The history of the ban mile around the German Reichstag

These images went around the world: Participants in an anti-corona demonstration tried to storm the Reichstag on August 29th. Reich flags also waved in front of the parliament building for minutes, then the police put an end to the spook.
Image: dpa

When imperial flags fluttered on the steps of the Reichstag at the end of August, the parliamentary ban mile was disregarded. The exciting story of this security zone, which was introduced a hundred years ago, begins with the name, which is not self-explanatory.

MSuch anniversaries are not celebrated, although their topicality seems particularly evident. The centenary of the parliamentary ban mile is one of them. On May 8, 1920 the National Assembly, as the Reichstag was called in this legislative period, passed the law on pacifying the buildings of the Reichstag and the state parliaments. Since 2008, the law on pacified districts has been in force at federal level for federal constitutional bodies; the occasional demand that the rules for authorizing demonstrations be made more restrictive again has little chance of success.

The word “ban mile” sounds ancient and is not self-explanatory. One could believe that it comes from the old German legal language. This impression was intentional and is deceptive Tobias Kaiser, research assistant at the Commission for the History of Parliamentarism and Political Parties, can show. In an article, the historian summarizes the results of his habilitation thesis submitted in Jena on the “Protection of a sacred place” (“The invention of the ‘ban mile’ in the Weimar Republic. Police and symbolic shelter with contradicting history”, in History in Science and Education, Vol. 71, Issue 5/6, 2020 / Friedrich Verlag).


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