Lufthansa.
The High Command was abolished, but as a subterfuge it was recreated has Truppenamt (or 'Troop Office')