Writing a short biography of Carl Schmitt is a difficult task due to the many references, ambiguities, and controversial interpretations of Schmitt’s attitude during the Nazi era and in postwar Germany. However, the discussion of life and work should be based on established facts. The Society therefore intends to publish crucial data in the form of a chronicle. The publication will be gradual and will grow with time. The following data framework is therefore to be regarded expressly as provisional and as a sketch.
Childhood and Adolescence
Carl Schmitt was born in Plettenberg/Westphalia on July 11, 1888. His father Johann Schmitt (1853-1945) came from Bausendorf in the valley of the Alf, a left tributary of the Moselle. He was initially a postal employee, then went into railroad service and came to Plettenberg in 1876. There he gave up his civil service position and became a commercial employee in the company Graewe & Kaiser.
After 50 years he retired in 1928. His mother Louise née Steinlein (1863 -1943) came from Trier; her ancestors came from the Eifel. Carl Schmitt had three siblings, the older sister Auguste (1891 – 1992), the brother Joseph (1893 – 1970) and the younger sister Anna Margarethe (1902 – 1954). He had two half-siblings from his father’s first marriage. The mother Louise Schmitt had been educated in a French boarding school, she taught her children French and piano playing.
From Easter 1894 Carl Schmitt attended the Catholic elementary school in Plettenberg. After six years, on the recommendation of the priest Fischer, who had already taught the elementary school student Latin, he transferred to the Quarta of the state high school in the neighboring town of Attendorn, about 15 km from Plettenberg. By train the distance was inconvenient and almost twice as long, so that the young Schmitt often made the journey on foot at weekends and during the vacations.
Time of Study
After graduating from high school in 1907, Schmitt wavered between studying philology and law, finally deciding on the latter and beginning these studies in the summer semester of 1907 at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin, moving to Munich in 1908 and to Strasbourg in 1908/09, where he passed the first state examination in 1910. He also received his doctorate in the same year with his thesis on guilt and types of guilt. He completed his legal clerkship at the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court; in February 1915 he passed the assessor’s examination. Law and Judgment appeared in 1912. His postdoctoral lecture qualification, Der Wert des Staates und die Bedeutung des Einzelnen (The Value of the State and the Importance of the Individual), appeared in 1914. In addition, he published smaller articles for the cultural journal Die Rheinlande and reviews of Mauthner’s Wörterbuch der Philosophie (Dictionary of Philosophy) and Walther Rathenau’s Kritik der Zeit (Critique of Time), with whom he was exchanging letters.
Schmitt kept a diary in Gabelsberg shorthand throughout his life. The tradition begins in 1912 and documents a chaotic life. During this time, Schmitt met the Düsseldorf notary and later Prussian Minister of Justice Hugo am Zehnhoff and befriended the poet Theodor Däubler; both were to become formative figures for him. His association with the dancer Pauline Marie Dorotic, who took the stage name “Carita” and was called “Cari” by Schmitt, led to marriage in 1915. Only years later did Schmitt realize that the woman had deceived him by claiming aristocratic origins; this deception became a long-lasting trauma for him. His student friend Fritz Eisler, with whom he had written the satirical texts of Schattenrisse (1913) during his time as an assessor, was killed as a soldier on September 12, 1914. A close friendship developed with his brother Georg.
Military Service and Academic Career
From February 1915, Carl Schmitt was a war volunteer with the Replacement Battalion of the Bavarian Infantry Leibregiment, and from March 1915 with the General Command of the I Bavarian Army Corps in Munich. There he was head of unit P6, responsible for monitoring the peace movement, confiscating printed matter, etc. On April 1, 1919, he was transferred to the city command, and on July 1, 1919, he was discharged from military service.
Schmitt received support from the criminal lawyer Fritz van Calker, especially during his postdoctoral lecturing in Strasbourg in 1916. In the same year Schmitt published Theodor Däubler’s “Nordlicht”; Three Studies on the Elements, the Spirit and the Actuality of the Work. Schmitt lived in Munich during this time, but at the same time took a lectureship in Strasbourg. With the end of the war this was abruptly over; Schmitt had to rehabilitate himself in Munich. In the winter semester of 1919/1920 he was a full-time lecturer at the Munich Handelshochschule, promoted by its rector Moritz Julius Bonn. One of his lectures dealt with the history of political ideas. Schmitt was also one of the participants in Max Weber’s 14-day lecturer colloquium.
The first publications that attracted attention were Political Romanticism (1919) and The Dictatorship (1921). In the monograph The Dictatorship. From the Beginnings of the Modern Idea of Sovereignty to the Proletarian Class Struggle, he established the distinction between the ‘commissarial’ dictatorship, which seeks to restore the old order with temporary powers of action, and the ‘sovereign’ dictatorship, which denotes a constituent power invoking God, the nation, or the people, but without being bound by a constitutional order. In the book Politische Romantik (Political Romanticism), he criticized the unserious, merely aesthetic nature of the bourgeois romantics, who, because of their mental shocks, are unable to make up their minds and therefore react opportunistically; Schmitt showed this preferentially in the state theorist Adam Müller and calls this attitude subjective occasionalism.
In Munich, Schmitt made the acquaintance of the writer and journal editor Franz Blei, in whose journal “Summa” (4 volumes, 1917-1918) he published three important contributions, including the satire on diarist Die Buribunken. His other circle of acquaintances included the writer Alice Berend, the painter Richard Seewald, the artist Albert Paris Gütersloh, the publisher Jakob Hegner, and the Kierkegaard editor Theodor Haecker. In the winter semester of 1920/21 Schmitt was appointed to a full professorship at the University of Greifswald, and from the summer semester of 1922 he succeeded Rudolf Smend as professor of public law in Bonn. Together with his colleague Erich Kaufmann, he headed the “Seminar for Scientific Politics”, thus also understanding his subject in a decidedly political way.
By this time his marriage had long since broken down. Schmitt had several lovers, including the Irish female Kathleen Murray, whose dissertation Taine and English Romanticism he was largely responsible for, and whose doctoral supervisor Ernst Robert Curtius he lobbied on her behalf. In 1923 Schmitt met the student Duska Todorovic, who belonged to the Serbian minority in Croatia, and married her in 1926. After the first marriage had been recognized civilly as divorced in 1924; his attempts to also obtain an annulment under church law failed in the first and second instances.
