The Rosa Luxemburg Trials of 1914 and the Emergence of the Ideal Type of the Weimar Party Lawyer

Grunwald Henning

in Courtroom to Revolutionary Stage

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199609048
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744280 | DOI:
The Rosa Luxemburg Trials of 1914 and the Emergence of the Ideal Type of the Weimar Party Lawyer

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This chapter introduces the reader to the German legal system through a short history of advocacy, focused on the transition of barristers from civil service to free profession. Under competitive pressure and intensified media scrutiny, a new, edgy, and confrontational culture of defence work emerged around the turn of the century. Politically, this combative culture fostered a new generation of socialist lawyers, led by Kurt Rosenfeld and Paul Levi. In sharp opposition not just to the Wilhelmine state, but also to senior lawyers in their own party, these barristers drove a paradigm shift in political defence work. Using Rosa Luxemburg's anti-militarism trial of 1914 as a case study, the chapter demonstrates how the new generation de-legalized proceedings and privileged propagandistic impact over legal outcome, even at the cost of sacrificing the defendant. In so doing, the chapter argues, they forged an ideal type of the party barrister that shaped Weimar political trials.

Keywords: history of the German bar; Reich justice laws 1877/8; inquisitorial trial; party lawyers; Rosa Luxemburg trial; anti-militarism; German Social Democratic Party; Paul Levi

Chapter.  15215 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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