Germany (Prussia) 1919 Historical

Preamble, Source of constitutional authority, Motives for writing constitution


The German People, united in its racial branches and animated by the will to renew and consolidate its Empire in Freedom and Justice, to serve Internal and External Peace, and to further Social Progress, has given itself this Constitution.

PART ONE. Structure and Tasks of the Empire


Article 1

Type of government envisioned

The German Empire is a Republic.

Sovereignty emanates from the People.

Accession of territory

Article 2

The territory of the Empire consists of the territories of the German Lands. Other territories can he incorporated into the Empire by Imperial statute, if their inhabitants by virtue of the right of self-determination so desire.

National flag

Article 3

The Imperial Colors are black-red-gold. The merchant flag is black-white-red, with the Imperial Colors In the upper inner corner.

Customary international law, Legal status of treaties

Article 4

The universally recognized rules of the Law of Nations are binding component parts of the German Imperial law.

Article 5

Sovereignty is exercised in Imperial matters by the organs of the Empire upon the basis of the Imperial Constitution; in matters of the Lands, by the organs of the Lands upon the basis of the constitutions of the Lands.

Article 6

The Empire has exclusive legislative power concerning:

  1. Relations with foreign countries.
  2. Colonies
    Colonial affairs.
  3. Extradition procedure
    Citizenship, freedom of travel and of domicile, immigration, emigration and extradition.
  4. Military organization.
  5. Coinage.
  6. Customs, the consolidation of the customs and trade area, and the freedom of transportation of commodities.
  7. Telecommunications
    Posts, telegraphs and telephones.

Article 7

The Empire has legislative power concerning:

  1. Civil law.
  2. Criminal law.
  3. Court procedure, including infliction of criminal punishment, and also official co-operation between public authorities.
  4. Passports and police supervision of foreigners and strangers.
  5. Poor relief and vagrancy.
  6. The press, associations and assemblages.
  7. Policies as to population, care of maternity cases, nurselings, children and young persons.
  8. Protection of environment
    Public health, veterinary practice, and the protection of plants against diseases and pests.
  9. Labor law, insurance and protection of workers and employees, and also employment bureaus.
  10. Institution of vocationally representative bodies for the territory of the Empire.
  11. Care for those who have taken part in war and their surviving dependents.
  12. Expropriation.
  13. Socialization of natural resources and of economic enterprises, and also the production, manufacture, distribution and price-regulation of economic commodities for the general economy.
  14. Trade and commerce, measures and weights, issue of paper money, banking, and bourses.
  15. Dealing in articles of food and luxuries and also in articles of daily need.
  16. Crafts, industry and mining.
  17. Insurance.
  18. Navigation at sea, deep-sea and coast fisheries.
  19. Railroads, inland navigation, traffic with power-driven vehicles on land, on water and in the air, and construction of roads, in so far as general traffic and defence of the country arc concerned.
  20. Theaters and moving pictures.

Article 8

The Empire has also legislative power concerning taxes and other revenues, in so far as they are claimed in whole or in part for its purposes. If the Empire claims taxes or other revenues which heretofore appertained to the Lands, it has to take into consideration the maintenance of the vitality of the Lands.

Article 9

In so far as a need of the issuance of uniform regulations exists, the Empire has legislative power concerning:

  1. Public welfare.
  2. The protection of public peace and safety.

Article 10

The Empire can by way of legislation set up fundamental principles for:

  1. The rights and duties of religious societies.
  2. Reference to science
    The school system, including the system of higher institutions of learning, and the scientific libraries.
  3. The law for officials of all public bodies.
  4. Land law, land distribution, settlements and homesteads, restrictions on landed property, housing, and distribution or population.
  5. Disposal of the dead.

Article 11

The Empire can by way of legislation set up fundamental principles concerning the permissibility, and method of raising, of land taxes in so far as they are requisite in order to avoid:

  1. Detriment to the revenues or trade relationships of the Empire;
  2. Double taxation;
  3. Excessive or traffic-hampering burdening of the use of public trade-routes and public facilities with tolls and fees;
  4. Tax discriminations against imported commodities in favor of their own products in the commerce between the several Lands or between parts of a Land; or
  5. Premiums on exports; or in order to preserve important social interests.
Subsidiary unit government

Article 12

As long and in so far as the Empire does not exercise its legislative power, the Lands retain the right to legislate. This does not apply where the Empire has exclusive legislative power.

Federal review of subnational legislation

The Imperial Government has a right of veto against Land statutes which refer to the matters of Article 7, Number 13, in so far as the welfare of the whole Empire is thereby affected.

National vs subnational laws

Article 13

Imperial law supersedes Land law.

If there exist doubts or differences of opinion about whether a provision of Land law is consistent with Imperial Law, the competent Imperial or Land central authority can, in compliance with the more specific provisions of an Imperial statute, appeal to the decision of a supreme judicial court of the Empire.

Article 14

The Imperial statutes shall be executed by the Land authorities, in so far as the Imperial statutes do not otherwise provide.

Article 15

The Imperial Government exercises supervision in the matters in which the Empire has the right of legislation.

In so far as the Imperial statutes are to be executed by the Land authorities, the Imperial Government can issue general directions. It is empowered, for the supervision of the execution of the Imperial statutes, to send commissioners to the Land central authorities and, with their consent, to the lower authorities.

The Land Governments are bound, upon request of the Imperial Government, to remove defects arising in the execution of the Imperial statutes. In cases of differences of opinion, the Imperial Government as well as the Land Government can appeal to the decision of the High Court of Judicature, in so far as another court is not designated by Imperial statute.

Article 16

The officials to whom the direct Imperial administration in the Lands is confided are as a rule to be citizens of the particular Land. The officials, employees and workers of the Imperial administration are, at their request, to be employed in their home districts, in so far as this is possible and considerations of their training or demands of the service do not stand in the way.

Municipal government, Subsidiary unit government

Article 17

Every Land must have a republican Constitution. The legislative body representing the people must be elected by universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage of all Imperial-German men and women in accordance with the principles of proportional representation. The Land Government shall need the confidence of the legislative body representing the people.

The principles for the elections of the legislative body representing the people shall also apply to the communal elections, However, the right to vote can by Land statute be made dependent upon the length of residence in the Commune up to one year.

Article 18

The division of the Empire into Lands is to serve the highest economic and cultural efficiency of the people together with all possible consideration of the will of the population concerned. A change in the territory of Lands and the new formation of Lands within the Empire are brought about by a constitution-amending Imperial statute.

If the Lands immediately concerned consent, only a simple Imperial statute is requisite.

A simple Imperial statute is also sufficient, if one of the Lands concerned does not consent, but the change in territory or the new formation is demanded by the will of the population and a paramount interest of the Empire requires it.

The will of the population is to be determined by a vote. The Imperial Government shall order the vote upon demand therefor by one-third of the inhabitants of the territory to be cut off who are qualified to vote for members of the Reichstag.

For the adoption of a change in territory or a new formation three-fifths of the votes cast, and at least a majority of the qualified voters, are required. And when there is involved only the severance of a part of a Prussian Governmental District, of a Bavarian Circle, or of a similar administrative district in other Lands, the will of the population of the whole district concerned is to be ascertained. If the territory to be severed is not geographically connected with the general district, the will of the population of the territory to be severed can, by virtue of a special Imperial statute, be declared sufficient.

