Carl Schmitt’s Political Theory during the Third Reich
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Carl Schmitt’s Political Theory during the Third Reich. (2018). The Political Science Reviewer, 42(1), 197-217.


Carl Schmitt’s eagerness to enter the antechamber of power and to advise those with decision-making authority is evident from his choice to move from the University of Bonn to Berlin’s Handelshochschule in 1928. The final days of the Weimar Republic provided him with the perfect occasion to put his knowledge to practical use. The deterioration of the political system, caused by the Great Depression, demanded a strong political will to reform and recover the economy. Facing severe difficulties in consolidating a parliamentary majority, Chancellor Heinrich Brüning requested in 1930 that President Paul von Hindenburg invoke Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution to bypass the parliament (Reichstag) and approve a financial reform. Article 48 would allow the government to use “emergency decrees” (Notverordnungen) to govern without the approval of the Reichstag. However, in the following years, successive invocations of Article 48 eroded the liberal and parliamentary bases of the Weimar Republic and its system of separation of powers. With the inability of moderate parties to form a stable and functional coalition, the parliamentary democracy as well as its main political parties began to lose public confidence and support. This increased the popularity of the extremist parties: NSDAP (National Socialist German Worker’s Party) and KPD (Communist Party of Germany). This radicalization made the formation of a parliamentary majority more difficult and transformed the exceptional nature of emergency decrees into a regular instrument of government for the subsequent chancellors, Franz von Papen and Kurt von Schleicher.

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