Walter Oppenhoff

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Walter Oppenhoff (born May 26, 1905 in Aachen ; † February 4, 2001 in Cologne ) was one of the first German lawyers with an international focus and a pioneer in the development of supra-local law firms in Germany.


Oppenhoff came from an old Rhenish legal family. His father, Fritz (Friedrich) Maria Oppenhoff (* 1865), was also president of the regional court in Aachen, as was his grandfather Theodor Oppenhoff (1820–1899). His great uncle Friedrich Oppenhoff (1811–1875) became President of the Senate at the Superior Court in Berlin . His father's brother, Joseph Oppenhoff , also became president of the regional court in Aachen. His brother Franz Oppenhoff was a school councilor and the father of the mayor of Aachen, Franz Oppenhoff , who was murdered in 1945 by a National Socialist werewolf command .


Walter Oppenhoff studied law at the universities of Freiburg , Munich and Cologne and did his doctorate on the subject of " Unfair competition " during his traineeship , which was a new topic at the time and gave him an early profile in the field of intellectual property protection .

In 1930, when he was only 24 years old, he became a partner in the Becker and Ströhmer office community, which had been founded in Cologne in 1908 . At that time the law firm was one of the largest in the German Empire . Above all, Oppenhoff brought with him international experience, which became a trademark of the firm , and international customers such as Coca-Cola , at that time still completely unknown in Germany.

During the Second World War he acted as enemy asset manager for Coca-Cola and other international companies and was thus able to strengthen his international relations even further. This activity helped him in 1945, as the first lawyer in the Bavarian region, to regain a license to practice law through the Americans, and in the same year he was also elected to the board of the newly founded Cologne Lawyers' Association (KAV).

Until the 1970s , Walter Oppenhoff led litigation, mainly in the field of intellectual property, but also in the area of corporate law and corporate succession .


As a "lawyer personality of a special stature" he was awarded the Hans Dahs plaque in 1977 by the German Bar Association , the highest distinction of the German legal profession.

In November 1985 he was honored with the Jabach Medal of the City of Cologne for his great services to the Cologne museums . In 2000, Walter Oppenhoff was one of the few in his guild to celebrate his 70th professional anniversary.

In 2001 he was awarded the Walter Oppenhoff Medal posthumously by the KAV for attorneys who have made an exemplary contribution to the reputation of the German legal profession in the international legal community.

Walter Oppenhoff Foundation

The Walter Oppenhoff Foundation was set up in 1996 by partners of the then Oppenhoff & Rädler law firm , a predecessor of the Cologne law firm Oppenhoff & Partner , on the occasion of Walter Oppenhoff's 90th birthday.

The focus of the foundation's funding lies in making it possible for young lawyers to study abroad . German lawyers and lawyers should have the opportunity, their university studies in training in the after USA participate to acquire technical additional qualifications.

The foundation's assets are around 240,000 euros and the funding volume is around 12,000 euros. The foundation awards up to three partial scholarships annually for an LL.M. degree at a university in the United States . The foundation is affiliated with the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft .


  • “Ice cold - Coca-Cola and the German Reich. A German refreshment story ". Film with Walter Oppenhoff and Coca-Cola (WDR 1999)
  • Dr. Rainer Klocke: Dr. Walter Oppenhoff. 70 years lawyer, in: News for the members of the German Lawyers' Association 6/2000, p. 360
  • Obituary for Dr. Walter Oppenhoff, in: Journal of the Cologne Bar Association (2001)
  • A lawyer of the century. Obituary for Dr. Walter Oppenhoff, who died on February 4, 2001 at the age of 95, in: azur No. 6 summer semester 2001
  • Festschrift for Walter Oppenhoff on his 80th birthday. Edited by Walter Jagenburg , Georg Maier-Reimer and Thomas Verhoeven, Munich: Beck, 1985. XIII, 574 pages. 23 cm, original linen binding ISBN 3-406-30608-X
  • Michael Streck : Walter Oppenhoff . In: New legal weekly . tape 54 , no. 21 , 2001, p. 1550-1551 . [Obituary]

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Walter Oppenhoff Foundation