Carlo Schmid (German politician)

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Carlo Schmid (1963) Carlo Schmid (1963).jpg
Carlo Schmid (1963)
Carlo Schmid (right) in 1970 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F031735-0003, Bonn, Abschiedsempfang Landesvertretung Hamburg.jpg
Carlo Schmid (right) in 1970

Carlo Schmid (3 December 1896 11 December 1979) was a German academic and politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Social Democratic Party of Germany Social-democratic political party in Germany

The Social Democratic Party of Germany, is a social-democratic political party in Germany.


Schmid is one of the most important authors of both the German Basic Law and the Godesberg Program of the SPD. He was intimately involved in German-French relations and served as "Federal Minister for the Affairs of the Federal Council and States" from 1966 to 1969.

The Godesberg Program was the party program outline of the political course of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). It was ratified on 15 November 1959, at an SPD party convention in the town of Bad Godesberg, which is today part of Bonn.

Biography and profession

Schmid was born in Perpignan, France and lived there for five years before his family moved to Germany. In 1908, the family moved to Stuttgart, where Schmid attended the prestigious humanist Karls-Gymnasium, where he passed his Abitur in 1914. From 1914 to 1918, Schmid fought in the German army. After the war he studied law at the University of Tübingen after which he successfully sat the first (1921) and second (1924) Legal State Exam. In 1923, he completed a doctoral dissertation under the supervision of the renowned legal scholar Hugo Sinzheimer.

Perpignan Prefecture and commune in Occitanie, France

Perpignan is the prefecture of the Pyrénées-Orientales department in Southwest France, and the centre of the metropolitan area Perpignan Mediterranée Métropole. Perpignan was the capital of the former province and County of Roussillon and continental capital of the Kingdom of Majorca in the 13th and 14th centuries.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.0 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Abitur is a qualification granted by university-preparatory schools in Germany, Lithuania, and Estonia. It is conferred on students who pass their final exams at the end of their secondary education, usually after twelve or thirteen years of schooling. In German, the term Abitur has roots in the archaic word Abiturium, which in turn was derived from the Latin abiturus.

After working as a lawyer for a short time, he was made a justice of Württemberg state in 1927. From 1927 to 1928, he worked as a research assistant for the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut for foreign public law. At the Institute, he was a colleague of Hermann Heller. In 1929, Schmid completed his Habilitation with a thesis on the jurisprudence of the Permanent Court of International Justice. From 1930 to 1940 he worked as a Privatdozent at the University of Tübingen. He was refused tenure by the Nazis on political grounds.

Württemberg Describes Württemburg in different forms from 1092 until 1945 - not to be confused with articles on parts of this period.

Württemberg is a historical German territory roughly corresponding to the cultural and linguistic region of Swabia. Together with Baden and Hohenzollern, two other historical territories, it now forms the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg. Württemberg was formerly also spelled Würtemberg and Wirtemberg.

Hermann Heller (legal scholar) German philosopher and legal scholar

Hermann Heller was a German legal scholar and philosopher of Jewish descent. He was active in the non-Marxist wing of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) during the Weimar Republic. He attempted to formulate the theoretical foundations of the social-democratic relations to the state, and nationalism. He was politically active in the relatively conservative Hofgeismarer Kreis of the SPD and is believed to have authored the group's statement of principles.

Habilitation defines the qualification to conduct self-contained university teaching and is the key for access to a professorship in many European countries. Despite all changes implemented in the European higher education systems during the Bologna Process, it is the highest qualification level issued through the process of a university examination and remains a core concept of scientific careers in these countries.

In 1940 he was made legal counsel of the 'Oberfeldkommandantur' of the German occupation forces in Lille (France).

Lille Prefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Lille is a city at the northern tip of France, in French Flanders. On the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium, it is the capital of the Hauts-de-France region, the prefecture of the Nord department, and the main city of the European Metropolis of Lille.

