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Scholar and Attorney to Discuss Fate of JewishLayers in Nazi Germany at Kristallnacht Commemoration

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)October 22, 2012

(MAHWAH, NJ) – The Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies of Ramapo College and Temple Beth Haverim Shir Shalom will hold a Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) commemoration on Saturday, November 10. The event will commence at 7 p.m. and will take place at Beth Haverim Shir Shalom, located at 280 Ramapo Valley Road (Route 202) in Mahwah, NJ. The commemoration will feature a talk by Dr. Douglas G. Morris on “Discrimination, Degradation, Defiance: Jewish Lawyers in Nazi Germany.”

Among the first targets of the Nazis after their assumption of power in January 1933 were Jewish attorneys. The law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service of April 7, 1933 excluded them from state service. So-called Aryan Paragraphs instituted by professional organizations meant they could no longer be members of the German bar association. In Berlin, which had the country’s largest Jewish population among many who were lawyers, the municipal authorities issued an ordinance forbidding them to work on legal matters. Nazi governmental and party bodies instituted less formal campaigns to deter non-Jews from seeking the services of Jewish legal professionals. Soon Jewish lawyers were limited to serving only the needs of their increasingly marginalized co-religionists.

Morris is a legal historian and practicing criminal defense attorney with Federal Defenders of New York, Inc.  He is now working on a book, tentatively titled “Discrimination, Degradation, Defiance: Jewish Lawyers in Nazi Germany.” This book will explore the response of lawyers, both in their legal practice and their legal thinking, to a tyrannical regime’s destruction of a liberal legal order.

His first book, “Justice Imperiled: The Anti-Nazi Lawyer Max Hirschberg in Weimar Germany” (University of Michigan Press, 2005), explored the heroic and principled struggle of a Jewish attorney who was Munich’s leading courtroom advocate during the Weimar Republic, revealing the skewed and politicized nature of Germany’s judicial system even before Hitler came to power.

Morris was awarded a Ph.D. in Modern European History from the University of Rochester in 2003, and a J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1983. At Federal Defenders he represents defendants charged with federal crimes. Before Federal Defenders, he worked as a litigation associate in the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York City from 2001 to 2002 and he was a Fellow at the Dorothy & Lewis B. Cullmann Center for Scholars & Writers at the New York Public Library. In 1998, he was a recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Award from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York for serving “as pro bono counsel to a human being under a sentence of death.”

The evening will also include a commemorative service led by Rabbi Joel Mosbacher and a program featuring chorale music performed by the adult choir of Temple Beth Haverim Shir Shalom under the direction of Cantor David Perper.

For more information regarding the event, please contact the Director of the Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Michael Riff via telephone at (201) 684-7409.


About Ramapo College

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The comprehensive college is situated among the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, is within commuting distance to New York City, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and boasts the best on-campus housing in New Jersey per Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Applied Mathematics, Business Administration, Contemporary Instructional Design, Computer Science, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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