States of Germany

A country ( in the legislative or legal jargon rare, but called in the default language often state ) is one of their part sovereign constituent states by the federal constitutional system of the Federal Republic of Germany. Since 1990, the Federal Republic is made up of 16 countries.

  • 3.1 Official and self- designations
  • 3.2 policy
  • 3.3 Economics
  • 6.1 Chronology
  • 6.2 Southwest State
  • 6.3 The five " new countries"
  • 6.4 Discussions on the restructuring of the national territory by 1952 and 1990 respectively 6.4.1 Fusion initiatives
  • 6.4.2 Separation initiatives

Constitutional law

The countries on the jurisdiction and the prevailing opinion in jurisprudence original state violence and thus a state. Your statehood and fundamental substantive decision authority based on Article 30 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany. They differ from ordinary states but the fact that their (partial ) international legal personality " derived [= derivatively ], and not originated from" the federal government and " be granted by the Federal Constitution competencies in foreign affairs. " Insofar them Accordingly, the countries of contracts complete with other subjects of international law, but only with the consent of the Federal Government and to the extent they are responsible for legislation generally. Pre-existing treaties such as the Convention Saline between Bavaria and Austria from 1829 does not stand in the way. Rather, the countries are directly or as a successor states - bound to old treaties - such as in the case of the Prussian Concordat.

The Federal Republic can be seen as the constitutional link their countries are considered, ie it is the state in the proper sense (Art. 20 GG). Accordingly, the federal government obtained only through this connection its member states themselves state character.


Political system

Heads of State or of government by all the German states are parliamentary republics. The constitutional framework of this form of government are federal constitutional law, the so-called homogeneity requirement of the Basic Law (Art. 28 GG) is an essential requirement, this requirement would allow in principle also a presidential form of government at the country level.

Corresponding constitutional principles can be found in the section " The federal and state governments ," Art 20-37 GG.

Countries in the European Union

In addition to the Federal Government and the German Bundestag, the country is an important actor in the process of policy formulation - which also applies to the German European policy. The countries are integrated using a variety of structures and institutions in the political system of the European Union. The right of participation is legally secured by the Treaties ( TEU and TFEU), the Basic Law as well as individual accompanying laws.

Countries have adapted in the past few years the progressive European integration and established or strengthened corresponding structures: In most countries, Minister for European Affairs coordinate the European policy of the country. In the line ministries own departments or units were set up that deal exclusively with European issues. Each country has now set up its own representation in Brussels. The parliaments have set up committees Europe. Parliamentary administrations as in Bavaria, Baden- Württemberg and Hesse send specially officials to Brussels to observe current developments. Through all these measures, the countries have secured their influence on European policy decisions and can selectively expand. Together entertain the countries the establishment of the observer countries to the European Union, which has the task of the Länder and the Federal Council in the performance of their duties and rights in EU affairs support.

The Treaty of Lisbon, since December 1, 2009 in force, strengthens the countries in their right to defend their country-specific interests towards the European institutions. For the first time, the local government is held in primary law. The subsidiarity principle guarantees the competence of the states for all the areas that they themselves can best be achieved and which do not fall within the exclusive competence of the European Union. In dispute over the principle of subsidiarity and to protect its own institutional prerogatives countries may make representations concerning the Committee of the Regions ( CoR) in the European Court.

Fundamentals of the countries

Official or self- designations

In addition to eleven member States, officially refer to themselves as a country with three ( Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia ) Free State part of their name as well as in two other member States Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg is the name of the country (marked in the right).

Apart from own names in minority languages ​​Danish ( Schleswig -Holstein: Country Slesvig - Holsten ), Frisian (Schleswig -Holstein: Lönj Slaswik - Holstiinj ), Lower ( Brandenburg: Kraj Bramborska ) and Upper Sorbian (Saxony: Svobodny Stat Engelsk ), there are also designations some countries in the Low German language.



Official names and flags of German states

Here the national flags of the countries represented. They may be shown to the public by any citizen. The country's official flags, however, are severely limited in use - they may only be used by the respective national authorities.

