Erkkilä, Ville: KIELER SCHULE – VANGUARD OF TOTALITARIANISM?

This presentation seeks to address the interplay of politics, academic culture and scientific tradition in defining the “accepted” and the “other” in history of ideas. As a case study, I concentrate on the theme of Kieler Schule in German legal science before and after the Second World War. Kieler Schule was a legal scientific research group established by National Socialist ministry of education in 1933 at the faculty of University of Kiel, Germany. It was founded to contribute to the Gleichschaltung, ideological standardization of Germany, in which all areas of society were rearranged to echo and mirror National Socialist ideology. Kieler Schule was introduced to “renew” the legal science, invent new legal concepts, defend the healthy view on law, and “fight” for foreign ideas in German jurisprudence. The ministry called it “stormtroop-faculty” of legal science (Stoßtruppfakultät). The staff of the Kieler Schule was comprised of the most promising young legal scientists of Germany, who, quite unexpectedly, were promoted as the vanguard of the German jurisprudence. Kieler Schule’s task as a nationalistic pioneer and jewel of fascist science politics, remained vague in concrete judiciary results, but was more of exclusion and inclusion of ideas in the field of German legal science. The members of the Schule were united in their rejection of “legal positivism”, which meant dogmatic reading of law and an ahistoric stance on legal matters. With the exclusion of “legal positivism” from national jurisprudential tradition, the Schule wanted to abolish the influence of neo-Kantian legal theories. They were, however, rarely racist in their contributions, unlike many other “NSDAP-oriented” academics, who despised “legal positivism” due to its allegedly “Jewish” nature and origin. It is thus debatable whether the fight in which Schule and ministry of education engaged themselves was the same, despite the common goal of nullifying the “legal positivism”. The theme also arises questions of continuity and discontinuity in legal science. The intended exclusion of “legal positivism” was not a National Socialist invention, although it was useful to the justification of their racist politics. In addition, after the Second World War, practically all members of the Kieler Schule were able to establish significant careers in Federal Republic, and publish highly influential works where they continued to propagate against the “destructive” legal positivism.