After the ascertainment of, the approval by the population, the Imperial Government has to lay before the Reichstag an appropriate bill for passage.

Should there arise, in connection with the union or severance, a dispute about the settlement of property rights, the High Court of Judicature for the German Empire, upon application of a party, shall decide the matter.

Article 19

In constitutional controversies within a Land in which there is no court for their settlement, and also in controversies of a non-private-law nature between different Lands or between the Empire and a Land, the High Court of Judicature for the German Empire, upon application of one of the parties to the controversy, shall decide the matter, in so far as another court of the Empire is not competent.

The Imperial President shall execute the judgment of the High Court of Judicature.


Structure of legislative chamber(s)

Article 20

The Reichstag consists of the deputies of the German People.

Article 21

The deputies are representatives of the whole People. They are subject to only their conscience and are not bound by instructions.

Restrictions on voting, Claim of universal suffrage, Secret ballot, First chamber selection, Scheduling of elections

Article 22

The deputies shall be elected by universal, equal, direct and secret election by the men and women over twenty years old in accordance with the principles of proportional representation. The election day must be a Sunday or a public day of rest.

Details shall be prescribed by the Imperial Election Statute.

Article 23

Term length for first chamber

The Reichstag is elected for four years. The new election must take place not later than the sixtieth day after the expiration of the four years.

The Reichstag shall assemble for its first meeting not later than the thirtieth day after the election.

Extraordinary legislative sessions

Article 24

The Reichstag shall assemble in every year on the first Wednesday of November at the seat of the Imperial government. The President of the Reichstag must summon it earlier if the Imperial President or at least a third of the members of the Reichstag so demand.

The Reichstag determines the close of a session and the day of re-assembling.

Dismissal of the legislature

Article 25

The Imperial President can dissolve the Reichstag, but only once upon the same ground.

The new election shall take place not later than the sixtieth day after the dissolution.

Leader of first chamber

Article 26

The Reichstag elects its President, his Proxies and its secretaries. It formulates its own Standing Rules.

Article 27

Between two sessions or election periods, the President and Proxies of the last session continue to function.

Article 28

The President exercises the law of the house and the police power within the Reichstag's building. The house administration is under him; he controls the receipts and expenditures of the house in accordance with the Imperial Budget, and represents the Empire in all business transactions and law-controversies of his administration.

Public or private sessions

Article 29

The proceedings of the Reichstag shall be public. Upon application of fifty members the public can be excluded by a two-thirds majority.

Legislative committees

Article 30

Accurate reports of the proceedings in the public sittings of the Reichstag, of a Land Diet or of their Committees shall remain free from any and all liability.

Electoral court powers, Electoral court selection

Article 31

In the Reichstag a Court for the Review of Elections shall be established. It shall also decide the question whether a deputy has lost his membership.

Establishment of administrative courts

This court shall consist of members of the Reichstag, who shall be chosen by it for the election period, and of members of the Imperial Administrative Court, whom the Imperial President shall appoint upon nomination by the presidency of this court.

The Court for the Review of Elections shall render judgment, upon the basis of public, oral proceedings, by three members of the Reichstag and two professional judges.

Outside the transactions before the Court for the Review of Elections, the proceedings shall be conducted by an Imperial Commissioner, whom the Imperial President shall appoint. In other respects the proceedings shall be regulated by the Court for the Review of Elections.

Quorum for legislative sessions

Article 32

For a decision of the Reichstag a simple majority vote is requisite, in so far as the Constitution prescribes no other vote. For the elections by the Reichstag the Standing Rules can allow exceptions.

The quorum for the transaction of business is regulated by the Standing Rules.

Legislative committees

Article 33

The Reichstag and its Committees can demand the presence of the Imperial Chancellor and any Imperial Minister.

The Imperial Chancellor, the Imperial Ministers and the Commissioners appointed by them have the right to attend the sittings of the Reichstag and its Committees. The Lands are authorized to send representatives to these sittings, who present the standpoint of their Government in the matter under discussion.

Upon their request the representatives of the Governments must be heard during the proceedings, and the representatives of the Imperial Government also outside the regular order of business.

They are subject to the rulings of the presiding officer in conducting the proceedings.

Legislative committees

Article 34

The Reichstag has the right, and, upon request of a fifth of its members, the duty, to appoint Investigating Committees. These Committees shall take, in public hearing, the proof which they or those requesting the proceeding deem necessary. The public can be excluded by the Investigating Committee by a two-thirds vote. The Standing Rules shall regulate the proceedings of the Committee and determine the number of its members.

The courts and administrative authorities are obliged to comply with the demand of these Committees to assist them in taking proof; the records of the authorities are to be laid before them upon their request.


The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure are to be applied as far as practicable to the taking of proof by the Committees and the authorities upon whom they make demand. But the privacy of letters and the mail, telegraph and telephone shall remain undisturbed.

Standing committees

Article 35

The Reichstag shall appoint a standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, which can be active also outside a session of the Reichstag and after the termination of the election period or after dissolution of the Reichstag until the convening of the new Reichstag. The sittings of this Committee shall not be public, unless the Committee adopts publicity by a two-thirds vote.

The Reichstag shall further appoint a standing Committee for the protection of the rights of the body representing the people against the Imperial Government outside a session and after the termination of an election period.

These Committees shall have the rights of Investigating committees.

Immunity of legislators

Article 36

No member of the Reichstag or of a Land Diet may at any time be prosecuted in court or by way of discipline or otherwise held to account outside the assembly for his vote or for utterances in the exercise of his office.

Immunity of legislators

Article 37

No member of the Reichstag or of a Land Diet can, without the consent of the house to which the deputy belongs, during the session period, because of a punishable offence, be subjected to an examination or arrested, unless the member is apprehended in the commission of the act or not later than the course of the next following day.

The same consent shall be necessary in every other case or restriction of personal liberty which interferes with the exercise of the office of deputy.

Every criminal proceeding against a member of the Reichstag or of a Land Diet and every detention or other restriction of his personal liberty shall, upon demand of the house to which the deputy belongs, be suspended for the duration of the session period.

Article 38

The members of the Reichstag and of the Land Diets shall have the right to refuse to testify about persons who make confidential communications to them in their capacity as deputies or to whom they have made such communications in the exercise of their office as deputies, and also about these communication themselves. And with respect to sequestration of documents they shall enjoy the same rights as persons who have a statutory right to refuse to testify.

A search or sequestration may be undertaken in the rooms of the Reichstag or of a Land Diet only with the consent of the President.

Article 39

Public officials and members of the armed forces shall need no leave of absence or furlough in order to discharge their duties as members of the Reichstag or of a Land Diet.

If they are candidates for a seat in these bodies the requisite leave of absence or furlough for the preparation of their election is to be granted them.

Compensation of legislators

Article 40

The members of the Reichstag receive the right of free transportation on all German railroads and also remuneration in accordance with an Imperial statute.


Name/structure of executive(s), Minimum age of head of state, Head of state selection, Eligibility for head of state

Article 41

The Imperial President is elected by the whole German People.

Eligible is every German who has completed the thirty-fifth year of his life.

An Imperial statute shall provide further details.

Oaths to abide by constitution

Article 42

The Imperial President upon the assumption of his office shall take the following oath before the Reichstag:

"I swear that I will devote my energy to the welfare of the German People, increase its advantages, avert injury to it, uphold the Constitution and the laws of the Empire, conscientiously discharge my duties, and practise justice towards every one."

