Simons, Walter

(1861-1937)
   judge; served as President of the Supreme Court (1922-1929). Born in Elberfeld (now in Wuppertal) to a family long involved in silk weaving, he was raised in a pious Lutheran milieu. After eclectic studies, he began a legal career in 1888 with the Prussian civil service.* He served during 1897-1905 as a district judge in Meiningen and then became regional court counsel at Kiel; within a year he transferred to the Justice Office in Berlin.* Relocated to the Foreign Office in 1911 as a legal advisor, he did his utmost in the war to avert unrestricted submarine warfare. In 1918 he par-ticipated in the Brest-Litovsk peace negotiations. Prinz Max* von Baden, ac-quainted with his writings, invited Simons to direct the Chancellery office in October 1918. A monarchist, he vainly tried to gain the abdication of the Kaiser and the Crown Prince as prelude to forming a regency for the Kaiser s grandson.
   Named director of the Foreign Office's legal department in December 1918, Simons went to France as the peace delegation s secretary. In protest to the Versailles Treaty,* he resigned in May 1919. Over the next year, as executive director for RdI, he sponsored tight credit policies to restore industrial solvency and attract foreign investment. Although he rejected party membership, he en-tered the cabinet of Konstantin Fehrenbach* in June 1920; he was not a skilled diplomat, and his eleven months as Foreign Minister were burdened by arduous reparations* negotiations at London and Spa. The occupation of Düsseldorf, Duisburg, and Rohrort resulted (8 March 1921) when Simons rebuffed a repa-rations-payment scheme; the cabinet resigned in May as a protest to the London Ultimatum (see Reparations).
   Simons became president of the Supreme Court in October 1922, and the issue of judicial reform consumed his tenure. Acting President of the Republic upon the death of Friedrich Ebert,* he received serious appraisal as Ebert s successor. A devout Protestant,* he was also president of the Evangelical Social Congress. Insisting that the authority of law took precedence over the authority of the state, he resigned from the Court in 1929 when President Hindenburg* refused to act against the government after it had ignored a Court decision. He thereafter taught international law at Leipzig. Among his publications is a bi-ography of his friend Hugo Preuss,* the Constitution s* principal author. In 1929 he became chairman of the German Society for International Law. His Christian convictions precluded his embracing the Third Reich.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; Brecht, Political Education; Feldman, Great Disorder; Gründer, Walter Simons.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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