The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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10 February 1933

Letter from Franz von Papen prohibiting Hermann Badt from continuing his duties

In February 1933, the Prussian ministerial director Hermann Badt (1887–1946) was told he had to stop conducting official business. He received the news in a letter from Franz von Papen, Vice-Chancellor in Hitler‘s cabinet and Reich Commissioner for Prussia. Although the message was politely phrased—"I humbly request that you abstain from conducting any official business"—for Hermann Badt it was a stinging blow.

Franz von Papen‘s letter put an end to Hermann Badt‘s long political career. Von Papen justified his decision by citing the emergency decree that Reich President von Hindenburg had issued four days earlier. As a result of this decree, the Prussian government led by its Social Democratic prime minister, Otto Braun, was stripped of the last vestiges of power.

The government had already been brought down by the "Prussian coup" of 20 July 1932, when powers were transferred to Franz von Papen as the newly appointed Reich Commissioner. In response, ministerial director Hermann Badt, acting as the authorized representative of the Prussian government, had filed a complaint challenging the constitutionality of the decree before the state constitutional court. The complaint was rejected.

For Hermann Badt, the prohibition was just the beginning. Nazi leaders now devoted themselves to systematically eliminating their political opponents. The Reichstag Fire Decree of 28 February led to mass arrests. Upon learning that the Gestapo was searching for him, Badt fled Berlin. On 10 March he skied across the Giant Mountains to Karpacz, where his wife and three children were waiting for him. Together they managed to leave for Palestine on 9 April.

Lea Weik

Categorie(s): Berlin | civil servants | occupational ban | politicians
Letter from Reich Commissioner Franz von Papen prohibiting Hermann Badt from continuing his duties, 10 February 1933
Gift of Dr. Yehiel Ilsar.