DOI link for Building Bonn
Building Bonn book
On September 7, 1949 the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany convened for its constituent assembly. Not only the state was “new,” but so were the capital and its buildings. Most prominent among them was the Bundeshaus that housed West Germany’s upper and lower chamber and parliamentarians’ offices. The chapter investigates how spatial arrangements and practices should ensure the new building’s democratic character and by extension ground the new state’s democracy. The discourse surrounding Bonn demonstrates how politicians and public alike conceived of democracy as embodied, and as a practice that was full of emotions. The sources reveal how important affects and the body were to West Germans in the early years of the Federal Republic, when they considered democracy. Scrutinizing their ideas about modesty and humility as well as their anxieties enriches our understanding of these early years of the Federal Republic and offers a way to see “the rational republic” with the power of the better argument as the emotionally invested practice that it was.