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Walter Jean Ganshof van der Meersch

Full name: Walter Jean Ganshof van der Meersch
Gender: Male
Born: May 18, 1900 in Bruges, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Died: September 12, 1993 in Tintange, Luxembourg, Belgium
Title: Viscount
Country: BEL Belgium
Sport: Bobsleigh

Related Olympians: Brother of Georges Ganshof van der Meersch.


Walter Ganshof van der Meersch, son of a Brugge lawyer, attended schools in Brugge and – after World War I, where he served as a volunteer – the UK and France. He graduated in law from the University of Bruxelles in 1921 and worked in the law firm of future Belgian Prime Minister Paul-Émile Janson. Ganshof van der Meersch was subsequently appointed deputy attorney in Bruxelles, deputy attorney at the military court and, eventually, Attorney General at the Court of Appeal. During this time he was also a lecturer in the department of law at the University of Bruxelles, notably in the French as well as in the Flemish speaking sections.

In early 1940, Ganshof van der Meersch became Attorney General at the military court and was commissioned to oversee cases of collaboration with the Germans in Belgium. Under the German occupation he was imprisoned three times for several months each and was subject to disbarment. Following another imprisonment in March 1943, he went into hiding and escaped to London. There, the Belgian exile government appointed him High Commissioner for Legal Certainty, who was responsible for the co-ordination of resistance activities and the prosecution of collaborators. After the war, he returned to his post as Attorney General.

In 1947, Ganshof van der Meersch became Advocate General at the Court of Cassation, Belgium’s highest court and also pursued his scientific activities. When the Belgian Congo became independent in 1960, he was the minister responsible for African matters for some months. The following year, he was appointed Professor for International Law at Strasbourg University and from 1963-70 was president of the Institute for European Studies in Bruxelles. In 1965, he returned to the Court of Cassation, becoming its Attorney General in 1968. In the same year he became vice-chairman – and later chairman – of the International Institute for Human Rights. From 1973-86 Ganshof van der Meersch served as judge at the European Court for Human Rights, becoming vice-president in 1985. His elder brother [Georges Ganshof van der Meersch] was also an Olympian, participating in the equestrian events with a fourth place in individual jumping his best result.


Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1928 Winter 27 Sankt Moritz Bobsleigh Men's Four/Five Belgium-1 BEL 6

Men's Four/Five

Games Age City Sport Team NOC Phase Unit
1928 Winter 27 Sankt Moritz Bobsleigh Belgium-1 BEL Final Standings
1928 Winter 27 Sankt Moritz Bobsleigh Belgium-1 BEL Run 1
1928 Winter 27 Sankt Moritz Bobsleigh Belgium-1 BEL Run 2
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