Higher Appeal Court of the Four Free Cities

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Königstrasse 21 in Lübeck, formerly the seat of the court

The Higher Appeal Court of the four Free Cities of the German Confederation was located in the Free and Hanseatic City of Lübeck and existed from 1820 to 1879. It was initially located for a very short time in Schüsselbuden No. 15, then at Königstrasse No. 21, the former house of the Lübeck Circle Society .

Established from 1806 to 1820

After the end of the Holy Roman Empire , the court was set up as the third and at the same time supreme court of appeal in civil and criminal matters for the courts of the Free Cities of Bremen , Frankfurt am Main , Hamburg and Lübeck , which emerged from the imperial cities , as well as their two-city office Bergedorf . The basis was Article 12 Paragraph 3 of the German Federal Act of 1815: "The four free cities have the right to unite among themselves by establishing a joint supreme court." The inclusion of this paragraph in the Federal Act was an exception in favor of the Free Cities which together did not have the number of 300,000 “souls” which, according to Article 12, Paragraph 1, were fundamentally a prerequisite for the formation of a higher court. Because there was initially resistance to the establishment of a higher court in Hamburg and Lübeck in particular, which resulted in particular from the feared loss of power by the senates in relation to an independent judiciary, it took 14 years from the original Bremen initiative in 1806 to implementation.

In Lübeck, the new court replaced the Oberhof Lübeck .

Case law from 1820 to 1879

In 1820 the court started operations. The legal staff consisted of the president, usually 6 judges , a secretary and two registrars. First 8, then from 1831 6 procurators were subordinate to the court . Friedrich Crome was one of these procurators from 1856 .

The judgments given here on a monthly basis were published in the Lübeck advertisements .

Under its first president Georg Arnold Heise , a co-founder of the historical school of civil law , who presided over the court from 1820 until his death in Lübeck in 1851, the court gained a high reputation. With regard to him, Bernhard Windscheid said that in Germany there are only two highest honors for a lawyer to succeed Savigny on his chair in Berlin or in place of Heise in Lübeck. Mediated in particular through Johann Heinrich Thöl , the court had considerable influence on the development of German commercial law . Outside of its jurisdiction, it was first chosen by Bavaria and Prussia and later more often by other states as a court of arbitration in disputes between the states. In addition, the court was responsible for examining the legal candidates from the four cities.

The second president, Karl Georg von Wächter, was in office for just under a year from 1851 to 1852 before he returned to the university. Under the third and last president, Johann Friedrich Martin Kierulff, from 1852 until the court was repealed in 1879, the court still gained jurisdiction as the first and last instance for cases of treason and treason in the North German Confederation , but otherwise had to give up more and more powers.

First, after the loss of statehood due to the Prussian annexation , Frankfurt am Main left the association on January 1, 1867, whereupon the name of the court was changed to the Higher Appeal Court of the Free Hanseatic Cities, or Hanseatic Higher Appeal Court for short . This was followed by the transfer of responsibility for commercial law to the Reich Higher Commercial Court in Leipzig and finally the court was dissolved with the reorganization of the court constitution through the Reich Justice Acts on October 1, 1879. The proceedings were taken over by the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court in Hamburg or the Reich Court in Leipzig , depending on the subject matter jurisdiction .

Rudolf von Jhering , in an obituary for Agathon Wunderlich , an appellate councilor who died in 1878, sums it up: “So the Lübeck appellate court could be described as the learned court of justice in Germany, and German science has the test to which it was called here in connection with practice, passed with fame; the Lübeck judgments were among those to which the practitioner and theoretician paid recognition in the same way, including true masterpieces, evenly in form and content, achievements that outweighed entire bulky legal monographs on a few pages ” .

List of judges of the OAG

Surname introduction Appointed by Retirement annotation
Georg Arnold Heise November 12, 1820 ? 1851 president
Johann Friedrich Hach November 12, 1820 Lübeck 1850 Successor: Wonderful
Burkard Wilhelm Pfeiffer November 12, 1820 ? 1821
Gottfried Samuel Müller 1820 Hamburg † 1842
Friedrich Cropp 1820 Hamburg 1832 Successor: Bluhme
Albrecht Schweppe 1821 Frankfurt 1829 Successor: Goll
Arnold Ludwig Georg Christian Philipp Lüder 1821 1823
Carl Gustav Adolph Gruner 1822 Bremen 1826 Successor: Du Roi
Christian Gerhard Overbeck May 28, 1824 Bremen ?
Georg August Wilhelm du Roi October 11, 1826 Bremen 1853 Successor: carpenter
Ignatz Maria Goll February 26, 1830 Frankfurt † 1848 Unable to work due to apoplectic attacks since 1845 , replacement and successor: Laspeyres
Friedrich Bluhme 1833 Hamburg 1843 Successor: Pauli
Georg Friedrich Ludwig Oppenheimer August 31, 1842 Hamburg 1853
Ludwig Heinrich Wiederhold 1846 Frankfurt 1850 Successor: Brandis
Johann Friedrich Kierulf December 30, 1853 ? 1879 president
Carl Wilhelm Pauli 4th July 1843 Lübeck 1876 Successor: Hoppenstedt
Ernst Adolph Theodor Laspeyres August 12, 1846 Frankfurt 1862 Successor: wood turner
Gottlob Walther Friedrich Agathon Wunderlich November 14, 1850 Lübeck ?
Hermann Friedrich Brandis June 13, 1851 Bremen 1879 Bremen had actually nominated Wilhelm Wibel . However, because of his way of life, he received no approval from the other cities
Johann Friedrich Voigt December 15, 1853 Hamburg 1870
Ernst Wilhelm Ludwig Karl Zimmermann June 16, 1854 Bremen 1877 Successor: Knight
August Drechsler May 2, 1864 Frankfurt 1867 (on leave) March 1870 (final)
Richard Eduard John 1870 Hamburg 1876 Friedrich Rudolph Heinze had actually been elected, but withdrew his acceptance; Successor: Lehmann
Rudolf Schlesinger 1870 Hamburg 1879
Carl August Ludwig Friedrich Lehmann 1876 Hamburg 1879
Carl Ernst August Ludwig Hoppenstedt 1876 Hamburg 1879
Georg Heinrich Ritter 1877 Bremen 1879