The addition of a religious asseveration is permissible.

Head of state term length, Head of state immunity, Head of state removal

Article 43

The term of the Imperial President lasts seven years. Re-election is permissible.

Dismissal of the legislature

Before the expiration of the term the Imperial President can, upon application of the Reichstag, be removed from office by a Popular Vote. The resolution of the Reichstag requires a two-thirds vote. Upon the adoption of the resolution the Imperial President is precluded from the further discharge of his office. The rejection of the removal by the Popular Vote shall be considered a new election and entail the dissolution of the Reichstag.

The Imperial President cannot be criminally prosecuted without the consent of the Reichstag.

Article 44

The Imperial President cannot at the same time be a member of the Reichstag.

Head of state powers, Power to declare/approve war, Foreign affairs representative, Treaty ratification

Article 45

The Imperial President represents the Empire in the Law of Nations. He concludes in the name of the Empire alliances and other treaties with foreign powers. He accredits and receives the ambassadors.

Declaration of war and conclusion of peace take place through an Imperial statute.

Alliances and treaties with foreign states, which relate to the competencies of the Imperial legislation, need the approval of the Reichstag.

Selection of active-duty commanders, Head of state powers

Article 46

The Imperial President appoints and dismisses the Imperial officials and the military officers, in so far as is not otherwise provided by statute. He can exercise the right of appointment and dismissal through other authorities.

Designation of commander in chief

Article 47

The Imperial President has the supreme command over all the armed forces of the Empire.

Emergency provisions

Article 48

If a Land does not fulfil the duties laid upon it by the Imperial Constitution or the Imperial statutes, the Imperial President can hold it thereto with the aid of the armed forces.

The Imperial President can, if in the German Empire the public safety and peace are seriously disturbed or threatened, take the necessary measures for the restoration of the public safety and peace, and, in case of necessity, intervene with the aid of the armed forces. For this purpose he may temporarily, in whole or in part, suspend from operation the Fundamental Rights enumerated in Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124 and 153.

Of all the measures taken in accordance with Paragraph 1 or Paragraph 2 of this Article the Imperial President must immediately inform the Reichstag. The measures are to be revoked upon demand made by the Reichstag.

In case of danger from delay a Land Government can take for its territory temporary measures of the nature mentioned in Paragraph 2. The measures are to be revoked upon demand made by the Imperial President or by the Reichstag.

An Imperial statute shall provide the details.

Power to pardon

Article 49

The Imperial President exercises the right of pardon for the Empire.

Imperial amnesties require an Imperial statute.

Head of state decree power

Article 50

All decrees and orders of the Imperial President, including those in the domain of the armed forces, need for their validity the countersignature of the Imperial Chancellor or of the competent Imperial Minister. By the countersignature the responsibility is assumed.

Head of state replacement

Article 51

In case of his being prevented from discharging the duties of his office the Imperial President shall be represented in the first place by the Imperial Chancellor. If it is probable that the disability will last some time, the representation is to be regulated by an Imperial statute.

The same shall apply to the case of a premature vacancy of the Presidency until the new election is carried through.

Establishment of cabinet/ministers, Name/structure of executive(s)

Article 52

The Imperial Government consists of the Imperial Chancellor and the Imperial Ministers.

Head of government removal, Head of government selection, Cabinet selection, Cabinet removal

Article 53

The Imperial Chancellor, and, upon his recommendation, the Imperial Ministers are appointed and dismissed by the Imperial President.

Cabinet removal, Head of government removal

Article 54

The Imperial Chancellor and the Imperial Ministers need for the conduct of their offices the confidence of the Reichstag. Any one of them must resign if the Reichstag by express resolution withdraws its confidence in him.

Article 55

The Imperial Chancellor presides in the Imperial Government and conducts its business according to rules of order, which shall be adopted by the Imperial Government and approved by the Imperial President.

Head of government powers

Article 56

The Imperial Chancellor determines the guiding political principles, and bears the responsibility therefor over against the Reichstag. Within these principles every Imperial Minister conducts his Department independently and under his own responsibility as against the Reichstag.

Article 57

The Imperial Ministers have to submit, for consideration and disposition, to the Imperial Government all drafts of statutes and all matters for which the Constitution or a statute prescribes such action, and also differences of opinion on questions which affect the Departments of more than one Imperial Minister.

Article 58

The Imperial Government reaches decisions by a majority vote. In case of a tie vote the presiding officer casts the deciding vote.

Cabinet removal, Head of government removal, Head of state removal

Article 59

The Reichstag is authorised to accuse the Imperial President, the Imperial Chancellor and the Imperial Ministers, before the High Court of Judicature for the German Empire, of being guilty of a wrongful violation of the Imperial Constitution or of an Imperial statute. The petition preferring the charge must be signed by at least one hundred members of the Reichstag and shall need the vote of the majority prescribed for amendments of the Constitution. Further details shall be prescribed in the Imperial statute organizing the High Court of Judicature.

Division Four. THE REICHSRAT

Structure of legislative chamber(s)

Article 60

For the representation of the German Lands in the legislation and administration of the Empire a Reichsrat shall be formed.

Article 61

In the Reichsrat every Land shall have at least one vote. In the case of the larger Lands there shall be one vote for every million inhabitants. An excess amounting to at least the population of the smallest Land is to be considered equal to a full million. No Land may be represented by more than two-fifths of all the votes.

German-Austria shall receive, after its union with the German Empire, the right to participate in the Reichsrat with votes proportionate to its population. Until then the representatives of German-Austria shall have an advisory voice.

The number of votes shall be fixed anew by the Reichsrat after every general census.

Legislative committees

Article 62

In the Committees appointed from its members by the Reichsrat no Land shall have more than one vote.

Second chamber selection

Article 63

The Lands shall be represented in the Reichsrat by members of their Governments. However, one-half of the Prussian members shall be appointed by the Prussian Provincial administrations in accordance with a Land statute.

The Lands are entitled to send as many representatives to the Reichsrat as they have votes.

Article 64

The Imperial Government must summon the Reichsrat upon demand by a third of the Reichsrat's members.

Leader of second chamber, Legislative committees

Article 65

A member of the Imperial Government shall preside over the meetings of the Reichsrat and its Committees. The members of the Imperial Government have the right and, upon demand, the duty to take part in the proceedings of the Reichsrat and its Committees. They must, upon demand, be heard at any time during the deliberations.

Article 66

The Imperial Government and every member of the Reichsrat are authorized to offer resolutions or make motions in the Reichsrat.

The Reichsrat regulates its proceedings by Standing Rules.

Public or private sessions

The plenary sessions of the Reichsrat shall be public. In accordance with the Standing Rules, the publicity can be excluded for certain matters under discussion.

In voting, a simple majority of those voting is decisive.

Legislative committees

Article 67

The Reichsrat is to be kept well informed by the Imperial Ministerial Departments about the conduct of Imperial matters. In deliberations about important subjects the competent Committees of the Reichsrat are to be called in by the Imperial Departments.


Division of labor between chambers

Article 68

Initiation of general legislation

Bills are introduced by the Imperial Government or from the body of the Reichstag.

The Imperial statutes are enacted by the Reichstag.

