Carlo Schmid

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Carlo Schmid (1963)
Signature Carlo Schmid, 1967

Carlo Schmid (*  December 3, 1896 in Perpignan , France , as Karl Johann Martin Heinrich Schmid ; †  December 11, 1979 in Bonn ) was a German politician ( SPD ) and a renowned constitutional lawyer .

Schmid is one of the fathers of the Basic Law and the Godesberg Program of the SPD; he campaigned strongly for European integration and Franco-German reconciliation. He was a candidate for the office of Federal President in 1959 and Federal Council Minister from 1966 to 1969 .

Live and act

The early years

Schmid's father Joseph Schmid (1860–1925), who came from Württemberg , was a private scholar and lecturer at the University of Toulouse , while his mother Anna Erra (* 1869) was French. Schmid spent his childhood in Weil der Stadt , where the family moved a year after his birth. There his father was headmaster and secondary school teacher for five years. In 1908 the family moved to Stuttgart , where Schmid attended the humanistic Karls-Gymnasium and passed his Abitur in the spring of 1914 . In his last school years Schmid became active in the Wandervogel , where he met Arnold Bergstraesser . He took part in the First World War as a soldier from 1914 to 1918 and fought at Verdun , among others ; his last rank was lieutenant in the reserve .

A study of law and political science that began in 1919 at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen , he completed in 1921 with the first state examination in law; the second state examination followed 1924. 1923 he was with the work of the legal nature of the works councils according to the Works Councils Act to Doctor juris doctorate .

He first settled as a lawyer in Reutlingen down, but resigned in 1925 as a court Assessor in the judicial service of the country Wuerttemberg one. From 1927 to 1931 he was a judge at the local court and later a regional judge in Tübingen .

From 1927 to 1928 he was on leave to work as a consultant at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Foreign Public Law and International Law in Berlin. In 1929 he completed his habilitation at the University of Tübingen with a thesis on the case law of the Permanent International Court of Justice and worked there from 1930 as a private lecturer .

During the National Socialism

1931-1932 Schmid took over the management of a camp of the voluntary labor service in Münsingen . Unemployed young people worked together with students in a quarry with the aim of protecting the young people from the radical mass movement of National Socialism through their personal commitment . In 1933 Schmid's personnel file received a blocking notice due to his activities. To avoid being fired, he joined the Association of National Socialist German Lawyers . Nevertheless, he publicly referred to National Socialism as the “philosophy of cattle breeders, applied to the wrong object”. Serious consequences could only be prevented with the support of a Nazi student leader. In 1940 he was drafted into the Wehrmacht and until 1944 was assigned to the Oberfeldkommandantur in Lille / France as a war administrator (with the rank of major ) . In this function he was in contact with Helmuth James Graf von Moltke and the Kreisau Circle . In some cases he managed to save French citizens from retaliation by the Wehrmacht.

After the Second World War

After the end of the war, Schmid changed his first name to Carlo in order to avoid confusion with the constitutional lawyer Carl Schmitt, who was burdened by his proximity to National Socialism . He played a key role in the reopening of the University of Tübingen and in the appointment of Romano Guardini , Wilhelm Weischedel , Eduard Spranger , Alfred Kühn and Adolf Butenandt to the university. From 1946 to 1953 he was professor of public law there . In 1953 he accepted the chair of political science at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main . He also translated works by Machiavelli , Baudelaire and Malraux . His translation of Les Fleurs du Mal from 1947 is still considered groundbreaking today.

For Schmid it was clear at the end of 1946 that the “fate of the European states depended on” whether they could develop into an “independent force”. He therefore persistently advocated the economic, political and military integration of Europe. Leading social democrats like Kurt Schumacher considered Schmid's federal idea for Europe to be premature. One reason for this reluctance was the conservative British Duncan Sandys' strong commitment to the European movement . Despite this, Schmid sought international solidarity and worked for a long time in the Union of European Federalists . In 1949 Schmid became the first vice-president of the German section of the Europa-Union Deutschland . He was also the first chairman of the " German Parliamentary Section of the European Movement ". In France he entered a Masonic lodge ; he gave a speech twice in the Hamburg lodge Die Brückenbauer .

In 1949 Schmid founded the International Federation (IB) with Theodor Eschenburg , the former head of department of the Reich Youth Leadership Heinrich Hartmann, and the French occupation officer Henri Humblot , which, following the example of the volunteer working group , is supposed to give young people an opportunity for further training.

