Communist Party of Germany v. the Federal Republic of Germany

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Communist Party of Germany v. the Federal Republic of Germany
Decided 20 July 1957
Case number250/57
Nationality of partiesWest Germany
Humphrey Waldock

Communist Party of Germany v. the Federal Republic of Germany was a 1957 European Commission of Human Rights decision which upheld the dissolution of the Communist Party of Germany by the Federal Constitutional Court a year earlier.


The German federal government had petitioned for the Communist Party to be banned in 1952 on the basis that the party's revolutionary practice means "the impairment or the abolition of the fundamental liberal democratic order in the Federal Republic".[1] Following hearings, the Federal Constitutional Court ordered the party to be dissolved, its assets confiscated and banned the creation of substitution organizations in 1956.[2] The neo-Nazi Socialist Reich Party had been banned due to the same government petition back in 1952, but the Communist Party's lengthy defense in part had caused a delay. The party argued that the constitutional article 21(2) itself was unconstitutional because it violated the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association, and that the Marxist–Leninist ideology was a "science" that should not be subjected to judicial review.[3]


The Commission referred to the article 17 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that no one may use the rights guaranteed by the Convention to seek the abolition of other rights, and found no need to consider the case with respect to articles 9, 10 and 11. It found the appeal inadmissible and thus upheld the ban on the party on the basis that the dictatorship of the proletariat stage advocated by the Communist doctrine in order to establish a regime is "incompatible with the Convention, inasmuch as it includes the destruction of many of the rights or freedoms enshrined therein".[4] As a result, pursuing dictatorship is not compatible with the convention even if it is done with constitutional methods.[5]


The decision is a landmark case establishing limits on freedom of expression on speech that endangers democracy or is based on a totalitarian doctrine.[6] Many of the same arguments laid out in this decision were repeated by the European Court of Human Rights when it upheld the ban of the Welfare Party in Refah Partisi (the Welfare Party) and Others v. Turkey in 2001.[7]

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  1. ^ "Petition Submitted by the Federal Government to the Federal Constitutional Court Requesting a Ban on the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) (November 22, 1951)". German History in Documents and Images. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Federal Constitutional Court Verdict Banning the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and the Concluding Justification (August 17, 1956)". German History in Documents and Images. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  3. ^ Franz, Paul (1982). "Unconstitutional and Outlawed Political Parties: A German-American Comparison". Boston College International and Comparative Law Review. 5 (1): 59.
  4. ^ Decision 250/57, European Commission of Human Rights
  5. ^ Rainey, Bernadette; Elizabeth, Wicks; Clare, Overy (2014). Jacobs, White and Ovey: The European Convention on Human Rights. Oxford University Press. p. 121. ISBN 9780199655083.
  6. ^ Benedek, Wolfgang; Kettemann, Matthias (2014). Freedom of expression and the Internet. Council of Europe. p. 86. ISBN 978-9287178206.
  7. ^ Petaux, Jean (2014). Democracy and Human Rights for Europe: The Council of Europe's Contribution. Council of Europe. pp. 168–169. ISBN 978-9287166678.