Walter Hallstein

Walter Hallstein

Infobox_President | name =Walter Hallstein
nationality =German

order =1st President of the European Commission
term_start =1958
term_end =1967
vicepresident =
predecessor =None
successor =Jean Rey
birth_date =birth date|1901|11|17|df=y
birth_place =Mainz, Germany
death_date =death date and age|1982|3|29|1901|11|17|df=y
death_place =Stuttgart, Germany
party =Christian Democratic Union
spouse =
religion =
order2 =
term_start2 =
term_end2 =
president =
predecessor2 =
successor2 =|

Walter Hallstein (17 November 1901–29 March 1982) was a German politician and professor.

He was one of the key figures of European integration after World War II, becoming the first president of the Commission of the European Economic Community. His name is associated with the "Hallstein Doctrine", by which the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) attempted to block the recognition of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), the People's Republic of Poland and other communist states.


Early life

Hallstein was born in Mainz, Germany, the son of a government building officercite web | url = | title=Walter Hallstein| accessdate = 2007-11-11 | publisher = German Historical Museum | language = German ] . He studied law in Bonn, Munich and Berlin and graduated in 1925 with a doctoral dissertation on the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles with regard to insurance policies. From 1926 he worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Foreign Private and International Private Law in Berlin. In 1930, at the age of 28, he was appointed professor for private law and company law at the University of Rostock (Rostock), where he remained until 1941. In 1941 he was appointed professor of civil law at the University of Frankfurt (Frankfurt am Main). He was also, at the same time, director of the university's Institute for Comparative Law and Commercial Law.

Military service

From 1942 he served in the Wehrmacht, serving as a first lieutenant ("Oberleutnant") in Northern France. He was taken prisoner in 1944. While in a prisoner-of-war camp in Mississippi (1944–1946), he started a "camp university", where he held law courses for the prisoners.

Post-war academic career

In 1946 he returned to Frankfurt University, where he was elected rector of the university. From 1948 he spent a year in the United States as guest professor at Georgetown University (Washington DC), teaching International Relations.

Political career in Germany

In June 1951 the German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, appointed him state secretary (a top-ranking civil servant) in the Federal Chancellery ("Kanzleramt") and made him head of the German delegation for the Schuman Plan negotiations. A few months later he was made state secretary at the foreign ministry. In September 1955 he was responsible for the policy that bears his name, the Hallstein Doctrine, though much of the work formulating this is said to have actually been done by his deputy Wilhelm Grewe.

Hallstein remained at the foreign ministry until the beginning of 1958 and played a major part in the negotiations on the European Economic Community and Euratom treaties. In 1955, he was one of the participants of the Messina Conference in 1955, which would lead to the Treaty of Rome in 1957.

President of the Commission of the European Economic Community

On January 7, 1958 Hallstein was appointed first president of the Commission of the European Economic Community (now the European Commission) in Brussels, a post he was to retain until 1967.

In 1961 he was awarded the Charlemagne prize (Karlspreis) by the City of Aachen for his efforts in the cause of European federation.

As a proponent of a federal Europe with a strong Commission and Parliament, he was opposed to de Gaulle's vision of a "Europe des États" (Europe of States) with more power retained by national governments, and in September 1967 he was forced to resign as president of the Commission.

Later life

From 1967 onward, he wrote and was active in German politics. From 1969 to 1972 he was a member of the "Bundestag" (the lower house of the German federal parliament) for the CDU.

From 1968 to 1974 he was president of the council of the European Movement.

Im 1968, he was awarded the Robert Schuman Prize.

He died in Stuttgart on March 29, 1982, at the age of 80.


During his lifetime Walter Hallstein received honorary doctorates from nine European and nine American universities, including the universities of Hamburg, Padua, Columbia, Georgetown, and Harvard.

In 1961 he was awarded the Charlemagne prize (Karlspreis) by the City of Aachen for his efforts in the cause of European federation.

In 1997, the [ Walter Hallstein Institute for European Constitutional Law] at the Humboldt University in Berlin was named in his honour.

The Walter Hallstein Prize is awarded annually in November by the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main, the town of Frankfurt am Main and the Dresdner Bank for special services to European integration.


Further reading

* cite book|title=Walter Hallstein: The Forgotten European?|last=Loth|first=Wilfried|coauthors=Wallace, William; Wessels, Wolfgang
publisher=St. Martin's Press|location=New York|date=1998|isbn=978-031221293-3

External links

Biographical details

* [ The History of the European Union: A chronology from 1946 to 2003]
* [ Biography of Walter Hallstein at a semi-official French web site]
* [ Biography of Walter Hallstein at the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation]
* [ Brief portrait of Walter Hallstein at the official web site for Charlemagne Prize awards]


* [ Konrad-Adenauer Foundation]
* [ Walter Hallstein Institute]
* [ Charlemagne prize foundation; includes a list of recipients]

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