The Bonn Period – The Standard Works
In the year he moved to Bonn, Schmitt published one of his most influential writings, Political Theology, with the opening sentence, “Sovereign is who decides on the state of exception,” has become a common saying. Here he formulated the foundations of a “decisionist” theory of law, according to which “sovereign decision, normatively speaking, is born out of nothing.” In the debate over the relationship between Catholicism and modernity, Schmitt took a stand in his essay Roman Catholicism and Political Form (1923), in which he emphasized the historical continuity of the Catholic Church and its juridical form of a personal rationalism directed against the impersonal economic thought of modernity.
With these writings and the one that followed on Die geistesgeschichtliche Lage des heutigen Parlamentarismus (1923), in which he criticized the liberal concept of parliamentarism with its belief in truth and correctness through public discussion in parliament, Schmitt became more and more known to the public. In Bonn, on the left bank of the Rhine, he experienced the consequences of the Treaty of Versailles through the controls of the French occupation forces after the so-called Ruhrkampf. He first formulated his criticism of the treaty and the League of Nations in Geneva in his writing The Core Question of the League of Nations and in the lecture The Rhineland as an Object of International Politics, which he gave in 1925 after contacts with the Center Party at its “millennium celebration” in Cologne.
Schmitt was a star at the university, whose lectures were attended by students, but also by many colleagues and citizens of Bonn. His seminar gathered a crowd of students from whom important jurists emerged, such as Ernst Forsthoff, Werner Weber, Ernst Rudolf Huber, Werner Becker, Ernst Friesenhahn, Otto Kirchheimer and later Franz Neumann; Schmitt had close contacts with the theologian Erik Peterson, who was best man at his second wedding, his lifelong Duz friend Heinrich Oberheid and the publicist Waldemar Gurian, who was difficult to deal with and whom he held responsible for the broken friendship with Hugo Ball. One of the most important consequences of the seminar discussions was the paper Der Begriff des Politischen, the first edition of which appeared in 1927. Until his old age, Schmitt emphasized that the distinction between friend and enemy as a criterion of the political had its origin there.
He was as much in demand as a lecturer as he was as an expert witness. He travelled a lot, especially to France, where he found close friends in the circle around Jacques Maritain, but also sought contacts with legal colleagues. In the summer of 1925, he and his wife visited their Croatian homeland, which he described in antique terms as Illyria (the title of his 1925 travelogue). Towards the end of his time in Bonn, he wrote his only systematic work, Constitutional Theory (1928). Since for him the epoch of statehood was coming to an end, a ‘Staatslehre’ was obsolete, so he wrote the first systematic theory of the modern constitutional state based on the Weimar Constitution.
The Berlin Times – At the Centre of Power
Schmitt aspired to the center of power in Berlin and, after protracted negotiations, accepted a call to the Handelshochschule there for the summer semester of 1928. The critic of indirect powers wanted to complement his theoretical work with practical political activity. While in Bonn he had still met politicians with reserve, in Berlin he soon came into contact at the political level of state secretaries and senior ministerial staff, for example in the Ministry of the Interior and especially in the Ministry of Finance with Johannes Popitz, the state secretary there and later Prussian finance minister.
The latter soon became a close friend and was to persuade Schmitt to become involved in the Nazis in 1933. Among the lawyers, Rudolf Smend was closest to him at this time, joined by colleagues Bilfinger in Halle and Jacobi in Leipzig; at the Handelshochschule he had closer contact with his colleagues Werner Sombart, Moritz Julis Bonn, Götz Briefs and Herbert Dorn; he met the young Leibholz and read his habilitation thesis on the nature of representation in the flags.
On the northern edge of the Tiergarten, Schmitt found an apartment with the help of his old Munich friend, the writer Alice Berend, whose sister Charlotte and her husband Lovis Corinth were previous tenants. During this time his wife Duschka was in hospital in San Remo, where she was trying to cure her tuberculosis. As her condition worsened in the spring of 1929, Schmitt traveled there, expecting his wife to die. She was then operated on and cured several times that summer in St. Gallen.
At the Handelshochschule, as in Bonn, Schmitt had great success with his lectures, so that students from the neighboring Friedrich Wilhelm University flocked to him. On January 18, 1930, he gave his widely acclaimed speech on Hugo Preuß, the father of the Weimar Constitution, in the auditorium of the Handelshochschule for the Reich’s founding celebration. During this period he regularly attended lectures at the German School of Politics, gave some there himself, and was called upon to train the next generation of diplomats at the Foreign Office. He was soon in demand as a participant and discussant in the elite political circles of the capital, and this was especially true of the ‘Deutsche Gesellschaft 1914’.
In the political situation of the late 1920s, which was characterized by growing instability, the question of state authority arose for Schmitt. Now the concept of the ‘pouvoir neutre’ borrowed from Benjamin Constant became central for him. In view of the growing influence of interest groups and anti-democratic parties on both the left and the right, it was necessary to clarify the conditions of the possibility of state action. Schmitt’s response was to write Der Hüter der Verfassung (The Guardian of the Constitution), a continuation of his constitutional theory and a programmatic paper on the introduction of a presidential constitution. The state’s ability to act was to be regained through the plebiscitary strengthening of the position of the Reich president as a ‘pouvoir neutre’. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
The End of the Republic
The old friends Franz Blei, Georg Eisler and Erik Peterson were now joined by Ernst Jünger and his entourage with Ernst Niekisch and Veit Rosskopf. Schmitt had contacts with publicists such as Paul Adams with the magazine Germania, Friedrich Vorwerk with the Ring, Ernst Wilhelm Eschmann and Giselher Wirsing with the Tat, Wilhelm Stapel with the Deutsches Volkstum and Prinz Rohan and Joachim Moras with the Europäische Revue, on the other hand he gave up the cooperation with the Catholic Hochland. It was typical of the atmosphere of the time that Schmitt also attended a meeting of the Arbplan (Working Group for the Study of the Planned Economy in the Soviet Union), in which, in addition to Ernst Jünger and Niekisch, Karl August Wittfogel and Georg Lukacz were present from the left.
Through Blei’s mediation he was able to read the flags of Musil’s Man Without Qualities, he gave radio lectures, saw silent films, the classic on the trial of Joan of Arc by Carl Theodor Dreyer at least ten times. In August 1931 Schmitt’s daughter Anima was born.
