The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Neumann, Franz (1900–1954)

  • J. Vichniac
Reference work entry


In 1942, Franz Neumann, a German legal theorist, completed one of the most influential books written on national socialism. Entitled Behemoth, it helped set the agenda for scholarship on this subject in the post-war period. Franz Neumann was born in 1900 in Kattowitz on the Polish-German border into an assimilated Jewish family. He served briefly in the German army in World War I and participated in the soldiers’ councils that sprung up at the end of the war. He then went on the study in Breslau, Leipzig, Rostock and finally Frankfurt, where he completed an undergraduate degree in labour law. During the Weimar period, he lived in Berlin, teaching at the Deutsche Hochschule für Politik and practising law. At the same time, he became involved in the Social Democratic Party, serving as a legal adviser. It was this activity which led to his arrest in April 1933 after the Nazi seizure of power. He was able to escape to London a month later, and under the tutelage of Harold Laski he completed a doctorate in political science at the London School of Economics. He found exile in England uncongenial, however, and in 1936 he emigrated to the United States, where he joined the Institut für Sozialforschung which had moved from Frankfurt to Columbia University. There, in the company of other exiles such as Herbert Marcuse, Max Horkheimer, Erich Fromm, Theodor Adorno, Karl August Wittfogel and others he wrote Behemoth. When the United States entered World War II, Neumann along with Barrington Moore, Jr., Herbert Marcuse, Leonard Krieger and Carl Schorske, worked in the Office of Strategic Services. He later went on to work in the State Department until the end of the War. In the late 1940s, he returned to Columbia University where he became a professor in political science, a position that he held until 1954 when he died in a tragic car accident.

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  1. Hugnes, Stuart H. 1968. Franz Neumann between marxism and liberal democracy. Perspectives in American History 2: 446–462.Google Scholar
  2. Jay, M. 1973. The dialectical imagination: A history of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research. Boston: Little, Brown.Google Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Vichniac
    • 1
  1. 1.