Background - 13.09.2019 - 00:00 

History lesson: Hans Nawiasky – champion of freedom and trailblazer

Owing to his Jewish descent, Hans Nawiasky fled from Munich to Switzerland and lived in St.Gallen from 1939 onwards. In 1944, he became Full Professor at the newly established Chair of Public Law at the HSG.

Hans Nawiasky was born in Graz (Austria) in 1880. He went to school in Frankfurt am Main and then read law and economics in Vienna and Munich. He obtained his doctorate in Vienna in 1903, and his habilitation thesis was accepted there in 1910. He then worked as a Privatdozent for constitutional and administrative law in Vienna.

Specialist for constitutional issues

In1914, Hans Nawiasky was appointed adjunct professor at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, where he was promoted to professor in 1919 and Full Professor of Constitutional Law in 1928. At that time, Nawiasky became the Bavarian government’s most important advisor on constitutional issues.

Flight from the National Socialists

Nawiasky was of Jewish descent but, being a baptised Catholic, had no ties to Judaism at all. As a champion of freedom, he fought National Socialism from the very beginning. After the seizure of power, the brownshirts of the Sturmabteilung (SA) broke into his Munich flat. A former student who was a member of the SA warned him, and he fled to Switzerland. He first lived in Kreuzlingen and from 1939 onwards in St.Gallen.

Foundation of today’s Institute for Legal Studies and Legal Practice

From Winter Semester 1933/34, the Graduate School regularly employed him as a lecturer in public law, to begin with in the evening public lectures. In 1944, he was appointed Full Professor at the newly established Chair of Public Law. In 1936, he established the successful further education series “Swiss Administration Courses” in St.Gallen, which in 1939 resulted in the foundation of one of the first institutes at the Graduate School, the Swiss Institute for Administration Courses (today’s Institute for Legal Studies and Legal Practice). He headed the Institute until his death in 1961.

The first University Act

Together with Prof. Dr. Walter Hug, he drafted the University Act of 1938, which granted the then Graduate School of Economics and Business Administration the right to confer Doctor’s degrees and the status of an institution under public law. In 1942, the curriculum in administrative sciences was established under his aegis.

Advisor for the young Federal Republic of Germany

A short time after the end of National Socialism, Nawiasky was called upon to cooperate on the constitution of the Free State of Bavaria (1946), and he was again given a chair at Munich University. Since he retained his chair in, and remained a resident of St.Gallen, he commuted between the two places. In 1948, he was involved in the preparatory work for the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Later acclaim

At the end of Winter Semester 1954/55, Hans Nawiasky retired from the Graduate School of Economics and Business Administration and was appointed Honorary Professor at the same time. He was granted honorary membership of the old boy’s association of the Bodania fraternity in 1954, and students appreciated him as a demanding, strict, yet at the same time sympathetic and humorous teacher.

He received numerous awards and honours, for instance the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1953 and the Bavarian Order of Merit in 1959. In 1961, Munich University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Public Law. In 1968, the City of Munich named a street in the Perlach district after him.

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