Assimilation through Law: Hans Kelsen and the Jewish Experience

Eliav Lieblich*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Hans Kelsen’s 1969 biography, written by his former assistant Rudolph Aladár Métall, does not begin - as perhaps expected in the genre - by describing Kelsen’s immediate family or early childhood. Rather, Métall takes us many centuries back, to an age when Roman Legionaries defended the borders of the empire, between Germany and Luxemburg. For supplies, the Romans relied on Jewish sutlers, who eventually settled in the area. A small village - “Kelsen über Saarburg” - was one of these settlements. In the eighteenth century, when Austrian Jews were given German surnames, many took the names of their places of origin. In this manner, Métall tells us, the surname “Kelsen” came to be. Hans Kelsen, thus, is not a foreigner: he is of firm Habsburgian-German roots.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Law of Strangers
Subtitle of host publicationJewish Lawyers and International Law in the Twentieth Century
EditorsJames Leoffler, Moria Paz
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)1316492826, 9781316492826
ISBN (Print)9781107140417, 1107140412, 1316506029, 9781316506028
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019

RAMBI Publications

  • rambi
  • International law
  • Jewish lawyers -- Austria -- Biography
  • Jews -- Cultural assimilation
  • Jews -- Identity
  • Kelsen, Hans -- 1881-1973
  • Law (Philosophical concept)


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