Max Rheinstein

Max Rheinstein

Max Rheinstein was born in 1899 in Bad Kreuznach and died on 1977, while vacationing in Bad Gastein, Austria. In World War I he served in an artillery regiment of the German army stationed on the Italian front after the collapse of the Austrian armies. After the war, he attended the University of Munich where he received a doctorate of law in 1924. Two years later, he left Munich for Berlin to assume the position of researcher and librarian at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Foreign and International Private Law. There he was recognized as an expert in the field and consulted by the government in matters of foreign law. In September 1933 Rheinstein went to the United States to study at Columbia University and Harvard Law School on a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship. Upon completing the fellowship in 1935, he chose to remain in America. His collection of newspaper clippings indicates that he had been closely following the political situation in Germany. Rheinstein’s first professional appointment in the United States was at the University of Chicago where he was a visiting Professor of Law in 1935. The following year he was appointed Max Pam assistant Professor of Comparative Law; in 1942 he attained the rank of full Professor.

In 1946 and 1947, Rheinstein joined the legal staff of the Office of Military Government of Germany, United States Sector (OMGUS); he advised the US military government on the reform of German law. Both officially and privately, Rheinstein supported a policy of conciliatory reconstruction, lest zealous denazification should turn the German people against democracy and retard their economic recovery. Rheinstein developed an international reputation as a legal expert in the areas of international and comparative law, family law, the conflict of laws, and the law of decedents’ estates. He was a visiting Professor at the universities of Puerto Rico (1943), Wisconsin (1945), Michigan (1948), Louisiana State (1949), Frankfurt (1953), Cambridge (1955), Tokyo (1961), and Brussels (1964). He held professorships at the International University of Comparative Studies in Luxembourg from 1958-1960 and the International Faculty of Comparative Law in Strasbourg from 1962 on. In 1962, he was also awarded an honorary professorship by the University of Freiburg.

At the University of Chicago Rheinstein was instrumental in the development of the Foreign Law Program, which trained American common lawyers in the two major systems of civil law, the German and the French (which is a derivative of the Napoleonic Code). After his retirement, Rheinstein remained active in the fields of comparative and family law. In 1972 he published Marriage Stability, Divorce and the Law at the University of Chicago Press. During the 1970s, he collaborated with a former student, Mary Ann Glendon who has since been a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, on two projects. The two were the American editors of the International Encyclopaedia of Comparative Law. He also helped edit Glendon’s book, State, Law and Family.


List of publications:

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