70 years of the Basic Law
On 1 September 1948, the Parliamentary Council met in Bonn to debate and pass the Basic Law for the three Western zones. After more than eight months of controversial discussions, in particular concerning the division of power between the federation and the states, voting rights, and the financial regime, on 8 May 1949, the Parliamentary Council passed the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany. It officially entered into force on 24 May 1949.
70 years of the Basic Law is a success story. But with social and technological change, the constitutional framework must continue to be developed. At the same time, rising right-wing populism finds more and more open expression in attacks on our liberal democracy.
For the 14th time, experts and interested parties met for the Karlsruhe constitutional dialogue to discuss challenges to the constitution. Entitled “70 years of the Basic Law – will our constitution pass the stress test?”, three panels of experts were held on the topics of freedom of the press, freedom of science, and freedom of expression.
“The Basic Law has contributed to the Federal Republic of Germany becoming a successful democracy and the most liberal state in German history,” Professor Jürgen Morlok, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, concluded.
100th anniversary of the birth ofWalter Scheel
Walter Scheel’s 100th birthday would have been on 8 July 2019 . Throughout his life, he was an optimistic visionary and a courageous influencer. He helped shape and prepared the positioning of the FDP as a modern party, European integration, and also German unification. Unlike many of his contemporaries, his pro-European stance had not come about gradually – by insight or adaptation – but was fixed from the beginning of his political engagement.
His many elected positions and political offices are the milestones of an extraordinary German political career leading, over the course of three decades, from the council of the city of Solingen to the highest office in the Federal Republic of Germany. As the first federal minister for economic co-operation and as foreign minister, Walter Scheel had a significant influence on the German and European post-war order. The policy of détente towards East Germany and the Eastern bloc states, which he co-initiated, laid the foundation for later German unification.
On 19 November 2019, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, the Walter Scheel Foundation and the Freundeskreis Walter Scheel awarded the 5th Walter Scheel Prize to Dr Auma Obama, founder and director of the ‘Auma Obama Foundation – Sauti Kuu’ in Kenya. Dr Auma Obama is a global role model for sustainable development co-operation.
75 years of remembering
The 75th anniversary of Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg’s assassination attempt on Hitler was marked on 20 July 2019, carried out during a briefing at the so-called “Wolf’s Lair” Fuehrer Headquarters. The attempt failed and with it the planned coup, “Operation Valkyrie”. Most of the officers involved and many civilians, women and men, paid for this with their lives. There were show trials and Sippenhaft.
We want to know: what does yesterday’s resistance mean for our society today? During the “Week of the Resistance” from 15 to 20 July, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation held five panel discussions in German cities with special links to personalities of the military and civilian resistance: Schwerin (16/07), Stuttgart (17/07), Leipzig (18/07), Magdeburg (19/07), and Munich (20/07).
Their focus was less on detailed historical analysis than on the relevance of the resistance for our time: politically, personally, and morally. This is all the more important because a new nationalist right wing in Germany is trying to usurp the memory of the resistance and recast it as an “uprising of Germanness”.
100th anniversary of the death of Friedrich Naumann
fall of the wall
The fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago was a great victory for freedom. The elation that accompanied it remains indescribable to this day. It was shared by most people in Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall was a symbol of liberation from the dictatorship of Soviet socialism.
But few noticed that, politically, it also marked the beginning of a tragedy of freedom. This at least applies to politics in Germany: after 9 November 1989, East Germans not only became free, but also mobile – a natural part of freedom. Anyone could seek a better future in the West. For young and well-educated high-fliers in particular, it was very tempting, as German citizens, to find employment in the West – to be well paid and work in healthy companies in an intact consumer culture.
This temptation put enormous pressure on policy-makers. They had to prevent mass migration without building a new wall out of visa requirements and border checks. This pressure resulted in monetary and economic union, then political unification along with the expensive rebuilding programme for East Germany and rapid privatisation. The anniversary was more than an occasion for the liberal Foundation to discuss the relevance of that peaceful revolution to politics today.
of the death
of Otto Graf Lambsdorff
He said of himself that he was “a liberal, with every fibre of my being”: 5 December 2019 marked the tenth anniversary of the death of Otto Graf Lambsdorff, a prominent personality of political liberalism in Germany. He was one of the shapers of German post-war politics. An acknowledged expert in politics and an expert in policy-making, he liked to say in his speeches that a political career “from the maternity ward through the lecture theatre to the parliamentary chamber” was alien to him. He coped with the difficult business of politics with calm and discipline. As he put it himself in an interview in 2006: “Anyone who champions a free society and a liberal economic order will always have to fight. But that won’t change my cheerful disposition.”
Otto Graf Lambsdorff was not only an economic policy-maker, but a liberal man of conviction whose conception of freedom was holistic, who hated narrow national thinking and who always looked beyond Europe.Having been seriously wounded in the war, he knew that Germany’s future must be liberal and open to the world, so that our country could once again become a respected and successful member of the international community and that this was the only way in which one day the freedom of the people in all of Germany could be won. History proved him right.
Find of the year
This piece of barbed wire steeped in history (with a certificate of authenticity) now has a special place in the Archive of Liberalism. It comes from the Czechoslovak-German border: on 23 December 1989, the foreign ministers of the two countries, Jiři Dienstbier and Hans-Dietrich Genscher, symbolically cut the wire fence at the Rozvadov/Waidhaus border crossing with a bolt cutter, marking the fall of the Iron Curtain in Europe.
There were moving scenes in the autumn of 1989. When, on the evening of 30 September 1989, Hans-Dietrich Genscher informed, from the balcony of the embassy, the more than 5,000 East German refugees holding out there of their departure, their cheers knew no bounds. People were looking for freedom and wanted to take control of their own lives. They took great risks, leaving everything behind, and were uncertain whether their departure towards an open future would succeed. Their courage did much to bring about the overthrow of the SED regime. So did the opposition inside East Germany: groups that had been active for years grew into a great civic movement, the SED party and state leaders were unwilling to introduce reforms, and the Soviet Union did not intervene – unlike at the time of the uprising of 17 June 1953. Soon after, the Wall was opened.
70 years of the Basic Law
Read the full event report on the 14th Karlsruhe Constitutional Dialogue here:
100th anniversary of the birth of Walter Scheel
Learn more about the award winner Dr. Auma Obama in the event report:
For the 100th birthday of Walter Scheel, we are reminding you with a publication:
Read the speech by Dr. Joachim Stamp on the celebratory event on the occasion of Walter Scheel's 100th birthday in the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia:
100th anniversary of the death of Friedrich Naumann
Focus page Friedrich Naumann:
Memorial service "Die schöpferische Kraft der Freiheit auf dem Alten Zwölf-Apostel-Kirchhof ":
"Friedrich Naumann - Ein Leben für die Freiheit":
Year 30 fall of the wall
Read the report of the festive event in Leipzig :
Thoughts of Karl-Heinz Paqué about the fall of the wall:
Publication "Freiheit! - 30 Jahre Friedliche Revolution":