ABA President Mary Smith spotlighted female lawyers globally who have fought for human rights and struggled with harassment and other forms of retaliation in remarks during a program focusing on German Jewish female lawyers during the Third Reich.
The event at the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America explored the lives of 17 Jewish female lawyers and jurists in Nazi Germany who, like their male Jewish counterparts, were purged from the practice of law starting in 1933 because they were Jewish. The Oct.18 program, which included a traveling exhibit, also featured German Counsel General Annette Weerth and a panel of descendants of female Jewish lawyers of that era.
In her remarks, Smith said the Oct. 7 barbaric attack by Hamas on Israelis along the Gaza strip was a “painful” reminder of the persecution of Jews through generations.
The German Jewish women’s display is separate but structured like the traveling ABA-German Federal Bar exhibit, Lawyers Without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany Under the Third Reich, that has traveled to about 70 North American venues in the past dozen years.
Smith noted that the Jewish female lawyers of that era were trailblazers who have been followed by female lawyers fighting injustice internationally. She pointed to recent ABA efforts to spotlight unfair treatment of female lawyers or judges in Tanzania and Poland and noted that four of the six past honorees of the ABA International Human Rights Award have been women from China, Hong Kong, Columbia and Chile.
“The phrase ‘never again,’ which originated out of the Holocaust, has become a universal call to action,” Smith said. She added that “never again” means a commitment to “vigilance globally and education locally … today, tomorrow and forever.”