Manfred Messerschmidt

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Manfred Messerschmidt (born October 1, 1926 in Dortmund ) is a German military historian and lawyer. He is the author of standard works on the military history of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially National Socialism . Messerschmidt is regarded as one of the most important military historians in Germany after 1945 and as the founder of critical military history in Germany.


Messerschmidt was an anti-aircraft helper in the pioneer troop from May 1944 until the end of the Second World War . After the Second World War , he began studying at the University of Münster and four semesters later moved to the University of Freiburg im Breisgau . After graduating , he received his doctorate in 1954 under Gerhard Ritter with a thesis on "The changes in the image of Germany in English historiography over the past hundred years". phil. In 1959 he passed the first and in 1962 the second state examination in law .

Messerschmidt has been a historian since 1962. From 1970 to 1988 he was chief historian at the Military History Research Office in Freiburg im Breisgau . From 1973 to 1988 he was also President of the “Commission d'Histoire du droit militaire, Société Internationale de Droit Pénal Militaire et de Droit de la Guerre” ( International Society for Military Law and Martial Law ) and Secretary General of the “Comité d'Histoire de la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale ”( German Committee for the History of the Second World War ). In connection with his journalistic activities he was attacked several times by the then chairman of the Association of German Soldiers (VdS), General Jürgen Schreiber , for example when he declared Messerschmidt in 1996 to be a “lecture traveler in matters of defamation of the Wehrmacht”. From 1987 to 1988 he was a member of the "Waldheim Commission", where his research contributed significantly to the clarification of the Waldheim affair about the former UN Secretary General and later Austrian Federal President Kurt Waldheim (1918–2007).

Messerschmidt was deputy chairman of the German Holocaust Museum Foundation and member of the scientific advisory board for the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and from 1990 to 2012 chairman of the scientific advisory board of the Federal Association of Victims of Nazi Military Justice .

Publications (selection)

  • The Wehrmacht in the Nazi state. Time of indoctrination (= troops and administration, vol. 16). With an introduction by Johann Adolf Graf Kielmansegg . From Decker, Hamburg 1969.
  • Military history. Problems, theses, ways. Selected and compiled by Manfred Messerschmidt on behalf of the Military History Research Office on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. DVA, Stuttgart 1982, ISBN 3-421-06122-X .
  • with Fritz Wüllner: The Wehrmacht Justice in the Service of National Socialism. Destroying a legend. Nomos, Baden-Baden 1987, ISBN 3-7890-1466-4 .
  • Military-historical aspects of the development of the German nation-state. Droste, Düsseldorf 1988, ISBN 3-7700-0775-1 .
  • What was right then ... Nazi military and criminal justice in the war of extermination. Klartext, Essen 1996, ISBN 3-88474-487-9 .
  • The Wehrmacht Justice 1933–1945. Schöningh, Paderborn u. a. 2005, ISBN 3-506-71349-3 .


Web links


  1. Fabian Virchow : Against civilism. International relations and the military in the political conceptions of the extreme right. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 978-3-531-15007-9 , p. 420.
  3. , there p. 15, that in 2013 he was a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe .
  4. ^ Press release from the press office of the Senate of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen on December 14, 2011; Contact page of the Federal Association ; Conference report by Günter Knebel ( Memento from March 23, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (Secretary of the Federal Association) from November 21, 2011, p. 2; all accessed on March 17, 2016.