As early as August 1948 Schmid played a very important role in the Herrenchiemsee Constitutional Conference , which initiated the later Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany . He opposed efforts that wanted to grant the right of asylum only to Germans who were persecuted abroad because of their “standing up for freedom, democracy, social justice or world peace”. The editorial committee saw a general right of asylum for political refugees as “too extensive” because it “possibly includes the obligation to receive, care, etc.” and is therefore not financially viable. Together with Hermann von Mangoldt (CDU), Schmid prevailed against these concerns and achieved that, with Article 16 of the Basic Law, the Federal Republic of Germany guaranteed all those politically persecuted in the world a right to asylum. This wording existed until the asylum compromise of 1993, which severely restricted this right.

Political party

Carlo Schmid (left) in conversation with Egon Bahr in 1976

After the war, Schmid became a member of the SPD and was SPD state chairman in Württemberg-Hohenzollern from 1946 to 1952 . From 1947 to 1970 he was a member of the SPD party executive. From 1958 to 1970 he was also a member of the presidium of the SPD and was instrumental in drawing up the Godesberg program. Within the SPD, he was one of the advocates of majority voting . From 1949 to 1972 he always won the direct mandate for the SPD in the federal elections in his Mannheim constituency.

Schmid belonged with Fritz Erler , Herbert Wehner and Willy Brandt to the so-called breakfast cartel of the SPD, which prevailed until 1958 with its ideas of party reform.

Since Federal President Theodor Heuss was no longer allowed to run after two terms in office, the SPD nominated Schmid as its candidate in the election of the German Federal President in 1959 , in which he was defeated by the previous Federal Minister for Food, Agriculture and Forests Heinrich Lübke (CDU) in the second ballot.

In 1961 and 1965 Schmid was part of Willy Brandt's government team in the event of a change of government . He was planned as foreign minister.

Parliamentary activity

In 1947 Schmid was elected to the state parliament for Württemberg-Hohenzollern , to which he belonged until the state was incorporated into Baden-Württemberg on May 17, 1952.

From 1948 to 1949 he was a member of the Parliamentary Council and chairman of the SPD parliamentary group and the main constitutional committee and the committee for the occupation statute . In a speech on September 8, 1948 in the Parliamentary Council, Schmid advocated the constructive vote of no confidence adopted in the Basic Law on his initiative , as well as the right to conscientious objection .

From 1949 to 1972 he was a member of the German Bundestag . From 1949 to 1966 and from 1969 to 1972 Schmid was Vice President of the German Bundestag and from 1949 to 1953 and from 1957 to 1965 at the same time deputy chairman of the SPD parliamentary group . From 1949 to 1953 Schmid was chairman of the Bundestag committee for the occupation statute and foreign affairs, 1953 to 1956 and 1957 to 1966 deputy chairman of the foreign affairs committee .

Carlo Schmid (top left) in September 1955 with Adenauer in Moscow

In 1955, as a member of the negotiating commission under Konrad Adenauer, he made a major contribution to the success of the German-Soviet negotiations in Moscow, which resulted in the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Soviet Union and the repatriation of German prisoners of war . During his entire membership in the Bundestag, Schmid represented the Mannheim I constituency as a directly elected member . From October 12, 1959 to 1961, he was chairman of the “Budget” sub-commission of the Bundestag Presidium. In his last electoral term he was the second oldest member of the Bundestag after William Borm ( FDP ).

In 1959, after the accidental death of MP Josef Gockeln , he and Josef Arndgen ( CDU ), Walther Kühn (FDP) and Ludwig Schneider ( DP ) were among the initiators of pension, disability and survivors' benefits for members of parliament.

Schmid, who was particularly committed to Franco-German reconciliation, was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg from 1950 to 1960 and from 1969 to 1973 . From 1963 to 1966 he was President of the Assembly of the Western European Union in Paris , after having been its Deputy President since 1956.

Public offices

At the time of the French occupation in October 1945, Schmid headed the provisional government (President of the State Secretariat) of the "State Secretariat for the French-occupied territory of Württemberg and Hohenzollern". At the same time, he took over the post of country director for education and cultural affairs in the national administration set up by the French military government.