From 1930 onwards, Reich Chancellor Brüning ruled without a parliamentary majority with the help of the right of emergency decree according to § 48 of the Weimar Reich Constitution. Attempts by Carl Schmitt to participate in concrete politics through contacts, for example, with Brüning, whom he knew from his time in Bonn, failed. This changed with Papen’s chancellorship. When, after the Prussian strike of July 20, 1932, the deposed government of Prussia filed a suit with the State Court in Leipzig, Schmitt was commissioned by the Reich government as one of its litigants. In the meantime, he had also become acquainted with close associates of Reichswehr Minister Schleicher, such as Erich Marcks and Eugen Ott.
During this time of crisis, Schmitt published Legality and Legitimacy, with its core thesis that, according to the prevailing legal positivism, the substance of the constitution could be changed without asking politically about friend or foe, with the consequence that even anti-constitutional parties could not be denied access to power. The liberal legislative state presupposes that parties have a ‘legal mindset’, so that opponents have an equal chance of gaining political power. If an anti-constitutional party succeeded in coming to power legally, it could close the door of legality behind it. This would then be a ‘legal revolution’. For Schmitt, one way out of the inability of Weimar parliamentarism to form stable governments was the establishment of a presidential system with a Reich president elected by the people, who would replace the pluralistic party state, which had become quantitatively total under pressure from interest groups, and create a qualitatively total state that would seize the new technical positions of power and monopolize film and broadcasting – later Schmitt would specify that not states but only parties could be bearers of totality.
After Schleicher’s appointment as Reich Chancellor in early December 1932, Schmitt was involved through Ott and Marcks in current state emergency plans to prevent Hitler’s rise to power, which became obsolete after his appointment as Reich Chancellor in late January 1933. In the meantime, Schmitt had accepted a call to the University of Cologne for the summer semester of 1933, thus distancing himself from the Reich capital.
The NS Period (1933-1936)
Schmitt’s initial reactions to Hitler’s appointment as Reich Chancellor were restrained, saying that it was like being in the jungle, that one did not know whether he was a dove or a snake. This changed with the Enabling Act of March 23, 1933, passed by a Reichstag majority of the NSDAP, the Center, and bourgeois parties, whose revolutionary significance Schmitt immediately recognized and commented on in an article. When, on his Easter trip to Rome, he then received a telegram from his friend Johannes Popitz, the Prussian Minister of Finance, and von Papen in Munich on March 31, asking him to go to the Ministry of State in Berlin the next day to work on the Reichsstatthalter law on the Gleichschaltung of the Länder, he changed his plans and returned to Berlin. While working on the law, he met several of the regime’s greats, and Hermann Göring probably impressed him most of all. At a press reception he also saw Hitler up close for the first and only time.
At this time Schmitt moved with his family to Cologne and took up his teaching position at the university there. At the end of April he joined the NSDAP and got to know local NS activists. Now he published numerous, often polemical articles in party newspapers such as “Westdeutscher Beobachter” and “Völkischer Beobachter,” which were imbued with the spirit of the ‘new German revolution.’ In July 1933, Schmitt was appointed by Göring to the new Prussian Council of State; his hopes for greater political influence were not fulfilled. Through his close ties to the party jurist Hans Frank, Bavarian Minister of Justice and Reich Justice Commissioner, he was given influential posts in the Academy of German Law and became head of the Reich specialist group of university lecturers in the Bund Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Juristen (BNSDJ). At the Leipzig Lawyers’ Congress in the fall of 1933, Schmitt was one of the keynote speakers on the topic of the new construction of constitutional and administrative law.
In the meantime he had received calls from Heidelberg and Munich University, but followed one to a newly created chair at Berlin University, which he accepted as early as October 1 and where he gave his first lecture on November 8. Schmitt also moved from his house publishing house, Ludwig Feuchtwanger’s Duncker & Humblot, with its 1848 tradition, to the Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt Wilhelm Stapels and there, in addition to a new edition of Begriff des Politischen (1933) adapted to the times, he published in the series Der deutsche Staat der Gegenwart (1933), which he edited, his writing Staat, Bewegung, Volk (1933), with which he intended a constitutional containment of the revolutionary situation after the Enabling Act. In the one-party state, there was the ‘threefolding of political unity’ in the ‘triad of state, movement and people’, in which the movement was the ‘political-dynamic’ element between the ‘political-static’ part of the state and the ‘non-political: of the people.
A ‘Führerrat’ selected by the Führer, which he saw in the Prussian State Council, ensured that professional and regional necessities were taken into account. The basis for leadership was the equality of species between leader and followers. In reality however, the emphatically proclaimed the Führer principle did not lead to a concentration of decision-making powers, but rather to a power struggle among the Nazi leadership elites, resulting in a “polycracy,” as Schmitt himself later recognized. Also in this year, he published widely circulated Five Guiding Principles for Legal Practice (1933), with which he took up the previous general clauses in order to swear in their unlimited interpretation to the basic tenets of the NS.
In the treatise On the Three Types of Jurisprudential Thought (1934), he supplemented his earlier distinction between normativism and decisionism with ‘concrete order and design thinking’. The juridical positivism of the 19th century was being overcome by an institutional thinking of order, Schmitt referring to the French theorist Maurice Hauriou. The ‘concrete order’ of a people was its ‘nomos’ – here the term that later became so important for Schmitt appeared for the first time. The question of the justification of law was to be anchored in the concrete orders of life and institutions of coexistence of historical reality, from which law formed itself and developed its normative effect. In the then current situation, according to Schmitt, Hitler was the leader of the German people, whose will would be the ‘nomos of the Germans’. In the first half of 1934, Schmitt gave further lectures on topics such as the structure of the state and the collapse of the second Reich, jurisprudence in the Führer’s state, and National Socialism and the rule of law, in which he attempted to make sense of National Socialism in legal-institutional terms. At the same time, he expanded his sphere of influence with the editorship of the Deutsche Juristenzeitung, whose first issue he introduced with a call for the Gleichschaltung of the judiciary.
When the SA leadership called for a ‘second revolution’ and a Nazi People’s Army, tensions between the state and the party increased. Since Hitler needed the military and the functional elites of the state for his plans, he had the leadership of the SA and other opponents of the regime liquidated on June 30, 1934. The law on measures of state self-defense, passed on July 3, declared the assassination action to be lawful. Schmitt commented on it in the next issue of the Deutsche Juristen-Zeitung with the article Der Führer schützt das Recht. Schmitt justified the murders of the SA leaders by presenting Hitler as the highest source of law, who had created immediate law at the moment of danger, but at the same time there was no legalization of special actions to settle old scores, which had to be punished severely, referring to the murders of Schleicher, Edgar Julius Jung and others, with whom Schmitt had collaborated. Abroad, reactions were fierce, and internally, Schmitt’s opponents took advantage to undermine his prominent position. Remarkable was the reaction of Schmitt’s friend Ernst Jünger, who had already warned him against illusions about the influence of Goering’s Staatsrat by referring to Napoleon’s unimportant Staatsrat and now asked the ironic question whether he had installed a machine gun in the basement window of his house. Schmitt began to focus more on programmatic and organizational issues, less on constitutionally constraining ones, which he now considered obsolete. Between his lectures, lecture tours, and the expansion of his position of power in the Academy for German Law and as a scientific advisor in the Institute for International Law of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, he sought recreation in the Sauerland region, as he had done in the 1920s. His lectures and essays now revolved around the concept of the rule of law, which he contrasted with the NS state of justice, which was an ‘immediate just state’, and around topics such as National Socialism and international law.
During this period, he became particularly close politically and privately to Reich Justice Commissioner Frank, whose influence in the Nazi hierarchy was, however, limited. Towards the end of 1934, Schmitt suffered his first defeat when, as head of the BNSDJ-Reichsfachgruppe Hochschullehrer (BNSDJ-Reichspecialized Group of University Teachers), he drafted proposals for a study regulation with colleagues at the conference he organized, which the speaker present, Schmitt’s former colleague Karl August Eckhardt, rejected on the part of the Reich Ministry for Science, Education and National Education. The fact that doubts about Schmitt’s loyalty to the Nazi regime were growing was not only due to the so-called Old Fighters, who distrusted the ‘March Fighter’ from the beginning, but increasingly to opponents in the SS. This became apparent in January 1935, when General von Fritsch, chief of the army command, had invited Schmitt to a lecture to officers on the legality of a coup d’état at the Reich Ministry of the Armed Forces. Himmler had then insinuated to Fritsch, who did not know Schmitt personally, that he intended to stage a coup; Goering believed this and Schmitt was disinvited on the day of the lecture; Himmler spoke instead.
On the occasion of the Nuremberg Party Congress in September 1935, at which the so-called race laws discriminating against Jews were passed, Schmitt wrote the article Die Verfassung der Freiheit (The Constitution of Freedom) in the Deutsche Juristen-Zeitung, in which he justified the government’s racial policy, which he presented as a compromise between the radical demands of the party and the stalling resistance of the ministerial bureaucracy in defining “Jew.” At the meeting of the International Law Association at the end of November, Schmitt spoke on the subject of Nazi legislation and the reservation of public order, in which he used the example of marriage law to discuss consequences for private international law through the application of the racial legislation that had just been passed. At the beginning of the year, the organization of the 1936 Lawyers’ Day led to a confrontation and break with Eckhardt and the SD department head Reinhard Höhn, who had Schmitt spied on by his assistant Herbert Gutjahr.
In the meantime, the SS had gained considerable influence over the younger faculty as ‘neo-Germanic Führer offspring’ and had labelled Schmitt an unreliable careerist. When Frank travelled to Rome in April, Schmitt also went with him to Italy and gave lectures on basic features of the Nazi state in Milan and Rome. There he was received in a private audience by Benito Mussolini, a symbolic high point in his career near power. Then, in May, the second major Nazi Lawyers Day was held in Leipzig, with some Nazi celebrities such as Goebbels, Gürtner, and Hess; here Schmitt, as organizer, no longer gave a major lecture. His position of power as Reichsfachgruppenleiter was so weakened that he had to fight for his political survival over the next six months. His often brusque demeanor during this time alienated even close confidants. When, on the occasion of the Nuremberg Party Congress in September 1936, the staff of the Fuehrer’s deputy considered replacing Justice Minister Gürtner with Frank, with the possibility that Schmitt could then become State Secretary, the SS began to plan the overthrow of Schmitt, who by now openly described the SS as his ideological opponent.
As head of the scientific department of the National Socialist Legal Preservation League, successor to the BNSDJ, Schmitt convened the conference Das Judentum in der Rechtswissenschaft (Judaism in Law) on October 4 and 5, 1936. He was even prepared to invite the notorious Gauleiter Julius Streicher, who, however, after a tip-off from the SD, stayed away, as did Schmitt’s patron Frank, and even colleagues and students who were close friends of Schmitt, such as Forsthoff, E. R. Huber, W. Weber, Oberheid, Johannes Heckel and others, cancelled their participation. The official goal of the conference, to examine the influences of Judaism on German jurisprudence and economics, had as a hidden objective to counter the racial anti-Semitism, especially of the SS, with Christian anti-Jewish motives. In order to balance this tendency, Schmitt had enlisted the prominent ‘racial hygienist’ and SS-Hauptsturmführer Falk Ruttke as a lecturer, but in his paper Ruttke clearly distinguished himself from the organizer of the conference, so that Schmitt had to refer to him in the closing remarks. When it became clear to him with what intensity the SS had begun to pursue his downfall, he decided not to retreat but to cooperate with the arch-enemy. In early December, Schmitt, invoking an understanding with Frank, sent to Himmler the just-completed booklets of the series Das Judentum in der Rechtswissenschaft. But the submission came too late. On December 3, an attack on Schmitt appeared in the SS organ “Das Schwarze Korps” under the title “Eine peinliche Ehrenrettung” (An embarrassing vindication of Schmitt’s honour) by the editor-in-chief Gunter d’Alquen; on December 10, a second “It gets even more embarrassing” appeared with a floral reading of captious Schmitt statements, which were based on the “German Letters” of the Swiss émigré and former Schmitt student Waldemar Gurian, on hostile competing colleagues such as the constitutional lawyer Koellreutter, and on SD inmates. Schmitt recognized the dangerous situation created by the articles and contacted Göring and Frank. While the latter dropped Schmitt and stripped him of all offices in the NSRB, the Academy and the editorship of the DJZ for ‘health reasons’, Göring stood up to Himmler and Heydrich and saved ‘his’ Staatsrat from the grasp of the SS. The university rector had also urged Schmitt to cancel his lectures, but this did not happen; on the contrary, an SD informer reported an emphatically enthusiastic welcome on the part of the students at the beginning of Schmitt’s lectures. He retained his chair until 1945.
Schmitt’s career in the Nazi functional elite was over by 1936. His rise had been associated with the loss of close friends such as Georg Eisler, Ludwig Feuchtwanger, Franz Blei, Erwin Jacobi, Erik Peterson and others, and now even closer colleagues such as Ernst Rudolf Huber and Johannes Heckel were distancing themselves.
