The State Representation Office of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg was housed in a 1907 semi-detached villa designed by the Bonn-based architect Julius Rolffs from 1950 to 2000. The building at Kurt-Schumacher-Straße is readily recognisable from the anchor in front of the building.
The history of the Federal Republic of Germany really begins long before the 1949 passage of the Basic Law and the first Bundestag election in that same year. As early as 1946, the occupying powers arranged for the election of federal-state (Länder) parliaments. The Parliamentary Council, which began drafting the Basic Law in September of 1948, was also elected by the federal-state parliaments in the occupied sectors of West Germany.
This enlarged the scope of the role assigned to the Länder by the Basic Law – which has in turn enabled them to have a greater say in federal policy and legislation via the Bundesrat. Moreover, the “eternity clause” of the Basic Law states as follows: “Amendments to this Basic Law affecting the division of the Federation into Länder, their participation on principle in the legislative process, or the principles laid down in Articles 1 and 20 shall be inadmissible.”
The federal-state representations in Bonn, which still had provisional seats at their disposal in the Rhineland-Palatinate city of Unkel until they moved into their own buildings in 1949, were in effect the embassies of the various Länder governments in the capital.
Some of them soon moved into older townhouses, as was the case with the Hamburg representation, which in 1950 moved into a building at what is today Kurt-Schumacher-Straße 18-20. Other federal-state representations built new headquarters for themselves, as was the case with the Bavarians – who were initially housed in what is today Adenauerallee, and subsequently had the Munich-based architect Sep Ruf design them a new building for a site at Schlegelstraße 1.
From this vantage point, they observed political debates and decisions in the capital, advocated for policies in the realms of domestic Länder policy, business, science and culture – and forged alliances with other federal states, necessitated by the Bundesrat’s inherently collaborative and often complex work processes. Today, there are 16 Länder.
Enjoyable evenings at in-house beer and wine taverns, art exhibitions and banquets featuring classical regional dishes count as some of the most vivid memories associated with state representation offices. Thus, attendees surely did not soon forget how Minister President Erwin Teufel brought the Baden-Württemberg representation’s farewell gala to a close by singing the Swabian state anthem "Preisend mit viel schönen Reden".
As the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel put it, in 1998, “Like Carnival, annual summer festivities are central to the way denizens of the Bonn Republic see themselves. Scores of party staffers, civil servants, lobbyists and journalists roam the territory between the Rhine and Reuterallee as if they simply can’t get enough of it. ‘I’m still headed to Lower Saxony’, a department head called out to a colleague, waving casually with a set of event tickets in his hand.”
Today, the former state-representation headquarters are mainly used as office buildings. On the premises of the State Representation of Baden-Württemberg, there is a beauty clinic today.