The Nazi Period (1933-1945)

  • In 1934 Walter Schoenborn (1883-1956) became the new director of the Institute.
  • Schoenborn was the only one of the Law Faculty’s ten full professors who survived the ‘cleansing wave’ when the Nazi party seized power. Politically, he was a conservative. Though he joined several National Socialist organisations, he never joined the Nazi political party.
  • His choice as a director seems more like a ‘stopgap’, a testament to the lack of importance the Nazi administration accorded to international law during their first years in power.
  • Through this lack of interest and the ‘in-house solution’ Schoenborn, the Institute remained outside the indoctrination of the ‘Kieler Schule’. Though Schücking’s proactive stance towards the League of Nations was abandoned, the Institute kept its department for the League until 1937.


  • The Institute came under the influence of National Socialist ideology when Paul Ritterbusch (1900-1945), a staunch Nazi, became the new director in 1937. That same year he was appointed rector of the University, limiting the time he could devote to the Institute.
  • Ritterbusch merged his former Königsberg Institute with the Kiel Institute to form the ‘Institute for Politics and International Law’. While its department of international law steered largely clear of ideology, the departments for Politics and Foreign Studies run by Ritterbusch’s clique – namely Richard Naumann (1906-1978) and Hans Helmut Dietze (1911-1946) – followed an outright Nazi course.
  • On the occasion of the Institute’s 25th anniversary in April 1939 Carl Schmitt presented his ‘Völkerrechtliche Großraumordnung’, his first venture into geopolitics and international law.
  • In 1941, Ritterbusch moved to Berlin University from where he organised the ‘Kriegseinsatz der deutschen Geisteswissenschaften’ (‘War Effort of the German Humanities’), also known as ‘Aktion Ritterbusch’.
  • After Ritterbusch’s departure the merger of the two institutes was annulled. Due to the war, research and teaching at the Kiel Institute lay idle.