The constitutional right to property between public and private law in the Weimar Republic

Research Project

My doctoral thesis deals with the constitutional right to property established in the Weimar constitution as a point of interconnection between public law and private law. The fundamental right to property is located precisely where these two legal sub-disciplines intersect. On the one hand, it is the bedrock of a society based on private economy as well as a symbol of individual freedom; on the other, opportunities for political participation were, historically speaking, often dependent on property positions, not to mention the fact that private property is often linked to public welfare objectives in expropriation clauses.

Both the shift from monarchy to republic after World War I and the coming into force of the Weimar constitution confronted the legal scholarship of the Weimar Republic with existential challenges. Though public law was most directly affected by this upheaval, resulting in the famous methodological dispute, private law also felt its impact. The debates surrounding the constitutional right to property shed light on this situation, highlighting different conceptions of property – and freedoms in general – in relation to the state. In my historical source analysis, I include both jurisprudential texts from private and public law and Reichsgericht case law on the property provision of the Weimar constitution.

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