The NS Period (1937-1945)
The state-law interpretations of the National Socialist movement had failed at the latest after June 30, 1934; Schmitt gradually began to realize this. He now focused on the totality of the political community surrounding him and used the mythological image of the biblical sea monster Leviathan to analyze it. With the paper Der Leviathan in der Staatslehre des Thomas Hobbes. Sinn und Fehlschlag eines politischen Symbols (1938), he invoked Hobbes’s design of a Christian state under an omnipotent sovereign with the natural unity of religion and politics. This state, he argued, had ultimately failed because of its internal reservation in favor of individual freedom, and thus the epoch of statehood had come to its end. Responsible for the weakening and eventual disempowerment of the sovereign had been the indirect powers, initially in the form of apolitical private reservations of conscience, promoted by – according to Schmitt’s anti-Semitic attribution — “Jewish” thinkers from Spinoza to Stahl, later the ‘state machinery’ had been destroyed by “powers of society” such as political parties, trade unions and social associations. They had used the Leviathan to create a civic counter-public and neutralized state power with the liberal doctrine of the rule of law. The National Socialists also used precisely these weapons, which Schmitt had wanted to prevent in the early 1930s with the politically understood concept of the “total state”: the slide into the omnipotence of a totalitarian party, in which “the movement” takes the place of the state.
Schmitt had moved several times in Berlin during the 1930s. After the short engagement (summer semester 1933) in Cologne, he lived with his family from winter semester 1933 in Berlin-Steglitz on the Fichteberg in the immediate vicinity of Johannes Popitz. Co-habitant of the villa was the widow of the Prussian Minister of Culture Carl Heinrich Becker, who died in 1933. In October 1936, shortly before his fall in the Nazi hierarchy, Schmitt’s moved to Dahlem to Kaiserswerther Straße 17. In the neighborhood were the research facilities of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, e.g. the KWI for Chemistry, only 100 meters away, where Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discovered atomic fission in 1939, and the Harnack House, where Schmitt was a frequent guest and gave lectures. Across the street in the late Expressionist building complex at No. 16-18 was the central financial office of the mammoth Deutsche Arbeitsfront corporation; from 1945 onward, the Allied command of the victorious powers met here, its last session taking place in October 1990. Schmitt remained in contact with Popitz, from whom he continued to gain insights into the workings of the regime. Despite the close friendship, however, Schmitt did not become a member of the so-called Wednesday Society, in which Popitz played a prominent role and whose increasingly regime-critical orientation he played a decisive role.
Social life in the Schmitt household is well documented from diary entries, recollections of third parties, and especially from Duschka’s records of guests and entertainments. It is striking that because of Schmitt’s increasing isolation in the law faculty, his students were often among them, including foreign colleagues, but only a few from Berlin and other German universities. On the other hand, there were guests from other disciplines, such as the sociologist Hans Freyer, the legal philosopher Carl August Emge, the church historian Erich Seeberg, the Clausewitz expert General von Cochenhausen, and the economists Erwin von Beckerath and Jens Jessen. Old friends such as Ernst and Gretha Jünger or Lilly von Schnitzler and her husband Georg stopped off at Schmitts in the Reich capital. Based on the guest list, one gets the impression that the house had been especially open to artists; in addition to visits from Emil and Ada Nolte, the usually strapped painters Werner Heldt and Werner Gilles were especially catered for, Duschka went with seminar participants to Ernst Wilhelm Nay’s studio, and through the friendship of the daughters, there was contact with the influential Karl Buchholz Gallery, where the works of the ostracized Expressionists were still available on the 2nd floor.
Carl Schmitt’s interest in writers and poets changed over the decades. After Theodor Däubler, the hermetic poet Konrad Weiß now came into focus, and along with Ernst Jünger, there was the acquaintance with Gottfried Benn. When the Yugoslavian envoy and later Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andric officiated in Berlin from 1939, a closer relationship developed between him and Schmitt. For the occasion of the European Poetry Days in Weimar in 1941, arranged especially for French writers willing to collaborate, Drieu la Rochelle visited Schmitt in Dahlem. Schmitt’s very early practical and theoretical interest in music, which had led to a lifelong friendship in Bonn with the music historian Arnold Schmitz, was also deepened by the harpsichordist Eta Harich-Schneider and the tenor Peter Anders of the State Opera. More than a few friendships, however, were broken by Schmitt’s Nazi involvement. Franz Blei called out a melancholy adieu to his friend from emigration. The numerous Jewish friends kept their distance, most painfully in the case of Georg Eisler, who can be considered the closest friend of his life.
After his disempowerment, Schmitt, a lawyer, focused his work on current developments in international law. For example, Die Wendung zum discriminierenden Kriegsbegriffs (1937), a survey of recent publications in foreign international law literature, was published. In it, Schmitt noted an end to the possibility of neutrality on the part of Anglo-Saxon and French international law jurists. Through the universal expansion of modern ideologies of justice, wars could now be waged in the name of morality and justice. These ‘just’ wars transformed the enemy into a criminal and turned the law of war into criminal law; they did not tolerate neutrality. Another opportunity for Schmitt to reappear in the public eye came from the so-called Anschluss of Austria to the German Reich and the Munich Agreement on the occasion of the Sudeten crisis. With the geopolitical term ‘Großraum’ and the reference to the American Monroe Doctrine, he was able to influence Nazi European policy, to the annoyance of the SD, which continued to observe him.
He had already presented his ‘concrete order community of nations’ in 1938 in one of his most extensive reviews of the voluminous work Das Reich und die Krankheit der europäischen Kultur (The Reich and the Disease of European Culture) by the recently deceased historian Christoph Steding. In his Kiel lecture Der Reichsbegriff im Völkerrecht (The Concept of Empire in International Law) of April 1939, Schmitt attempted to clarify Steding’s concept of empire from the perspective of international law by defining ’empires’ as leading powers whose political idea radiated into a certain large area and for which interventions by foreign powers were to be excluded. The world could be divided into different areas with mutual respect for a ban on intervention. In this context, the German Reich claimed the Central and Eastern European area as a ‘service area’ for itself. The elaborated lecture appeared in the same year with the title Völkerrechtliche Großraumordnung mit Interventionsverbot für raumfremde Mächte (1939) in the Deutscher Rechtsverlag. The response was considerable; above all, the SS felt challenged again and criticised the lack of a biological and racist foundation; instead of international law, it should be called ‘völkische’ Großraumordnung.