The Free State of Bavaria has two equivalent national flags: once the flag shown here with horizontal stripes in the colors white and blue, the other a white-blue gerau scored ( → National flag of Bavaria ).

There is no difference between flag and State service flag in the following countries: Bayern, Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Rhineland -Palatinate and Saarland. Bremer Landesbank Flags with coat of arms (in two variants) may also be used by the citizens.

The country's official flags of the following countries also show the country's coat of arms: Baden- Württemberg, Hesse, Mecklenburg -Western Pomerania, North Rhine -Westphalia, Saxony, Saxony -Anhalt, Schleswig -Holstein, Thuringia.

Classification of countries

The city states of Berlin and Hamburg are both at the same time a country and a city, and are not further subdivided into municipalities. The state of Bremen consists of the cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven. In the other German countries, there are the following additional administration and self-government units:

  • Government districts, the large states of Baden- Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse and North Rhine -Westphalia are divided into administrative districts. The districts are local units of state administration. The division of the states of Lower Saxony (until 2004 ), Rhineland -Palatinate (until 1999), Saxony -Anhalt (until 2003) and Saxony (until 2012 ) was repealed. In Rhineland -Palatinate funktionsteilig took the place of the three regional councils of two structural and approval directorates as well as a supervisory and Service Directorate. There is in the Pfalz region of the early 19th century resulting Bezirksverband Palatinate. In North Rhine -Westphalia and Lower Saxony also exist regional associations. In Saxony, where the government districts have been converted into so-called provincial head 2008, which means instances in favor of a new province of Upper authority, the State Directorate of Saxony, were abolished.
  • Counties and county-level cities: Each surface state is divided into counties ( in North Rhine -Westphalia and Schleswig -Holstein referred to as circles) divided. In total there are 295 counties in the Federal Republic of Germany (including the cities of Aachen, the Hannover region and the regional association Saarbrücken). Then there are the 107 urban districts ( including the two autonomous cities in Bremen), not belonging to the district, but the tasks of the counties themselves perceive otherwise, constitute a separate circuit. Therefore, they were in the East German Länder until 1994 and today they are still referred to as a city in Baden-Württemberg circles. The counties are authorities that have directly elected bodies.
  • Community organizations: in some countries there is an intermediate level of local labor between district and local municipal associations or management communities in different forms and with different tasks. They have, therefore depending on the country, very different names, such as office (BB, MV, SH), Samtgemeinde (NI), municipality (RP, ST) or Gemeindeverwaltungsverband (BW ) ( please refer to the greater community ).
  • Municipalities: Municipalities are the smallest independent territorial units. In Germany there are 12,320 municipalities and unincorporated areas 248 (as of 1 March 2006). Cities are usually communities that only entitled to the description city (see city law). This is either the historical records and was mostly associated in the Middle Ages with numerous privileges (for example, their own taxes ), or is larger municipalities, which is re- awarded the designation of the city due to its importance today and tasks ( depending on the country, this is very handled differently ). For the capital of a country, the term state capital has prevailed. Municipalities are authorities that have directly elected bodies.

History of the German states from 1945

The Federal members of the German Empire see the outline of the German Empire 1871-1918

The countries are (partly historical and of expellees relationships ignorierendes ) Result of the territorial reorganization of the occupied German Empire after 1945., The territories of the German Empire were divided and the first nations were founded in July 1945 in the Soviet zone of occupation. However, the Soviets pursued for a future Germany (without the state again become Austria ) the design of a centralized state, in which the countries should only represent administrative units. This was offset against the mainly pursued by the Americans concept of a federal state, in which the countries should also play an important political role.

