FRITZ BAUER 1903-1968

A champion of law, justice and humanity

“Resistance is criticism and opposition in speech and writing, resistance was and is the strike. The plebeians went on strike, Ghandi created a movement of civil disobedience, and the blacks of the southern states of the USA follow Ghandi and his successor Martin Luther King. Emigration from the land of a tyranny is resistance. (…) It was always self-sacrificing disobedience. Resistance is the refusal to follow an unjust order or law, it is the helping that is given to the victims of an evil state”.

 

The lawyer Fritz Bauer knew what he was talking about. A resistance fighter and exile himself, he brought Auschwitz, the crimes of the Wehrmacht, Nazi justice and Nazi medicine to court. Hostilities and death threats therefore pursued him until death. Fritz Bauer consistently spoke of the millions of Nazi perpetrators, and he turned against the trivializing juridical construction of aiding and abetting, which he saw as an abdication of responsibility. Denazification and democratization were Dr. Fritz Bauer’s main concerns after twelve years of Nazi rule.

ADVOCATE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Would not everyone have been entitled, indeed obliged, to help the persecuted during the National Socialist regime? This was the question that moved the jurist. After so much violence and inhumanity, he wanted to give human rights the acceptance they deserved. Tolerance should become recognition of the other. Fritz Bauer stood on the side of the weakest in society. He fought for the rights of prisoners as well as for those of persecuted people. Criminal law reform and a humane penal system were his main concerns, and rehabilitation was his goal.

 

VOICE OF RESISTANCE

Fritz Bauer called for love and compassion in the face of hatred and violence, and he wanted to create a new law. The Germans needed a lesson in the applicable international law, he said. Actions of resistance combine love for truth, justice and humanity, the goal being a dignified existence for all. “We are to be our brother’s keeper,” Bauer explained. “This seems to me to be the task of a democratic and social and dignified human right. That would be the brotherhood that religions speak of.”

 

“He was the greatest ambassador the Federal Republic of Germany ever had.”

Robert M. W. Kempner

 

Click here for the biography of Fritz Bauer in German and English