Franz Oppenheimer

Franz Oppenheimer

Franz Oppenheimer (* 30. March 1864 in Berlin; † 30. September 1943 in Los Angeles), physician, sociologist and political economist. Brother of Professor. Carl Oppenheimer (biochemistry) and Paula Dehmel, the wife of smelling pool of broadcasting corporations Dehmel.

Table of contents

training and occupation

after its study of the medicine in Freiburg in to mash gau and Berlin he attained a doctorate 1885 with Paul Ehrlich in medicine and was afterwards until 1895 as a practical physician in an arm quarter of Berlin active. Besides it employed starting from 1890 with sociopolitical questions and became increasingly journalistic actively. As an editor-in-chief of the world on Monday he worked in the same building as Friedrich Naumann, he learned which to know there and which out there the assistance gave. 1896 published Oppenheimer its first scientific work the land settlement association. In it is to today well-known Oppenheimer transformation law.

1909 took place the graduation in Kiel with a work by means of David Ricardo to the Dr. phil.. From 1909 to 1917 Oppenheimer private lecturer was following in Berlin, for two years Titularprofessor. 1919 it accepted a call on the chair for sociology, donated by Frankfurt buyers, and theoretical political economy at the Goethe university in Frankfurt/Main . This first sociology - it held Professur Germany until 1929 . Its successor became Karl Mannheim. 1934 to 1935 taught Oppenheimer in Palestine. 1936 he was appointed the honour member of the American Sociological Association. In January 1939 Oppenheimer the departure with its daughter succeeded to Japan, where he had a training order, which he could not exercise however at the Keio university in Tokyo, because the so-called culture agreement between National Socialist Germany and Japan forbade the occupation of everyone, which displeased the national socialist. Although owner of a Non Quota visa became, him the residence permit in Japan again extracted. It had to leave Japan and went until 1940 after Shanghai. From there from emigrierte Oppenheimer into the USA and established itself in Los Angeles, where its somewhat younger sister Elise Steindorff, which was already resident Mrs. von Georg Steindorff. 1941 were Oppenheimer initial member of the American journal OF Economics and Sociology. It wrote still several books in English language, which are unpublished until today.


Franz Oppenheimer became as a third child of Antonie Oppenheimer (teacher), geb. Davidson, and Dr. phil. Julius Oppenheimer (Prediger at the Jewish reform municipality in Berlin) born.


, one finds numerous attempts to science at the methods of the scientific research with Oppenheimer to work similarly strict law statements out in the social and economic science. On over 1200 sides in volume IV by the system a sociologically coined/shaped historical paper of the social and restaurant history of Europe is offered to the sociology from the people migration to the present, which is not limited to the representation of well-known facts usual for historians, but an explanation of the connections on the basis of always same social regularities tries. Its central sociological theses over the state received world-wide attention and into at least 10 languages were translated. On the way over Albert Jay Nocks Our enemy, the state (1935) affected Oppenheimers theses at least radical liberal and anarchist philosophers as can be prove, although Oppenheimer drew different conclusions as liberal socialist rather. One recognizes good theories and theoreticians after Oppenheimer by its prognoses. Correctly recognized social laws make correct forecasts possible of future developments. Accordingly Oppenheimer in its utopian novel jump has itself over one century (1932) of far forwards daringly as every other society scientist its time. already to 1932 he saw atomic weapons, whose destructive power would be so enormous coming that the peoples would dare no more wars against each other. When others still the hereditary enemy France wähnten to the neighbour, it described geeintes, boundless Europe with predominantly visible, regional administrations for the year 2032. He saw, while the world experienced its heaviest economic crisis, a society economy ahead, which would know no more crises and in the above all free, independent, genossenschaftlich geeinte humans their business would organize. Three years before into Germany at all the first television station on transmission he went, prognosticated that in the year 2032 a face-to-face phone would stand in each household and loudless (electrical) vehicles in at that time inconceivable number would slide over well removed roads. (Details for this see under point 5 vision)

state theory

after Oppenheimer gives it to three state-theoretical sources:

  • philosophy is concerned with the state, like that as it being should,
  • the lawyer is concerned with the outside form of the state and
  • the sociology with the contents of, the life of the state company.(On-line text, S.11)

of Oppenheimer goes to far developed sociological state idea back on Gerrard Winstanley (1609 - 1676) and Henri de Saint Simon (1760 - 1825). Thereto the historical research points that each state was forced upon “after its emergence completely and to its nature nearly completely after on its first existence stages a social mechanism (is), those by a victorious group of people defeated of a group of people with the only purpose to regulate and secure against internal rebellions and outside attacks the rule first over the latter. And the rule did not have any other final intention than the economic exploitation of the defeated ones by the winners. No primitive” state “of world history is differently developed… “.(On-line text, S.15)

“each state of the past and history, to which this name comes undisputed, each state above all, that in its development to higher stages of the power, which became world-historically important size and the wealth, was or is a class state, D. h. a hierarchy of each other over and subordinated layers or classes with different right and different income. “(On-line text, S.12)

“the irreconcilable Zwiespalt of the theories of the state it explains itself from the fact that none of them of sociological criteria out developed. The state is universalhistorical view stretching broadly an universalhistorical object and can only by in its nature be recognized. So far, except the sociological, no state theory took this path (...). They all developed as class theories. “(Collected writings, Bd.2, S.312)

“one can understand the state as an economic collective person of the dominant class, which procured itself the worker of the subjects as” value thing “. “(Oppenheimer, the capital, S.84)

“the” origin standard “of this condition reads: You are us unentgolten to steer; for the purpose have to obey it, if we instruct, otherwise meets you the sanction, which likes to us. “(Oppenheimer, system of the sociology, Bd. II, S.308)

outgoing from this origin has the state itself continuously developed toward a reconciliation of the class contrasts. While many consider the present condition final and perfect, we are after Oppenheimer only in a provisional stage on the way to the out-developed citizen company, which organizes its interests basis-democratically and subsidiär from bottom to top. (Details for this see under point 5 vision)

democracy theory

cultural inheritance of mankind from thousands of years is the control of the masses by few (Oligokratie) or particular (Monokratie). In contrast to this the democracy was original neither a world view, a theory or an ideal, but a reaction to the Oligokratie, with which it is until today in the fight. The term democracy expresses the requirement on Mitherrschaft of the people (demo), but is theoretically in a diffuse way, there swelling co-governing on broad basis logically the exercised rule (Kratie) of the minorities back-pushed.

What however is to mean the word democracy? “Rule was never something else as the legal form of an economic exploitation.” “There one now” the rule over itself “to use cannot do to exploit itself (...) like that is proven with the fact that with full implementation of the democracy the democracy stops being Kratie and - Akratie becomes. “

A Akratie is after Oppenheimer “the ideal of one of each economic exploitation released society”. The political abolition of the class company presupposes its economic overcoming. All weaknesses of the democracy arise from the oligokratischen remainders of before-democratic times.(All quotations in on-line text)


according to the science-theoretical view Oppenheimers, is to be investigated it for task of the sociology the movement laws of the society in such a way as realization article like comparatively scientist the connections in nature investigates. All phenomena have (rear) a reason, which it applies to recognize. Like its closest friend Leonard Nelson, practiced to Oppenheimer in its seminar and in the friend circle the Sokrati discussion as method for the production of realization. Why do we know what we believe to know and this knowledge is as certain?

Fast one will state that much of what one believes to know came not by own opinion, but taken over excessive quantity. The sociologist knows that expressed aspects are frequently closely with the pursued interests of the social reference's group linked. These reference's groups again have power opposite their members to prevent all thought expressions which run the interest of the group contrary. In addition, are spread for expediently judged lies gladly without moral doubts, if the heavily weighing vital interest of a group orders this. Thus develop thinking standards and thinking blockade in each search and in the society which can be examined, which surrounds the search as social medium. If one would follow the social imperatives of the society as search now exclusively, there would be nothing more to recognize and would exist a doing in pure description and justification its that like that is like it is. It requires according to a methodical break with the standards, so that the socially inconceivable as idea conceivablly will and afterwards empirically for its truth content can be examined.

Oppenheimer following must have learned humans doubt there and ask, where it forbids the standard, if it wants the occupation of the sociologist to seize and at relevant realization it to surrounding society arrive. According to Oppenheimer in Berlin and starting from 1919 as a full professor at the University of Frankfurt/Main a critical theory and sociology of the knowledge in the training of its students, practiced. Regrettably it has its successor in the office Karl Mannheim, who arrived later than founders of the critical theory and knowledge sociology at fame, to point out always avoided that the attitude of mind at the taken over chair, represented by it , had a tradition and from the studying to Oppenheimer was almost expected. “Who learned once to doubt there and to ask, where the standards forbid it, it can stop in principle never again. “(Oppenheimer, system of the sociology, Bd.I, S.539)

the society and its movement laws

the sociology defined Oppenheimer as theory of the society and the laws of their movement. Around these laws to discover all sociology has “to proceed from the human needs. Because the society is nothing else as the smallest means for as perfect a satisfaction of the needs of its members as possible. “

One finds the kinds of need explained since Maslow in pyramid form. Behind ithide themselves impulses or purely biological necessities to the safety device of own surviving or surviving the own kind.

Up to this point humans do not differ from the animal. Only by the kind of the organized need satisfaction in social form, the sociologically interesting thing develops. Here Oppenheimer tries now different company forms tootype and examines the process of their development on agreements and regularities.

A fundamental classification results from the distinction of the two in principle opposite means those humans has to procure “around itself the goods whose it requires. The means is the own work on nature and on higher stage than equivalent regarded exchange of its products of work against foreigner. Because it concerns the two activities here, those the restaurant companyjustify, I this means the” economic means “called. “

By the combination of the restaurant subjects a restaurant company develops. Their organization is based on productive work and worth-same exchange. A relationship between robbers and justified against it no society, but a rule relationship robbed, like it in its prototype is embodied by the emergence of the state.

“The second means, whose humans avail themselves, in order the goods to procure itself, is the unentgoltene appropriation by force, by physical force or the abuse of religious force by Patriarchen and priest shanks. This means hasI as the” political means “designates.

Why” political means “? Because it in the international and in the intranationalen life all politics controls. The Urtypus of allinternational relations is the war, and that had often enough another pretext, but probably hardly ever oneother reason than enriching a nation at expense of the others, or the protection against such a tendency. (...) Above all however the political means controls also the more important intranationale life quite. Es hat den Staat geschaffen. The state is nothing else as the political means in its development. “ (All quotations until here see on-line text, S.170)

all Entwicklungsstufen of social organization can be arranged after Oppenheimer in three chamfers:

  • the genossenschaftlichen Urgesellschaften,
  • the emergence of the state by conquering force and
  • the long process of the back conquest of the state by those again itself screen end society.

The overcoming of the class contrasts and exploitation mechanisms is after Oppenheimer over centuries itself away a pulling process. The individual intermediate stages cannot be jumped over, why it those, on the theories of Karl Marx supported call to the class warfare up to the revolutionary new identification of state and society according to other rules, than a little promisingly rejected. There would be in sufficient measure sociological clearing-up, the science could shorten the necessary time for the individual development steps as birth aids after Oppenheimer. It would oppose this hope on the other hand that the dominant elite of a society, to which also the science as mental cover belongs, only in times of special crises for changes are open and thus even existing knowledge can become only effective, if a time with appropriate constellation requires for it.

sociology as art teachings

if it in a society of phenomena gives, which are evaluated of far parts of the population asproblem “, often leads this in the public discussion to the question, by which educational measures the “bad “can be affected in humans.

The question about the “good one “or” bad one “in humans is posed regarded by the point of view of the sociology out after Oppenheimer wrongly. It would have to read instead of its: “Can one set a society to such bases that each particular is driven by its self-interest everywhere to a way of acting, which is solidary with the interest of society? If, then we do not need around conceptions and valuations no more to worry itself. “ (Oppenheimer, system, Bd.I, S.676)

Since national taxes have to do also much with behavior control of the citizens, there are particularly many examples within this range. So working parents cannot partly charge the costs of the care of children with their income (to set off), the costs of a finery assistance however. The legislator required of employed parents that these adjust a stranger for the care of children, to deseam thereby parents time it has. Parents can now select whether it the knappe time from their vocational activity to take away, without incomes do, its children harm or the tax office would amount to, by defining finery assistance as care of children. Bad rules lead to bad acting.