Because of the " Proclamation No. 2 " were on September 19, 1945 in the U.S. zone of occupation the first countries with that orientation. Within the four occupation zones on the territory of the present Federal Republic of Germany, it was from the January 21, 1947, 16 countries, which were mainly composed of the following areas:

  • American zone of occupation: Bavaria: the main part of the state of Bavaria, where the district of Lindau (Bodensee ), including the independent from the September 25, 1948 City of Lindau was under French occupation
  • Bremen: Bremen Country (though it was an exclave enclosed by the British occupation zone, but the Americans claimed a port for its power supply)
  • Hesse ( Groß- Hessen): main part of the People's State of Hesse, the main part of the Prussian province of Hesse -Nassau
  • Württemberg- Baden: Northern part of the country Württemberg, the northern part of Baden
  • Hamburg: Hamburg Country
  • Lower Saxony: Hanover countries ( as an independent country rebuilt after interim Prussian province of Hannover as belonging 1866-1946 ), Braunschweig, Oldenburg and Schaumburg -Lippe
  • North Rhine -Westphalia ( by Military Order No. 46 of 23 August 1946): the northern part of the Prussian Rhine province ( administrative districts of Aachen, Dusseldorf and Cologne), the Prussian province of Westphalia and the country lip (subsequent inclusion by Military Order No. 77 of 21 January 1947)
  • Schleswig -Holstein: Prussian province of Schleswig- Holstein
  • Baden: South part of Baden
  • Rhineland -Palatinate: southern part of the Prussian Rhine province, western part of the Prussian province of Hesse -Nassau, the southwest part of the state of Hesse ( Rheinhessen ), Bavarian Palatinate
  • Württemberg -Hohenzollern: the southern part of the country Württemberg, Prussian exclave of Hohenzollern, district of Lindau (Bodensee ), including the independent from the September 25, 1948 City of Lindau (Bodensee)
  • Brandenburg Prussian province Brandenburg west of the Oder and Lusatian Neisse
  • Mecklenburg: Land of Mecklenburg, the westernmost part of the Prussian province of Pomerania ( Vorpommern)
  • Saxony: Saxony, west of the Neisse situated part of the Prussian province of Lower Silesia
  • Saxony- Anhalt: the main part of the Prussian province of Saxony, Anhalt Country
  • Thuringia: Thuringia, southern part of the Prussian Province of Saxony


On August 23, 1946 created by Regulation No 46 of the British military government to the " dissolution of the provinces of the former Land of Prussia in the British Zone and their reformation as independent states " the countries of Hanover ( later with the countries of Brunswick, Oldenburg and Schaumburg -Lippe the state of Lower Saxony together ), North Rhine -Westphalia and Schleswig -Holstein. Hamburg remained an independent country. The state of Rhineland -Palatinate was also created in 1946 by decree of the French military government.

1947 had, at the instigation of the British occupation forces to give up its independence, the former country lip. The Lippe government decided after negotiations with the two neighboring states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine -Westphalia for connection to North Rhine -Westphalia. In the Lippischen Punktationen the governments of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lippe agreed future consideration Lippe interests. On January 21, 1947 joined the British military Regulation No 77, the Association in force. Under that regulation, a reorganization would be held for a period of five years referendum can be arranged, but this was omitted. On November 5, 1948, legally regulated exhaustively with the "Law on the unification of the country lip with North Rhine-Westphalia " by the North Rhine- Westphalian state the inclusion.

The Hessian constitution was adopted by the Constitutional Advisory State Assembly in Wiesbaden on 29 October 1946 entered into force on December 1, 1946 by plebiscite in force and was the first post-war German constitution. After the constitution of the Free State of Bavaria, which was adopted in a referendum on December 1, 1946 followed.

On February 25, 1947, the Allied Control Council approved the dissolution of Prussia. Until then, the Free State of Prussia during about in the countries education in the British zone (see above) existed with its provinces still so far away, as Brandenburg and Saxony- Anhalt were referred in their first constitutions not as a country but as provinces in 1946 expressly of the dissolution of the Prussian provinces of the speech had been.

In the Soviet zone of occupation the state constitution of Saxony was adopted on 28 February 1947.

On May 23, 1949, the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany was announced. The scope of the constitution, the states of Schleswig- Holstein, Lower Saxony, Hamburg, Bremen, North Rhine -Westphalia, Rhineland -Palatinate, Hesse, Württemberg- Baden, Baden, Württemberg -Hohenzollern and Bavaria joined. Berlin ( West) had - even according to the Quadripartite Agreement - always a special status, even if it is in accordance with Article 23 of the Basic Law aF as a federal state ( " Greater Berlin" ) was considered.

