Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany (Wikisource)

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On May 23rd, 1949, in public session in Bonn am Rhein, the Parliamentary Council determined that the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, decided on the 8th of May of the year 1949 by the Parliamentary Council, has been adopted by the elected representations of more than two-thirds of the participating German Länder during the week of May 16th - May 22nd, 1949.

Based on this determination, the Parliamentary Council, represented by its President, has issued and announced the Basic Law. The Basic Law is herewith to be published in the Bundesgesetzblatt, according to article 145 section 3:


In awareness of its responsibility before God and man, inspired by the will to serve world peace as an equal member of a united Europe, the German people, by virtue of its constituent sovereignty, has enacted upon itself this Basic Law. The German citizens in the Länder of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, North-Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, and Thuringia have, in free self-determination, accomplished the unity and freedom of Germany. Thereby this Basic Law is valid for the entire German people.


Article 1 (Human Rights; Foundation of State Supremacy). 

(1) The dignity of man is infrangible. To honor and to defend it shall be the mandate of all state supremacy.
(2) Therefore, the German People commit to the inalienable and inseverable human rights as the basis to any human society, and to world peace and justice.
(3) The following basic laws are binding to the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers as immediately applicable law.

Article 2 (General Code of Conduct, Personal Liberty; Right of Life). 

(1) Everyone has the right to unrestricted personal growth, without violating the rights of others or the constitutional or the moral directive.
(2) Everyone enjoys the right of life and of physical safety. The personal freedom of each individual is inseverable. These rights may only be infringed upon pursuant to a law.

Article 3 (Equality Before the Law). 

(1) All persons are equal before the law.
(2) Men and women are emancipated. The state shall promote the de facto equality of women and men and shall counteract existing inequalities.
(3) No one may be prejudiced or favored because of his gender, his descent, his race, his language, his homeland and place of origin, his faith or his religious or political views. No person may be prejudiced for his disability.

Article 4 (Freedom of Faith, Conscience and Conviction). 

(1) The freedom of faith, of conscience, and of religious or ideological conviction are inseverable.
(2) The unimpaired practice of religion shall be provided for.
(3) No one may contrary to his conscience be imposed to serve in armed combat. Further shall be determined by a federal law.

Article 5 (Freedom of Expression, Information and the Press; Arts and Science). 

(1) Each person has the right to to express and publish his opinion in speech, print, or image and to freely and without impairement educate himself from publicly accessible resources. The freedom of the press and the freedom of reporting by radio and motion picture shall be provided for. There shall be no censorship.
(2) These rights are bound by provisions in the common laws, the statutes protecting the youth, and by the right to personal dignity.
(3) Art and science, as well as research and teaching shall be unrestricted. The freedom to teach does not absolve one of his allegiance to the constitution.

Article 6 (Marriage and Family; Natural Children). 

(1) Marriage and family shall enjoy specific protection by the state establishment.
(2) Care and upbringing of children are the natural rights and foremost duties of their parents. The state community shall oversee their conformity.
(3) Separation of children from the family against the will of the persons entitled to bring them up may take place only pursuant to a law, if those so entitled fail in their duty or if the children are otherwise threatened with neglect.
(4) Every mother is entitled to the protection and care of the community.
(5) Children born out of wedlock shall legislatively be provided with the same opportunities for their physical and spiritual development and their position in society as those born in wedlock.

Article 7 (Education). 

(1) The entire education system shall be under the supervision of the state.
(2) The persons entitled to bring up a child have the right to decide whether they shall receive religious instruction.
(3) Religious instruction forms part of the ordinary curriculum in state and municipal schools, excepting secular schools. Without prejudice to the state's right of supervision, religious instruction is given in accordance with the tenets of the religious communities. No teacher may be obliged against his will to give religious instruction.
(4) The right to establish private schools is guaranteed. Private schools as a substitute for state or municipal schools, require the approval of the state and are subject to the laws of the Laender. This approval must be given if private schools are not inferior to the state or municipal schools in their educational aims, their facilities and the professional training of their teaching staff, and if a segregation of the pupils according to the means of the parents is not promoted. This approval must be withheld if the economic and legal position of the teaching staff is not sufficiently assured.
(5) A private elementary school shall be admitted only if the educational authority finds that it serves a special pedagogic interest or if, on the application of persons entitled to bring up children, it is to be established as an interdenominational or denominational or ideological school and a state or municipal elementary school of this type does not exist in the community
(6) Preparatory schools remain abolished.

Article 8 [Freedom of assembly]

(1) All Germans shall have the right to assemble peacefully and unarmed without prior notification or permission.
(2) In the case of outdoor assemblies, this right may be restricted by or pursuant to a law.

Article 9 [Freedom of association]

(1) All Germans shall have the right to form corporations and other associations.
(2) Associations whose aims or activities contravene the criminal laws, or that are directed against the constitutional order or the concept of international understanding, shall be prohibited.
(3) The right to form associations to safeguard and improve working and economic conditions shall be guaranteed to every individual and to every occupation or profession. Agreements that restrict or seek to impair this right shall be null and void; measures directed to this end shall be unlawful. Measures taken pursuant to Article 12a, to paragraphs (2) and (3) of Article 35, to paragraph (4) of Article 87a, or to Article 91 may not be directed against industrial disputes engaged in by associations within the meaning of the first sentence of this paragraph in order to safeguard and improve working and economic conditions.

