Michael Stolleis (1941-2021)

March 19, 2021

It is with great sadness that the Institute has to announce the passing away, after a short illness, of its long-term Director Michael Stolleis in Frankfurt on 18 March 2021. He had been Professor at Goethe University Frankfurt since 1974 and a Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society and Director at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History since 1991.

During his long career, Michael Stolleis made a decisive impact on the discipline of German and European legal history. His work on the history of public law was truly pioneering. It included a comprehensive four-volume overview of the subject, translated into a variety of languages, groundbreaking research on the so-called police ordinances (Policeyordnungen) of early modern administrative law, and a deep engagement with the legal history of the national socialist era, including the destiny of German lawyers of Jewish origin in exile. He was one of the first to explore the history of social law, as well as the legal history of the German Democratic Republic and Eastern Europe.

Michael Stolleis had a formative influence on generations of junior scholars. He initiated the Institute’s Summer Academy and, jointly with the Goethe University Frankfurt, the Graduate School, later Max Planck Research School for Comparative Legal History. He was a mentor, an initiator and a doer, seeing himself primarily as an observer and narrator of legal history. The Institute bids farewell, with gratitude and deep sorrow.

An obituary for Michael Stolleis can be found here.

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