Otto von Gierke

Otto von Gierke

Otto Friedrich of Gierke (* 11. January 1841 in Stettin, † 10. October 1921 in Berlin) was a German lawyer, right historian and a social politician

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training and occupation

Otto Gierke took up 1857 law studies to Berlin and Heidelberg. it was attained a doctorate to 1860 by the important right historian Carl Gustav Homeyer. It was member of the Heidelberger Burschenschaft Allemannia.


Otto von Gierke married 1873 Marie Cäcilie Elise Löning.


Otto von Gierke was an important German lawyer and right historian. He was a representative of the historical right school (there a Germanist so mentioned) and is considered as a “father of the cooperative right “.

theory of the cooperative

Gierke developed its theory of the cooperative by historical analysis. The Germans were originally in federations organized. It differentiated between the genossenschaftlichen federation (kinship, family federation, in the Middle Ages then bodies) of the herrschaftlichen federation (Lehensverbänden, late institutes, today institutes of public right, the state).

The cooperative marks a body which is based on free combination. Sociologists such as Franz Oppenheimer called therefore the cooperative horizontal social relationship.

By the Roman right, which placed the individual and its liberty into the foreground, the genossenschaftliche social structure of the German right could be broken after the time of the absolutism. Gierke became, by understanding humans primarily as a social nature (see. Aristoteles ' zóon politikón), to an early critic of the individualism.


an evaluation of the jurisprudential work Gierkes must fail without uniformity. It coined/shaped the German jurisprudence by its research. At the same time Gierke belonged in addition, to the largest advocates to Germanlegal “property “- of the term (opposite the Roman-legal), with which it opened above all the history of the cooperative right. This view of the right still is in the Basic Law (“property obligates “), came to meet however the national oriented “Deutschtümmelei” its time.


  • the German cooperative right, Berlin 4 Bde., 1868, 1873, 1881
  • German private law, 3 Bde., Leipzig 1895
  • Naturrrecht and German right, Frankfurt 1883

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| | * Literature of and over Otto von Gierke in the catalog of the DDB



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