After attending a humanistic grammar school, Oswald von Nell-Breuning's (*8 March 1890 in Trier; †21 August 1991in Frankfurt am Main) studies of mathematics, natural sciences and later theology took him to the universities of Kiel, Munich, Strasbourg, Berlin and Innsbruck.
He received his doctorate from the University of Münster in 1928 with a thesis on stock exchange morals. In the same year he was appointed professor at the Philosophisch-theologische Hochschule Sankt Georgen in Frankfurt, where he taught moral theology, canon law and social sciences.
He had already joined the Societas Jesu in 1911, and ten years later he was ordained a priest. In 1956 he was appointed honorary professor at the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences of the University of Frankfurt/Main. He holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Innsbruck, Frankfurt and Münster, as well as from Sophia University in Tokyo.
On the occasion of his centenary, Prof. Dr. Oswald von Nell-Breuning was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Trier on 8 March 1990.
On 21 August 1991, Oswald von Nell-Breuning died at the age of 101.
The scientific work of Oswald von Neil-Breuning covers a thematic spectrum that is unimaginable in its breadth today. They range from price theory to questions of monetary policy, the capital market and agricultural economics to problems of labour market policy, co-determination and social security. Economic, business administration and sociological, but also political science, historical and jurisprudential problems, concepts and findings are interlinked. In his choice of topics, Oswald von Nell-Breuning was guided by social, economic and political topicality. These could be questions of land reform, the promotion of savings, the constitution of the stock exchange, but also the organisation of social security, the reduction of working hours and development aid. These topics were related to superordinate questions concerning the order of property, the economic order and social ethics.
Particularly noteworthy is his involvement in the encyclical "Quadragesima anno" (1931). This work was groundbreaking for Catholic social teaching, especially for the derivation and substantiation of the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.