Erwin Bumke

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Erwin Konrad Eduard Bumke (7 July 1874 in Stolp, Pomerania (now Słupsk, Poland) – 20 April 1945 in Leipzig) was the last president of the Reichsgericht, Germany's old Imperial Court.

Bumke's family background was Pomeranian middle class. His father was a doctor and his mother a factory owner's daughter. His brother Oswald Bumke was one of the 20th century's leading psychiatrists.

After studying in Freiburg, Leipzig, Munich, Berlin and Greifswald, Bumke began to work for the Reich Justice Bureau, the later Reich Justice Ministry in 1907.

As leader of Department II (criminal cases), he prepared, among other things, the Reichstag drafts for a new criminal code in 1927, which never saw the light of day. In 1930, Erwin Bumke became president of the International Criminal Law and Prison Commission. In 1929 Bumke became Reichsgericht president. Under his leadership, the Reichsgericht declared on 25 October 1932 that the temporary removal of Land (state) ministers' authority by a Reich Commissar (see Preußenschlag) was valid.

Bumke would have been the deputy of the head of state, the Reichspräsident, under a law passed in December 1932, had the latter suffered a handicap or death; however, no such incapacitation on Paul von Hindenburg's part was ever shown to be the case. In the time of the Third Reich, Bumke was responsible for several decisions bending the law. Two days after U.S. forces occupied Leipzig, on 20 April 1945, Bumke committed suicide.


  • Hat die erfüllte Resolutivbedingung dingliche Kraft?, Greifswalder Dissertation 1896
  • Deutsches Gefängniswesen. Ein Handbuch, Berlin 1928.
  • Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz und Strafprozeßordnung. Mit Nebengesetzen in der vom 13. Januar 1927 geltenden Fassung; Textausgabe mit einer Einführung in die Vorschriften der Novelle vom 27. Dezember 1926, Berlin 1927.
  • Zwei Entscheidungen zu Art. 48 der Reichsverfassung, Berlin 1932.

Further reading[edit]

  • Kolbe, Dieter (1975). Reichsgerichtspraesident Dr. Erwin Bumke. Studien zum Niedergang des Reichsgerichts und der deutschen Rechtspflege. Karlsruhe. ISBN 3-8114-0026-6.