Oppenheimer investigated side on like a scientist the laws human acting on the levels of the individual, the group and the society. On the other side was it the opinion that the won realizations could be used not only for the scientific explanation by passing and to the prognosis by future ones, but just like in the engineer sciences for the construction of functioning systems. The art of the social organization (ebenda, S.676), described by Oppenheimer, may be understood however not wrongly as social technokratischer revised draft of a social order from the desk, but aims more at strategies for the removal of the causes about disturbances, which carry existing systems with their regulations historically conditionally in itself.

The solution of the social questions did not see Oppenheimer politically in a stress of the class contrasts, as it had the class warfare demanded by Karl Marx as a goal. Oppenheimer preferred it, led by the principles of the kantschen ethics to extract from the economically founded existing class contrasts the foundation and to change thus also the social relations. He saw not the fight as mainspring of the social evolution, but the tendency for (self) the healing of the society by discharging the original force (Noxe) and the institutions for right from the society body, developed from it.

rule sociology

contrary to the rule sociology max of weber, the rule as penetration (personalen) of a balance of power understood, stresses Oppenheimer the originally dichotome typology Otto von Gierkes and calls rule relationship between two right-unequal social classes.Rule is a vertical social relationship, cooperative a horizontal social relationship.

social psychology

political economy

restaurant economics Its economical theory is to be assigned neither to the historical school of the Gustav of Schmoller still the marginal utility school Carl of the Menger or the liberalism of its time.

After Oppenheimer the political economy of our time is coined/shaped by certain inadequacies. Thus it proceeds from (ahistorischen) an initial distribution of the goods , in order thereupon the exchange procedures technically and psychologically to explain (production and price formation). From where however this initial distribution comes, neither the theory of the Grenzproduktivität nor the theory of the original accumulation can explain. The causes of the distribution of the property/fortune (distribution) remain in the long run unerklärt, which brought in with Oppenheimer and its trailers the call for the political economy to establish theory buildings out of touch with reality. Exactly taken it is only incomplete by certain way sighting (true, but partial). Oppenheimers theory examines exactly this blind marks of the economics. Central question was not it, why the particular can find its economic liberty, but why it does not know the mass. Its system of the sociology wants to point the “historicalsociological” emergence out of the appropriation by force and the state as well as the formation of the political means. By the political means monopolies are established. Oppenheimer differentiates between the personalen monopoly and the class monopoly.

Its spirit develops thereby its own thinking direction. It bases in the possibility of the overcoming of the political means worked out by it for the full development of the economic means, i.e. the production of free competition under resembling. Oppenheimer integrates the realization gain of the liberalism (Adam Smith) and the solution of the social question. With its theories it (or wants to relate) relates the works of David Ricardo, Karl Marx, Joseph Schumpeter, John May pool of broadcasting corporations Keynes and other economists.

cooperative theory

the law of the transformation

the Oppenheimer' transformation law belonged in the postwar literature of the Genossenschaftswesens to the most frequently quoted statements Oppenheimers. As Kruck (1992 [1] and 1997, S.300 [2]), the statement Oppenheimers showed however was completely sense-disfigured used. The transformation law with Oppenheimer mentioned that producing cooperatives can not possibly take up everyone in a capitalistic surrounding field, the work seeks. They must lock themselves or go outward under.

When the transformation law 1896 was formulated, the Genossenschaftler of all cooperatives demanded openness in principle for new members. Oppenheimer pointed out that this would not possibly go in the commercial-producing range, while the receptiveness of the land settlement association favored by it was clearly more highly estimated.


meaning of the teachings

Oppenheimer forms a bridge between very different schools, which brought in to its lifetime lively discussion for it, but on the part of no school appreciation. The trailers of its teachings are the opinion that the value of its teachings was not even recognized in the beginning. Thus develop it a way of thinking, which must shift each dominant class or everything, which wants to arrive with political means at the rule, in unrest, since he sketched a practice-proven concept for the overcoming of rule conditions (see. Land settlement association).

Its works were forbidden and drawn in 1933 in Germany. Thus it is also explained that he is almost no longer visible, although its work is current according to opinion of its trailers for the solution of the social question. A part of the works was gathered in the last years again, is thus available at some German libraries and waits for the Wiederentdeckung.

The kind, how it questions social conditions of its (and ours) time fundamentally and analyzes and it then a unspektakulären and consistent solution supplies, is according to opinion of its trailers the actual value of its scientific method, which it accomplished by conscientious deduction and with the discipline of a scientist. This severity Oppenheimers it is owed that it rejected each Sophismus, as it was to have frequently discovered it in the economics and sociology.


