November 01, 2018

ABA releases Holocaust-era book on Nazi purge of Jewish lawyers in Berlin

CHICAGO, Nov. 1, 2018 — With the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht only days away, the American Bar Association has released a historical and timely rule-of-law book that details how one government – Nazi Germany – systematically undermined fair and just law through humiliation, degradation and legislation leading to expulsion of Jewish lawyers and jurists from the legal profession.

As the rule of law comes under attack today in both developed and Third World countries, “Lawyers Without Rights: The Fate of Jewish Lawyers in Berlin after 1933” tragically details what can happen when the just rule of law disappears — and is replaced by an arbitrary rule by law that sweeps aside the rights and dignity of selected populations. First published in German two decades ago and updated in 2007, the book includes three significant additions — forewords from Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court; Benjamin B. Ferencz, at 99 years old the sole-surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg trials; and Ronald D. Abramson, a Jewish lawyer and philanthropist whose family foundation, the Anne and Ronald Abramson Family Foundation, provided underwriting for this book.

The English translation of this book is an expansion of a joint project between the ABA and the Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer (German Federal Bar). Since 2012, the two associations have sponsored the exhibit, Lawyers Without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich, a project of the ABA Center for Human Rights. Like the book, the exhibit’s 25 panels include short bios of Jewish lawyers from throughout Germany and outline the Nazi’s systematic approach to purge all lawyers and jurists with Jewish backgrounds from the legal profession.

The book contains more than 1,600 bios of lawyers in Berlin who could no longer practice law after 1938 because of their Jewish ancestry, and notes the fate of 1,404 of them, including scores who committed suicide and more than 200 who found their way to the United States, as well as some who became lawyers here. The English-translation of German author Simone Ladwig-Winters’ book has prefaces from the Berlin bar, the author’s insights into her research and source notes.

“The story of these lawyers in Berlin and all of Germany is more than a historical footnote; it is a wake-up call that a system of justice free of improper political considerations remains fragile and should never be taken for granted,” ABA President Bob Carlson said. “When lawyers, the judicial system and the just rule of law are undermined, when the abuses go unchecked and are permitted to flourish, only great tragedy can follow. Through this book, we hope to expand delivery of that message to far more Americans than the Lawyers Without Rights exhibit can reach.”

Title:                            “Lawyers Without Rights: The Fate of Jewish Lawyers in Berlin after 1933”
Publisher:                    ABA Book Publishing
Pages:                         520 pages
Product Code:             5170023
ISBN:                           9781641051996
Size:                            6” x 9” hardcover
Price:                           $39.95
Orders:                        800-285-2221 or shopaba


“This book, ‘Lawyers Without Rights: The Fate of Jewish Lawyers in Berlin after 1933,’ helps us recollect. It recounts the early days of the Holocaust from the perspective of the law and Jewish lawyers in Germany, and Berlin specifically. It is important that we and future generations remember the misuse of laws in Germany and how it permitted a society to effectively purge a significant group of lawyers solely because of their religion, sending many in exile or to their deaths. It is about the misuse of law.”
— Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, U.S. Supreme Court 
“That a book published in 2018 by the American Bar Association should focus on the persecution of lawyers in Germany during the Third Reich – which collapsed almost 75 years ago – reminds us that the bleak lessons of such an ignominious past are as relevant as ever. The failure to enforce law and time-honored principles of justice still poses increasing threats to people everywhere.… For those lawyers who were persecuted or had to flee Nazi tyranny because of their religion, ‘Lawyers Without Rights: The Fate of Jewish Lawyers’ in Berlin after 1933,’ demonstrates that their suffering has not been forgotten. Nor has it been in vain.”
— Benjamin B. Ferencz, sole-surviving chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials
“The Anne and Ronald Abramson Family Foundation is honored to have the opportunity to underwrite this book. It stands as a tribute to the Jewish attorneys in Berlin and throughout Nazi-controlled Europe who were brutally segregated and expelled from the practice of law…. Their stories collectively provide a painful reminder of why lawyers must lead the resistance when fair justice and the rule of law come under attack. As (Arthur) Szyk said of his art, the Lawyers Without Rights project is not the aim but a means. We must all work together to keep the memory of the Holocaust current and the meaning of the rule of law relevant and alive.”
— Ronald D. Abramson, lawyer and philanthropist 

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.