Fritz Bauer

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Fritz Bauer (born July 16, 1903 in Stuttgart ; † July 1, 1968 in Frankfurt am Main ) was a German lawyer . The kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann to Israel, the positive reassessment of the resistance fighters of July 20, 1944 and the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials are linked to his name and work as Attorney General in Hesse from 1956 to 1968 .

Live and act

Fritz Bauer was born to liberal Jewish parents, but saw himself as an avowed atheist . After attending the Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium in Stuttgart, he studied law in Heidelberg , Munich and Tübingen . During his student days he was involved in a liberal Jewish student association, especially in political debates. After completing his doctorate (“The Legal Structure of the Trustees”) as a Dr. jur. with Karl Geiler , Bauer became a judge at the Stuttgart District Court in 1928 and only two years later the youngest district judge in the Weimar Republic .

Political activities and imprisonment during the Nazi era

Bauer was politically active from an early age. He was a co-founder of the Republican Association of Judges in Württemberg. As early as 1920 he joined the SPD and in 1931 took over the chairmanship of the Stuttgart branch of the Reichsbanner Black-Red-Gold . In connection with plans for a general strike directed against the seizure of power by the National Socialists , Bauer was arrested on March 23, 1933, imprisoned for eight months in the Heuberg and Oberer Kuhberg concentration camps, and released again at the end of 1933. The Wuerttemberg Nazi rulers published a "declaration of loyalty" allegedly signed by eight social democrats in several newspapers. One of the listed signatories is "Fritz Hauer". A Social Democrat named Fritz Hauer is unknown, as is an inmate of the Oberer Kuhberg concentration camp by that name. Historical research therefore assumes that the publication of the "Loyalty Confession" is a printing or typesetting error and that the alleged signatory is inmate Fritz Bauer. The practice of  releasing prisoners from the early concentration camps was that SS , SA and other agencies pressed a declaration of loyalty - a lapel - from the prisoners intended for release . In the case of Fritz Bauer and his co-imprisoned comrades, it seems reasonable to assume that they were required to provide a declaration as a prerequisite for their release, the wording of which is of course not known. For propaganda purposes, the National Socialists turned the incident into a "declaration of allegiance by former social democrats" to dishonor their political opponents. He was dismissed from civil service under the Law Restoring the Professional Civil Service .

In 1936 he emigrated to Denmark . After the German occupation, the Danish authorities withdrew his residence permit in April 1940 and interned him in a camp for three months. To protect himself, he formally married the Danish kindergarten teacher Anna Maria geb. Petersen. In October 1943, when the National Socialists began to deport Danish Jews to the Theresienstadt concentration camp , he went into hiding and fled to Sweden with the support of local helpers . There he worked as an archive assistant and founded the magazine Sozialistische Tribüne with Willy Brandt and others .

The Danish Aliens Police suspected Bauer of interacting with male prostitutes , which was the subject of an exhibition by the Fritz Bauer Institute, which was first shown in 2014 at the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt am Main . Since then, Bauer has been categorized as a homosexual , although he has neither committed nor clear evidence for this.

Activity as attorney general in the Federal Republic of Germany

At Bauer's initiative, Article 1, Clause 1 of the Basic Law on the building of the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor's Office

1949 returned Bauer returned to Germany, was Landgerichtsdirektor the Regional Court of Braunschweig and 1950 Attorney General at the Court of Appeal of the city. In 1956, on the initiative of Prime Minister Georg-August Zinn, he was appointed to the office of the Hessian Attorney General based in Frankfurt am Main , which he held until his death in 1968.

One of his first cases as Attorney General in Braunschweig made him known outside of Germany: in 1952 he was the prosecutor in the so-called Remer trial . Bauer coined the sentence: "An unjust state that commits tens of thousands of murders every day entitles everyone to self-defense." As a result of this process, the resistance fighters of July 20, 1944 were rehabilitated and their attempt to kill Hitler legitimized. In his plea , the court agreed with Bauer's view that the Nazi state was “not a constitutional state, but an unjust state ”.

In 1957, Fritz Bauer informed the head of the Israel Mission in Cologne, and with it the Israeli secret service Mossad, about Adolf Eichmann's place of residence in Argentina after he had found out about it from the former concentration camp inmate Lothar Hermann , who lived in Argentina . Bauer mistrusted the German judiciary and police - he feared Eichmann would be warned from there - and turned to Israel directly at an early stage. This communication was the decisive impetus for Eichmann's arrest in 1960. Part of the background to this process is that Bauer's request that the German government endeavor to extradite Eichmann to the Federal Republic of Germany was immediately rejected by the government.

