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On 24 June 1922 the German Foreign Minister, Walther Rathenau, a Jew who was undertaking to carry out Germany's treaty obligations under the Treaty of Versailles, was assassinated by right-wing terrorists in Berlin while on his way to work. In response, the national government in Berlin, acting through the Reichstag and under the direction of Chancellor Joseph Wirth, promulgated a draconian "Law For the Protection of the Republic" (LFPR). This new national law prohibited gatherings and political parties that were deemed "dangerous" to the Republic. A special court in Leipzig—the Supreme Court for the Protection of the Republic (the Staatsgerichtshof)—was also constituted by the LFPR, and the court was vested with exclusive jurisdiction over violations of the LFPR. The Staatsgerichtshof would consist of nine members who were expressly appointed by the President of the Republic, which would limit the effects of judicial provincialism and particularism. In a move intended to limit the influence of the Republic's conservative (and often monarchical) judiciary, only three of the nine judges were required to be professional jurists; the others could be lay judges.
The Bavarian Landtag, resistant to the central power and jealous of its own "sovereignty," retaliated by enacting a Bavarian law that claimed to suspend the operation of the national law in Bavaria, and to replace the LFPR with its own Bavarian Decree for Protection of the Republic; the Bavarian High Court naturally declared this maneuver to be a legal and effective procedure. The constitutional crisis was resolved by a compromise: the Bavarian Decree was withdrawn, and the national LFPR was amended to provide that a co-equal "southern division" of the new Staatsgerichtshof was established, and that three of the lay judges in that division had to be Bavarian.
Morris, Justice Imperilled
- Organisation Consul assassins sprayed Rathenau's car with machine guns, then finished the job off with a grenade. Large p. 140-45.
- Wirth gave a stirring and prophetic speech to the Reichstag following the murder of his respected minister, in which he pointed to the right-wing delegates of parliament and then famously declared "The danger is on the right."
- Also, the act of publicly advocating the overthrow of the Republic, or of its officials, was expressly criminalized.
- Jablonsky p. 1.
- Jablonsky p. 1-2.