Article 10 [Privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunications]

(1) The privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunications shall be inviolable.
(2) Restrictions may be ordered only pursuant to a law. If the restriction serves to protect the free democratic basic order or the existence or security of the Federation or of a Land, the law may provide that the person affected shall not be informed of the restriction and that recourse to the courts shall be replaced by a review of the case by agencies and auxiliary agencies appointed by the legislature.

Article 11 [Freedom of movement]

(1) All Germans shall have the right to move freely throughout the federal territory.
(2) This right may be restricted only by or pursuant to a law, and only in cases in which the absence of adequate means of support would result in a particular burden for the community, or in which such restriction is necessary to avert an imminent danger to the existence or the free democratic basic order of the Federation or of a Land, to combat the danger of an epidemic, to respond to a grave accident or natural disaster, to protect young persons from serious neglect, or to prevent crime.

Article 12 [Occupational freedom; prohibition of forced labor]

(1) All Germans shall have the right freely to choose their occupation or profession, their place of work, and their place of training. The practice of an occupation or profession may be regulated by or pursuant to a law.
(2) No person may be required to perform work of a particular kind except within the framework of a traditional duty of community service that applies generally and equally to all.
(3) Forced labor may be imposed only on persons deprived of their liberty by the judgment of a court.

Article 12 a [Compulsory military or alternative service]

(1) Men who have attained the age of eighteen may be required to serve in the Armed Forces, in the Federal Border Police, or in a civil defense organization.
(2) Any person who, on grounds of conscience, refuses to render military service involving the use of arms may be required to perform alternative service. The duration of alternative service shall not exceed that of military service. Details shall be regulated by a law, which shall not interfere with the freedom to make a decision in accordance with the dictates of conscience, and which shall also provide for the possibility of alternative service not connected with units of the Armed Forces or of the Federal Border Police.
(3) Persons liable to compulsory military service who are not called upon to render service pursuant to paragraph (1) or (2) of this Article may, when a state of defense is in effect, be assigned by or pursuant to a law to employment involving civilian services for defense purposes, including the protection of the civilian population; they may be assigned to public employment only for the purpose of discharging police functions or such other sovereign functions of public administration as can be discharged only by persons employed in the public service. The employment contemplated by the first sentence of this paragraph may include services within the Armed Forces, in the provision of military supplies, or with public administrative authorities; assignments to employment connected with supplying and servicing the civilian population shall be permissible only to meet their basic requirements or to guarantee their safety.
(4) If, during a state of defense, the need for civilian services in the civilian health system or in stationary military hospitals cannot be met on a voluntary basis, women between the ages of eighteen and fiftyfive may be called upon to render such services by or pursuant to a law. They may under no circumstances be required to bear weapons.
(5) Prior to the existence of a state of defense, assignments under paragraph (3) of this Article may be made only if the requirements of paragraph (1) of Article 80a are met. In preparation for the provision of services under paragraph (3) of this Article that demand special knowledge or skills, participation in training courses may be required by or pursuant to a law. In this case the first sentence of this paragraph shall not apply.
(6) If, during a state of defense, the need for workers in the areas specified in the second sentence of paragraph (3) of this Article cannot be met on a voluntary basis, the right of German citizens to abandon their occupation or place of employment may be restricted by or pursuant to a law in order to meet this need. Prior to the existence of a state of defense, the first sentence of paragraph (5) of this Article shall apply mutatis mutandis.

Article 13 [Inviolability of the home]

(1) The home is inviolable.
(2) Searches may be authorized only by a judge or, when time is of the essence, by other authorities designated by the laws, and may be carried out only in the manner therein prescribed.
(3) If particular facts justify the suspicion that any person has committed an especially serious crime specifically defined by a law, technical means of acoustical surveillance of any home in which the suspect is supposedly staying may be employed pursuant to judicial order for the purpose of prosecuting the offense, provided that alternative methods of investigating the matter would be disproportionately difficult or unproductive. The authorization shall be for a limited time. The order shall be issued by a panel composed of three judges. When time is of the essence, it may also be issued by a single judge.
(4) To avert acute dangers to public safety, especially dangers to life or to the public, technical means of surveillance of the home may be employed only pursuant to judicial order. When time is of the essence, such measures may also be ordered by other authorities designated by a law; a judicial decision shall subsequently be obtained without delay.
(5) If technical means are contemplated solely for the protection of persons officially deployed in a home, the measure may be ordered by an authority designated by a law. The information thereby obtained may be otherwise used only for purposes of criminal prosecution or to avert danger and only if the legality of the measure has been previously determined by a judge; when time is of the essence, a judicial decision shall subsequently be obtained without delay.
(6) The Federal Government shall report to the Bundestag annually as to the employment of technical means pursuant to paragraph (3) and, within the jurisdiction of the Federation, pursuant to paragraph (4) and, insofar as judicial approval is required, pursuant to paragraph (5) of this Article. A panel elected by the Bundestag shall exercise parliamentary control on the basis of this report. A comparable parliamentary control shall be afforded by the Länder.
(7) Interferences and restrictions shall otherwise only be permissible to avert a danger to the public or to the life of an individual, or, pursuant to a law, to confront an acute danger to public safety and order, in particular to relieve a housing shortage, to combat the danger of an epidemic, or to protect young persons at risk.

