Landtag of Prussia

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House of Representatives, about 1900
House of Lords, about 1900

The Landtag of Prussia (German: Preußischer Landtag) was the representative assembly of the Kingdom of Prussia implemented in 1849, a bicameral legislature consisting of the upper House of Lords (Herrenhaus) and the lower House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus). After World War I and the German Revolution of 1918–19 the Landtag diet continued as the parliament of the Free State of Prussia from 1921.

History[edit]

Kingdom of Prussia[edit]

In the course of the 1848 Revolution King Frederick William IV of Prussia and his Minister Gottfried Ludolf Camphausen had agreed to call for the general election of a national assembly in all Prussian provinces. The Prussian National Assembly however was dismissed by royal decree of 5 December 1848 and the king imposed the Constitution of Prussia. The constitution, though reactionary, at least provided a bicameral parliament, consisting of a First Chamber (Erste Kammer, called House of Lords from 1855), as well as a Second Chamber (Zweite Kammmer, from 1855 House of Representatives) whose members were elected according to the three-class franchise system. Both houses and the King of Prussia had the right to introduce bills.

Under the regency of Prince William I and his liberal prime minister Prince Karl Anton von Hohenzollern from 1858 ("New Era"), the House of Representatives led by the newly established German Progress Party gradually developed to a serious political actor, culminating in a constitutional conflict in 1861: William I, who had just acceded to the Prussian throne, and his war minister Albrecht von Roon requested the approval for an increment of the military budget, which the deputies refused. Roon urged the king to appoint Otto von Bismarck Prime Minister, who - "not by speeches and votes of the majority are the great questions of the time decided (...) but by iron and blood" - acted on an alleged gap in the constitution (Lückentheorie) and openly sidestepped any power of the purse of the Prussian representatives. The assembly raised a blistering protest and over the following years Bismarck's cabinet had to govern without a government budget passed by the legislature. In September 1866 the prime minister, at a peak of his power after the Battle of Königgrätz, reached the passage of the Indemnity Act (Indemnitätsgesetz) subsequently legalising his budget management. The balloting led to the split-off of the National Liberal Party which became a loyal supporter of Bismarck's policies.

Free State of Prussia[edit]

During the German Revolution of 1918–19 the new Prussian government of Social Democrats (MSPD) and Independent Social Democrats (USPD) under Paul Hirsch had the bicameral legislature abolished. A constitutional convention (Preußische Landesversamlung) was elected on 26 January 1919, after the introduction of equal franchise for all men and women. After the failed Kapp Putsch of 1920, the assembly confirmed the first cabinet of Minister-president Otto Braun and finally adopted the new Prussian constitution on 30 November. The Preußischer Landtag was re-established as the parliament of the Free State of Prussia in 1921. The provinces were represented in the Prussian State Council, which succeeded the former Herrenhaus as a kind of upper house. The Cologne mayor Konrad Adenauer served as its president until 1933.

A legislative period covered an area of four years. The parliament could be dissolved by joint resolution of the prime minister and the presidents of the Landtag and the State Council or by a plebiscite.

Building complex[edit]

Abgeordnetenhaus, staircase
Herrenhaus, entrance hall

In 1899, the House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus) moved into a building on Prinz-Albrecht-Straße No. 5 (present-day Niederkirchnerstraße), close to Potsdamer Platz and situated opposite to the Martin Gropius Bau. During the German Revolution of 1918–19 the Reichsrätekongress (national Workers' and Soldiers' Council) held its assemblies here from 16 to 20 December 1918.[1]:136 On 1 January 1919, the Communist Party of Germany was founded here. Since 1993 the building is the seat of the Abgeordnetenhaus of Berlin, and similar to the Reichstag, colloquially still named Preußischer Landtag.

The seat of the Prussian House of Lords on Leipziger Straße was inaugurated in 1904. Both buildings were built back-to-back according to plans designed by Friedrich Schulze, they intercommunicate via a common restaurant wing. Upon the Nazi Machtergreifung, the Herrenhaus building served as an annex of the neighbouring Ministry of Aviation and Hermann Göring's Preußenhaus foundation. After World War II it housed several departments of the (East) German Academy of Sciences and since 29 September 2000 is the seat of the German Bundesrat.

Landtag presidents[edit]

Preußische Landesversammlung[edit]

Name Period Party
Robert Leinert 1919 - 1921 SPD

Landtag of Prussia[edit]

Name Period Party
Robert Leinert 1921–1924 SPD
Friedrich Bartels 1924–1928 SPD
Friedrich Bartels 1928–1931 SPD
Ernst Wittmaack 1931–1932 SPD
Hans Kerrl 1932–1933 NSDAP

See also[edit]

Literature[edit]

  • Hans Wilderotter: Das Haus der Abgeordneten: Ein Denkmal preußischer und deutscher Geschichte in der Mitte Berlins. Philo Fine Arts, Dresden 2001, ISBN 3-364-00378-5

External links[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Haffner, Sebastian (2002). Die deutsche Revolution 1918/19 (German). Kindler. ISBN 3-463-40423-0. 

Coordinates: 52°30′29″N 13°22′55″E / 52.50806°N 13.38194°E / 52.50806; 13.38194