1948 December 17

ACLU Leader Urges U.S. to Grant Civil Liberties to Germans


Roger Baldwin, director of the ACLU, announced on this day that the U.S. should incorporate civil liberties in the new post-war constitution for West Germany. Baldwin was scheduled to visit Germany the following month to help establish what was described as “Germany’s first civil rights agency,” which would presumably be modeled after the ACLU. Baldwin specifically recommended (1) removing restraints on criticisms of the Allied forces currently occupying Germany; (2) easing restrictions of the right of German people to travel to other countries; and (3) establishing agencies to help develop “democratic practices” in Germany.

Baldwin had also traveled to Japan at the invitation of Gen. Douglas MacArthur to advise on the writing of a new constitution for Japan (see March 17, 1947). Meanwhile, ACLU Co-General Counsel Arthur Garfield Hays visited Germany at the invitation of U.S. occupation authorities on August 21, 1948 to advise them on civil liberties issues.

Learn more about Baldwin: Robert Cottrell, Roger Nash Baldwin and the American Civil Liberties Union (2000)

Read: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)

Read the ACLU FBI File (not the complete file): http://vault.fbi.gov/ACLU

Learn about the ACLU today: www.aclu.org

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