MSU College of Law hosts ‘Lawyers without Rights’ art exhibition

Photo courtesy of MSU?College of Law

The ‘Lawyers without Rights’ exhibition at MSU College of Law consists of 25 panels telling the story of how many German Jewish lawyers and judges were expunged from office and the German Federal Bar during the Third Reich.

In brief –some 70 years after its horrors unfolded, the Holocaust still had stories to reveal and lessons to share.

The original idea for this exhibition – Lawyers without Rights – 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in 1998 when an Israeli lawyer asked the regional Bar of Berlin for a list of Jewish lawyers whose licenses had been revoked by the Nazi regime. The then-president of the German Federal Bar said the regional bar decided not only to research a list of names, but also to try to find out more about the fate of all of those whose names were uncovered.

Over time, it was discovered that some Jewish lawyers were able to leave the country after the Nazis came to power; however, many of them were incarcerated or murdered.

All this took place while the non-Jewish German lawyers along with their ‘lawyers organizations’ remained silent.

As the story unfolded, like a puzzle – step by step – a portrait of the fate of Jewish lawyers in Germany emerged. Fortunately, at the same time, the Berlin Bar began to transform this previously overlooked history into an exhibition.

Then in late 2011, the

German Federal Bar asked the American Bar Association for assistance to introduce this exhibition at the U.S. capital. What emerged from their efforts was this compelling exhibit of 25 panels.
The exhibition described the humiliation, degradation and purge from the German legal profession of roughly 5,000 lawyers simply – because they had Jewish ancestry.

From that time forward more than 65 to 70 U.S. venues have hosted the exhibit without charge, from New York City to Los Angeles, in addition to Mexico City and Toronto.

Host venues have included federal courthouses, state supreme courts, public libraries, law schools, Jewish community centers, synagogues and private venues. This new replica exhibition starts its journey from the MSU College of Law.

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