An internationally-acclaimed exhibit on the persecution of Jewish lawyers and judges in Nazi Germany is opening in New Orleans next week.
“Lawyers Without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich,” will be at the Louisiana Supreme Court Museum in New Orleans from April 28 to May 31. An opening reception will be held on April 27 at 4:30 p.m. The program is open to the public and free of charge.
A preview is scheduled for the New Orleans Holocaust memorial event, April 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the Uptown Jewish Community Center. The exhibit is also slated for the Louisiana State Bar Association’s annual meeting and summer school, June 2 to 10.
The idea for the exhibit was conceived in 1998 when an Israeli lawyer asked the regional bar of Berlin for a list of Jewish lawyers whose licenses had been revoked by the Nazi regime.
In 1933, half of the 3,400 lawyers in Berlin were Jewish. By 1938, there was a blanket ban against Jews as lawyers.
“The regional bar decided not only to research a list of names but also to try to find out more about the fates behind all those names,” said Axel Filges, past president of the German Federal Bar. “Some were able to leave the country after the Nazis came into power, but very many of them were incarcerated or murdered. The non-Jewish German lawyers of those days remained silent. They failed miserably, and so did the lawyers’ organizations. We do not know why.”
After the Berlin bar transformed its research into an exhibit, other regional bars began asking whether they could show it and add their own research. “So, like a puzzle, a portrait of the fate of Jewish lawyers in Germany has emerged step by step,” Filges said.
The exhibit debuted in 2012, sponsored jointly by the German Federal Bar and the American Bar Association.
This showing is presented by the Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society, the Anti-Defamation League, the Louisiana Center for Law and Civic Education, the Louisiana State Bar Association and the New Orleans Bar Association in conjunction with the American Bar Association and German Federal Bar with financial support from local law firms. The exhibit has been shown in more than 100 cities in Germany, the United States and others parts of the world, but this is the first time in Louisiana.