In 1959, Bauer obtained that the Federal Court of Justice transferred the “investigation and decision” in the criminal case against Auschwitz perpetrators to the Frankfurt am Main Regional Court . On Bauer's instructions, the public prosecutor's office there initiated an investigation against former members and leaders of the SS guards at the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp. The first Auschwitz trial in West Germany, the “criminal case against Mulka u. a. ", was finally opened in December 1963 against 22 defendants before the Frankfurt Regional Court.

Bauer was controversial within the West German post-war justice system because of his involvement, as most of the lawyers at the time had already served the Nazi dictatorship in the past. He himself is said to have once said: "In the judiciary, I live like in exile." The media also quoted him with the sentence: "If I leave my [office] room, I enter hostile countries."

In August 1959 Fritz Bauer received information from Willy Rudolf Foerster about the execution of prisoners on German blockade breakers during the Second World War. These were brought onto German ships in Japan "by force" and "murdered in cold blood without a court judgment" on the way. He also reported to Bauer about “untrue testimony” by former German diplomats in court. The aim of this was to prevent a "serious and thorough investigation" into his own case. Foerster, together with the Jewish Aid Committee in Tokyo, had helped a considerable number of Jews to flee to Japan and employed them in his company. For this he was arrested and tortured in 1943.

In 1960, Bauer gave the lecture on The Roots of Fascist and National Socialist Action to representatives of youth associations . The suggestion made by the Rhineland-Palatinate State Youth Council to make the text Upper Schools and Vocational Schools available as a brochure was rejected by the state's Ministry of Culture . The rejection was justified in 1962 by the young CDU MP Helmut Kohl "nassforsch": The time lag from National Socialism was too short to be able to form a final judgment. The text in which Bauer argued that the Nazi state was not an industrial accident in history did not appear in bookshops until 1965. The investigations started by Bauer against alleged desk perpetrators of " euthanasia " were later discontinued.

Fritz Bauer's work focused on the establishment of a democratic judiciary, the consistent prosecution of National Socialist injustice, and the reform of penal and penal law . The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials (1963–1981) would probably not have come about without Bauer's persistent commitment. Most of the perpetrators were sentenced to only a few years in prison for complicity in murder, and broad sections of society also opposed the trial. Nevertheless, Bauer's merit is to have initiated the public debate on the Holocaust issue from the mid-1960s through the trials he initiated. Of his writings, the book Das Verbrechen und die Gesellschaft , published in 1957, is considered the main work. In it he doubts the assumption of free will as the basis of the applicable criminal law of criminal law and instead pleads, following the teachings of Franz von Liszt and Gustav Radbruch, for a "criminal law that - with waiver of punishment - only knows measures of social rehabilitation and protection."


Memorial plaque on the last residential building in Frankfurt am Main

Bauer was found dead in the bathtub of his apartment in Frankfurt on July 1, 1968. When the corpse was opened by the Frankfurt forensic doctor Joachim Gerchow , pre-existing heart damage, severe acute bronchitis and the use of sleeping pills were found. There were no indications of third-party debt. Thus suspected Gerchow in its final report and later statements a suicide . However, there are no indications of the behavior of Bauer before his death. At his request, Bauer was cremated, contrary to Jewish tradition. The order from Bauer's deputy to apply for a judicial opening of the corpse was disregarded by the Frankfurt public prosecutor's office responsible for this, for reasons that cannot be identified today, and immediately released the corpse - also for cremation. An administrative section took place because Bauer’s relatives in Scandinavia agreed to what Bauer’s deputy had sought.

Fritz Bauer's urn was buried in the Örgryte gamla kyrkogård cemetery in Gothenburg .

Quotes from Fritz Bauer

"An injustice state like the Third Reich is not at all highly treasonable."

- Plea in the 1952 Remer trial

"I think it is a sad truth that we are very close to our ape state and that civilization is just a very thin blanket that is peeling off very quickly."

