A Berufsverbot disqualifies the recipient from engaging in certain professions or activities on the grounds of their criminal record, political convictions or membership in a particular group.
The Berufsverbot in Nazi Germany
Post-World War II Berufsverbot
After 1945, the allied authorities in West Germany issued Berufsverbot orders against certain political filmmakers.
The 1972 Anti-Radical Decree
On 28 January 1972 the federal government and the premiers of the states instituted the so-called Radikalenerlass (Anti-Radical Decree). Under this decree, people who were considered to be a member or aligned to an extremist organization, were banned from work as civil servants (Beamter), which includes a variety of public sector occupations such as teaching. The decree was declared as response to terrorism by the Red Army Faction.
Berufsverbot is the common name for the decree by people who opposed it, because they claim it contradicts the freedom of occupational choice guaranteed by the Basic Law of Germany. Law experts do not use the term for these cases as the decree does not forbid the occupation by itself.
Treatment under Council of Europe law
In at least one case (Vogt v. Germany, 1995), the European Court of Human Rights found Germany in breach of its responsibilities to a citizen (Dorothea Vogt, a dismissed teacher who was an active member of the German Communist Party) under Article 10 (right to freedom of expression) and Article 11 (right to freedom of assembly and association) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The government subsequently settled with her, providing compensation for her time without full earnings, topping up her pension rights for that period, as well as other modest damages and costs.
- Bulletin of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany no. 15 of 3 February 1972, p. 142
- Vogt v. Germany, European Court of Human Rights, sitting as a Grand Chamber in Strasbourg, main judgement delivered 2 September 1995. Case number 7/1994/454/535. Application number 17851/91.