Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 1, 1879
to Mr. Evarts.
Berlin , November 8, 1878. (Received November 27.)
Sir: I herewith transmit to you a copy of the Exceptional Law (Ausnahme Gesetz), for the suppression of the social democratic movement, adopted by the Imperial Parliament on the 19th ultimo, together with a complete translation of the same (inclosure A).
The discussion of this law occupied forty-one days, and its passage, in spite of a strong popular opposition, was finally brought about by a union of the moderate-liberal and free-conservative native elements in the Parliament—the two extremes, progressists and social democrats on the one side, and ultra-conservative, ultramontane, and Polish, being united against it. The vote by which it was adopted, 220 yeas to 149 nays, may therefore be considered as not only a government victory, but also as expressing the sentiment of the most prudent, conscientious, and patriotic members of the legislative body. The end, however, was not attained until the imperial council had consented to make important modifications in the original project of the law, especially in limiting the period of its operation to the 31st of March, 1881, or a little less than two years and a half from the time of its promulgation.
The law is now in the process of enforcement in all parts of the empire. Although the government had allowed the impression to be disseminated that the suppressive measures would be enforced in a liberal and charitable spirit, they have thus far been carried into effect with the utmost rigor. All protest is overwhelmed, and the social-democratic party for the present passively submits to the assault. The mass of the German people is awaiting further results, but without any very strong feeling of confidence. It is probable that the present quiet will continue for some time before any new movement, which may be fermenting beneath the surface, shall betray its character.
I have, &c.,
Law against the endeavors (constituting a common danger) of the social democracy.
We, William, by the grace of God German Emperor, King of Prussia, &c., decree in the name of the empire, the consent of the Federal Council and of the Imperial Parliament having been first obtained, as follows:
§ 1. Societies which aim through social-democratic, socialistic, or communistic endeavors at the overthrow of the existing state or social order, are to be prohibited. This applies also to societies in which social-democratic, socialistic, or communistic endeavors aiming at the overthrow of the existing state or social order, are manifested in a manner dangerous to the public peace, and particularly to the harmony of the classes of the population.
All kinds of associations stand on the same footing as societies.
§ 2. § 35 of the law of July 4, 1868, concerning the legal status of industrial and economistic associations (Imperial Law Bulletin, page 415 ff.), applies to registered mutual associations in the case of § I, subdivision 2.[Page 352]
In the same case, § 29 of the law concerning registered aid associations of April 7, 1876 (Imperial Law Bulletin, page 125 ff.), applies to registered aid associations.
§ 3. Independent treasury associations (not registered) which aim according to their statutes at the mutual aid of their members, are in the case of § I, subdivision 2, primarily not to be prohibited, but only to be placed under an extraordinary state control.
Where several independent associations of the above-mentioned description are affiliated, the severance from the affiliation and the placing under control of one of them in which the endeavors described in§ I, subdivision 2, are manifested, may he decreed.
In the same manner the control may be confined to a branch association in which such endeavors are manifested.
§ 4. The authority invested with the control is entitled:
- To attend all sessions and assemblies of the society.
- To call and conduct general assemblies.
- To inspect the books, papers, and funds, and to demand information as to the relations of the society.
- To forbid the carrying out of resolutions which are calculated to further the endeavors described in § 1, subdivision 2.
- To intrust to suitable persons the performance of the functions of the head or other leading organs of the society.
- To take charge of and manage the funds.
§ 5. In case the general assembly, the head or another managing organ of the society act in opposition to the decrees of the controlling authority made within the scope of its privileges, or in case the endeavors described in § 1, subdivision 2, are manifested after the institution of the control, the society may be prohibited.
§ 6. The prohibition and the decree placing under control, appertain to the state police authority. The prohibition of foreign societies appertains to the imperial chancellor.
The prohibition is in all cases to be made known through the Imperial Advertiser, and the prohibition by the state-police authority, in addition, through the journal of the place or district employed for official publications.
The prohibition is valid for the entire empire and embraces all affiliations of the society, as well as every pretended new society which appears in reality to be but the old one.
§ 7. On the ground of the prohibition, the society funds, as well as all objects destined for its uses, are to be seized by the authority.
After the prohibition has become final, the managing authority designated by the state police authority must intrust the liquidation of the business of the society to suitable persons, and watch over the same, and must also make known the names of the persons liquidating.
