Walter Hallstein was born in Mainz on 17 November 1901.
He studied law at the universities of Bonn, Munich and Berlin. In 1925 he wrote his doctoral dissertation on commercial aspects of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. He worked for a law firm until 1929 when he became a lecturer in Berlin. The following year he was appointed as professor of law at the University of Rostock (1930-1941). This was followed by a similar post at the University of Frankfurt (1941-1945).
A research project (in German) done by the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt concluded that Hallstein was reserved towards National Socialism, at least in the early days of the Nazi dictatorship.
Unfortunately the missing part would be the years from 1933 onwards until 1944 when he served the army. Especially in regards to the speech he gave in 1939, it would be interesting to know if his feelings would have been changed.
On 23 January 1939 he gave a speech in Rostock called: Die Rechtseinheit Großdeutschlands. These are some interesting quotes from this "Conquest speech”:
“One of the most important laws is that law to protect German Blood and German Honor ‘…”.
"The Creation of the Greater German Reich is:
- A political fact, a ‘Fuehrer Act’ of Epochal Dimension;
- One of those Acts that change the Landscape of History and fulfill an old Longing of the People;
- An Economic Event of sheer unimaginable consequences;"
This speech happened only months before the start of WWII and it should leave no imagination that this is nationalistic propaganda. Or as said in other words, he advocated the imposition of the Nuremberg Race Laws as a top priority in “Greater Germany.” You can read the original manuscript for this speech, in German, via this website: http://www.profit-over-life.org/books/books.php?book=54
In 1942 he was called up, and he served in an artillery regiment in Northern France with the rank of first lieutenant (Oberleutnant). On 26 June 1944, during the Battle of Cherbourg, he was captured by the allies and imprisoned at Camp Como and later at Fort Getty in the USA until mid 1945.
He claimed to have nothing to do with any politics, nor that he was imperialistic. In the image on the left we can see that he selected 'Nein' (No) for all related questions if he had contributed anything to Nazism. Even for point 13d he states Nein, which is about the Greater German and imperialistic ideas. And we have seen that his speech from 1939 is just about that.
During his imprisonment he taught other German prisoners Law, and also participated in the Sunflower Project: ‘The re-education and democratization of POWs before their repatriation to Germany’. It seems that he presented himself as a model prisoner during his imprisonment.
After returning to Germany he advocated for the reopening of the University of Frankfurt. On 1 February 1946 he became a professor at Frankfurt University, and later in April he was elected as rector.
In 1948 and 1949 he spend 1 academical year at the Georgetown University, Washington, where he taught German Legal history. When he returned to Germany in November 1949, he became involved in the establishment of the German United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco)secretariat. Later, he also became an observer at the 5th Unesco General Conference, from which he reported to the German government.
Between 1951 and 1958 he would serve as State Secretary of the Foreign Office, under Konrad Adenauer. During his tenure he negotiated a few important treaties like the Treaty of Bonn (26 May 1952) and the Treaty of Paris (27 May 1952).
A few years later he helped to negotiate various treaties at the London Nine-Power Conference from 23 September to 3 October 1954; they were finalized at the Paris conference from 20 to 23 October 1954. When the accords were ratified, on 5 May 1955, German sovereignty was largely restored.
He also lend his name to the Hallstein Doctrine, which denied diplomatic recognition to those states which recognized the Democratic Republic (East Germany).
On 25 March 1957 the Treaty of Rome was signed between six Western European nations: Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg (Benelux), France, Italy and West Germany. This treaty brought about the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC). The next year, on 7 January 1958, he was elected as the first president of the Commission of the European Economic Community. And is considered to be one of the founding fathers of the current European Community. He held this position until 30 June 1967. He left office following a clash with the French President, Charles de Gaulle, and turned to German politics as a member of parliament, also serving as President of the European Movement from 1968 to 1974.
When you read about Hallstein on the official website from the EU they do speak highly of him and mention his great accomplishments for Germany as well as the EU. They also do mention that although he was drafted into the German armed forces in 1942, he has been hostile towards Nazism.
Nothing is mentioned about the period between 1930 and 1942.
Walter Hallstein might not have been a Nazi like Goebbels or Himmler, but he must have been aware of what was happening. A man in his position, making such a speech in 1939, does know what the situation is in his country. He might not have known exactly what Hitler was planning, but he should have been aware of the issues that they were creating in their own country. As such he could have distanced himself from the regimeThe fact that this Nazi member became such an important figure in the political European scene is unbelievable! And especially that it has been hidden from the public, so that we never have been able to make a calculated decision whether or not to tolerate such person. A further interesting read on Walter Hallstein and his career before and after WWII can be found here: http://www.nazi-roots-of-brussels-eu.org/ It has compelling evidence that Hallstein lied about his past after the war, that he participated actively to spread the Nazi ideas not only before the war but also much so after it.