- Audio recording by Fritz Bauer in the Fritz Bauer exhibition in Frankfurt . The prosecutor. Nazi crimes in court (2014)

"When I leave my office, I enter enemy territory"

- Fritz Bauer

Honors and nominations

Fritz Bauer Memorial in front of the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court
Information board on the Fritz Bauer memorial in front of the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court
  • A 4.5-ton natural stone protruding from the ground like an iceberg was erected in 2016 on the Zeil in front of the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court as a memorial stone “Just the tip of the iceberg” for Fritz Bauer. The artist Tamara Grcic takes up a quote from Bauer: “You have to know that there is an iceberg and we see a small part and we don't see the larger part”.
  • In July 2020, a bronze Fritz Bauer bust was inaugurated in the foyer of the Federal Ministry of Justice in Berlin. She should always remind the employees of the ministry to be “lawyers who do more than lip service to law and justice, humanity and peace,” Minister Christine Lambrecht quoted Fritz Bauer. The bust was made by Pavel Feinstein , an artist with Russian-Jewish roots who lives in Berlin.
Fritz-Bauer-Platz in Braunschweig with a quote from the Basic Law as a wall decoration on Bauer's initiative.
  • In 2011, in the new Frankfurt district of Riedberg , Fritz-Bauer-Strasse in the Altkönigblick district was named in his honor.
  • A place at the regional court in the center of Braunschweig was named Fritz-Bauer-Platz in April 2012 .
  • In Tübingen on the Österberg, Scheefstrasse was renamed Fritz-Bauer-Strasse in March 2017.
  • Another street in Munich- Aubing was named after him in 2017.
Postage stamps
  • In 2017, Klaus Staeck created a portrait that anyone can use to order (individual) Fritz Bauer stamps from Deutsche Post. The Federal Ministry of Finance had previously rejected the proposal by the Fritz Bauer Circle of Friends of Braunschweig to issue a special stamp on the 50th anniversary of death in 2018
  • On November 2, 2019, as part of its Upright Democrats series, Deutsche Post AG issued a 270 euro cent postage stamp with Bauer's portrait and the quote "Nothing belongs to the past, everything is still present and can become the future again". Fritz Bauer was honored there as a "champion for democracy". The design comes from the graphic artist Detlef Behr from Cologne.
  • On July 1, 2018, the 50th anniversary of Fritz Bauer's death, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier paid tribute to his importance for the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials in an act of commemoration in Frankfurt's Paulskirche and called him “one of the key figures in the young democracy” because of his work in the Federal Republic of Germany. The historian Norbert Frei gave the commemorative lecture. The Federal President stated that Bauer had contributed more than almost anyone to the administration of justice and political culture in Germany in the 1950s and 1960s.

Publications by Fritz Bauer

  • The war criminals in court. Epilogue: Hans Felix Pfenninger. Series: New International Library, 3rd Europe, Zurich 1945.
  • The crime and society. Ernst Reinhardt, Munich 1957.
  • Roots of Nazi thought and action. Edited by Hessische Landesbank , Frankfurt undated (around 1960).
  • The roots of fascist and national socialist action. Mainz 1961, 31 pp.
  • Citizens' right and duty to resist. In: [Hans – Werner] Bartsch, Bethke, Farr, [Herbert] Mochalski and Teblin. [All] Ecclesiastical brotherhood in Hesse and Nassau. (Ed.): 3 [three] lectures held at the state conference [4. and November 5th] 1961 of the Ecclesiastical Brotherhood in Hesse and Nassau. Attorney General Fritz Bauer. Citizens' right and duty to resist. Attorney Heinrich Hannover [Bremen]. The defense of the state as a question of conscience. Lecturer Hans – Werner Bartsch. The state is not God. Pp. 41 - 64 . [in the appendix]: Some questions and answers after the lecture by [...] Fritz Bauer [here without specifying the interview partner]. Tape recordings [...] as far as understandable [...] . Pp. 65-68. Voice publishing house. Frankfurt. 1962.
  • Sexuality and crime. Contributions to criminal law reform. Ed .: Fritz Bauer, Hans Bürger-Prinz , Hans Giese and Herbert Jäger . Fischer TB, Frankfurt 1963. (3rd edition 1965).
  • The new violence. The need to introduce a control body in the Federal Republic of Germany. Publisher of the magazine Ruf und Echo, Munich 1964, 24 pp.
  • Resistance to state power. Documents of the millennia. Coll. & Komm. FB - Fischer TB, Frankfurt 1965.
  • The roots of fascist and national socialist action. European publishing company. Frankfurt. 1965, 77 pp.
  • In search of the right. With 20 photos and 7 drawings. Franckh'sche Verlagshandlung, Stuttgart. 1966.
  • The need for reform of the criminal law reform. Special series “From yesterday and today”, 20th documentaries and contemporary history articles. Munich undated (1966), 23 pp.
  • Alternatives to political criminal law. Lecture from March 6, 1968 at the university week for further education in political science in Bad Nauheim. Bad Homburg vd H., Dr. Max Gehlen, Berlin. 1968, 15 pp.
  • From the coming criminal law. Foreword by Herbert Jäger. CF Müller, Karlsruhe. 1969, 85 pp.
  • The humanity of the legal order. Selected Writings. Edited by Joachim Perels and Irmtrud Wojak , Campus, Frankfurt. 1998. ISBN 3-593-35841-7 .
  • Asking about the roots of evil. Excerpts from the wording of a lecture that Bauer gave on February 5, 1964 at Frankfurt University. In: Research Journal Social Movements , Issue 4/2015, p. 120 ff. Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection: online (accessed: May 24, 2019).

