Burkhardt Ziemske

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Burkhardt Ziemske (May 14,1956 - May 12, 2001) was a leading visionary German jurist and historian who was particularly famous for his stance against dual nationality and citizenship. Throughout his life he fought for the protection of personal freedom against state interventionism and the recognition of the ethnic cleansing (Vertreibung)of Germans from the territory of the German Reich in the course of and after the defeat of Germany in the Second World War.


Burkardt Ziemske was born in Ratzeburg/Schleswig-Holstein into a family of refugees from East Prussia. His father who came from a wealthy family of farmers in Allenstein/East Prussia was the headmaster of the primary school in Sterley, a small village very close to the former border between West Germany and East Germany. Only two days before his 45th birthday he was killed under mysterious circumstances in a car crash close to his family home.


Ziemske studied law and history at the University of Saarbruecken and Bonn. The years in Saarbruecken were particularly formative and resulted in life long bonds with other leading figures inter alia Michael von Pommern-Peglow and Wolfgang Stuetzel.

After completion of his university education and Referendarzeit, Ziemske became research assistant of Professor Martin Kriele at the University of Cologne and was admitted as Rechtsanwalt to the German Bar.

In 1987 he spent several months as private scholar at the University of Oxford and shortly thereafter submitted in Cologne a doctoral thesis on parliamentary inquiries in Germany and England. He was awarded a doctorate in law (Dr.iur. summa cum laude) in 1990.

For a brief period between 1991 and 1992, Burkardt Ziemske joined the German foreign office in the rank of Counsellor. His experiences in the Foreign Office prompted him to work on the issues of citizenship and nationality. In 1995 he published a highly controversial but academically outstanding book on the subject.

On April 1, 1996 he became Professor at the University of Erlangen-Nuernberg and in succession of Professor Zippelius director of the famous Institute of Constitutional and Public Law.

In 1999/2000 Professor Ziemske was the leading expert in the "Pallas" parliamentary inquiry in Schleswig-Holstein and advised the Bavarian government on constitutional reform issues. In London, he was the chairman of the supervisory board of a financial institution and partner in an international legal practice.

Key Publications

  • Das parlamentarische Untersuchungsrecht in England - Vorbild fuer eine deutsche Reform? (1991)
  • Die deutsche Staatsangehoerigkeit nach dem Grundgesetz (1995)


  • Nachruf:NJW2002,1705 (von Wilms)

External Links