Article 14 [Property, inheritance, expropriation]

(1) Property and the right of inheritance shall be guaranteed. Their content and limits shall be defined by the laws.
(2) Property entails obligations. Its use shall also serve the public good.
(3) Expropriation shall only be permissible for the public good. It may only be ordered by or pursuant to a law that determines the nature and extent of compensation. Such compensation shall be determined by establishing an equitable balance between the public interest and the interests of those affected. In case of dispute respecting the amount of compensation, recourse may be had to the ordinary courts.

Article 15 [Socialization]

Land, natural resources, and means of production may for the purpose of socialization be transferred to public ownership or other forms of public enterprise by a law that determines the nature and extent of compensation. With respect to such compensation the third and fourth sentences of paragraph (3) of Article 14 shall apply mutatis mutandis.

Article 16 [Citizenship; extradition]

(1) No German may be deprived of his citizenship. Citizenship may be lost only pursuant to a law, and against the will of the person affected only if he does not become stateless as a result.
(2) No German may be extradited to a foreign country. A different regulation to cover extradition to a Member State of the European Union or to an international court of law may be laid down by law, provided that constitutional principles are observed.

Article 16 a [Right of asylum]

(1) Persons persecuted on political grounds shall have the right of asylum.
(2) Paragraph (1) of this Article may not be invoked by a person who enters the federal territory from a member state of the European Communities or from another third state in which application of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is assured. The states outside the European Communities to which the criteria of the first sentence of this paragraph apply shall be specified by a law requiring the consent of the Bundesrat. In the cases specified in the first sentence of this paragraph, measures to terminate an applicant’s stay may be implemented without regard to any legal challenge that may have been instituted against them.
(3) By a law requiring the consent of the Bundesrat, states may be specified in which, on the basis of their laws, enforcement practices, and general political conditions, it can be safely concluded that neither political persecution nor inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment exists. It shall be presumed that a foreigner from such a state is not persecuted, unless he presents evidence justifying the conclusion that, contrary to this presumption, he is persecuted on political grounds.
(4) In the cases specified by paragraph (3) of this Article and in other cases that are plainly unfounded or considered to be plainly unfounded, the implementation of measures to terminate an applicant’s stay may be suspended by a court only if serious doubts exist as to their legality; the scope of review may be limited, and tardy objections may be disregarded. Details shall be determined by a law.
(5) Paragraphs (1) through (4) of this Article shall not preclude the conclusion of international agreements of member states of the European Communities with each other or with those third states which, with due regard for the obligations arising from the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, whose enforcement must be assured in the contracting states, adopt rules conferring jurisdiction to decide on applications for asylum, including the reciprocal recognition of asylum decisions.

Article 17 [Right of petition]

Every person shall have the right individually or jointly with others to address written requests or complaints to competent authorities and to the legislature.

Article 17 a [Restriction of certain basic rights by laws respecting defense and alternative service]

(1) Laws respecting military and alternative service may provide that the basic right of members of the Armed Forces and of alternative service freely to express and disseminate their opinions in speech, writing, and pictures (first clause of paragraph (1) of Article 5), the basic right of assembly (Article 8), and the right of petition (Article 17) insofar as it permits the submission of requests or complaints jointly with others, be restricted during their period of military or alternative service.
(2) Laws respecting defense, including protection of the civilian population, may provide for restriction of the basic rights of freedom of movement (Article 11) and inviolability of the home (Article 13).

Article 18 [Forfeiture of basic rights]

Whoever abuses the freedom of expression, in particular the freedom of the press (paragraph (1) of Article 5), the freedom of teaching (paragraph (3) of Article 5), the freedom of assembly (Article 8), the freedom of association (Article 9), the privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunications (Article 10), the rights of property (Article 14), or the right of asylum (Article 16a) in order to combat the free democratic basic order shall forfeit these basic rights. This forfeiture and its extent shall be declared by the Federal Constitutional Court.

Article 19 [Restriction of basic rights]

(1) Insofar as, under this Basic Law, a basic right may be restricted by or pursuant to a law, such law must apply generally and not merely to a single case. In addition, the law must specify the basic right affected and the Article in which it appears.
(2) In no case may the essence of a basic right be affected.
(3) The basic rights shall also apply to domestic artificial persons to the extent that the nature of such rights permits.
(4) Should any person’s rights be violated by public authority, he may have recourse to the courts. If no other jurisdiction has been established, recourse shall be to the ordinary courts. The second sentence of paragraph (2) of Article 10 shall not be affected by this paragraph.

See also[edit]

Wikisource also has a 1991 translation of the Basic Law.