In 1946, he was granted tenure as professor of public law at Tübingen, and in 1953, he relinquished the position for a chair in Political Science at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main.

Apart from pursuing an academic career, Schmid translated works of Niccolò Machiavelli, Charles Baudelaire and André Malraux. His personal archive was placed in the care of the German "Archive of Social Democracy" (Archiv der sozialen Demokratie) in Bonn. He worried about Martin Sandberger's conditions in Landsberg prison and spoke out in favor of a commutation. [1]

He was awarded the "Großkreuz des Verdienstordens der Bundesrepublik Deutschland". He was also awarded the prestigious Hansischer Goethe-Preis. Schmid died in Bad Honnef on 11 December 1979 at the age of 83.


After the war, Schmid joined the SPD and was one of the founders of the reconstituted SPD in Württemberg. He acted as chairman of the SPD in Württemberg-Hohenzollern from 1946 to 1950 and was member of the SPD board from 1947 to 1970. He was also a member of the Presidium of the SPD from 1958 to 1970 and acted as a catalyst for party reform, being one of the main authors of the Godesberg Program, which jettisoned most remnants of Marxist doctrine.

From 1961 to 1965 he was part of Willy Brandt's shadow cabinet as shadow foreign minister.

Parliamentary activity

In 1947, Schmid was elected as representative in the Landtag of Württemberg-Hohenzollern. He was a member of the Landtag until the state ceased to exist upon the creation of the state Baden-Württemberg on 17 May 1952.

From 1948 to 1949, Schmid was a member of the Parlamentarischer Rat, acting as leader of the SPD faction and chair of the Chief Committee, playing a pivotal role in the drawing up of the German Basic Law. Arguably, Schmid's most distinctive contribution to the German constitutional system was the "Constructive Vote of No Confidence" which stated that a Chancellor can be removed from office by only the Federal Diet upon the Diet's election of another Chancellor. This type of vote of no confidence is constructive because it prevents the Federal Government from being paralyzed by recurring votes of no confidence as occurred in the Weimar Republic.

From 1949 to 1972, he was a member of the Federal Diet. He was active in a variety of Diet committees, the most notable of which was the Foreign Affairs Committee. He also served as vice-president of the Federal Diet from 1949 to 1966 and again from 1969 to 1972. He also served as vice-president of the SPD-faction in the Diet. During his entire membership of the Diet he represented the Mannheim I electoral district.

Other public offices

In 1945 the French military authorities nominated Schmid to act as "President of the State Secretariat" for the Land Württemberg-Hohenzollern, which was located in the French Zone of Occupation. Simultaneously, Schmid was put in charge of the Land's educational and cultural policies until the first elections took place in 1947. From then to 1 May 1950, Schmid was Minister of Justice and acting President of the Württemberg-Hohenzollern. He represented Württemberg-Hohenzollern at the German Constitutional Convention were the Basic Law was ratified.

Carlo Schmid stood for election for the office of Federal President (Bundespräsident) in 1959 but was defeated by the CDU candidate Heinrich Lübke in the second round of voting.

Schmid was Federal Minister for the Affairs of the Federal Council (Bundesrat) and States (Bundesländer) in the cabinet of Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger from 1966 to 1969. In this position, he represented the Federal Government in the Bundesrat. Schmid quit the cabinet on 21 October 1969 after the election of 6th Bundestag.

International politics

Schmid (left) at a reception of the French president in 1975 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F045405-0021, Frankreich, Staatsbesuch Bundesprasident Scheel.jpg
Schmid (left) at a reception of the French president in 1975

Carlo Schmid, whose mother was from France and who spoke excellent French, was always eager for reconciliation between France and Germany. He was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from 1950 to 1960 as well as from 1969 to 1973. He was President of the Assembly of the Western European Union, a regional defence organisation distinct from the European Union, from 1963 to 1966, after being vice-president of the Assembly since 1956.


See also

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