Division of labor between chambers, Initiation of general legislation

Article 69

The introduction of bills of the Imperial Government needs the concurrence of the Reichsrat. If there is lack of agreement between the Imperial Government and the Reichsrat, the Imperial Government can nevertheless introduce the bill, but in connection therewith it has to present the dissenting view of the Reichsrat.

If the Reichsrat decides on a bill to which the Imperial Government does not assent, the latter has to introduce the bill in the Reichstag, together with an exposition of the Government's viewpoint.

Approval or veto of general legislation

Article 70

The Imperial President has to verify the constitutionally enacted statutes and promulgate them within a month in the Imperial Gazette.

Article 71

Imperial statutes, if they do not otherwise provide, become of force with the fourteenth day after the lapse of the day on which the Imperial Gazette is published in the Imperial capital.

Article 72

The promulgation of an Imperial statute is to be postponed two months if a third of the Reichstag so demands. The Imperial President can, regardless of this demand, promulgate statutes which the Reichstag and Reichsrat declare to be urgent.

Referenda, Approval or veto of general legislation

Article 73

A statute enacted by the Reichstag is to be submitted, before its promulgation, to a Popular Decision if the Imperial President within a month so determines.

A statute, whose promulgation is postponed upon demand of at least a third of the Reichstag, is to be submitted to a Popular Decision, if one-twentieth of those entitled to vote so petition.

A Popular Decision is also to be had when a tenth of those entitled to vote petition for the introduction of a bill. The Popular Petition must cover a fully drafted bill. The bill is to be submitted to the Reichstag by the Government, together with a presentation of its attitude. The Popular Decision is not had if the desired bill is adopted by the Reichstag without change.

Budget bills, Tax bills

As to the Budget, tax statutes and salary regulations, the Imperial President alone can cause a Popular Decision to be had.

An Imperial statute shall regulate the procedure connected with the Popular Decision and with the Popular Petition.

Referenda, Division of labor between chambers

Article 74

The Reichsrat has the right to veto statutes enacted by the Reichstag.

The veto must be announced to the Imperial Government within two weeks after the final enactment of the statute by the Reichstag, and must be supplied with reasons within another fortnight.

In case of a veto the statute shall be laid before the Reichstag for another vote. If thereby no agreement between the Reichstag and the Reichsrat is reached, the Imperial President can, within three months, order a Popular Decision on the subject of the disagreement. If the President makes no use of this right, the statute is deemed unenacted. If the Reichsag overrides the veto of the Reichsrat by a two-thirds vote, the President has to promulgate, within three months, the statute as enacted by the Reichstag, or to order a Popular Decision.


Article 75

An enactment of the Reichstag can be set aside by a Popular Decision only when a majority of those entitled to vote take part in the voting.

Referenda, Constitution amendment procedure

Article 76

The Constitution can be amended by way of legislation. However, enactments of the Reichstag amending the Constitution are effective only if two-thirds of the legal number of members are present and at least two-thirds of those present vote for them. And resolutions of the Reichsrat proposing amendments of the Constitution need a majority of two-thirds of the votes cast. If an amendment of the Constitution is to be passed upon by a Popular Decision upon a Popular Petition, the assent of a majority of those entitled to vote is necessary.

If the Reichstag overrides a veto of the Reichsrat in adopting an amendment of the Constitution, the Imperial President may not promulgate this statute if the Reichsrat within two weeks demands a Popular Decision.

Powers of cabinet

Article 77

The Imperial Government shall issue the necessary general administrative regulations for the execution of the Imperial statutes, in so far as the statutes do not otherwise provide. For this purpose it shall need the consent of the Reichsrat if the execution of the Imperial statutes is left with the Land authorities.


Article 78

The cultivation of relations with the foreign states is exclusively a matter of the Empire.

Subsidiary unit government, Treaty ratification

In matters whose regulation is within the competency of Land legislation the Lands can make treaties with foreign states; the treaties need the approval of the Empire.

Accession of territory, Secession of territory

Agreements with foreign states concerning change of the Empire's boundaries are made by the Empire with the concurrence of the Land involved. The boundary changes may be effected only by an Imperial statute, unless a mere rectification of the boundaries of uninhabited territory is involved.

In order to safeguard the representation of interests which result to individual Lands from their particular economic relations with, or their proximity to, foreign states, the Empire shall adopt the necessary arrangements and measures in an understanding with the Lands concerned.

Article 79

The defence of the Empire is a matter of the Empire. The military organization of the German People shall be regulated uniformly by an Imperial statute, with consideration for the peculiar local characteristics of the people.

Article 80

Colonial affairs are exclusively a matter of the Empire.

Article 81

All German merchant ships form a unified merchant marine.

Article 82

Germany constitutes a customs and trade area, surrounded by a common customs frontier.

The customs frontier coincides with the frontier against foreign countries. Along the sea the shore of the mainland and of the islands belonging to the territory of the Empire forms the customs frontier. For the course of the customs frontier along the sea and along other waters deviations can be provided.

Foreign states or parts of foreign states can be annexed to the customs area by treaties or agreements.

From the customs area parts can be excluded according to special need. For Free-Ports the exclusion can be discontinued only by a statute in amendment of the Constitution.

Districts excluded from the customs area can be annexed to a foreign customs area by treaty or agreement.

Reference to art

All products of nature and also of industry and art, which are in the free commerce of the Empire, may be transported across the boundaries of the Lands and Communes into, from or through them. Exceptions based upon an Imperial statute are permissible.

Article 83

The customs duties and excises on articles of consumption shall be administered by Imperial authorities.

In the administration of Imperial revenues by Imperial authorities measures are to be taken to render possible for the Lands the maintenance of special interests of the Lands in the realms of agriculture, commerce, trade, crafts and industry.

Article 84

The Empire shall enact statutory regulations concerning:

  1. Subsidiary unit government
    The organization of the tax administration of the Lands, in so far as the unified and uniform execution of the Imperial tax statutes demands it.
  2. The organization and powers of the authorities charged with the supervision of the execution of the Imperial tax statutes.
  3. The settling of accounts with the Lands.
  4. The reimbursement of the expenses of administration in executing the Imperial tax statutes.
Budget bills

Article 85

All receipts and disbursements of the Empire must be estimated for each fiscal year and be put into the Budget.

The Budget shall be determined by statute before the beginning of the fiscal year.

The appropriations shall, as a rule, be made for a year; they can in special cases also be made for a longer period. As for the rest, provisions which extend beyond the fiscal year or do not relate to the receipts and disbursements of the Empire or their administration are not permissible in the statute determining the Budget.

The Reichstag cannot increase or add disbursements in the Budget bill without the consent of the Reichsrat.

The consent of the Reichsrat can be replaced in accordance with the provisions of Article 74.

Article 86

For the discharge of the Imperial Government from responsibility, the Imperial Minister of Finance shall account for the disposition of all Imperial receipts to the Reichsrat and the Reichstag in the following fiscal year. The auditing of the account shall be regulated by Imperial statute.

Article 87

Funds may be raised by loans only in cases of extraordinary need and as a rule only for expenditures for income-producing purposes. Such loans and the assumption of a guaranty by the Empire shall be effected only by virtue of an Imperial statute.


Article 88

The postal and telegraph service, together with the telephone service, is exclusively a matter of the Empire.

The postage stamps shall be uniform for the whole Empire.