Fritz Bauer in art and culture

Fritz Bauer in literature

In his Farewell to Yesterday (1966), the film director and writer Alexander Kluge had Bauer make a plea for the humanization of the judiciary. In 2013 he dedicated a book to him: 48 stories for Fritz Bauer . These stories are initially framed by a narrative about Bauer's funeral and finally by a dedication text.

Fritz Bauer in music

Fritz Bauer in art

Farmer becomes on the wall mosaic Frankfurter stairs / XX. Century honored by Stephan Huber .

Exhibitions about Fritz Bauer

  • The exhibition General Public Prosecutor Fritz Bauer and the Trial on July 20 (July 16 to September 28, 2012 in the Braunschweig Regional Court ) was created by the Institute for Braunschweig Regional History in cooperation with the Braunschweig Public Prosecutor's Office.

Films about Fritz Bauer

Secondary literature

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ronen Steinke : Fritz Bauer. Or Auschwitz in court. Munich 2013, pp. 56–65
  2. ^ David Rüschenschmidt: Fritz Bauer (1903 - 1968). In: Manfred Blänkner, Axel Bernd Kunze : Red flags, colorful ribbons. Corporated Social Democrats from Lassalle to date. With a foreword by Erhard Eppler , Bonn 2016, pp. 65–73
  3. ^ Ronen Steinke: Fritz Bauer. Or Auschwitz in court. Munich 2013, p. 71
  4. ^ Ronen Steinke: Fritz Bauer. Or Auschwitz in court. Munich 2013, p. 88 f.
  5. a b Rudolf Walther: Memory of an Unforgotten. New Germany, July 26, 2014, p. 17
  6. ^ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung about the exhibition in the Jewish Museum Frankfurt, "What we can learn from Fritz Bauer". Retrieved October 9, 2015
  7. See critical Erardo Cristoforo Rautenberg: The dispute of the Attorney General Dr. Fritz Bauer with the Nazi injustice. , S. 2
    Jan Feddersen : The denunciation. In: , October 8, 2015
    Ronen Steinke : “Fritz Bauer's circumstances make the assumption - no more than that - seem possible that Fritz Bauer had a homosexual basic orientation that could not be lived at the time if he wanted his political one Do not jeopardize existence. ”In: Neue Justiz 2014, p. 515
  8. Erardo Cristoforo Rautenberg : At home among enemies. In: Weekly newspaper Die Zeit , Hamburg, No. 47, November 13, 2014, p. 17
  9. ^ Judgment of the Braunschweig regional court in March 1952, quoted from: Lenz, Friedrich (1953): The ekle worm of German discord: political problem around July 20, 1944. Self-published . The indictment and Bauer's pleading are printed in: Monika Nöhre (Ed.): Destroyed Legal Culture. Lectures in the Berlin Court of Appeal. Berlin 2013, p. 45 ff.
  10. Eichmann in court , Fritz Bauer Archive
  11. The background includes the fact that both the CIA and the Federal Intelligence Service had discovered Eichmann's cover identity as early as 1958 and knew his exact whereabouts, see Scott Shane: CIA Knew Where Eichmann Was Hiding, Documents Show.
  12. ^ Irmtrud Wojak: Fritz Bauer 1903–1968. A biography. Munich 2009, p. 302
  13. Rudolf Wassermann : Fritz Bauer (1903–1968). In: Peter Glotz and Wolfgang R. Langenbucher (eds.): Role models for Germans. Correction of a hero gallery. Munich, Zurich 1974, p. 296
  14. Hostile foreign countries. In: Der Spiegel , July 31, 1995
  15. Clemens Jochem: The Foerster case: The German-Japanese machine factory in Tokyo and the Jewish auxiliary committee Hentrich and Hentrich, Berlin 2017, p. 71 f., ISBN 978-3-95565-225-8 .
  16. Jochem: Der Fall Foerster , Berlin 2017, p. 168.
  17. Jochem: Der Fall Foerster , Berlin 2017, p. 181 ff.
  18. ^ Conrad Taler (alias Kurt Nelhiebel ): Ashes on icy roads. A chronicle of horror. Reports from the Auschwitz trial. Cologne 2003, p. 139
  19. ^ Fritz Bauer: Das Verbrechen und die Gesellschaft , p. 252, see also Erardo Cristoforo Rautenberg: Fritz Bauer: Das Verbrechen und die Gesellschaft. Neue Justiz , 2016, p. 316 ff.
