From the state of greater Hesse to the state of Hesse: The policy turning point of American occupiers, the creation of the constitution of Hesse, and the adoption of defensive democracy

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Authors
Hou, Bowen
Issue Date
2023-12
Type
Thesis
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en_US
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Abstract

This thesis explores the historical significance of the State of Hesse and its Constitution by examining its political context in 1945, the constitutionalizing process of 1946, and its pivotal role in shaping the German Basic Law in 1948 and 1968. It analyzes the challenges that the American occupation of Germany faced, including conflicting policies, total war devastation, and internal administrative chaos. It determines a policy turning point led by Lt. General Lucius D. Clay in late 1945 through solving jurisdictional disputes and cooperating with occupied German civilians to participate in politics, marking the birth of states and the beginning of constitution-making processes. It discovers the use of defensive democracy, also known as militant democracy, during the constitutional deliberations in Hesse as a concept to prevent the emergence of radical political factions in a population grappling with shortages and potential resentment. Defensive democracy emerged as the solution and was embraced by both left- and right-wing factions, albeit with distinct interpretations. Although conflicts during the constitution-making process almost derailed democratization, shared aspirations for self-determination and democratic renewal facilitated compromises, culminating in the creation of the Hessian Constitution. It examines the influence of the Hessian Constitution on the German Basic Law concerning defensive democracy. Foundational elements, protective clauses, and gender equality from the Hessian Constitution and delegates were integrated into the Basic Law. Of particular importance was the combination of entrenched clauses and the right to revolution, creating a mechanism theoretically capable of preserving the constitutional order through radical methods.

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Thesis (M.A.)-- Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of History
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Wichita State University
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© Copyright 2023 by Bowen Hou All Rights Reserved
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