The Imperial Government shall issue, with the consent of the Reichsrat, the regulations which determine principles and charges for the use of the means of communication. It can transfer this power, with the consent of the Reichsrat, to the Imperial Minister of Posts.

The Imperial Government shall organize, with the consent of the Reichsrat, an advisory board for co-operation in matters of the postal, telegraph and telephone service and of the tariffs.

Treaties covering service with foreign countries shall be concluded by the Empire alone.

Article 89

It is a task of the Empire to acquire the ownership of, and to administer as a unified traffic institution, the railroads serving the general traffic.

The rights of the Lands to acquire private railroads are to be transferred, upon demand, to the Empire.

Article 90

With the transfer of the railroads the Empire takes over the right of expropriation and the state prerogatives relating to railroads. In ease of dispute the High Court of Judicature shall decide the extent of these rights.

Head of government decree power

Article 91

The Imperial Government shall issue, with the consent or the Reichsrat, the decrees which control the construction, management and traffic of the railroads. It can transfer this power, with the consent of the Reichsrat, to the competent Imperial Minister.

Article 92

The Imperial railroads are, regardless of the incorporation of their budget and their accounts in the general budget and the general accounts of the Empire, to be administered as an independent economic enterprise, which itself has to meet its expenditures, including interest on, and a sinking fund for, the railroad debt, and to accumulate a railroad reserve fund. The amount of the sinking fund and the reserve fund and the purposes for which the latter may be used are to be regulated by special statute.

Article 93

The Imperial Government shall organize, with the consent of the Reichsrat, advisory boards for the Imperial railroads for cooperation in matters of the railroad traffic and the tariffs.

Article 94

If the Empire has taken over into its administration the general-traffic railroads of a certain district, new general-traffic railroads can be constructed within this district only by the Empire or with its consent. If the construction of new, or the change of existing, Imperial railroads comes in contact with the jurisdiction of the Land police power, the Imperial railroad administration has to grant a hearing to the Land authorities before reaching a decision.

Where the Empire has not yet taken the railroads over into its administration, it can build railroads deemed necessary for the general traffic or for the defence of the country, by virtue of an Imperial statute and contrary to the objection of the Lands whose territory is traversed, but without prejudice to the Land prerogatives, at its own expense, or turn the construction over to some one else, together with the grant, if necessary, of the right of expropriation.

Every railroad administration must allow a connection with other roads at the expense of the latter.

Article 95

Railroads of general traffic which are not administered by the Empire, are subject to supervision by the Empire.

The railroads subject to the Imperial supervision are to be constructed and equipped according to uniform principles fixed by the Empire. They are to be kept in condition safe for operation and to be developed to meet the demands of traffic. Passenger and freight traffic are to be served and equipped in keeping with requirements.

Uniform and low railroad rates are to be aimed at in the Supervision of the tariffs.

Article 96

All railroads, including those not serving general traffic, must meet the demands of the Empire for the use of railroads for the defence of the country.

Article 97

It is a task of the Empire to take over into its ownership and its administration the waterways serving general traffic.

After such taking over, waterways serving general traffic can be constructed or developed only by the Empire or with its consent.

In the administration, development or the new construction of waterways the needs of agriculture and water-economics are to be conserved in an understanding with the Lands. Their advancement is also to be taken into consideration.

Every administration of waterways has to allow a connection with other inland waterways at the expense of the latter. The same obligation exists for the making of a connection between inland waterways and railroads.

With the assumption of the waterways the Empire acquires the right of expropriation, the tariff prerogative, and the police jurisdiction over streams and navigation.

The tasks of the associations for the construction of waterways with respect to development of natural waterways in the Rhine, Weser and Elbe Districts are to be taken over by the Empire.

Article 98

Advisory boards shall be organized under detailed regulations issued by the Imperial Government, with the consent of the Reichsrat, in connection with the Imperial waterways, for co-operation in matters of the waterways.

Article 99

On natural waterways charges can be collected only for such public works as are adapted to relieve the traffic. In the case of state or communal institutions they may not exceed the necessary costs of construction and maintenance. The costs of construction and maintenance for public works which are not adapted exclusively to relieve the traffic, but also to further other purposes, may be met by navigation charges to a proportionate extent only. Interest and sinking-fund payments for the capital invested are to be considered as costs of construction.

The provisions of the preceding paragraph apply to the charges which are collected for artificial waterways and for public works on them and in harbors.

In the domain of inland navigation the total costs of a waterway of a stream district, or of a system of waterways can be taken as the basis of adjusting the navigation charges.

These provisions apply also to rafting on navigable waterways.

Only the Empire can collect from foreign ships and their cargoes charges other or higher than those from German ships and their cargoes.

For the raising of means for the maintenance and improvement of the German system of waterways the Empire can call upon those engaged in navigation for contributions in other ways provided by statute.

Article 100

To meet the costs of maintenance and construction of inland waterways there can also be called upon, by Imperial statute, whoever receives a benefit from the construction of dams otherwise than from navigation, in as far as more than one Land are concerned or the Empire bears the costs of the works.

Article 101

It is a task of the Empire to take over into its ownership and administration all sea-marks, particularly beacons, light-ships and buoys. After such taking over, sea-marks can be established or extended only by the Empire or with its consent.


Judicial independence

Article 102

The judges are independent and subject to only the law.

Structure of the courts

Article 103

The ordinary jurisdiction shall be exercised by the Imperial Supreme Court and by the courts of the Lands.

Supreme/ordinary court judge removal

Article 104

Mandatory retirement age for judges, Ordinary court term length, Supreme court term length

The judges of the ordinary jurisdiction are appointed for life. They can, against their will, be permanently or temporarily deprived of their office or transferred to another court or retired only by virtue of a judicial decision and only on the grounds and in the manner provided by the statutes. Legislation can fix the age limits upon reaching which the judges retire.

The statutory provisional suspension from office is not hereby affected.

Protection of judges' salaries

In case of a change in the organization of the courts or of their territorial jurisdictions, the Land Administration of Justice can order involuntary transfers to another court or removals from office, only, however, with retention of the full stipend.

These provisions do not apply to judges of the Industrial Courts, Assessors and Jurymen.

Article 105

Exceptional courts are not allowed. No one may be deprived of the judge provided for him by law. The provisions of law concerning Courts-Martial, including the drum head variety, are not hereby affected. The Military Courts of Honor are abolished.

Establishment of military courts

Article 106

The jurisdiction of military courts is to be abolished, except for times of war and on board warships. An Imperial statute shall prescribe the details.

Ultra-vires administrative actions, Establishment of administrative courts

Article 107

In the Empire and in the Lands there must exist, in accordance with statutes, Administrative Courts for the protection of the Individuals against orders and decrees of the administrative authorities.

Structure of the courts

Article 108

In accordance with an Imperial statute a High Court of Judicature for the German Empire shall be established.

PART TWO. Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties of the Germans


General guarantee of equality

Article 109

Equality regardless of gender

All Germans are equal before the law. Men and women have fundamentally the same civic rights and duties.

Equality regardless of parentage, Mentions of social class

Public-law privileges or disadvantages of birth or of rank are to be abolished. Titles of nobility are considered only as part of the name and may no longer be conferred.

Titles may be conferred only when they designate an office or calling; academic degrees are not hereby affected.

Orders and decorations may not be bestowed by the state.

No German may accept a title or order from a foreign government.