The determination of the managing authority takes the place of the determination by the general assembly provided for by the laws or statutes.
The liquidated property of the society is, without detriment to the legal claims of third parties, and of the members of the society, to be applied in accordance with the statutes of the society, or, as the case may be, with general legal provisions.
The period when the prohibition becomes final is to be considered the period of the dissolution or closing of the society.
Against the decrees of the authority appeal lies only to the supervising authorities.
§ 8. The prohibition decreed by the state police authority, as well as the establishment of a control, is to be made known to the head of the society in case there be one within the state, in writing, with the reasons therefor. Against such decree the head of the society may appeal as provided in§ 26.
The appeal must be made within a week after receipt of notice of the decree to the authority from which it emanated.
The appeal has no retarding effect.
§ 9. Assemblies in which social-democratic, socialistic or communistic endeavors which aim at the overthrow of the existing order of the state, or of society, are manifested, are to be dissolved.
Assemblies with regard to which the assumption is justified by facts that they are intended to further the endeavors described in the first subdivision, are to be prohibited.
Public festivities and processions are to be treated in like manner as assemblies.
§ 10. Prohibition and dissolution appertain to the police authority. Appeal lies only to the supervising authorities.
§ 11. Printed matter in which social-democratic, socialistic, or communistic endeavors aimed at the overthrow of the existing order of the state, or of society, are manifested in a manner calculated to endanger public peace, and particularly the harmony of all classes of the population, are to be, prohibited.
In the case of printed matter published periodically, the prohibition may extend to further publication as soon as the prohibition of a single number has ensued, pursuant to this law.[Page 353]
§ 12. The prohibition appertains to the state police authority, and, in the case of printed matter published within the empire, the state police authority of the district in which it appears. The prohibition of the further distribution of periodical printed matter published abroad appertains to the imperial chancellor.
The prohibition is to be made known in the manner prescribed in § 6, subdivision 2, and is valid for the entire empire.
§ 13. The prohibition of printed matter by the state police authority is to be made known in writing, with the grounds of the same, to the publisher or editor, and in the case of printed matter not periodic, to the editor named in the same, where the persons in question are within the empire.
Against this decision the publisher, or editor, or author has the right of appeal. (See § 26.)
The appeal must be submitted to the authority from which the decree has emanated within a week after its receipt.
The appeal has no retarding effect.
§ 14. On the ground of this prohibition, the printed matter affected thereby is to be seized wherever found for the purpose of being distributed. The seizure may extend to the plates and forms, to be used in reproduction; in the case of printed matter in a more restricted sense, an expurgation of the objectionable part, instead of a seizure, may take place upon the request of the person affected. The printed matter, plates, and forms seized are to be made unserviceable when the prohibition becomes final.
Appeal lies only to the supervising authorities.
§ 15. The police authority is entitled to seize provisionally, printed matter of the character described in § 11, as well as plates and forms to be used in its reproduction, before the declaration of a prohibition. The printed matter seized is to be lodged with the state police authority within twenty-four hours. The latter must at once either direct the restoration of the matter seized, or issue a decree of prohibition within a week. If the prohibition does not ensue within this period the seizure becomes void, and the different pieces, plates, and forms must be restored.
§ 16. The collection of contributions for the furtherance of social, democratic, socialistic, or communistic endeavors aiming at the overthrow of the existing order of the state, or of society, as well as a public appeal for such contributions, are to be prohibited by the police authorities. The prohibition is to be publicly made known.
Appeal lies only to the supervising authorities.
§ 17. Whoever takes part as a member in a prohibited society (§ 6), or displays activity in its interest, is to be punished by a tine of not more than live hundred marks or with imprisonment not exceeding three months. The same punishment is to be inflicted on him who takes part in a prohibited meeting (§ 9), or who does not at once depart after the dissolution of a meeting by the police. Imprisonment of not less than one month, and not more than one year, is to be inflicted on those who take part in the society or meeting as chairmen, leaders, agents, orators, or treasurers, or who invite to attend the meeting.
§ 18. Whoever furnishes to a prohibited society or meeting a place of assembly is to be punished with imprisonment of from a month to a year.§ 19.
§ 19. Whoever distributes prohibited printed matter (§ § 11, 12), or printed matter provisionally seized, or continues or reprints the same, shall be punished with fine not exceeding a thousand marks or with imprisonment not exceeding six months.
