Nachruf auf Prof. em. Dr. Joachim Herrmann

Prof. Dr. Joachim Herrmann Lives in Our Hearts Forever


Prof. Wang Shizhou at Peking University Law School &
Prof. Yan Jiuhong at Beijing College of Politics and Law


We are deeply grieved that our beloved Prof. Dr. Joachim Herrmann has parted from us forever. As being friends with Prof. Dr. Herrmann for more than 30 years, we benefit a lot from him. He is the only one foreign scholar who provided academic and professional assistance to the reforms of both criminal law and criminal procedure in China in 1990s and afterwards. His help and contribution to the modernization of Chinese criminal justice system also greatly benefit Chinese people. He will live in our hearts forever.


© Universität Augsburg

It is in 1990 when Prof. Herrmann made his first visit in Beijing. With the great reform and opening-up policy, China would move forward in its legal system as well, in order to promote its legal protection level according to the internationally recognized standard. As a prestigious scholar with international reputation, Prof. Herrmann was recommended by the Ford Foundation and invited to Beijing by the Expert Group of Peking University for the reform of Chinese Criminal Law. He was further introduced to the Chinese top Legislature and provided legal consultant opinions in the Great Hall of the People. From then on, Prof. Herrmann visited China for about ten times. He made systematical explanation to the Chinese colleagues and students about the modern western concepts and theories on the rule of law, anti-analogy, abolition of death penalty, human right protection, anti-torture, protection of victim, plea-bargaining, and more.

Prof. Herrmann is well-known in China as a “true friend”,who would like to have his friends live better than before, or even better than himself and who may give forthright admonition to his friends for that purpose. Chinese scholars admire him very much because he is a knowledgeable, elegant and humorous person. Chinese legislature paid high attention to his professional opinions. Before a law is officially promulgated, it is customary in China to have the draft published, so that public opinion to it may be collected. Prof. Herrmann was the only foreign scholar who gave a written report in 2011 to the Draft revising the Chinese Criminal Procedure of 1996. His report was translated into Chinese by Prof. Yan Jiuhong and published in the important Chinese Journal of Comparative Law in 2012. After the official promulgation of the Law, he also wrote a paper, highly praising that the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law of 2012 “has brought about the fundamental change like never before” and moves on in the same direction as the international tendency. In 1990 when he was astonished to see the bicycle jam in Beijing streets, he made a playful warning of “the most serious traffic jam in the world” for China after modernization. But he was so happy to see his joke come true in not too lang.

He is one of the scholars who firstly showed the beauty of German comparative law to Chinese scholars, at least in the field of criminal law and criminal procedure. With close contact to many Chinese scholars, he gave lectures upon invitation, shared comments and insights, and had articles published in Chinese. It is our honor to collect these “Chinese” articles and publish in a book, edited by Prof. Yan Jiuhong, prefaced by Prof. Wang Shizhou and assisted by many Chinese scholars, as a Festschrift in honor of his 80th birthday. Up to now, this book is the first one and only one that the Chinese scholars organized for a foreign scholar to honor his anniversary. Now, this book shall become a monument, recording the contribution of Prof. Herrmann to the progress of Chinese criminal justice system, while also displaying the footprints how he helped improving the Chinese legal system.

We Chinese scholars are particularly grateful to Prof. Herrmann for helping us come to Germany and study modern theory of German criminal law. With his help, Prof. Wang Shizhou came as a DAAD scholar first and then a Humboldtian later. With his support as back-up, Prof. Wang completed his award-winning textbook in China adopting many advanced German concepts and theories. With his guidance, Prof. Yan Jiuhong also made great success in her academic career. It is good that Augsburg University Law School has become one of most attractive study centers for Chinese law students and scholars. Prof. Herrmann did a great job in building up Augsburg University as a bridge for international exchange and cooperation, especially with China. With his help, Prof. Wang and some other Chinese scholars were invited to give lectures in Augsburg and had the article published in Zeitschrift fuer Internationale Strafrechtsdogmatik (ZIS), an on-line law journal with international reputation run by the Augsburg University Law School. We highly appreciate his efforts which made the academic exchange no more a one-way export from Germany to China but a bidirectional flow.

We were very lucky to have Prof. Herrmann as mentor and friend from the very beginning time when China needs to learn from modern Germany and Europe. Indeed, Prof. Herrmann is always so amiable to Chinese scholars. Academically, he is very patient to explain the German concepts and theories which are so different from the Anglo-American counter-parts. Personally, he is so friendly to host Chinese people celebrating Christmas in his family. His wife Mrs. Lore Herrmann was so kind and always hosted us with the best food we had ever had in Augsburg. Prof. Herrmann was so nice in offering his thoughtful care, even by finding a bottle of soy sauce for his Chinese guest in Augsburg and in the time of early 1990s. He was the best Gastgeber for our Chinese scholars.

Every Chinese scholar who knows Prof. Herrmann feels so sorrowful for this sad news. In China today, we have built up a modern criminal justice system. But comparing with the German and European standards, we still have a lot of work to do in terms of legality principle and other modern concepts. It shall be a great challenge for us to put those very sophisticate German theories into the giant Chinese social and political systems. We need Prof. Herrmann to guide us with his knowledge, intelligence and experience. Even his warnings and critiques would be helpful for us. We know that his opinions would come from an intercultural perspective and be offered only by a true friend. But now, it is impossible any more. We are very sad. We lose dear Prof. Herrmann, a great true friend and an excellent mentor. We miss him so much. Any time later when people are talking about the international support to the development of Chinese Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure in 1990s and afterwards, Prof. Herrmann shall be in the position of number one. He will live in our hearts forever!