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nine Carl Schmitt introduction Volker Neumann I Carl Schmitt was born on 11 July 1888 in Plettenberg. After studying law and receiving his doctorate, Schmitt wrote his Habilitationsschrift at the University of Strasbourg in 1916 on political philosophy (Der Wert des Staates und die Bedeutung des Einzelnen [The Value of the State and the Significance of the Individual ]). Found unfit for the military because of his health, he served instead in the military administration in Munich until 1919. His friendship with expressionist writers and Catholic intellectuals dates from those years; under their influence, he tried his hand as a writer and cultural critic.1 His first positions as a professor of public law were at the universities of Greifswald (1921–22) and Bonn (1922–28). In 1928, he accepted the chair at the Handelshochschule in Berlin that had been held by Hugo Preuss, father of the Weimar Constitution. During the subsequent crisis-years of the Weimar Republic, Schmitt developed the theory of a state that is “total through its strength.”2 He held the pluralism of parties and associations responsible for what he considered the state’s destruction and placed his hopes for the restoration of unity on a presidential dictatorship. That dictatorship, Schmitt hoped, would be led by President von Hindenburg—as guardian of the constitution, supported by the army, the bureaucracy, and a healthy economy in a strong state— who would defend the “substantive contents” of the constitution against the “value-neutral” legality of the political system—that is, against the parties 280 represented in the Reichstag. In this spirit, Schmitt supported Hindenburg’s 20 July 1932 coup against the Social Democrat Prussian government and represented the Reich government of Chancellor Papen in proceedings before the State Court in Leipzig. The coup against Prussia—thePreußenschlag —was justified, so the argument went, by the actions of the Prussian government against the National Socialist German Workers Party [NSDAP]: The coup sought to end a policy that equated the NSDAP with the Communist Party and to implement one that was “fair and objective” towards the NSDAP.3 Whatever the Reich government’s motivation, the coup against Prussia opened the chancellery to Adolf Hitler. Schmitt joined the NSDAP on 1 May 1933, published energetically on behalf of the new regime, and was appointed to influential government positions . A high point of his activity was the article “The Führer Protects the Law” [Der Führer schützt das Recht], in which he justified the murders ordered by Hitler in connection with the so-called Röhm Putsch.4 He rose so quickly that he became entangled in the regime’s internal power struggles. In 1936, the SS took steps against the convert and managed to end his rising career within the party in a dispute that reached all the way into the top levels of the Nazi hierarchy. Schmitt’s writings prior to 1933 and his Jewish friends and mentors served as grist for the attacks. The reasons for Schmitt’s conversion to Nazism have occasioned much debate. To interpret his publishing and political activity as self-protection in a difficult situation is factually untenable;5 Schmitt was never in danger, and his downfall in 1936 was merely a career setback. One important motivation was his belief that a movement inexperienced in dealing with state power would need political theorists and lawyers expert in the law of the state. Above all, it must be remembered that for Schmitt, as for many other conservative critics of Weimar, Geneva, and Versailles, Nazism had many seductive features. No anti-Semitic statements can be found in Schmitt’s works prior to 1933. This changed. The height of his anti-Semitic effusions came at a conference titled “Jewry in Legal Scholarship” [Das Judentum in der Rechtswissenschaft ] on 3 and 4 October 1936. Schmitt opened the conference with a defense of “the magnificent battle by Gauleiter Julius Streicher” against “Jewish emigrants.”6 In his closing remarks, he explained that it was quite wrong to depict Friedrich Julius Stahl (a conservative Prussian political philosopher ) as an exemplary conservative Jew in comparison with later Jews, who unfortunately were that no longer. This dangerously overlooks the essential insight that, with every change in the overall situation, a change also occurs in overall Jewish behavior, a demonically enigmatic change of masks, in face of which the question of the subjective good faith of the particular Jewish individual CARL SCHMITT 281 involved is completely...


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