§ 20. Whoever acts in violation of a prohibition under § 16, is punishable with fine not exceeding five hundred marks, or with imprisonment not exceeding three months. Moreover all that has been received in consequence of the prohibited collection or invitation, or its value, is to be declared the property of the poor of the place of collection.
§ 21. Whoever without knowledge of the prohibition, but after publication of the same in the Imperial Advertiser (§§ 6, 12), shall commit one of the acts prohibited by § § 17, 18, 19, is punishable by fine not exceeding 150 marks or by arrest.
The same punishment shall be inflicted on him who after publication of a prohibition under § 16, acts in contravention of such prohibition. The concluding provision of § 20 applies.
§ 22. Against persons who make a business of the agitation of the endeavors described in § 1, subdivision 2, judgment may be rendered as to the admissibility of a limitation of their right of sojourn in addition to the punishment of imprisonment, in case of a condemnation for acts in contravention of § § 17 to 20.
On the basis of such judgment a sojourn in particular districts or places may be refused the condemned by the state police authority; in his place of legal residence, however, only when he has not been residing there for a period of six months. Foreigners may be expelled from the empire by the state police authority. Appeal lies only to the supervising authorities.
Acts in contravention are punishable with from one month to a year’s imprisonment.
§ 23. Under the conditions described in § 22, subdivision 1, hotel-keepers, bar-keepers, persons carrying on a retail business with brandy or liquors, book publishers [Page 354] booksellers, or proprietors of circulating libraries or reading cabinets, may, in addition to imprisonment, suffer the punishment of an interdiction of the continuation of their avocations.
§ 24. From persons who make a business of furthering the endeavors described in § 1, subdivision 2, or who have been legally condemned to a punishment by virtue of a provision of this law, the state police authority may withdraw the privilege of a professional or non-professional public distribution of printed matter, as well as the privilege of an itinerant trade in the printed matter. Appeal lies only to the supervising authorities.
§ 25. Whoever acts in contravention of a judgment pronounced under § 23, or of a decision made under § 24, is punishable by fine not exceeding 1000 marks, or by arrest or imprisonment not exceeding six months.
§ 26. A commission is to be formed to decide upon the appeals in the cases of § § 8, 13. The federal council elects four members from its own number, and five from the membership of the highest courts of the empire or of the separate states thereof.
The election of these five members is for the period of the duration of this law, and for the period of their sojourn in their judicial office.
The Emperor names the chairman and his substitute from out of the number of the members of the commission.
§ 27. A quorum of the commission shall consist of five members, of whom at least three shall be of the number of judicial members. Before a decision upon the appeal, opportunity is to be afforded the appellant to plead in support of his motion verbally or in writing. The commission is entitled to take proof in the fullest scope, and particularly through sworn witnesses and experts, or to procure it to be taken through a demand upon an authority of the empire or of an individual state thereof.
As regards the obligation to testify as a witness or as an expert, as well as regards the punishment to be inflicted for disobedience, the laws of civil procedure of the place where the commission sits, or where the authority called upon resides, obtain. The decisions are based upon free opinion and are final.
For the rest the manner of conducting business on the part of the commission is to be regulated by rules prescribed by itself, which are to be subject to the approval of the federal council.
§ 28. For districts or places the public safety of which is menaced by the endeavors described in § 1, subdivision 2, the following regulations may be decreed, in case they be not already permitted by local law, with the assent of the federal council for a period not exceeding one year.
- That assemblies may take place only after the consent of the police authority shall have been obtained; this limitation does not extend to assemblies called, after direction, for the purposes of an election to the Imperial Parliament or to the representation of a state.
- That the distribution of printed matter shall not take place on public roads, streets, squares, or other public places.
- That a further sojourn in districts or places of persons from whom danger to public safety or order is to be apprehended, may be forbidden.
- That the possession, carrying, the importation and the sale of weapons may be forbidden, limited or made to depend on certain conditions.
The Imperial Parliament must be accounted to at once, id est—upon its first reassembling, for any decree under the foregoing provisions that may have been issued.
Whoever acts in contravention of these regulations, or of the decisions based thereon, knowingly or after public notice of the same, is to be punished by fine not exceeding one thousand marks, or with arrest or imprisonment not exceeding six months.
§ 29. Which authorities, in each particular state of the empire, as are to be understood by the designation state police authority, will be made known by such state.
§ 30. This law becomes of force upon the day of its proclamation and remains in force until March 31, 1881.