New Exhibit at the Holocaust Museum & Janet G. and Harvey D. Cohen Education Center

Lawyers Without Rights: The Fate of Jewish Lawyers in Berlin After 1933
On Display April 9 – June 23, 2024 In the Estelle and Stuart Price Gallery

Lawyers Without Rights is a joint traveling exhibit project of the American Bar Association Center for Global Programs and the German Federal Bar. Based on the book Lawyers Without Rights, by Simone Ladwig-Winters, the exhibit shows the consequences when the “just rule of law” is usurped by an “arbitrary” one, and applied, along with discriminatory legislation, to particular groups. The fate of the Jewish lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich is more than a historical footnote for us today. The rule of law is still under attack in many countries around the world. This exhibit helps underline the importance of keeping a country’s system of justice free from political interference; its value and fragility should never be taken for granted.

The exhibit highlights the story of the occupational bans placed by the Third Reich on Jewish lawyers and jurists in Berlin. At the time the Reich came to power, the capital city was home to 3,400 attorneys, of whom 43 percent were of Jewish origin, the largest percentage of any city in Germany in 1933. The government’s systematic undermining of fair and just law through humiliation, degradation, and legislation resulted in the removal of the rights and dignity of Jewish lawyers and their expulsion from the legal profession not only in Berlin, but across Germany.

The Museum has a connection to one of those lawyers – Ernst Flatau. In addition to being a well known lawyer, Flatau was a decorated soldier in World War I. None of that mattered under the Nazis. His late son, Dr. Fred Flatau, was a Museum Docent who often shared his father’s story with visitors. After 1938, German law had all but eliminated lawyers of Jewish origin from the profession leaving only a few dozen Jewish legal “consultants” still practicing. Other professions were also subject to this procedure, as the government sought to eliminate non-Aryan influence in all areas of life. The fate that awaited those unable to flee to other countries was grim – many died in concentration camps or committed suicide.

Lawyers Without Rights: The Fate of Jewish Lawyers in Berlin After 1933 has been seen across the U.S., including as far away as Hawaii. It has been on display in Federal and State Courthouses, State and County Bar Associations, Law Schools, colleges and universities, public libraries, museums, and other locations. The exhibit will be on display at the Museum from April 9 – June 23, 2024.

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