Hans Kelsen was born in Prague on 11th October 1881. He studied law in Vienna and got the venia docendi (Habilitation) forconstitutional law and legal philosophy in 1911. Since 1918 professor at the University of Vienna, he was also member of the Austrian Constitutional Court from 1919 to 1930. In 1930, he left Vienna andAustria due to political reasons and became professor at the University of Cologne. In 1933, he had to emigrate from Germany because of his jewish origin. Engagements at the Institut universitaire dehautes études Internationales in Geneve, at the German University of Prague as well as at the Harvard Law School in the U.S.A. were following. Finally, Kelsen came to the University of California inBerkeley, where he taught until 1952. He died in Orinda near Berkeley on 19th April 1973.
Kelsen is best known for his collaboration at the Austrian Federal Constitution of 1st October 1920. Indeed,he made several drafts for this constitution, but his influence on its content must not be overestimated. Most of his work was to put the political compromises of the political parties into thejuridical correct form. But he got high influence on the establishment of the Austrian system of constitutional justice. This system found recognition all over the world and was imitated by several states.Kelsen was a defender of democracy and postulated its value for the inner peace ("Vom Wesen und Wert der Demokratie [Essence and Value of Democracy]", 1920, 2nd edition 1929). He critizised socialism("The Political Theory of Bolshevism", 1948) and banked on the Organization of the United Nations ("Principles of International Law", 1952).
But most important were Kelsen's works on legal theory,especially his Pure Theory of Law ("Reine Rechtslehre", 1934, 2nd edition 1960; "General Theory of Law and State", 1945). Based on a value relativism on the one hand, a strict division between "is"...