Dalhousie Law Journal


Germany, constitutional law, WW2, German Democratic Republic, Federal Republic of Germany, Berline Wall, legal history, We are the People, international law


In its Preamble, the Basic Law - the constitution - of the Federal Republic of Germany declares itself a transitional order put in place until all Germans can freely decide to live in a reunified Germany. The Preamble is evidence of both history and aspirations of the western part of Germany that emerged from the Second World War. It is now one of the legal foundations for an event that only a year ago few thought was possible: the merging of the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany into one German state. In its preamble and in several other provisions the Basic Law kept the door open for a home coming without precedent. Some said this door had, over the years, become a legal fiction. Yet the events of the past year, culminating in the opening of the Berlin Wall on the night of November 9, 1989, came as a surprise even to the most optimistic observers. The citizens of the German Democratic Republic forced the door open with peaceful means and the most compelling of all passwords: "We are the People".