75th Anniversary of the Reinstatement of the Frankfurt Courts

2020 does not only mark 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, but also the beginning of the efforts to rebuild Germany’s institutions. Today is the 75th anniversary of the reopening of the District Court (Landgericht) Frankfurt. General Eisenhower’s Proclamation No. 1 of 19 March 1945 had closed down all German courts until further notcie. The order of the US Military Government to re-open the Frankfurt district court came on 24 and August 1945.

Johannes Becker was appointed as the court’s new president. He had served as the presiding judge of a civil appeals chamber until 1933. He was then demoted to serve as a judge in the land register (Grundbuchamt), as he was married to a Jewish wife to whom he remained loyal. In 1944, he was sent to work in a military factory. Becker therefore was untainted by the Nazi legacy of the Frankfurt judiciary, and at the same time had the required qualification and experience to lead the rebuilding of the court.

The Local Court (Amtsgericht) Frankfurt was reopened somewhat earlier, on 16 July 1945. For those of you who read German, here is a link to the court’s press release, and to an article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. As of the time of posting, the Landgericht had not issued a press release, and today’s article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is available in the print version only.

In 2012, Ursula Krechel’s novel Landgericht won the German Book Price. This book comes to mind as an excellent literary and historic account of the German judiciary’s rebuilding. The book is based on the real-life story of Richard Kornitzer, a German Jewish judge who returns from exile in Cuba into post-war Germany and is reinstated as a judge at the district court Mainz, 30 km south-west of Frankfurt and also heavily destroved by the war. It is fair to assume that the situation in Frankfurt would have been very similar.

Photo:  Proklamation Nr. 1 – Zweisprachige Bekanntmachung des Obersten Befehlshabers der alliierten Streitkräfte Dwight D. Eisenhower (deutschsprachiger Teil), marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

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