Article 110

Conditions for revoking citizenship, Requirements for birthright citizenship

Citizenship in the Empire and in the Lands is acquired and lost in accordance with the provisions of an Imperial statute. Every citizen of a Land is at the same time a citizen of the Empire.

Every German has in each Land of the Empire the same rights and duties as the citizens of the Land itself.

Freedom of movement

Article 111

All Germans enjoy freedom of travel and domicile throughout the whole Empire. Every one has the right to stay end settle at any desired place in the Empire, to acquire land, and to pursue any livelihood. Restrictions require an Imperial statute.

Article 112

Restrictions on entry or exit

Every German is entitled to emigrate to foreign countries. Emigration can be restricted only by an Imperial statute.

As against foreign countries all citizens of the Empire within and without the territory of the Empire have a claim to the protection of the Empire.

No German may be delivered up to a foreign government for prosecution or punishment.

Protection of language use

Article 113

The foreign-language elements of the population of the Empire may not be restricted by legislation and administration in their free, ethnological development, especially in the use of their mother tongue in education, nor in internal administration and the administration of justice.

Article 114

Inalienable rights

The freedom of the person is inviolable. A restriction or deprivation of personal freedom by public power is permissible only upon statutory grounds.

Persons who are deprived of their freedom are to be notified not later than the next following day by what authorities and upon what grounds the deprivation of freedom has been ordered; without delay opportunity is to be given them to object to the deprivation of their freedom.

Right to privacy

Article 115

The home of every German is for him an asylum and inviolable. Exceptions are permissible only upon statutory grounds.

Protection from ex post facto laws, Principle of no punishment without law

Article 116

An act can be punishable only when the penalty was fixed by statute before the act was committed.

Telecommunications, Right to privacy

Article 117

The privacy of letters and also that of the mail, telegraph and telephone are inviolable. Exceptions can be allowed only by Imperial statute.

Freedom of press, Freedom of expression

Article 118

Every German has the right, within general statutory limitations, to express his opinion freely by word of mouth, writing, printing, picture or otherwise. No relationship of labor or employment may hinder him in this right, and no one may wrong him if he makes use of this right.

A censorship is not had; however, divergent provisions for moving pictures may be made by statute. And statutory measures are permissible for the suppression of trashy and obscene literature, and for the protection of young persons in public performances and exhibitions.


Regulation of marriage, Right to found a family

Article 119

Provision for matrimonial equality

Marriage stands, as the foundation of family life and of the preservation and increase of the nation, under the special protection of the Constitution. It rests upon the equality of rights of both sexes.

State support for children

The keeping pure, the wholesomeness, and the social advancement of the family are a task of the state and of the Communes. Families of many children have a claim to financial relief.

Motherhood has a claim to the protection and care of the state.

Article 120

The rearing of the rising generations to physical, mental and social fitness is the supreme duty and natural right of the parents, over whose activities the political community watches.

Rights of children

Article 121

Legislation is to create for illegitimate children the same conditions for physical, menial and social development as for legitimate children.

Rights of children

Article 122

Young persons are to be protected against exploitation and also against moral, mental or physical neglect. State and Commune have to adopt the necessary measures.

Rules for care by way of compulsion can be made by virtue of statute only.

Freedom of assembly

Article 123

All Germans have the right to assemble peaceably and un-armed, without notice or special permission.

Assemblies in the open can, by Imperial statute, be made subject to notice, and can be forbidden in case of immediate danger to the public safety.

Freedom of association

Article 124

All Germans have the right to form societies or associations for purposes that are not contrary to the criminal laws. This right can not be restricted by preventive measures. The same provisions apply to religious societies and associations.

The right of incorporation is open to every society conformably to the provisions of the civil law. It may not be denied a society on the ground that it pursues a political, socio-political or religious purpose.

Secret ballot

Article 125

Freedom of elections and secrecy of elections are guaranteed. The election statutes shall determine the details.

Right of petition

Article 126

Every German has the right to petition, in writing, with requests or complaints, the proper authorities or the popular representative body. This right can be exercised by individuals as well as by several together.

Municipal government

Article 127

Communes and Communal Unions have the right of self-administration within the limits of the statutes.

Civil service recruitment

Article 128

All citizens without distinction are eligible for public offices in accordance with the statutes and according to their ability and their attainments.

All exceptional provisions against women officials are removed.

The underlying principles of official relationships are to be regulated by Imperial statute.

Article 129

The appointment of the officials is for life, in so far as is not otherwise provided by statute. Pensions and care of surviving dependents are regulated by statute. The duly acquired rights of the officials are inviolable. For the claims of the officials to property rights the process of law is open.

The officials can be provisionally suspended from office, or temporarily or permanently retired, or transferred to another office with a lower salary only in conformity with the statutory requirements and forms.

For every disciplinary sentence there must be open a remedy by way of appeal, and the possibility of a rehearing. In the personal record of the official, notations of facts unfavorable to him are to be made only after an opportunity has been given him to express himself about them. The official is to be granted an inspection of his personal record.

The inviolability of the duly acquired rights and the keeping open of the process of law for the claims to property rights are to be guaranteed especially to the professional soldiers too. In other respects their position shall be regulated by Imperial statute.

Article 130

The officials are servants of the whole body politic, not of a party.

To all officials are guaranteed the freedom of their political beliefs and the freedom of association.

The officials are entitled to special bodies representing them as officials, in accordance with detailed Imperial statutory provisions.

Article 131

If an official in the discharge of the public power entrusted to him breaches his official duties towards a third party, the responsibility rests fundamentally with the state or body in whose service he stands. The right of redress against the official is reserved. The ordinary process of law may not be excluded.

It is the duty of the competent legislature to provide details.

Article 132

Every German has the duty, in accordance with the statutes, to accept honorary offices.

Duty to serve in the military

Article 133

All citizens are bound, in accordance with the statutes, to perform personal services for the state and the Commune.

The military duty is directed along the lines of the Imperial Military Statute. This shall also provide how far particular fundamental rights are to be restricted for members of the armed forces for the performance of their duties and for the maintenance of discipline.

Duty to pay taxes

Article 134

All citizens, without distinction, contribute to all public burdens in proportion to their means, as provided by statutes.


Freedom of opinion/thought/conscience, Freedom of religion

Article 135

All inhabitants of the Empire enjoy full freedom of religious belief and conscience. Undisturbed public worship is guaranteed by the Constitution and is under the protection of the state. The general statutes are not hereby affected.

Article 136

The civil and civic rights and duties are neither qualified nor restricted by the exercise of religious freedom.

The enjoyment of civil and civic rights and the admission to public offices are independent of religious belief.

No one is obliged to reveal his religious conviction. The authorities have the right to ask about membership in a religious society only so far as rights and duties are dependent thereon or a statutory statistical inquiry demands it.

No one may be forced into a church ceremony or celebration or into participation in religious exercises or into the use of a religious form of oath.

Freedom of religion

Article 137

Separation of church and state

There exists no state church.

The freedom to form religious societies is guaranteed. The union of religious societies within the territory of of the Empire is subject to no restrictions.

Every religious society regulates and administers its affairs independently within the limits of the law applicable to everybody. It bestows its offices without the co-operation of the state or the civil Commune.

Religious societies become incorporated in accordance with the general provisions of the civil law.