The first structure reform since the founding of the Federal Republic of April 25, 1952 Baden, Württemberg -Baden and Württemberg -Hohenzollern were pooled for the State of Baden -Wuerttemberg. In the same year, the countries were indeed not formally dissolved in the GDR, however, relieved of their state powers, what a de facto resolution equaled; in their place were 14 districts. The eastern sector of Berlin, who was himself no country in the GDR did not concern the law. Only a decree of the Council of State from 1961 had "Berlin", the meaning to East Berlin, officially known as the " capital of the German Democratic Republic," the status of a district to.

The 1947 nominally independent Saarland joined on 1 January 1957 after a referendum the scope of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany - whether as the tenth or the eleventh country depends on how one assesses retrospectively the international law controversial and constitutionally complicated status of West Berlin. According to the state constitution ", the Saarland [ henceforth ] a democratic and social federal state parent. " Is the unilateral economic union of Saarland with France remained until 1959 exist.

April 1952 - August 1955 After the founding of Baden -Württemberg..

January 1957 - October 1990 After the Saarland joined the Federal Republic..

After the reunification

Current management structure ( with small changes in the borders of 1992)

Southwest State

After the Second World War, the northern parts of Baden and Württemberg to the American occupation zone, and the southern parts of Hohenzollern came to the French. The military governments of the occupation zones established 1945/46, the countries of Württemberg- Baden in the U.S. and Württemberg- Hohenzollern and Baden in the French zone. These countries were on 23 May 1949 of the Federal Republic of Germany.

On 9 December 1951, the referendum was held establishing Baden -Württemberg. With the vote, the voters voted in both parts of Württemberg with 93% for the fusion, in northern Baden with 57 %, while in South Baden, only 38 % were in favor. In three out of four voting districts, there was a majority in favor of the formation of the southwest state, so that the formation of a southwest state was decided. Then, the countries were united on 25 April 1952, established the state of Baden -Württemberg.

The five " new countries"

In July 1990, the districts were abolished on the territory of the GDR by the Länder Act and established the five deposed in 1952 in favor of the districts countries again (Mecklenburg was again the name of Mecklenburg- Vorpommern, it had from 1945 to 1947 had already ). They were on 3 October 1990 as well as Berlin, whose western part was until then been " not a constituent part of the Federal Republic " due to the Allies' special law ( Four Sector City), states of the Federal Republic of Germany. The inner borders of the new states were redefined in the new construction.

Analog see also: Old States

Discussions on the restructuring of the national territory by 1952 and 1990 respectively

A reorganization of the federal territory by virtue of Article 29 of the Basic Law was introduced in the "old " countries after 1952 and in the "new " Länder, including Berlin after 1990, getting back into the political debate.

Fusion initiatives

In 1996, failed a target of the two state governments merger of Berlin and Brandenburg, which is expressly permits in Article 118a of the Basic Law, to the will of the Brandenburg population. The union of two states or other territorial changes, such as separation or Teilumgliederungen ( under Article 29), are the only concrete case mentioned (except Article 146, new constitution ), in which the Basic Law provides for a referendum.

Separation initiatives

In addition to mergers and divisions are discussed. Thus, a referendum was held on January 19, 1975 held in the former countries of Oldenburg and Schaumburg -Lippe to achieve their recovery. Although a majority of the voters voted in favor of a separation of their areas of Lower Saxony, the German Bundestag did not follow this recommendation. The Federal Constitutional Court upheld the view of the House of Representatives. The existing under this name since 1991 " Franconian covenant" calls for secession from Franconia Bavaria. In Baden occurs since 1992, a " State Association Baden in Europe" for the interests of Baden and his former state capital of Karlsruhe and Stuttgart against too much centralism by one.

Since the Federal Constitutional Court the meaning of Article 29 of the Basic Law, according to the " Oldenburg judgment" sees that powerful countries are caused by a countries reorganization that bring less administrative burden, it is questionable whether the number of countries can be increased by referendums.