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The Staudinger – The Success Story Behind the Only Monograph Commentary on the German Civil Code

18 June 1896

The German Civil Code is announced in the Reich Legal Gazette (RGBI 195).

Royal Privy Counselor Dr. Julius von Staudinger begins editorial work on the commentary to German Civil Code that bears his name, collaborating with seven university professors, judges, and attorneys (Theodor Engelmann, Felix Herzfelder, Karl Kober, Theodor Löwenfeld, Philipp Mayring, Erwin Riezler, and Joseph Wagner).

1 January 1900
The German Civil Code takes effect.

The publishing house J. Schweitzer Verlag (later, Arthur Sellier) in Munich publishes the approximately 3,600 page work in six volumes at a price of nearly 50 Reichsmark.

Julius von Staudinger dies on 1 February. As the founder and editor of the commentary, his name has been retained to this day.

The 2nd edition appears in eight volumes, comprising some 5,400 pages. All relevant state laws are incorporated into the commentaries.

The 3rd and 4th editions are issued as a double edition in nine volumes, comprising some 6,300 pages.

Publication of the 5th/6th editions begins; they comprise seven volumes with around 6,900 pages and cost 180 Reichsmark.

The Staudinger is published in its 7th/8th Edition; its nine volumes now contain around 7,300 pages.

After a temporary delay in the publication of further editions due to the First World War, the 9th edition appears in twelve volumes with around 9,800 pages. Leo Raape writes his seminal presentation of International Private Law.

Work begins on the 10th edition, but it remains incomplete because of the outbreak of the Second World War.

Since 1939 the Sellier family (heirs to the publishing house J. Schweitzer Verlag) has shared responsibility for the editorial work on the commentary with De Gruyter. The 11th edition appears, which comprises 26 volumes and around 24,000 pages. The mostly new editorial staff has grown to 57 commentators from all specialties of the law. Their goal is to provide a well-rounded overview of civil law and to incorporate all laws that have replaced original provisions of the German Civil Code or are directly related to them.

The 12th edition begins to appear; 109 commentators and 22 editors are involved in its creation. The edition is not completed until 1999.

A new conception of “The Complete Staudinger” is adopted. Instead of entirely new editions, each volume will be issued in a new edition as soon as a comprehensive update makes this necessary. The new approach is celebrated in one review as being an “egg of Columbus” (i.e. a simple solution to a seemingly insoluble problem).

The Staudinger goes online. Initially searchable exclusively through Westlaw DE, from 2007 on, it has also been offered through Juris and Beck Online.

The Cologne publishing group Dr. Otto Schmidt buys Sellier’s stake in the Sellier/De Gruyter partnership and begins sharing editorial responsibility with De Gruyter.

The Staudinger becomes available online exclusively through Beck Online.

Over the years, new generations of the most excellent academics and legal practitioners have participated in the continual development of the Staudinger. A commentary of critical importance to German civil law, it has also reached beyond the juridical boundaries of Germany to become an example for numerous countries around the world as they have shaped and continue to shape their own legal systems. Whether in its printed form or online, “J. von Staudinger’s Commentary on the German Civil Code” has been an essential part of every large legal library, in Germany and abroad, ever since the publication of its first edition.