Mural in the winter refectory of Bebenhausen Monastery

Democratic beginnings in the monasteryThe state parliament ofWürttemberg-Hohenzollern

After 1945, political reconstruction began in the occupied zones. In southwest Germany, the state parliament of Württemberg-Hohenzollern was one part of this. From 1946 until its dissolution in 1952, it met in Bebenhausen Monastery.

Map of southwest Germany from 1945 to 1952. Scan: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

The occupation zones.

Political prerequisites

After the war ended in 1945, the present state of Baden-Württemberg was divided into an American occupation zone and a French occupation zone. France administrated the areas of (south) Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern. The latter included 15 districts of Württemberg, the former lands of Hohenzollern, and Lindau, now part of Bavaria. The seat of the French military government was in Tübingen.

Protecting the government of Württemberg-Hohenzollern in Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace, 1947. Scan: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg

In 1946, a state assembly was elected.

A man of the first hour

In October 1945, the politician Carlo Schmid was entrusted with forming a government. After political parties were readmitted, an advisory state assembly was elected on November 17, 1946. A few days later, the 65 members met in Bebenhausen for the first time. Their primary task was to prepare a new constitution. On May 18, 1947, the referendum on the constitution of Württemberg-Hohenzollern and the first election for state parliament took place simultaneously.

Members of Parliament in the plenary hall of the winter refectory of Bebenhausen Monastery

After 1945, the monastery became the seat of the state parliament.

The state parliament

Following the first free parliamentary election after World War II, the state parliament began its work on June 3, 1947 in Bebenhausen. All 118 plenary sessions took place in the winter refectory of the former monastery, as it was the only large room that could be heated. The state parliament was initially elected for four years. However, its mandate was extended by just over a year, as the combination of the three southwestern areas to form the federal state of Baden-Württemberg was ready to be signed.

Plenary hall of the state assembly of Württemberg-Hohenzollern, circa 1950, in the winter refectory of Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace. Scan: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg

118 plenary sessions took place in Bebenhausen.

Cell in the dormitory of Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace

Members of parliament spent the night in monks' cells.

Members of parliament in the dormitory

The Green Hall in Bebenhausen Palace was the common room of the members of parliament, while the Blue Hall was generally used for official events. The president of the state parliament and administration sat in the royal breakfast room and in the reading room. The guest rooms and the king's apartment functioned as party rooms. Because sessions often went until late in the evening, many members of parliament spent the night in the monks' cells in the former dormitory.