Professor Frevert, the Basic Law celebrates its birthday on May 23rd. How does this make you feel? The Basic Law is five years older than me. We were given it at school. I still have the copy today. At the time I thought it was unimportant. Today I feel joy that this constitution with its fundamental rights has endured and has even been improved in some places. For my generation, pride is a difficult concept in connection with national symbols. But I actually feel proud of the Basic Law.

Formally, it is just a dry, legal text. It may not be as literary as the French constitution of 1830. The writer Stendhal was said to read it every morning in order to adopt its style for his novels. But the Basic Law is already a crisp text. It breathes the time in which it was created, but it also points to the future.

You travel abroad a lot, including in less democratic countries. Do you occasionally think about how good you have it, for example with the freedom of science, research and teaching? I am grateful that I can live with this basic law. But to be honest, what impresses me more in other countries, for example in the USA, is their ability to enthusiastically celebrate their historical achievements. I would like that for us too.

Access to all STERN PLUS content and articles from the print magazine


Already registered?