After the beginning of the war, Schmitt himself problematized the concept of the Reich he used as a new concept of order under international law in new editions by including additional chapters and referred to the 1939 edition as a document. In the 3rd edition in 1941, he removed the passages incriminated by the SS lawyers Best and Höhn. At the same time, he continued to disseminate his Großraum ideas in numerous lectures, but then, as his distance from the Nazi regime grew, he turned more to the history of jurisprudence, beginning with his concise text on Die Stellung Lorenz von Stein in der Gesetzgebung des 19. Jahrhunderts and the major essay Die Formung des französischen Geistes durch den Legisten. At the Nuremberg Historians Conference in February 1941, he addressed his changed understanding of the state with the lecture Staatliche Souveränität und freies Meer. In it, he described the struggle for the reorganization of overseas discoveries since the 16th century and the related fronts of world Catholicism and world Protestantism, as well as the formation of the concepts of “state” and “sovereignty.” These reflections were continued by him in numerous articles especially on the concept of “space revolution” and finally resulted in his last book in the Third Reich Land and Sea. Eine weltgeschichtliche Betrachtung (1942). From the “spatial basic facts” the “Christian-European international law of the last three centuries, the jus publicum europaeum, would have developed”, whose downfall we were currently experiencing.
Schmitt felt lost and saw himself mirrored in the novella Benito Cereno by Melville. In it, the Spaniard Benito Cereno, captain of a ship off the Chilean coast, unable to maneuver, is visited with a cargo of slaves by Delano, captain of an American sealer. Delano notices the strangeness of the situation, but does not see through it until he is about to return to his ship. At the last moment, Benito Cereno jumps into Delano’s dinghy to escape the mutinous slaves and their leader Babo, whose slogan was “Follow your leader.” Ernst Jünger shared with Schmitt a penchant for symbolic form, there in Marble Cliffs, for instance, here in Leviathan. The friendship between the two, which included their families, grew closer during these years. In October 1941, at the invitation of the German Institute, Schmitt visited Paris, lectured, met Jünger, and also spoke with Friedrich Sieburg, Montherlant, and again with Drieu la Rochelle. In the next two years, Schmitt traveled to give lectures in friendly foreign countries.
In April, Schmitt drew his salary as a professor for the last time, having been on leave in February. Since savings were almost non-existent, the family hung in the air. During the year, they had to sell some of the household goods. Later, Duschka also sublet rooms from the apartment in the house, which was already occupied by refugees. In order to be able to obtain ration cards, which were essential for survival, Schmitt registered as a “scientist,” so that on May 18 he received the heavy workers ration card from the Russian administration, while his wife was only entitled to the 5th class card for housewives and former Nazis; later, in the U.S. zone, Schmitt received a Group 3 card. In the summer, when he had completed the expert opinion on international law for the imprisoned industrialist Flick, the family was able to live off the fee for a while. During this time, their daughter Anima continued to be in Cloppenburg, living with a Wesseling family and attending the local high school with her two cousins.
In his diary, during the spring and summer, Schmitt ruminated on the total defeat with the most severe devastation on German soil since the Thirty Years War, on the causes of Hitler’s power over the German people, and on his own participation in the Nazi regime. He continued the excerpts and preliminary studies he had already compiled in the last two years of the war for his major work Der Nomos der Erde im Völkerrecht des Jus publicum Europaeum (The Nomos of the Earth in International Law of the Jus publicum Europaeum) and worked on the above-mentioned expert opinion Das internationalsrechtliche Verbrechen des Angriffskrieges und der Grundsatz ‘Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege’ (The International Law Crime of War of Aggression and the Principle ‘Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege’), which was intended to protect the industrialist and businessman Flick against prosecution and conviction for participation in the crime of war of aggression. In the expert opinion, Carl Schmitt also made clear his view of the Nazi crimes, according to which those who had placed themselves outside the law as perpetrators for the planned killings and atrocities that exceeded human comprehension had become outlaws and should be punished accordingly.
In July 1945, American troops arrived in Berlin, which was divided into four occupation zones. The district of Zehlendorf-Nikolassee was now under the U.S. military government. In the early years, the Americans pursued a different policy toward the defeated country than the Soviet Russians. They tended toward collective moral condemnation and organized denazification first in extensive internments, divided into three groups: the actual war criminals, tried at the Nuremberg trial, persons whom the occupying power feared would endanger its troops, and finally the largest group, taken into “automatic arrest.” This group comprised almost the entire functional elite of the Reich, all of whom were assumed to have been National Socialists. The assessment of emigrants, many of whom returned as members of the U.S. Army, had a strong influence. These included people Schmitt knew personally, such as Karl Löwenstein, Ossip K. Flechtheim, Robert Kempner, and others.
When Schmitt was arrested on September 26, 1945, it was at the intense urging of Löwenstein, who also had Schmitt’s private library confiscated on October 16. Schmitt had made it available to the public for scholarly use at the beginning of June on the basis of an agreement with the Zehlendorf cultural commissioner Erich F. Podach. He was first interned at the U.S. Interrogation Center Berlin-Wannsee, then at Camp Lichterfelde, where he filled out an extensive questionnaire in February, which he combined with a request for release. The Spruchkammer proceedings convened as a result, with German lay judges, unanimously proposed Schmitt’s dismissal, also on the basis of statements by respected persons in favour of Schmitt. At first, the American authorities did not agree. It was not until October 10, 1946, that he was released from the Interrogation Center in Wannsee, without conviction or acquittal, just as there had been no formal arrest document to begin with. In retrospect, it is clear from the documents that there had been no justiciable reasons for the internment, nor for the sequestration of Schmitt’s private library, which, after some interim storage, had been set up for use in the legal department of the U.S. military government since early 1946. However, it was clear to those responsible that the sequestration did not affect the title of ownership, which is why all of the approximately 4,000 books received corresponding stamp imprints for later return.
Schmitt survived the internment thanks to the constant help of his wife Duschka, who provided him with food and warm clothing, donated by relatives and friends. The life-impractical scholar also found help in coping with everyday life in the camp in two fellow prisoners, Ministerialrat Wever and the last rector of Berlin University, orthopedist Lothar Kreuz. Here, too, Schmitt kept a diary despite being forbidden to write, because an American doctor gave him prescription pads in DIN A 7 format, on which Schmitt recorded his observations, his renewed turn to the Catholic faith, and laments about his fate, which later formed the basis for his book Ex captivitate Salus. The Catholic camp chaplain smuggled texts outside, as well as Schmitt’s letters to his wife.
