Walter Hallstein (17 November 1901 – 29 March 1982) was a German academic, diplomat, and statesman.
He was the first president of the Commission of the European Economic Community and one of the founding fathers of the European Union.
Hallstein began his academic career in the 1920s Weimar Republic and became Germany's youngest law professor in 1930, at the age of 29.
During World War II he served as a first lieutenant in the German army in France.
Captured by American troops in 1944, he spent the rest of the war in a prisoner-of-war camp in the United States, where he organised a "camp university" for his fellow soldiers.
After the war he returned to Germany and continued his academic career; he became rector of the University of Frankfurt in 1946 and spent a year as a visiting professor at Georgetown University from 1948.
In 1950 he was recruited to a diplomatic career, becoming the leading civil servant at the German Foreign Office, where he gave his name to the Hallstein Doctrine, West Germany's policy of isolating East Germany diplomatically.
A keen advocate of a federal Europe, Hallstein played a key role in West German foreign policy and then in European integration.
He was one of the architects of the European Coal and Steel Community and the first President of the Commission of the European Economic Community, which would later become the European Union.
He held the office from 1958 to 1967 and was the only German to be selected as president of the European Commission or its predecessors until the selection of Ursula von der Leyen in 2019.
Hallstein famously described his role as "a kind of European prime minister" and regarded national sovereignty as a "doctrine of yesteryear."Hallstein left office following a clash with the French President, Charles de Gaulle, and turned to German politics as a member of parliament, also serving as President of the European Movement from 1968 to 1974.
He is also the author of books and numerous articles and speeches on European integration and on the European Communities.
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