Human beings are flawed and God knew that when he created them. Was he sorry for his creation? I do not know but I do know that the evil entrenched in the human being nature is now on full display, worldwide.
In the 20th century that just passed, two world wars took place and millions of people died, whether because they were soldiers, or they were innocent victims of evil or ended up as collateral damage of war. But millions of human being died, killed by other human beings who were seeking to gain power and to impose their ideology or policy on others.
It is a complex world, but the height of this complexity is the Holocaust, the conscious murdering of Six Million Jews, because they were Jews.
During WWII the decree to bring a “Final Solution” on the Jewish people and kill every Jew on earth caused the destruction of Europe’s “enlightened” culture. The Nazis killed the brightest among of the brightest in Europe, present and future generation.
Six Million Jews, children, women and men, were murdered and with them the Nazis abruptly depleted Europe of their contributions in the sciences, medicine, authorship, arts and key professions positions, among them lawyers, the most favorable profession among European Jews in those days.
In 1933 Hitler’s Nazi Germany issued a decree which took away the Jews’ right to their human rights, property and professions. Overnight Jews were excluded from all German life, losing their professions and were distanced, abruptly, from their colleagues and friends.
The other night, at the original Bullock’s building, on Wilshire Boulevard, built in the 1920s, then a suburb of Los Angeles, now the home of Southwestern Law School, I went to see the travelling exhibition, now on display in the building, of “LAWYERS WITHOUT RIGHTS: Jewish Lawyers in Germany Under the Third Reich,” its central message is “Remember.”
For the younger reader, Bullock’s was a department store, based in Los Angeles, California. The company operated full-line department stores all across California, with some stores in Arizona and Nevada. Bullock’s also operated the more upscale Bullock’s Wilshire in parts of Southern California.
The heart wrenching exhibit was created by the German Federal Bar, and has been shown in over 80 cities worldwide. It depicts how Jewish lawyers and jurists were barred from German courts beginning in 1933, and how individual rights and the rule of law were obliterated during the Nazi era.
The collaboration between the California Bar Association and the German Bar Association, with the assistance of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, resulted in a remarkable evening put together by Southwestern Law School, the second oldest law school in Southern California.
Susan Prager Dean, Southwestern Law School acted as the moderator; Jay Sanderson, President & CEO, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Axel Filges President, German Federal Bar, Stefan Biedermann, Deputy Consul General of Germany, and Rabbi Marvin Hier Dean/Founder, Simon Wiesenthal Center & Museum of Tolerance, a notable Human Right Organization, shed some light on the subject’s history and its implication, past and present.
Mr. Filges claimed that the loss of the Jewish lawyers during WWII is still felt today because the Nazis expelled the best and the brightest Germany had.
It is not easy to deny the Holocaust happened when Rabbi Hier speaks. One gets a sense that the War just ended last week as he has a way about him to bring the events of the Holocaust alive in all their gory details. Rabbi Hier spoke about several events that could have, if handled appropriately, prevented the Holocaust. He told a mindboggling story about Pope Pius XI, his Papacy ended on 10 February 1939.
Pope Pius XI was enchanted with Hitler and Mussolini. In 1937 the Pop realized that the Nazis will destroy the world so he wanted to issue an encyclical warning about the unfolding events. The Pope tasked to the Vatican John LaFarge, who wrote an article about the discrimination of black people and asked him to write an encyclical about discrimination of Jews, condemning racism and anti-Semitism.
Surprised, and a bit overwhelmed, LaFarge asked for assistance, and Gustav Gundlach, a German Jesuit, and Gustave Desbuquois, a French Jesuit nominated by the superior general of the Society of Jesus and Father Wladimir Ledochowski, who were appointed as his collaborators. A second German Jesuit, Father Heinrich Bacht, joined them in order to translate their draft into Latin. Throughout the summer the four men worked together in Paris. The Pope was very ill and each day he asked his assistance if a letter came from Paris. Toward the end of December, LaFarge went to Rome to give Ledochowski not one but three versions of the draft that had been asked for: three texts, then, written respectively in French, English, and German, one of which, at least, was titled Humani Generis Unitas, “The Unity of the Human Race.” However Ledochowski never gave the encyclical to the ill-fated Pope. Pope Pius XI died to never see the encyclical. Pope Pius XII ignored it and Nazi Germany’s history was inscribed.
In 1974 LaFarge died but had left a note revealing the story of his encyclical, which discussed the gravest human rights crimes.
Had Pope Pius XII issued this encyclical it would have shattered Hitler’s plans.
Rabbi Hier then continued telling about Hitler’s early view on anti-Semitism in his first major statement on anti-Semitism, a reply letter to Adolf Gemlich on September 16, 1919. Gemlich was a German army soldier and the letter was in response to a request for clarification on the Jewish Question, is thought to be the first known piece of anti-Semitic writing by Hitler. The first political piece by Hitler, thought to have established his credentials as a radical rightist and, amongst conservative groups, as the man who could overthrow the Weimar Republic. Because the letter is the first record of Hitler’s anti-Semitic views, and because it brought Hitler into politics, it is considered an important document in Holocaust studies.
Rabbi Hier mentioned two lawyers who worked in the State Department, brave enough to tell the world that the State Department is full of anti-Semites. They found evidential telegrams with which they went to, then, president Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), threatening to blow the lid off the ugly history in the making. That is the reason that no matter what we all think of lawyers, society needs them if they act right and morally and carry out truth to the fullest extent of the law.