Freedom did not last half a year for Schmitt. On March 19, 1947, he was arrested again by the American secret service (CIC). The reasons for this are unclear, but presumably Löwenstein and Ernst Niekisch played a role here. After interrogations by Ossip K. Flechtheim, the authorities transferred him to the prison of the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg on March 29. His wife Duschka now feared that her husband would be indicted and sentenced to a long prison term. The interrogations by the prosecutor, Robert W. Kempner, however, were more moral reproaches than preparations for a justiciable indictment. After Schmitt, at Kempner’s request, had written expert reports on Hitler’s Greater Region policy and the internal power structure of the Nazi government, he was able to leave Nuremberg and arrived in Plettenberg as a free man on May 21.
The last Decades in Plettenberg
Brockhauser Weg 10 (1948 – 1970)
In the house of the sisters Auguste and Anna at Brockhauser Weg 10 in Plettenberg-Eiringhausen, built in 1938, there was not much room for the new arrivals from Berlin, even after the death of the mother in 1943 and that of the father in 1945, especially since Anima was added in 1948, who graduated from high school in Plettenberg in 1951. Duschka still had a lot to do in Berlin, breaking up the large household and above all organizing the move through the occupation zones, which was not accomplished until the end of January 1948, especially with the help of Anni Stand, who later became the housekeeper. As before, Schmitt’s financial situation remained strained, friends helped him in the next few years, whether individually or in organized associations such as the establishment of an account for donations by MdB Peterheinrich Kirchhoff from the neighboring town of Werdohl or the so-called ‘Academia Moralis’ in Düsseldorf with financial support, also by arranging lectures, in order to continue to offer Schmitt a public forum. From 1951 he received a pension under the law known as G131 regulating the legal relationships of former Nazi officials.
The next few years were overshadowed by Duschka’s cancer. She underwent surgery in Heidelberg in 1948, was able to return to Plettenberg in 1949, but soon had to return to the Krehl Clinic in Heidelberg, where she was cared for by its director and family friend Richard Siebeck. During these stays at the clinic, Schmitt often visited his wife and stayed at the home of his friend and student Ernst Forsthoff. Duschka died on December 3, 1950. Friends paid for the clinic costs, and she was buried in the Catholic cemetery in Plettenberg-Eiringhausen, with Schmitt’s friend, the Catholic priest Hans Barion, saying the funeral mass.
After 1945, Carl Schmitt was not only ostracized in academic circles for his collaboration with the Nazi regime, about which he complained in detail in his diary Glossarium. Aufzeichnungen aus den Jahren 1947 bis 1958 (new edition 2015) he complained about in detail and in an extremely self-referential way. While he had still reflected self-critically on his involvement from 1933 onward in the 1945 records, the public demands for confession of guilt and repentance led Schmitt to polemically reject publicized admissions and to caustic characterizations of his persecutors, whom he saw as being under the influence of the re-education of the victorious powers. In this situation, his first publications in the postwar period, a Repetitorium of International Law, as well as two essays and a review, appeared without the author’s name or under a pseudonym. When he published the edited lecture Die Lage der europäischen Rechtswissenschaft (The State of European Jurisprudence) under his name in the Tübingen University Press from 1950 and Ex captivitate salus and the main work Der Nomos der Erde im Völkerrecht des Jus Publicum Europaeum (The Nomos of the Earth in the Law of Nations of the Jus Publicum Europaeum) in the Cologne Greven Press, there were numerous negative articles with political-moral underpinnings – the tenor was of a “strong spirit of a Luciferian kind”, of “morbid erudition” and “nihilistic existentialism”.
Schmitt gave numerous lectures in the first half of the 1950s, the topics of which were based on his publications, e.g. “The Unity of the World,” “The Contrast of Land and Sea” or “The Problem of Peace. Excluded from academic teaching, in 1957 he accepted the invitation of the philosopher Joachim Ritter to lecture again for the first time at a university in his Münster Collegium Philosophicum. He also participated almost annually from 1957 to 1967 in the Ebracher Seminars organized by Forsthoff.
In addition to these activities, Schmitt created a kind of counter-public with his daily letter writing, which included far more than 10,000 letters, almost always handwritten. Correspondents were not only old friends and acquaintances, such as Ernst and Gretha Jünger, Heinrich Oberheid, Hans Barion, Ernst-Rudolf Huber, Hans Freyer, Arnold Gehlen, Lilly von Schnitzler, Hans Schneider, Giselher Wirsing and others, but soon also younger ones such as Johannes Gross, Rüdiger Altmann, Nicolaus Sombart, Heinrich Popitz, Hanno Kesting, Reinhart Koselleck, Roman Schnur, Peter Scheibert, Rudolf Augstein, Walter Warnach, Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, Armin Mohler, Bernard Willms and many others, some of whom came to visit Plettenberg. From abroad, Sava Klickovic from Yugoslavia, who had received his doctorate from Schmitt in 1940, Julien Freund from France and George Schwab from the USA, Piet Tommissen from Belgium, Javier Conde, Tierno Galvan and Álvaro d’Ors from Spain arrived.
Since Schmitt was a great ‘catcher of people’ in letters and especially in conversation, the visitors were introduced to his world of thought through his hospitality and intensive conversations and were often influenced in their further work. Even when it came to the major topics such as East-West antagonism, dominance of the technical-industrial world, development and consequences of warlike weapons up to partisanship, and political theology, the current situation of the Federal Republic was not ignored, which is also evidenced by records from the estate, for example, on the jurisdiction of the Federal Constitutional Court, the dominance of the parties and the ‘social forces’ that transformed the bourgeois constitutional state into a pluralistically constituted economic and administrative state of industrial society. In the correspondence published so far, it is simultaneously evident, as in the case of Ernst and Gretha Jünger, that a distancing between the old partners occurred precisely after 1945, which was based on the different attitudes toward the Nazi past as well as on the success in the early Federal Republic that Schmitt envied the previous maudits Ernst Jünger, Gottfried Benn and others, which is also evidenced by the entries in the resentful glossary until the late 1950s. When his old student and colleague in constitutional law Ernst-Rudolf Huber wanted to talk to him about the reasons for his own participation in the Third Reich and its system of extermination, Schmitt did not let himself be drawn into it either.
