The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Non-GC Events

9/27- “Law Under Lawlessness: Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, and the Academy of German Law (1934-1942)

Richard Wolin (CUNY): “Law Under Lawlessness: Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, and the Academy of German Law (1934-1942)”

Sep 27, 20234:30 pm – 6:00 pm

Princeton University 

Wooten Hall, Room 301 (Kerstetter Room)


ABSTRACT: The Committee for the Philosophy of Law (Auschuss für Rechtsphilosophie) was a prestigious grouping of academics and Nazi party higher-ups whose express goal was the “total transformation of German legal life in accordance with the principles of National Socialism.” Under the auspices of Hans Frank’s Academy of German Law, its inaugural meeting took place on 3 May 1934 at the Nietzsche Archive in Weimar. Among the Committee’s 16 original members were Martin Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, Alfred Rosenberg, and Frank himself, who chaired the Committee.

Although the Committee for the Philosophy of Law was officially dissolved in 1938 and much of its work remains shrouded in mystery, a document recently unearthed at the German Federal Archive in Berlin indicates that it may have continued to meet as late as 1941. Though the documentation related to the Committee’s activities remains sparse, the materials that have survived offer unique insight concerning the commitment of leading German thinkers, such as Heidegger and Schmitt, to the project of Volkwerdung: turning everyday “Germans into Nazis” with an eye toward achieving a racially unified Volksgemeinschaft.


Richard Wolin is Distinguished Professor of History, Political Science and Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center. He has taught at the University of Paris, the University of Copenhagen, and Beijing University and writes frequently on intellectual and political themes for the New Republic, the Nation, and Dissent. Among his books are Heidegger’s Children: Hannah Arendt, Karl Löwith, Hans Jonas and Herbert Marcuse (Princeton, 2015) and The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism (Princeton, 2019). His new book, Heidegger in Ruins: Between Philosophy and Ideology, was published earlier this year by Yale University Press.


  • Forum in the History of Political Thought
  • Program in Law and Normative Thinking