Professor. Dr. med. et phil. Franz Oppenheimer is Wegbereiter of the “social free-market economy “, a form of the third way.


basis democracy

social free-market economy

science as system

with Oppenheimer connected persons

graduate students with graduation topic

  • 1921 Ernst Bodien: Siegfried Budge' s theory of the capital profit
  • 1923 Erich Preiser: The Marx crisis theory and its further training. Representation and criticism
  • 1925 Ludwig Erhard: Nature and contents of the unit of value

Habilitanten with Habilitationsthema

  • ???? Siegfried Budge: ?? S.203

assistant at the chair Oppenheimers

  • walter field man (1889 - 1978), Professor. for Pädagogik in Germany
  • briefly Goldstein (1878 - 1965), Professor. for psychology in Germany and the USA
  • Julius Kraft (1898 - 1960), Professor. for philosophy and sociology in Holland, the USA and Germany
  • Fritz star mountain (1895 - 1963), assistant 1919 - 1923, Marxist economist and politician

acquaintance student Oppenheimers

  • Adolf realm wine (1898 - 1944), reform paedagogue, economist and politician (SPD)
  • Gerhard Colm (1897 - 1968), Professor. for financial science in Germany
  • Ludwig Erhard (1897 - 1977), Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Federal Chancellor (CDU)
  • Eduard Heimann (1889 - 1967)
  • Adolph lion (1893 - 1995), Professor. for economics in Germany and the USA
  • Eric Nölting (1892 - 1953), minister of economics in North Rhine-Westphalia (SPD)
  • Erich Preiser (1900 - 1967), Professor. for economics in Germany
  • briefly rose field (1877 - 1943), politician and lawyer (SPD) S.202
  • Gottfried Salomon Delatour (1892 - 1964), Professor. for sociology in Germany, France and the USA
  • Joachim Tiburtius (1889 - 1967), mayor of Berlin
  • Paul Tillich (1886 - 1965), Professor. for philosophy and theology in Germany and the USA

persons, who knew Oppenheimers writings and to it Eucken (

  • 1891 - 1950) positively referred walter, Professor. for economics in Germany
  • Alexander Rüstow (1885 - 1963), Professor. for social sciences and economics in Germany and Turkey
  • Frieda Wunderlich (1884 - 1965), Professor. for economics in Germany and the USA

gone away

  • Leonard Nelson (1882 - 1927)
  • Gottfried Salomon Delatour (1892 - 1964)

an extensive work created works Franz Oppenheimer, consisting of approx. 40 books and 400 essays, with writings to the sociology, economics and to political questions of the time.

  • Bibliography
  • the land settlement association, 1. Aufl. Leipzig 1896: Duncker & Humblot
  • the state - [pdf]
  • my scientific way
  • collected writings, volume 1, theoretical foundation, Berlin 1995: Academy publishing house, ISBN 3050026731
  • collected writings, volume 2, political writings, Berlin 1996: Academy publishing house, ISBN 3050028769
  • collected writings, volume 3, writings to the free-market economy, Berlin 1998: Academy publishing house, ISBN 3050031565


of quotations

about Franz Oppenheimer

Ludwig Erhard said about it: “I live, I Franz Oppenheimer so long am not forgotten! I will be lucky, if the social free-market economy - so perfect or so imperfect it to also be likes - will continue to witness also for the work, for the mental beginning of the thoughts and the science of Franz Oppenheimer. I believe that many humans do not know to estimate it, how much they have to owe to only one man. “

of Franz Oppenheimer

“who once learned to doubt there and to ask, where the standards forbid it, it can stop in principle never again; (...) And like that each creative humans are a bridge (...) to over-social humans (” to much-too much “, those are helplessly the binding of their Gruppenimperativen); it is a step beyond the group (...). And creative humans, also the more important, like after other directions than that its work also still so firmly bound its (...): perhaps it blew up nevertheless a part of its chains, nevertheless put back it a piece of way to the free autonomous personality and thus its group, for its society and mankind new ways cleared, in order to carry out and create for new personalities area new culture change, that set new goals for mankind. “

Web on the left of

| | * Literature of and over Franz Oppenheimer in the catalog of the DDB



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