Walther Burckhardt

Walther Burckhardt

Walther Burckhardt, born 19 May 1871 in Riehen, died 1 October 1939 in Berne, pursued his legal studies at the Universities of Leipzig, Neuchâtel, Berlin and Berne, where he graduated and obtained a doctorate with Eugen Huber. From 1896 onwards, he served the federal administration, in 1902 he was nominated ordinary professor of the University of Lausanne, and in 1909 he changed to the chair for Swiss federal law at the University of Berne. Together with Carl Hilty he was editor of the “Politischen Jahrbuchs” between 1910 and 1917. From 1923 to 1928 he took part in the delegation at the League of Nations and was judge at the international court in Den Haag.

He is best known for his “Kommentar zur Schweizerischen Bundesverfassung” (3. ed. 1931). Similar to Eugen Huber, but in an all different way, he adhered to Neo-Kantianism and referred to Rudolf Stammler. In his main contributions to legal theory, “Die Organisation der Rechtsgemeinschaft” (1927), “Methode und System des Rechts” (1936) and “Einführung in die Rechtswissenschaft” (1939) he developed a coherent theory of the legal order as a completed system of law. Law is mainly concepted as a means to the ends of legal politics, as an instrument to realise the tasks of the state in an understanding as the institution that enforces the rule of law. In this intention he clearly separates the concept of law from the idea of law or the ideal law and holds a strong distinction of “Sein” and “Sollen”. In 1939 he committed suicide under the strain of the decline of the order of free states and the breakdown of liberal international law.

Selected Works of the Author

Walther Burckhardt: Organisation der Rechtsgemeinschaft – Untersuchungen über die Eigenart des Privatrechts, des Staatsrechts und des Völkerrechts, Basel: Helbing & Lichtenhahn, 1927; Idem: Methode und System des Rechts mit Beispielen, Zürich: Polygraphischer Verlag, 1936; Idem: Die Lücken des Gesetzes und die Gesetzesauslegung, in: Abhandlungen zum schweizerischen Recht, N. S. vol. 8, Bern: Stämpfli & Cie., 1925, pp. 62-106; Idem: Recht als Tatsache und als Postulat, in: Festgabe für Max Huber zum 60. Geburtstag, Zürich: Schulthess, 1934; Idem: L’État et le droit, in: Zeit­schrift für Schweizerisches Rechts, ed. Eduard His, N. S. vol. 50, Basel: Helbing & Lichtenhahn, 1931; Idem: Die Krisis der Verfassung (1838), in: Aufsätze und Vorträge 1910-1938, Bern: Stämpfli & Cie., 1970, pp. 340ss.; Idem: Über das Verhältnis von Recht und Sittlichkeit (1922); Idem: Staatliche Autorität und geistige Freiheit 1936), beide in: Aufsätze und Vorträge 1910-1938, ed. Hans Huber, Bern: Stämpfli & Cie., 1970, pp. 35 ss. resp. pp. 64 ss.