Morgenthau, Hans J. (Hans Joachim), 1904-1980

Alternative names
Birth 1904-02-17
Death 1980-07-19

Biographical notes:

Political scientist, educator, and author. Born in Germany, emigrated to the United States in 1937.

From the description of Hans J. Morgenthau papers, 1858-1981 (bulk 1925-1981). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70983006

Biographical Note

  • 1904, Feb. 17: Born, Coburg, Germany
  • 1923 - 1927 : Student, University of Berlin, University of Frankfurt, and University of Munich, Germany
  • 1927: Passed first law examination, University of Munich, Munich, Germany, and admitted to the bar
  • 1927 - 1930 : Practiced law
  • 1928 - 1930 : Assistant to Hugo Sinzheimer, University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany
  • 1929: Awarded Juris Utriusque Doctor, University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany Published Die internationale Rechtspflege, ihr Wesen und ihre Grenzen. Leipzig: Universitätsverlag von Robert Noske
  • 1931 - 1933 : Acting president, labor law court, Frankfurt, Germany
  • 1932: Postgraduate study, Graduate Institute for International Studies, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 1932 - 1935 : Instructor in German public law, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 1933: Published La notion du "politique" et la théorie des différends internationaux. Paris: Librairie du Recueil
  • 1934: Published La réalité des normes, en particulier des normes du droit international. Paris: Librarie Félix Allcan
  • 1935: Married Irma Thormann
  • 1935 - 1936 : Taught international law at the Institute of International and Economic Studies, Madrid, Spain
  • 1937: Immigrated to the United States
  • 1937 - 1939 : Instructor, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • 1939 - 1943 : Assistant professor, law, history, and political science, University of Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo.
  • 1943: Naturalized as U.S. citizen Admitted to the Missouri bar
  • 1943 - 1971 : Professor of political science and modern history, University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.
  • 1946: Published Scientific Man vs. Power Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • 1948: Published Politics Among Nations. New York, Knopf
  • 1949 - 1951 : Consultant, State Department
  • 1950: Published with Kenneth W. Thompson, Principles and Problems of International Politics. New York: Alfred A. Knopf
  • 1950 - 1968 : Director, Center for the Study of American Foreign Policy, University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.
  • 1951: Published In Defense of the National Interest. New York, Knopf
  • 1958: Published Dilemmas of Politics. Chicago, University of Chicago Press
  • 1960: Published The Purpose of American Politics. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • 1961 - 1965 : Consultant, Defense Department
  • 1962: Published Politics in the Twentieth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 3 vols.
  • 1968 - 1974 : Leonard Davis Distinguished Professor, City College, City University of New York, New York, N.Y.
  • 1969: Published A New Foreign Policy for the United States. New York: F. A. Praeger.
  • 1970: Published Truth and Power. New York: F. A. Praeger
  • 1974: Appointed University Professor, New School for Social Research, New York, N.Y.
  • 1980, July 19: Died, New York, N.Y.

From the guide to the Hans J. Morgenthau Papers, 1858-1981, (bulk 1925-1981), (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)

German-born American political scientist, historian, and a leading analyst of the role of power in international politics. Born February 17, 1904, in Coburg (Germany), died July 19, 1980, New York, NY (USA)

Educated at the universities of Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich, Morgenthau trained as a passed to bar and practiced in Munich from 1927 to 1930, when he became a teaching assistant at the University of Frankfurt. From 1931 to 1933 he served as acting president of the Frankfurt labor court. In 1932, he went also to Geneva to teach public law for a year, but because of Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany in 1933, he stayed on until 1935. In 1935/36, he taught in Madrid, where he was professor of international law at the Madrid Institute of International and Economic Studies. Morgenthau immigrated to the United States in 1937 (naturalized 1943).

He served on the faculties of Brooklyn College (1937-39), the University of Kansas City (1939-43), and from 1943 to 1971 taught international politics at the University of Chicago. In 1950 he became the director of the Center for Study of American Foreign and Military Policy. From 1968 to 1974 he was professor of political science at the City College of New York. Furthermore Morgenthau taught at the New School for Social Research from 1974 to 1980 and also served as consultant to the U.S. Department of State and Defense, as well as commentator on U.S. current affairs.

Morgenthau was a predominant figure in the post-World War II effort to refocus the study of international relations on the observed regularities of human conduct, rather than the idealistic pursuit of abstract norms. This political realism gained wide influence with the publication of his Scientific Man vs. Power Politics (1947) and especially Politics among Nations (1949), a highly regarded study that presented a modern realist approach to international politics, which became the leading text in field. Central to Morgenthau's theory was the concept of power as the dominant goal in international politics and the definition of national interest in terms of power. He called for recognition of the nature and limits of power and for the use of traditional methods of diplomacy, including compromise.

A contributor to numerous scholarly periodicals and journals of opinion, Morgenthau was also the author of In Defense of the National Interest (1951), Dilemmas of Politics (1958), The Purpose of American Politics (1960), Politics in the Twentieth Century, 3 vol. (1962), and Truth and Power (1970). Many of Morgenthau’s writings were translated into foreign languages.

Hans Morgenthau was married to Irma Morgenthau (neé Thormann). Their son Matthew was born in 1942, when Hans Morgenthau was 38 years old. In 1944, a daughter Susanna was born.

From the guide to the Hans Morgenthau Collection, 1904-1980, (Leo Baeck Institute Archives)


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  • Professions and occupations; historians
  • Emigration and immigration--1933-1945--USA
  • Thormann--Morgenthau, Irma
  • Political science
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975
  • Detente
  • Deutscher Bundesverdienstorden
  • Friendship
  • Morgenthau, Ludwig
  • Childhood
  • Morgenthau, Frieda (nee Bachmann)
  • Professions and occupations; political scientists
  • United States Army
  • Power (Social sciences)
  • Morgenthau, Matthew
  • International relations
  • Denazification


  • Educators
  • Political scientists
  • Authors


  • Russia (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Russia (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)