The religious societies remain public corporations in so far as they were such heretofore. Other religious societies are, upon their request, to be granted like rights if they, by their constitution and the number of their members, offer a guaranty of permanence. If several of that class of public-law religious societies join in a union, this union is also a public corporation.

The religious societies which are public corporations are entitled to raise taxes upon the basis of the civil tax lists, in accordance with the provisions of the Land laws.

The associations which have for their object the common cultivation of a view of the world are treated like the religious societies.

As far as the carrying out of these provisions demands further regulation, the same shall be made by Land legislation.

Article 138

Contributions by the state to religious societies, which rest upon statute, treaty or special legal title, shall be commuted by Land legislation. The principles therefor shall be set up by the Empire.

Ownership and other rights of religious societies and unions in their institutions, foundations and other properties designated for purposes of worship, education and charity are guaranteed.

Right to rest and leisure

Article 139

Sunday and state holidays remain protected by statute as days of rest from labor and of spiritual edification.

Article 140

To the members of the armed forces is to be granted the necessary free time for the fulfillment of their religious duties.

Article 141

In so far as the need for religious services and cure of souls in the army, hospitals, penal institutions or other public institutions exists, the religious societies are to be admitted for the holding of religious exercises, in connection with which there is to be no compulsion.


Reference to art, Right to academic freedom, Reference to science

Article 142

Art and science and the teaching of them are free. The state vouchsafes them protection and participates in their cultivation.

Article 143

The education of young persons is to be provided for by means of public institutions. In their establishment Empire, Lands and Communes work together.

The education of teachers is to be regulated uniformly for the Empire, in accordance with the principles which are applied generally to higher education.

The teachers in public schools have the rights and duties of state officials.

Article 144

The entire school system stands under the supervision of the state; it can call upon the co-operation of the Communes. The supervision of schools is exercised by high, professionally trained officials.

Free education, Compulsory education

Article 145

There exists universal compulsory education. Its accomplishment shall be served, fundamentally by elementary schools with at least eight school years, and by connecting continuation schools until the completed eighteenth year of life. The instruction and the school supplies in the elementary and continuation schools shall be furnished free of charge.

Article 146

The public school system is to be planned organically. Upon a primary school common to all there shall be built up the intermediate and higher school system. For this building-up the variety of vocations is to be the guide, and for the reception of a child into a particular school the guide shall be his aptitude and inclination, and not the economic and social position or the religious belief of his parents.

Within the Communes, however, there are to be established, upon request of those entitled to instruction, elementary schools of their faith or of their view of the world, in so far as thereby an organized school system—also in the sense of Paragraph One of this Article—is not impaired. The will of those entitled to instruction is to be considered as much as possible. Land legislation shall provide for details in accordance with the principles of an Imperial statute.

For the admission of the less well-to-do to the intermediate and higher schools, public means are to be furnished by Empire, Lands and Communes, especially assistance for parents in rearing children who are deemed fit for training in intermediate and higher schools, until the finishing of the training.

Article 147

Private schools as substitutes for public schools need the approval of the state and are under the Land statutes. The approval is to be given if the private schools, in their educational aims and arrangements and also in the scientific development of their teaching forces, do not stand below the public schools and a separation of the scholars according to the means of the parents is not furthered. The approval is to be denied if the economic status and legal status of the teaching forces are not sufficiently secured.

Private elementary schools are permissible only if there exists for a minority of those entitled to instruction, whose will is to be considered according to Article 146, Paragraph Two, no public elementary school of their faith or of their view of the world in the Commune, or if the educational administrative authorities recognize a special pedagogical interest.

Private preparatory schools are to be abolished.

For private schools which do not serve as substitutes for public schools the law remains as it is.

Article 148

In all schools moral training, civic sentiment, personal and vocational efficiency are to be aimed at, in the spirit of German nationality and of the reconciliation of nations.

In the instruction in public schools care is to be taken not to hurt the feelings of persons of a different way of thinking.

Civics and labor are to be taught in the schools. Every pupil shall receive a copy of the Constitution upon completion of the compulsory education.

National education, including national universities, is to be fostered by Empire, Lands and Communes.

Article 149

Religious instruction shall be a regular subject of the school curricula, except in non-confessional (secular) schools. The imparting of it shall be regulated within the limits of the school legislation. Religious instruction shall be imparted in conformity with the principles of the respective religious society, without prejudice to the right of supervision of the state.

The imparting of religious instruction and the use of church forms are optional with the instructors, and the participation (by the pupil] in religious studies and in church festivities and ceremonies is left to the decision of him who has to settle the matter of the religious education of the child.

The theological faculties in the universities remain in existence.

Reference to art

Article 150

Protection of environment

The monuments of art, of history and of nature and also scenery enjoy the protection and care of the state.

It is a matter of the Empire to prevent the exportation of German art treasures to foreign countries.


Article 151

Right to reasonable standard of living

The ordering of the economic life must conform to the principles of justice, with the assurance to all of an existence worthy of a human being as the goal. Within these limits the economic freedom of the individual is to be secured.

Statutory compulsion is permissible only for the realization of threatened rights or in the service of superior demands of the public weal.

Right to establish a business

The freedom of trade and industry is guaranteed in accordance with Imperial statutes.

Article 152

In economic intercourse freedom of contract prevails in accordance with the statutes.

Usury is forbidden. Transactions which are contrary to good morals are void.

Right to own property

Article 153

Property is guaranteed by the Constitution. Its content and its limitations shall be defined by the statutes.

Protection from expropriation

Expropriation can be had only for the common welfare and upon statutory grounds. It is had with adequate compensation, in so far as an Imperial statute does not otherwise provide. In case of dispute about the amount of the compensation the ordinary courts are to be open for relief, in so far as Imperial statutes do not otherwise provide. Expropriation by the Empire as against Lands, Communes and associations serving the public can be had only with compensation.

Property obligates. Its use is to be at the same time service for the best good of the public.

Right to transfer property

Article 154

The right of inheritance is guaranteed in accordance with the civil law.

The portion of the state in an estate of inheritance shall be fixed by the statutes.

Article 155

The distribution and use of the land shall be supervised by the state in a way to avoid abuse and with the aim to secure to every German a healthful habitation and to all German families, according to their needs, especially those with many children, a homestead for dwelling and economic purposes. Those who have taken part in war are especially to be considered in the homestead law which is to be enacted.

Real estate, whose acquisition is necessary for meeting the needs of a dwelling, for the advancement of settlements and reclamation of land, or for the encouragement of agriculture, can be expropriated. Entailments are to be abolished.

The cultivation and exploitation of the land are a duty of the owner to the community. The increase in value of the land, which brought about without the expenditure of labor or capital on the property, is to inure to the benefit of the community.

Ownership of natural resources

All treasures of the ground and all economically useful forces of nature stand under the supervision of the state. Private jura regalia are to be transferred to the state by way of legislation.

Protection from expropriation

Article 156

The Empire can, by statute, without prejudice to compensation, in an appropriate application provisions relating to expropriation, transfer into public ownership private economic enterprises adapted to socialization. It can engage itself; the Lands or the Communes in the administration of economic enterprises and associations, or secure to itself in other ways a controlling influence therein.

The Empire can further, in case of urgent need, for the purpose of common-economics, by statute, combine economic enterprises associations upon the basis of self-administration, with the aim to secure the co-operation of all producing elements of the people, to engage employers and employees in the administration, and to regulate production, manufacture, distribution, utilization, price-fixing, and importation and exportation of economic products according to common-economic principles.