Carlo Schmid 1972

From December 9, 1946, Schmid was Minister of Justice of Württemberg-Hohenzollern and until July 8, 1947 he also held the position of President . After the state elections in 1947, Carlo Schmid was Deputy President of the State until August 12, 1948, and until May 1, 1950 he retained the office of Minister of Justice in the state government of this country led by Lorenz Bock (CDU) or his successor Gebhard Müller , which he also held at the Constitutional Convention represented on Herrenchiemsee .

After the election to the Bundestag, he was in the first term of the Bundestag Vice President selected, a post he held from 1949 to 1966 and again from 1969 to 1972.

On December 1, 1966, he was appointed Federal Minister for Affairs of the Federal Council and the Länder in the Federal Government of the Grand Coalition led by Federal Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger , and in this capacity he was the cabinet representative in the Federal Council . After the 1969 Bundestag election , Schmid resigned from the federal government on October 21, 1969.

From 1969 until his death he was the coordinator for Franco-German relations .


Schmid married Lydia Hermes (1897–1984) in 1921. He had four children with her: Hans (1925–2019), Martin (1927–2019), Raimund (1935–1956) and Beate (* 1936). The daughter Juliane emerged from the relationship with Irmgard Michael in 1942. Schmid spent the last years of his life in Orscheid , a district of the city of Bad Honnef near Bonn.


In 1955 Schmid was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1958 he was honored with the order against seriousness as a Bundestag Vice President for his witty and quick-witted speeches . In 1976 he received the Medal of Merit of the State of Baden-Württemberg and the German-French translator award, donated by the Baden-Baden spa and spa administration, for his translation of André Malraux's work Eichen, which one falls . He was also the recipient of the Hansian Goethe Prize from the Alfred Toepfer Foundation . Schmid received the Goethe Prize from the city of Frankfurt am Main in 1967 . Since 1970 he was an honorary citizen of Mannheim and since 1977 of Tübingen .

Four days after his death, the German Bundestag honored its former Vice President with a memorial service in the plenary hall. On December 15, 1979 he was honored with a state funeral at the Tübingen city cemetery .

His estate is kept in the archive of social democracy .

The Carlo Schmid Foundation was established in 1987, which awards the Carlo Schmid Prize to people, groups and organizations who work for the maintenance and further development of the democratic and social constitutional state, a liberal political culture and European understanding. On December 3, 1996 , the Federal Ministry of Post and Telecommunications issued a special postage stamp worth 100 pfennigs on his 100th birthday .

Publications (selection)

Schmid worked as a scientist, state-philosophical and political publicist, essayist, memorandum writer, but also as a translator, stage and cabaret writer and poet.

  • Germany and the European Council ( Series of the German Council of the European Movement , No. 1), Cologne 1949.
  • Government and parliament. In: Hermann Wandersleb : Law, State, Economy. Volume 3, Düsseldorf 1951.
  • Four years of experience with the Basic Law. In: Public Administration. 1954, No. 1, pages 1-3.
  • The opposition as a state institution. In: The voter. 1955, No. 11, pp. 498-506.
  • Macchiavelli , Fischer 1956
  • The MP between party and parliament. In: The New Society. 1959, No. 6, pp. 439-444.
  • The German Bundestag in Constitutional Reality. In: Friedrich Schäfer : Finanzwissenschaft und Finanzpolitik , Festschrift for Erwin Schoettle , Tübingen 1964, pp. 269–284.
  • (with Horst Ehmke and Hans Scharoun ): Festschrift for Adolf Arndt on his 65th birthday. Frankfurt am Main 1969.
  • Politics as a spiritual task ; Collected works in individual editions, Scherz Verlag, Bern / Munich / Vienna 1973.
  • The German Bundestag. An essay. In: The German Bundestag. Portrait of a Parliament. Pfullingen 1974, pp. 12-17.
  • The foundation of our state order. In: Confession to Democracy. Wiesbaden 1974, pp. 11-20.
  • Democracy - The chance to realize the state. In: Forum Today. Mannheim 1975, pp. 319-325.
  • Europe and the power of the spirit. Munich / Zurich 1976 (collection of articles, 410 pages).
  • Memories. Scherz, Bern / Munich / Vienna 1979, ISBN 3-502-16666-8 .

Sound carrier

  • Memories - Carlo Schmid in conversation with Emil Obermann . Excerpts from the event on November 28, 1979 in Hoser's Buchhandlung (1 LP) (Hoser's Buchhandlung, Stuttgart, no number), ISBN 3-921414-04-0 .
  • Carlo Schmid: Keynote address on the Basic Law in the Parliamentary Council on September 8, 1948.