Succession Courts and Institutions

The Hanseatic Higher Regional Court of Hamburg remained responsible for Lübeck within the scope of its substantive jurisdiction (especially in civil law) until statehood was abolished in 1937. Then Lübeck came to the establishment of the Schleswig-Holstein Higher Regional Court in Schleswig after the Second World War in the higher regional court district of the Kiel Higher Regional Court. The Hanseatic Higher Regional Court in Hamburg remained responsible for Bremen until the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court of Bremen was formed in 1947. After Frankfurt's departure from the association, the Prussian Higher Tribunal in Berlin was ultimately responsible for decisions on appeals against judgments of the Prussian Court of Appeal in Frankfurt . Since 1879, Frankfurt has also been the seat of a higher regional court .

As compensation for the loss of the Higher Appeal Court, Lübeck received the headquarters of the Hanseatic Insurance Company (later the State Insurance Company of the Hanseatic Cities ), which was responsible for the invalidity and old-age insurance of employees in the Hanseatic City, due to the commitment of Senator Karl Peter Klügmann after the last major social insurance law was passed under Bismarck three Hanseatic cities of Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck was responsible. This too went to Hamburg in 1937 with the loss of statehood due to the Greater Hamburg Act .

File transfer

After the establishment of the Reich Higher Commercial Court, disputes pending in the area of ​​commercial law were submitted there; these files were destroyed in World War II. The other files of the Higher Appeal Court were taken over by the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court in Hamburg in 1879, which handed them over to the Hamburg State Archives in 1903 . In 1936 the general files and other administrative files came from there to the archive of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck . Finally, in 1952, the trial files and the files on the examination of legal candidates were distributed to the archives of the four cities.


The courthouse was used by the Lübeck State Archives under the first state archivist Carl Friedrich Wehrmann after the court had been abandoned . In 1936, the State Archives passed it on to the Public Library , which after completion of its extensions in Hundestrasse , left it to the Katharineum , among other places . The group of allegorical figures on the rococo gable of the house with the coat of arms of the Junker or Circular Brothers Society comes from the Lübeck sculptor Dietrich Jürgen Boy . The two figures represent the allegories of peace and harmony.

The listed building was combined with a comprehensive renovation to become an educational, meeting and memorial site for the Lübeck-born Federal Chancellor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Willy Brandt . On December 18, 2007, the Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt Foundation opened the Willy Brandt House in Lübeck as a branch . The building was made available by the city free of charge and was used by both the foundation and the city's monument preservation office. The renovation, which cost almost 2.8 million euros, was supported by the German Foundation for Monument Protection . In the Willy Brandt House in Lübeck, which is not the house where he was born, the foundation set up a permanent exhibition and organizes lectures, seminars and book readings.


  • Wilhelm von Bippen : The founding of the Lübeck Higher Appeal Court. In: Hansische Geschichtsblätter 1890/91, pp. 25–47
  • Antjekathrin Graßmann : The beginnings of the Higher Appeal Court of the four free cities in Germany in Lübeck. in: Schleswig-Holsteinische advertisements , Part A, special issue, issued July 1988, pp. 24-27.
  • Horst Greb: The Higher Appeal Court of the four free cities in Germany . In: Der Wagen 1963, 47–55
  • Götz Landwehr: Legal practice and jurisprudence in Luebian law from the 16th to the 19th century. In: ZLG 60 (1980), pp. 21-65 (pp. 55ff. On the case law of the Higher Appeal Court)
  • Katalin Polgar: The Higher Appeal Court of the Four Free Cities in Germany (1820–1879) and its judges , Frankfurt 2007 ISBN 3-631-55602-0
  • Complete inventory of the files of the Higher Appeal Court of the four Free Cities in Germany. Edited by the State Archives of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen. (6 volumes) Cologne: Böhlau 1994–1996 ISBN 3-412-02094-X
  • Ferdinand Frensdorff:  Heise, Georg Arnold . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 11, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1880, pp. 666-669. (also on Heise's work at the OAG)
  • Albert TeichmannKierulff, Johann Friedrich Martin . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 55, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1910, pp. 513-515.
  • Nora Tirtasana: The learned court. The Lübeck Higher Appeal Court and the Practice of Civil Procedure in the 19th Century , Cologne, Weimar, Vienna 2012, ISBN 978-3-412-20842-4

Web links

Commons : Higher Appeal Court of the Four Free Cities  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ^ German Federal Act of June 8, 1815
  2. Ignatz Maria Goll's incapacity for work made it necessary to temporarily create a seventh position in 1845
  3. Rudolf von Jhering, Agathon Wunderlich. An obituary, in: Year books for the dogmatics of today's Roman and German private law, Vol. 17 (1879), pp. 145–157 (156)
  4. Katalin Polgar: The Higher Appeal Court of the Four Free Cities in Germany (1820–1879) and its judges, Diss., 2006