Walter Simons

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Walter Simons
Bundesarchiv Bild 102-12279, Walter Simons.jpg
President of the Reichsgericht
In office
Personal details
Born (1861-09-24)24 September 1861
Elberfeld, Kingdom of Prussia
Died 14 July 1937(1937-07-14) (aged 75)
Potsdam, German Reich
Profession Lawyer

Walter Simons (24 September 1861 – 14 July 1937) was a German lawyer and politician. He served as president of the Reichsgericht from 1922 to 1929.


Walter Simons was a student of the jurist Rudolph Sohm, and was influenced by Humanism and Lutheran Pietism. After studying history, philosophy, law and economics in Strasbourg, Leipzig and Bonn he started his career in law in 1882 as a law clerk and in 1893 became a judge in Velbert. After working in the Reichsjustizamt in 1905 and in the Foreign Office in 1911 Simons became head of the Reich Chancellery in October 1918. He was the head of the German peace delegation in Versailles and had to resign as he rejected the Treaty of Versailles.

From 25 June 1920 to 4 May 1921 he was Foreign Minister of Germany without party affiliation in the Fehrenbach government, which was a governing coalition consisting of the Centre Party, the German Democratic Party and the German People's Party. As such he represented Germany at the Spa Conference in July 1920 and the London Conference in March 1921.

From 1922 to 1929, Simons was the president of the Reichsgericht in Leipzig. As such, following the death of Friedrich Ebert in February, 1925 he temporarily acted as head of state of the Weimar Republic from 12 March 1925 until 12 May 1925 when the next president, Paul von Hindenburg, assumed office. In the run-up to the election in 1925, Simons was suggested as a candidate more than once, but nothing came of it. He resigned his position at the Reichsgericht in protest at an unconstitutional interference of the government in a pending trial. From 1929 Simons was a professor for international law in Leipzig.

He was also a member of the German Evangelical Church Commission, and from 1925 to 1935 he was the president of the Evangelical Social Congress.

Together with Hans von Seeckt and Wilhelm Solf, Simons formed the board of the SeSiSo Club, which put on cultural events in the Hotel Kaiserhof in Berlin for the liberal educated bourgeoisie (the Bildungsbürgertum), often in partnership with the "Deutsche Gesellschaft 1914", whose chairman was Wilhelm Solf. Such a meeting also took place at the time of Hitler's coming to power, as Harry Graf Kessler was holding a speech for the club members in the Hotel Kaiserhof. The former members of the SeSiSo-Club later to a large extent joined the Solf Circle, a resistance group.

Walter Simons also represented the Lutheran denomination internationally at the Stockholm Conference in 1925.

He was the father of Hans Simons, father-in-law of Ernst Rudolf Huber and grandfather of Wolfgang Huber.



  • Christentum und Verbrechen (Christianity and Crime), 1925
  • Religion und Recht (Religion and Law) (Lectures held at Uppsala University), Berlin-Tempelhof 1936
  • Kirchenvolk und Staatsvolk, Leipziger rechtswissenschaftliche Studien Bd. 100, Leipzig 1937
Political offices
Preceded by
Adolf Köster
Foreign Minister of Germany
Succeeded by
Friedrich Rosen
Preceded by
Hans Luther
Acting President of Germany
12 March – 12 May 1925
Succeeded by
Paul von Hindenburg