Hans Kelsen

Hans Kelsen

Hans Kelsen (born on 11 October 1881 in Prague, Austro-Hungary, died on 19 April 1973 in Orinda near Berkeley, USA) is one of the most distinguished legal academics of the 20th century. He made significant contributions to state and international law in particular, as well as to legal science. Kelsen is considered the architect of the Austrian federal constitution of 1920, which in large part is still in place today.

Kelsen came from a German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, but the family soon moved to Vienna, where he studied law. In 1911 he habilitated in state law and philosophy of law. After the declaration of the Austrian Republic, Kelsen became an advisor on constitutional issues. He is one of the authors of the Federal Constitutional Law of 1920.

In 1930 Kelsen moved to the University of Cologne. In 1933, however, he was sacked by the Nazis because of his Jewish origin. He, therefore, went to Geneva, and three years later took up a position at the German University in Prague. This provoked violent protests by nationalist and Nazi students. In 1940 he left for Harvard, from whence two years later he moved to Berkeley. He died in 1973 of heart failure.

This guided walk is a part of the "Democracy on the Brink. Historical lessons from the late 1930s" project supported by the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union.

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