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Falk was born in Metschkau (Mieczków), Silesia. In 1847 he entered the Prussian state service and, in 1853, became public prosecutor at Lyck (now Ełk). In 1858, he was elected a deputy, joining the Old Liberal party. In 1868, he became a privy councillor in the ministry of justice.
In 1872, he was made minister of education, and, in connection with Otto von Bismarck's policy of the Kulturkampf, he was responsible for the May Laws or Falk Laws against the Roman Catholic Church. In 1879, with his position becoming untenable because of the death of Pope Pius IX and the change of German policy with regard to the Vatican, he resigned his office but retained his seat in the Reichstag until 1882. He was then made president of the supreme court of justice at Hamm, where he died in 1900.
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