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What you need to know about Germany's 'Basic Law'

Helena Kaschel
May 23, 2017

May teachers in Germany wear a burkha? Are comedians allowed to poke fun at everything? How do elections work in Germany? The "Basic Law" is the foundation for German society. Here is DW's video series explaining it.

Das deutsche Grundgesetz Englisch
Image: DW

Which set of ethical values, what rules and laws are the basis of German society today? For a basic understanding, you can check out the "Grundgesetz" or Basic Law, which came into effect on May 23, 1949. 

Here are some examples:

Human dignity is inviolable:

Men and women have the same rights - even if this is not always implemented.



There is no "state religion" in Germany. Everyone can freely choose their religion - and live by its rules.


Freedom of opinion is a basic right in Germany - but this does not include libel or slander. It is also not permitted to deny the Holocaust.


A child born to German parents gets the German citizenship. But there are other possibilities too.


The chancellor can appoint the cabinet ministers, but she can not dismiss judges. The Basic Law specifies which powers the chancellor, the president, the parliament and other state institutions have. The Basic Law also stipulates: Germany is a democracy.


Graphic design: Anna Wills

Here you can read what refugees, who have found safety in Germany, say about the Basic Law: