Exhibit on Nazi persecution of lawyers gives warning to the erosion of rightsSaturday, Nov. 9, marked the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or “Night of Broken Glass.”
Saturday, Nov. 9, marked the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or “Night of Broken Glass.”
It is called the “Night of Broken Glass” because of the shattered glass from the windows of hundreds of Jewish-run businesses, homes, and synagogues in Germany that were broken by members of the Nazi regime over the course of two days.
Kristallnacht is widely viewed by historians as launching the Nazi party’s systematic persecution of the Jewish
people and the beginning of the Shoah, or the Holocaust.
While Kristallnacht is considered the beginning of the Holocaust, an exhibit in the federal courthouse last week showed the persecution of Jewish lawyers began as far back as five years earlier in April of 1933. The exhibit, “Lawyers Without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany Under the Third Reich,” was displayed on the Heaney Federal Building fourth floor Nov. 9-14. It featured photos and stories of several Jewish lawyers who were banned from practicing law.
“The personal stories are powerful. It’s a sobering reminder of the importance of the rule of law,” said Leslie Beiers
at a reception for the exhibit held Tuesday. Beiers is an assistant St. Louis County attorney.
The law against Jewish lawyers was a part of Hitler’s systematic and calculated strategy to disable the legal system and the constitutional framework of the Weimar Republic. This set the stage for the commission of crimes against humanity.
Remembering how the stage was set might give some insight to how the Holocaust happened.
“It’s not just the Holocaust, as awful as that was: It’s about how the law disintegrated,” Steve Huengs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, said at the event.
“The clearest way to show what the rule of law means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law,” chief judge Michael Davis said as he quoted Dwight D. Eisenhower in his opening remarks at the reception.
Other speakers included Rabbi David Steinberg of Temple
Israel Duluth, Leonore Baeumler, who was living in Nuremberg during World War II and the Nuremberg trials, and Deborah Petersen-Perlman, chairwoman of UMD’s Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Committee.
The exhibit has travelled to various locations around Minnesota from Oct. 21 and continued on to the University of Minnesota School of Law Nov. 14-16, the IDS center, Crystal Court Nov. 17-20, and finally the Minneapolis Marriott on Nov. 21.
The exhibit is presented by the U.S. District Court, the Federal Bar Association (Minnesota Chapter), the Jewish Community Relations Council, Justice David Stras of the Minnesota Supreme Court, the Cardozo Society, the Minnesota State Bar Association, the Hennepin County Bar Association and area law schools.
In addition to this exhibit, UMD’s Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Committee sponsored events at
Temple Israel and UMD about Kristallnacht and the Nuremberg trials Nov. 9-12.