The co-operative societies and their confederations are, upon their request, to be incorporated into the common-economics, upon consideration of their form of organization and of their peculiar nature.

Article 157

Labor stands under the special protection of the Empire.

The Empire shall create a uniform labor law.

Provisions for intellectual property, Reference to art

Article 158

Intellectual labor, copyright, the rights of inventors and artists enjoy the protection and care of the Empire.

Reference to science

Recognition and protection are to be secured for the creations of German science, art and technics in foreign countries also, by international agreement.

Right to join trade unions

Article 159

The freedom of combination for the maintenance and advancement of the conditions of labor and economics is guaranteed for everybody and for all vocations. All agreements and measures which seek to restrict or to interfere with this freedom are contrary to law.

Article 160

Whoever stands in a relationship of service or labor as an employee or worker has the right to the free time necessary for the exercise of his civic rights and, in so far as the business is not materially thereby interfered with, for the discharge of public honorary offices assigned to him. The statute shall provide how far he retains a claim to compensation.

State support for the elderly

Article 161

For the conservation of health and the ability to work, for the protection of motherhood and for providing against the economic results of old age, infirmity and the vicissitudes of life, the Empire shall create a comprehensive system of insurance, under dominant co-operation of the insured.

Article 162

The Empire shall advocate an international regulation of the legal status of the workers, which shall endeavor to obtain a universal minimum measure of social rights for the whole working class of mankind.

Article 163

Duty to work

Every German has, without prejudice to his personal freedom, the moral duty so to employ his intellectual and physical powers as the welfare of the whole demands.

Right to work

Every German is to be given the possibility to earn his living by economic work. In so far as it cannot be shown that he has an adequate opportunity to work his necessary maintenance will be provided for. Details shall be provided by special Imperial statutes.

Article 164

In legislation and administration the independent middle class in agriculture, crafts, industry, trade and commerce is to be fostered and protected against being overburdened and being sucked up.

Article 165

Workers and employees are called to take part, with equal rights in co-operation with the employers, in the regulation of the conditions of wages, salaries and work and also in the whole economic development of the productive forces. The organizations on both sides and their agreements shall be recognized.

The workers and employees shall receive, for the purpose of looking after their social and economic interests, statutory representation in Factory Workers' Councils, and also in District Workers' Councils organized according to economic areas, and in an Imperial Workers' Council.

The District Workers' Councils and the Imperial Workers' Council shall meet, for the purpose of fulfilling all the economic tasks and of co-operating in the carrying out of the socialization statutes, with the representatives of the employers and other interested circles of the people as District Economic Councils and as an Imperial Economic Council. The District Economic Councils and the Imperial Economic Council are to be so organized that all important business groups are represented therein according to their economic and social importance.

Socio-political and economo-political bills of fundamental importance are, before their introduction, to be submitted by the Imperial Government to the Imperial Economic Council for its opinion. The Imperial Economic Council itself has the right to propose such bills. If the Imperial Government does not agree to them, it has nevertheless to introduce the bills in the Reichstag together with the presentation of its standpoint. The Imperial Economic Council can have the bill represented in the Reichstag by one of its members.

There can be granted to Workers' Councils and Economic Councils functions of control and administration in the areas assigned to them.

The formation and the task of the Workers' Councils and of the Economic Councils and also their relation to other social self-administrative bodies are exclusive matters of the Empire.

Transitional provisions

Transitional and Final Provisions

Article 166

Until the creation of the Imperial Administrative Court the Imperial Supreme Court shall take its place in forming the Court for the Review of Elections.

Article 167

The provisions of Article 18, Paragraphs 3 to 6, do not become effective until two years after the promulgation of the Imperial Constitution.

Article 168

Until the enactment of the Land statute provided for in Article 63, but for not longer than one year, all the Prussian votes in the Reichsrat can be cast by members of the Government.

Article 169

The time when the provision in Article 83, Paragraph 1, shall become effective shall be fixed by the Imperial Government. For a reasonable transition period the collection and administration of customs-duties and excises can be left with the Lands, if they so wish.

Article 170

The postal and telegraphic administrations of Bavaria and Württemberg shall be transferred to the Empire not later than April 1, 1921.

In so far as by October 1, 1920, no agreement as to the conditions of the transfer is reached, the High Court of Judicature shall decide the matter.

Until the transfer, the existing rights and duties of Bavaria and Württemberg shall remain in force. The postal and telegraphic traffic with the neighboring foreign states, shall, however, be regulated exclusively by the Empire.

Article 171

The state-railroads, waterways and sea-marks are to be transferred to the Empire not later than April 1, 1921.

In so far as by October 1, 1920, no agreement as to the conditions of the transfer is reached, the High Court of Judicature shall decide the matter.

Article 172

Until the Imperial statute creating the High Court of Judicature becomes effective, its functions shall be exercised by a senate of seven members, of which the Reichstag elects four and the Imperial Supreme Court elects three from its members. It shall itself regulate its proceedings.

Article 173

Until the enactment of an Imperial statute in accordance with Article 138, the existing state contributions to religious societies, resting upon statute, treaty or other legal title, shall remain in force.

Article 174

Until the enactment of the Imperial statute provided for in Article 146, Paragraph 2, the existing legal status shall continue to exist. The statute has to consider especially the areas of the Empire in which a school not separated according to religious faiths legally exists.

Article 175

The provision of Article 109 does not apply to orders and decorations which are to be bestowed for services during the war years 1914-1919.

Oaths to abide by constitution

Article 176

All public officials and members of the armed forces are to take an oath to this Constitution. Details shall be provided by a decree of the Imperial President.

Article 177

Wherever in the existing statutes the taking of an oath is prescribed with the use of a religious form of oath, the oath can also be taken legally by the person taking the oath declaring: "I swear," with the omission of the religious form of oath. In other respects the content of the oath provided in the statutes remains unaffected.

Article 178

The Constitution of the German Empire of April 16, 1871, and the Statute concerning the Provisional Imperial Power of February 10, 1919, are abrogated.

The remaining statutes and decrees of the Empire remain in force, in so far as this Constitution does not conflict with them. The provisions of the Treaty of Peace signed on the twenty-eighth of June, 1919, at Versailles, are not affected by the Constitution.

Orders of the authorities which were legally made under hitherto existing statutes retain their validity until their abrogation by other orders or by legislation.

Article 179

In so far as in statutes or decrees reference is made to institutions and provisions which are abrogated by this Constitution, the corresponding institutions and provisions of this Constitution take their place. Particularly, the Reichstag takes the place of the National Assembly, the Reichsrat takes the place of the States-Committee, the Imperial President elected under this Constitution takes the place of the Imperial President elected under the Statute concerning the Provisional Imperial Power.

The power to issue decrees belonging, under hitherto existing provisions, to the States-Committee is transferred to the Imperial Government; it shall need for the issuance of the decrees the consent of the Reichsrat as laid down in this Constitution.

Article 180

Until the convening of the first Reichstag, the National Assembly is to be considered as the Reichstag. Until the assumption of office by the first Imperial President his office shall be conducted by the Imperial President elected under the Statute concerning the Provisional Imperial Power.

Source of constitutional authority

Article 181

The German people has, through its National Assembly, ordained and adopted this Constitution. It shall become effective with the day of its promulgation.