Lawyers Without Rights Exhibit Opens in Columbus Law School

Courtesy of the American Bar Association

By Garrett Farrell

The atrium of the Columbus School of Law currently features many posters chronicling the lives of Jewish lawyers who lived in Berlin during the late 1930s. The posters are part of a travelling exhibit called Lawyers Without Rights, which is on display in the Law School until March 6th.

The exhibit was formally opened on February 11, with remarks given by Dean Stephen Payne of the Law School, University President John Garvey, and President Judy Perry Martinez of the American Bar Association. Garvey gave a detailed account of how this exhibit came about, not from a production standpoint, but a historical standpoint. 

Garvey spoke about how the Nazi government revoked the right to practice law of nearly all Jewish lawyers born who begun practicing after 1915, and how the government expelled all Jewish judges and magistrates from the bench without exception. Garvey said that this was a forerunner of how Jews would be treated in the Holocaust.

After Garvey gave his remarks, Martinez took to the podium to discuss how the exhibit reflects the duty of those in legal professions. She claimed that those who practice the law have a responsibility to uphold the rule of law in all aspects, regardless of how it is being challenged. 

“The rule of law is fragile, and when the rule of law is under attack silence is not an option,” said Martinez, summarizing what she felt the core idea of the exhibit is.

After Martinez finished her remarks, Murry Sidlin, a professor in the Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art introduced a performance by Sharon Christman and Ivo Kalchev. Christman and Kalchev gave a rendition of music that was composed by Jews who had been interned in concentration camps. The music was hauntingly beautiful and lent the appropriate atmosphere to the last speaker of the day, Judge Marian Blank Horn.

Horn is the daughter of a lawyer who left Germany after Jewish lawyers were disbarred in the mid 1930s. By leaving Germany in this way, Horn’s parents were able to escape the horrors of the Holocaust, though this action was not without sacrifice in America, her father was not able to practice the law, as he could not speak English very well and was not able to take the bar exam.

Ultimately, Horn became a lawyer herself, and ascended in the profession to become an appointee to the Federal Claims court by President Reagan. Horn said that her father held that the fact that, even after all Adolf Hitler had done to eradicate Jews, as early as one generation after the Holocaust, Jews would once again have the rights that he took from them is the greatest insult to Hitler imaginable.

Horn’s story  shows perfectly what the exhibit is centered on; in spite of the degree to which the Nazis attempted to oppress the Jews, the rule of law can always be restored as long as there are people willing to defend it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *