German central administration of justice

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The German Central Administration of Justice (also: German Justice Administration , abbreviation "DJV") was the forerunner organization of the Ministry of Justice of the German Democratic Republic , which existed from 1945 to 1949 in the Soviet occupation zone of Germany . After the Second World War, it was supposed to initiate a reorganization of the judiciary, to ensure that no officials of National Socialism became lawyers and judges, and to strive for a judicial system with socialist features based on the model of the judiciary of the Soviet Union .

History and tasks

Eugen Schiffer , first president of the DJV

The trigger for the establishment of the DJV was the order No. 17 of the Soviet military administration SMAD of July 27, 1945. In November 1945 the establishment of the central administration - consisting of the central office and eight departments - had already been completed. One of the reasons why SMAD pushed for the DJV to be set up quickly was because it relied on legally informed German advice for practically all of its orders and orders, such as the repeal of Nazi injustice judgments , and needed a reliable contact point. As the first president of the DJV, the SMAD appointed the then 85-year-old Eugen Schiffer , who had already been Minister of Justice in the Weimar Republic .

The establishment of the courts was essentially the responsibility of the federal states, so that the DJV's influence as a central institution was weak. Schiffer was already drafting a statute for internal use at the end of 1945, which was supposed to regulate the distribution of competencies between the central administration and the courts of the federal states - such as the management and control of public prosecutors and notaries; however, the legal validity of the statute remained questionable. With only around 100 employees, the DJV's workforce was smaller than that of most other central administrations. The Legislation Department developed numerous model laws and thus demonstrated competence in the field of constitutional law, which later became important in the GDR Ministry of Justice. Relevant constitutional lawyers in the young GDR, such as Benjamin and Melsheimer, previously worked in the DJV. Regional justice conferences held several times a year acted as a link between the executive judicial authorities of the federal states and the central administration, at which representatives of SMAD, DJV and the justice ministers of the federal states, and from 1947 also the higher regional court presidents elected by the state parliaments and attorneys general discussed. Since 1947 the DJV has published the monthly magazine Neue Justiz , in which these activities were further analyzed and communicated.

Because of the shortage of lawyers after the war, one had to rely on experts from all parties permitted in the Soviet Zone. That is why the influence of the future GDR state party, the SED, was still small in December 1947: only twelve of 105 employees in the DJV were SED members. Increasing pressure on the central justice administration to align itself more closely with the course of the SED led to the resignation of Schiffer, who belonged to the Liberal Democratic Party of Germany , in August 1948 . The national conferences of legal experts had been his work; On March 1 and 2, 1947, the SED organized the “1. Juristenkonferenz “- one of several counter-events to the national conferences. In May 1948, Schiffer tried to discuss the draft of a new judicial constitutional law that he had drawn up at an eleventh state justice conference. This did not happen because the SED, supported by SMAD, rejected several of the ideas presented by Schiffer on the professionalization of the public prosecutor's office and thus the conference planned by the DJV. In response to this scandal, Eugen Schiffer submitted his resignation. Half a year later, the Presidium of the DJV presented itself in a new SED legal conference on November 25th to 26th, 1948:

  • Max Fechner (SED) was the new president and a year later became the GDR's first justice minister.
  • Vice-president was the later first attorney general of the GDR Ernst Melsheimer (SED).
  • Head of human resources was Hilde Benjamin (SED), a judge who made a name for herself because of her harsh judgments in the Waldheim show trials in 1950. In 1953 she replaced Fechner as Justice Minister of the GDR.

On October 7, 1949, the German Central Administration of Justice was dissolved and transferred to the Justice Ministry of the GDR.

Individual evidence

  1. The abbreviation DJV for Deutsche Justizverwaltung was in common use and was also used in communication between the authorities.
  2. Martin Broszat, Hermann Weber (eds.), Helga A. Welsh: SBZ manual: State administrations, parties, social organizations and their executives in the Soviet zone of occupation , Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag Munich, 1993, ISBN 978-3486552621 , p. 218ff
  3. Among other things, Schiffer and the DJV demanded that the higher regional court presidents and general public prosecutors no longer be elected locally by the state parliaments, while the SED wanted to remove these central areas of justice entirely from the judiciary and integrate them into the SED.