On this day 174 years ago, the National Assembly met for the first time in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt am Main. It was elected in the course of the March Revolution of 1848 and represented the first democratically elected parliament on German soil, even though the circle of eligible voters was comparatively small. The aspirations towards an independent nation-state of the March Revolution were to be represented by the National Assembly, which attempted to implement them by establishing a central power (government) in June 1848 and adopting a constitution in March 1849.

Starting with Prussia and Austria, the states of the German Confederation began to dismantle the parliament in April 1849, which ended on June 18, 1849, with the dissolution of the rump parliament (successor to the National Assembly) in Stuttgart by the Württemberg military. Thus, the effects of the revolution and the desired nation-state were short-lived, even though later attempts at unification would invoke this constitution as justification.

The parliament was often criticized as inactive at the time and is still questioned for its social composition, as the various classes were not considered to be accurately represented, earning the National Assembly nicknames such as “civil servants’ parliament.” Among the 649 members of the assembly, there was only one farmer and 4 master craftsmen, i.e. representatives of the “middle classes” of the time and no workers.