Germany (Prussia) 1919 Constitution

Table of Contents


Article 151

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.

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.

Article 153

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Article 158

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

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

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.

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

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.

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.