Germany (Prussia) 1919 Constitution

Table of Contents


Article 78

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

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.

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.

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. 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.

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.

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.