Greater China Legal History Seminar Series – ‘Shanghai in the 1930s, the German Civil Code and the Tragic Story of a Brilliant Legal Mind’ by Prof. Lutz-Christian Wolff (Online)

This seminar combines three fascinating stories: the history of Shanghai with a special focus on the 1930s, the history of the German Civil Code, i.e. a piece of law which has served as model for the private law codifications of many other jurisdictions, and the tragic story of Jury Himmelschein, a very talented Jewish legal scholar.

Jury Himmelschein grew up in Russia and studied law in Moscow before moving to Germany for further academic work. After having obtained his PhD degree he engaged in very impactful legal history work which is still cited in modern times. One of Himmelschein’s famous discoveries was that the common perception of a major error of the German Civil Code was based on a wrong understanding of the historical foundations and German private law doctrine therefore had to be re-written. Himmelschein left Germany for Shanghai when the Nazis came to power in 1933. In Shanghai Himmelschein worked for a law firm and also studied Chinese and even became able to read original Confucius’ texts in Chinese. Unfortunately, in 1937 he made a terrible decision.

Other Greater China Legal History Seminar Series