The beginning of the end of German Jewry


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5 APRIL 1933 >

3 April 1933

Letter to Adolf Schnitzer requesting that he cease to practice as a notary

On 3 April 1933, a letter was drafted in Regional Court I in Grunerstrasse, Berlin, that led to an occupational ban for hundreds of Berlin notaries. Citing a decree from the Prussian Ministry of Justice, the letter states: "Notaries of Jewish descent are relieved of the obligation to exercise their office." Since it was impossible to determine which notaries were of "Jewish descent" at such short notice, the letter was sent to all notaries in the court‘s jurisdiction.

They included the lawyer and notary Dr. Adolf Schnitzer (1889–1989), who had been added to the court‘s attorney register in 1919 and licensed as a notary in 1928. Since beginning his career as a defense attorney, Schnitzler had climbed the steps leading into the imposing court building countless times.

Schnitzer‘s law office was located at Mohrenstrasse 48, just a few subway stops away from the courthouse. Here, he was close to the Gendarmenmarkt in the center of Berlin‘s commercial and banking district. The envelope, postmarked 6 April 1933, bears this address. The back of the letter is printed with the ministerial decree of 1 April 1933, which states in blunt language that public order cannot be maintained "if in their legal dealings Germans continue to be presented with documents drafted or certified by Jewish notaries." By the time the letter reached its recipients on 6 April, the Nazis had already begun taking steps to ensure that the decree was observed in practice.

Leonore Maier

Categorie(s): Berlin | lawyers | occupational ban
Jewish notaries are relieved of the obligation to exercise their office, letter sent by the Berlin regional court to Adolf Schnitzer, Berlin, 3 April 1933
Gift of Roland Furstenberg

Adolf Schnitzer

In June 1933 Adolf Schnitzer received notification that because of his "non-Aryan descent" he was no longer permitted to practice his profession. The decision was based on the Law on Admission to the Bar and the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service.

Not long afterward, Schnitzer emigrated to Switzerland, where he earned a doctorate in political science in Geneva in 1935. The author of several standard works on law, he taught at the universities of Geneva and Luxembourg from 1948 to 1966. In addition, from 1952 to 1972 he directed the international office of death declarations for missing persons at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva.

Letter from the president of the Berlin Court of Appeals (Kammergericht) to Adolf Schnitzer revoking his license to practice law, Berlin, 2 June 1933
Gift of Roland Furstenberg