Schmitt was no stranger to his hometown, but the ‘official’ Plettenberg only took note of him on his 90th birthday when he was awarded the town’s ring of honor. Even if he often referred to his Moselle origin, he expressed over decades in the diaries his inclination to the Sauerland homeland, in which he recovered in difficult phases of life by extensive wanderings and had just also found refuge. In the words of his poet friend Konrad Weiß, he described the ‘sleeping’ mountains of the Mark Brandenburg landscape, their demeanor, often shrouded in mist or rain, the clash of Atlantic-oceanic moisture and the solid land of basalt and granite.
In everyday life, Anni Stand managed the household and entertained guests since 1950. Daughter Anima was in Munich and Darmstadt after graduating from high school in 1951 to become a stage designer and went to Heidelberg in 1954 to learn Spanish and French at the Interpreters’ Institute. In 1957 she married the Spanish lawyer Alfonso Otero and led a family life in Santiago de Compostela with four children and, thanks to her famous father, a socially dominant large circle of acquaintances. Schmitt traveled to Spain every summer since then until 1970, where he was celebrated as a great scholar. He lectured at the important universities and became an honorary member of the Instituto Estudios Politícos in Madrid.
In Plettenberg, as earlier in Berlin, Schmitt soon had contacts with artists in the surrounding area. These included the painter Wilhelm Wessel in Iserlohn, the artist and educator Hugo Kükelhaus in Soest, the painter Hubert Berke in the Rhineland and his close friend, the sculptor Heinrich Holthaus in Plettenberg. During the war, he had worked with Gilles, Heldt and Kaspar in the Klosterstraße studio community in Berlin, modeling a portrait head of Anima. At chamber music evenings, Schmitt’s sister Ännchen played the piano and the doctor Hendryk Bakowsky accompanied his wife Anne, a well-known pianist, on the cello. Schmitt also took part in the city’s cultural life, especially when guests he knew from his Berlin days appeared, such as the actor Mathias Wiemann or the tenor Peter Anders, who died in an accident after an evening at Brockhauser Weg.
In the 1950s, Carl Schmitt had written a legal opinion on the problem of the compatibility of the rule of law and socialization, had brought about the new edition of his famous constitutional doctrine in the house publisher Duncker & Humblot, and had published older essays with topical glosses commenting on the development of the Federal Republic in the Verfassungsrechtlichen Aufsätze (Essays on Constitutional Law), but he now turned more to topics of historical philosophy, literature, and contemporary diagnosis. In addition to numerous smaller reviews in the journal Das historisch-politische Buch and so-called corollaries on the subject of Nomos, he wrote several larger contributions on the interpretation of time. In the essay Drei Möglichkeiten eines christlichen Geschichtsbildes (1950) in the journal Universitas, Schmitt dealt with Karl Löwith’s publications on the modern philosophy of history and described his own position on the basis of the Christian teleology of the ‘catechon’ and the ‘great parallel’, which led to a view of history oriented to Konrad Weiß. In the article Die Einheit der Welt (1952) in Merkur, Schmitt showed that for him the two blocs in the Cold War stood in the ideological unity of a philosophy of history of the technical-industrial world of progress. Against their convergence in a planetary unity of pure technicity, he bet on a passage to a new multiplicity. He continued this view in his contribution to a Festschrift for Ernst Jünger Die geschichtliche Struktur des heutigen Weltgegensatzes von Ost und West. Remarks on Ernst Jünger’s writing Der gordische Knoten (1955). In it, he distanced himself from Jünger’s thinking in polarities and, on the other hand, developed a historical-dialectical structure from the opposition of land and sea, which led to elementarily different possibilities of existence of man; however, he renounced an answer to “the question after the question” in view of mere repetitions of historical-philosophical sense-making, because a historical truth was true only once.
As a media enthusiast, Schmitt had watched film screenings early on and lectured on radio from the early 1930s; now, in exile in Sauerland, he kept close track of the response to his publications and compiled lists of the books, offprints, or press releases he sent out. This applied, for example, to the independent writings such as the doctrinal talk on Die Macht und den Zugang zum Machthaber (1954). In it he discussed the dialectic of power and powerlessness of the powerful through his dependence on the ‘indirect’, the forecourt of power populated with background figures. In 1956 there was an excursion into literature and literary criticism through Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Hamlet or Hecuba. The Intrusion of Time into the Play. In Schmitt’s controversial interpretation of the stage play as a political work, he linked Hamlet to the then King James as a tragic figure whose mother married the patricide, which everyone knew but was not allowed to say. This intrusion of the time of a historical present into the play would be the origin of the mythical power of this drama, which had an effect until the 20th century. Already during the war Schmitt had discovered the mythical figure important for him in Hermann Melville’s novella of the same name Benito Cereno. His fascination with these figures involved in hopeless situations, lost posts, and unexplained frauds continued in the Münster Anabaptist Bockelson, the Prussian poet Heinrich von Kleist, or in Kaspar Hauser and the false Demetrius. What then culminated in Schmitt’s self-image as a Christian Epimetheus in the sense of his poet friend Konrad Weiß, who accepts what has been imposed on him and does not want to think again what has been thought, since one cannot go through the same river twice. Finally, this also includes Léon Bloy’s recurring phrase “tout ce qui arrive est adorable”.
One of his most influential writings, The Concept of the Political, had not been reprinted since the 1930s. Particularly at the urging of Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, Schmitt decided in 1963 to reissue it with some corollaries and an extensive preface on constitutional history that also took into account the history of interpretation. Parallel to this writing, he published The Theory of the Partisan. Intermediate remark on the concept of the political. In the world civil war he diagnosed, the classical law of war with its distinction between combatants and non-combatants had ceased to exist. New actors appeared, such as the partisan, who on the one hand was tellurically bound to the ground to be defended and to interested third parties for support, and on the other hand, in the anti-colonialist movement, no longer conformed to the dualistic structure of the Cold War and thus acted in the world political context. At the same time, Schmitt discussed the changes in the concept of the enemy, which had to lead to a new concept of the enemy due to the great destruction potential of modern weapons: the absolute means of destruction required the absolute enemy to be applied.
In verse 3 of the Odyssey, Odysseus is said to have seen cities of many people and to have learned custom (“πολλῶν δ’ ἀνθρώπων ἴδεν ἄστεα καὶ νόον ἔγνω”). The jurist Schmitt emphasizes the nomos (νόμος, νόμον) as the last message as the sense unit of a place.