A Political Biography of the Jurist of International Law Friedrich Grimm (1888-1959)


Friedrich Grimm (1888-1959), an expert on French and international law, is one of the jurists of the “Third Reich” whose anti-Semitic and National Socialist writings continue to be used by right-wing extremists today. Grimm already gained notoriety in the Weimar Republic for his intensive and prominent activity as an attorney and legal advisor. He, for example, represented major German industrialists such as Fritz Thyssen and Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach during the French occupation of the Ruhr in 1923, served as an advisor to the German embassy in Paris (from 1921) and defended the perpetrators of the so called “Feme murders” until an amnesty was granted in 1930. Above all, however, he built up an exceptionally good social network that extended into the highest political circles in Germany and France both in the Weimar Republic and under National Socialism. He then supported the Nazi regime as an attorney in trials abroad and as a propagandist, especially in France. Paradoxically, he also represented and defended Jewish colleagues in the “Third Reich” as well as opponents to the regime such as Konrad Adenauer. He even advocated in 1933 an amnesty for all of the National Socialists’ political opponents. He was arrested by French occupation forces in 1945 and imprisoned for months, before being “denazified” and discharged as a “follower” of the regime by a German special court in 1949. During the early years of the Federal Republic, Grimm was active in what would now be known as a right-wing extremist network, defended Nazi criminals, and worked, through his speeches and writings, for a general amnesty for all war criminals until his death in 1959.

The dissertation project is planned as a political biography of the ambivalent, Janus-faced figure, with a special focus on his role in Franco-German relations throughout the full duration of his legal and political career.

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