History of Baden-Württemberg

"The Southwest State" of Baden-Württemberg from 1952 to the present

"The Southwest State" of Baden-Württemberg from 1952 to the present

Baden-Württemberg is a very young federal state. It has only existed since 1952. For a long time, people did not know what name it was going to get. On the coat of arms we have seen that the state has come about from several historical component parts. Baden and Württemberg are not the only ones, even if the most important.

Before the establishment of the state and before it was named, one spoke provisionally of the Southwest State. The concept of creating a Southwest State had found a number of advocates. Even so, Baden, Hohenzollern and Württemberg remained at that time.

Only the results of World War II, especially the division of the old states by zonal borders, gave cause not only to reconstruct the states, but also to consider a new order. At first the borders of the occupational zones got in the way of a unification of the southwestern states. Beyond that, the citizens were not in every part of the southwest equally interested in a Southwest State. Reinhold Maier, Minister-President of Württemberg-Baden, and especially Gebhard Müller, State-President of Württemberg-Hohenzollern, fought for the unification of the states. Their keenest opponent was the (south) Baden State-President Leo Wohleb, who together with a majority of the population of the old State of Baden, strove against its recreation. After years of preparation and discussions, the referendum of 9 December 1951 resulted in a majority (69.7%) in favor of the Southwest State. The majority was reached in that the votes were counted throughout the entire referendum area, and not separated between Baden and Württemberg. On 25 April 1952, a provisional government was formed.

The organization of the southwest before and after 1945 is reflected in the four governmental districts of North Baden, South Baden, North Württemberg and South Württemberg-Hohenzollern. The former Hohenzollern counties of Hechingen and Sigmaringen retain a certain special position.
In the new state of Baden-Württemberg, the state legislature and government presided over the task of bringing the different parts of the state together. Governmental responsibility was held primarily by the CDU, the SPD and the FDP, and from 1972 just the CDU. In 1988 CDU, SPD, FDP and Greens were represented in the state legislature. Many laws had to be changed and reworked. They took pains especially to insure that all regions profited equally from the advantages of the enlarged state. Economically weaker regions were supported by special programs (Black Forest Program, Alb Program).

The differences between city and state were especially clear in the educational system. For that reason the school and training reform was included among the most far-reaching measures that parliament and government took on. It only became possible in 1957 after the Christian common school came into being in place of the Catholic or Evangelical denominational school in South Württemberg-Hohenzollern as had happened in the other three parts of the state.

While in the larger cities, after completing elementary school, the children from these places had a choice of all kinds of more advanced schools, children in rural areas very often had hardly any opportunity to attend a secondary school or gymnasium (university preparatory high school). Not unusually they had to be content with a village school in which students in grades 1 - 8 were taught in a single classroom ("dwarf schools"). To give all children an equal opportunity as much as possible, larger and thus more efficient primary and intermediate schools (9 instead of 8 grades) were acquired, and even in rural areas more secondary schools and gymnasiums were established. Recently, primary schools were reopened in smaller communities.

About 20 years after the founding of the state, they were weighing a territorial reform. Hardly a community, hardly a county and no governmental district remained untouched by it. Smaller communities were annexed to larger, but even large villages and cities were consolidated. In the case of Villingen-Schwenningen it even came to the unification of former Baden and Württemberg cities.. Of 3350 communities, only 1110 were left. Since many new communities took on artificially contrived names, the old town names threatened to disappear from the consciousness of those who lived far away.

In the 1930s the governmental districts (in Baden, Bezirksämter, in Württemberg, Oberämter) were already becoming larger and were redesignated as counties (Kreise). In 1973 almost all of them were broadened in area and decreased in number. Out of 63 old counties, 35 new ones appeared. Additionally, 10 urban districts (Stadtkreise) remained in force. Since today no one walks or is obliged to drive a horse-drawn vehicle if he wants to visit the city where the seat of the district government is, counties can be larger than before.

The names of the new governmental districts were no longer associated with the old state names: now they were called the Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Freiburg and Tübingen governmental districts. The former Baden county of Tauberbischofsheim went under Stuttgart and received the name, together with the former Bad Mergentheim county, the name of Main-Tauber county. Überlingen county went under the Tübingen governmental district. Conversely the former "Württemberg" counties of Calw, Freudenstadt, Horb, Rottweil and Tuttlingen were incorporated into the "Baden" governmental districts of Karlsruhe and Freiburg. The last traces of Hohenzollern disappeared. Between county and district, regional associations were formed that are responsible for overlapping planning

The territorial reform of 1973 is a lively reminder of the upheavals at the beginning of the 19th century. But the resistance to the dissolution of historically based ties was less than 170 years before.

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