  • Theodor Eschenburg , Theodor Heuss , Georg-August Zinn : Festgabe for Carlo Schmid on his 65th birthday. Mohr (Siebeck), Tübingen 1962.
  • Stine Harm: Citizens or Comrades? Carlo Schmid and Hedwig Wachenheim - Social Democrats despite their bourgeois origin. Ibidem-Verlag, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-8382-0104-7 .
  • Walter Henkels : 99 heads from Bonn. Revised and supplemented edition, Fischer-Bücherei, Frankfurt am Main 1965, p. 218ff.
  • Petra Weber : Carlo Schmid. 1896-1979. A biography. Beck, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-406-41098-7 ; Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch 2912, Frankfurt am Main 1998, ISBN 3-518-39412-6 .
  • Petra Weber: Carlo Schmid. Democrat and European. Mannheim 1996 (= Small Writings of the Mannheim City Archives No. 4).
  • Petra Weber:  Schmid, Carlo. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 23, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-428-11204-3 , p. 151 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Erich Schmidt-Eenboom , Michael Müller: The Causa Carlo Schmid. Between French printing and American observation , in: Das Blättchen 20 (2017) online version .
  • Nadine Willmann: Carlo Schmid et la puissance d'occupation française dans le Wurtemberg durant l'immédiat après-guerre (= Schmid's relationship to the French occupying power in Württemberg in the immediate post-war period). In: Catherine Maurer (ed.): Revue d'Allemagne et des pays de langue Allemande. 1, 2017, ISSN  0035-0974 , pp. 289-304 (French).


Web links

Commons : Carlo Schmid  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. quote:

    “Democracy is more than a product of mere considerations of expediency only where it is believed that it is indispensable for human dignity. If one has the courage to believe in this, one must also have the courage to intolerance towards those who want to use democracy to kill them themselves. "

    - Carlo Schmid, memories
  2. ^ Carlo Schmid: Memories . In: Collected works in separate editions . tape 3 . Scherz, Bern / Munich / Vienna 1979, ISBN 3-502-16666-8 , pp. 36 .
  3. Achim Truunk: Europe, a way out: Political elites and European identity in the 1950s . Munich 2007 (Diss. 2005), p. 168.
  4. ^ A b Michael Reitz: Carlo Schmid - Architect of the Basic Law. SWR2 knowledge from July 14, 2017.
  5. Kristina Meyer: The SPD and the Nazi past 1945-1990 . Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2015, ISBN 978-3-8353-2730-6 , pp. 31 ( [accessed on January 30, 2018]).
  6. Who was it? - Carlo Schmid. In: Vorwärts 12/2012, p. 41.
  7. ^ Carlo Schmid: Memories . S. 417 .
  8. ^ Christian Polscher: Known Freemasons - with connection to Hamburg . Hamburg 2009, p. 45.
  9. a b Jochen Bittner : The opposite of gratitude . In: Die Zeit , January 2, 2017.
  10. ^ The Parliamentary Council 1948–1949. Files and protocols, Vol. 7: Drafts for the Basic Law (edited by Michael Hollmann ), Boppard 1995, p. 37.
  11. Michael Streich: "Politically persecuted people enjoy the right of asylum" . In: Die Zeit, February 17, 1989.
  12. Michael Reiz, Carlo Schmid - Architect of the Basic Law in SWR2 knowledge, broadcast on July 14, 2017:

    “Prime Minister Bulganin raised his glass to the Chancellor's health. Everyone took their vodka glass and drained it. I asked for the floor and said it seemed like a historical lie to me that the Russians were safe to drink. If it were, they wouldn't drink to the health of their guests from thimbles. I asked for a bigger glass. It came and I emptied it. Konrad Adenauer replied: 'Mr Schmid, I forbid you to do that. You will get a heartbeat.' Then I: 'Mr. Chancellor, you cannot forbid me to do anything.' "

    - Carlo Schmid, memories
  13. ^ Schmid, Carlo (Karl). In: Landeskundliches Informationssystem Baden-Württemberg ( Baden-Württemberg State Archive, accessed on November 13, 2017 .
  14. ^ Petra Weber: Carlo Schmid 1896–1979. A biography . 1st edition. C. H. Beck, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-406-41098-7 , p. 165 .
  15. Frankfurt am Main: Goethe Prize
  16. ^ Carlo Schmid Foundation