  20. Irmtrud Wojak: Fritz Bauer 1903 - 1968. A biography. Munich 2009, p. 30, and Dieter Schenk, see Ref., 2012 and 2014
  21. All unclear or violent deaths which the public prosecutor has no interest in further elucidating should be submitted to an administrative section. Burkhard Madea u. a .: Administrative sections: Urgent Necessity on, accessed on April 28, 2017
  22. Erardo Cristoforo Rautenberg: The dispute of the Attorney General Dr. Fritz Bauer with the Nazi injustice. P. 16.
  23. Heribert Prantl: A shocker . Süddeutsche Zeitung No. 245 of October 24, 2015, p. 57
  24. quoted from:
  25. Oliver Teutsch: Monument to Fritz Bauer - An iceberg on the Zeil for Fritz Bauer. In: Frankfurter Rundschau , May 13, 2016
  26. Maria Ugoljew: Bronze character head. In: Jüdische Allgemeine. July 2, 2020, accessed July 11, 2020 .
  27. Fritz Bauer Study Prize from the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, accessed on April 28, 2017
  28. Darmstadt correctional facility , accessed on April 28, 2017
  29. Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, edition of August 22, 2017, p. 31; , accessed on September 28, 2017
  30. ^ Street No. 8515 for Fritz Bauer on, accessed on February 26, 2016.
  31. Announcement of street names: Fritz-Bauer-Platz on, accessed on August 29, 2012.
  32. ^ Renamed street. Scheef became Fritz Bauer , Schwäbisches Tagblatt, March 28, 2017
  33. ^ State capital Munich Editor: Street renaming. Retrieved May 4, 2020 .
  34. ↑ The large event hall of the Stuttgart District Court bears the name of Fritz Bauer, who was born in Stuttgart and former Hessian attorney general - Justice Minister unveils memorial plaque. Ministry of Justice Baden-Württemberg, February 13, 2012, accessed on January 25, 2020 .
  35. ^ Journal Frankfurt : Tribute to Fritz Bauer , March 7, 2019
  36. Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection: “Today we named our atrium after #FritzBauer. Fritz Bauer was a great lawyer. As attorney general, he brought the Auschwitz crime against humanity to justice. His work remains an incentive and role model for us - especially today. ” In: Twitter account @BMJV_Bund. January 15, 2020, accessed January 17, 2020 .
  37. General Public Prosecutor of the State of Brandenburg: Postage stamp with Fritz Bauer motif , accessed on October 7, 2017
  38. ^ New special postage stamp "Fritz Bauer". Retrieved November 3, 2019 .
  39. Ronen Steinke laudation on a great democrat , Süddeutsche Zeitung July 2, 2018, p. 5
  40. The Federal President / Speeches / Ceremony on the 50th anniversary of Fritz Bauer's death. Retrieved July 1, 2018 .
  41. Alexander Kluge: "He who speaks a word of comfort is a traitor". 48 stories for Fritz Bauer. Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2013, pp. 6-9 and 113
  42. ↑ Announcement of the exhibition by the Regional Court of Braunschweig, accessed on August 29, 2012.
  43. ^ Heidelberg exhibition pays tribute to Nazi hunter Fritz Bauer. ( Memento from February 27, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) on
  44. Fritz Bauer. The public prosecutor - Nazi crimes in court. Retrieved March 18, 2019 .
  46. ^ Special exhibitions - Jewish Museum Westphalia . In: Jewish Museum Westphalia . ( [accessed on February 1, 2018]).
  47. ^ Museums in Nuremberg: Exhibition "Fritz Bauer. The Public Prosecutor" - Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds. Retrieved June 30, 2018 .
  48. Alexander Kluge: Farewell to yesterday. Protocol. in: Enno Patalas (Ed.): Cinemathek. Selected film texts. Vol. 17, Verlag Filmkritik, Frankfurt am Main 1967, pp. 71–74
  49. Rating: “Particularly valuable”, title “Documentary film of the month January 2011” awarded by the FBW , website for the film: Fritz Bauer - Tod auf Raten. Retrieved April 28, 2017
  50. The repeated assertion in the film that Bauer's death was shrouded in mystery has been countered by the fact that Ziok thereby brought in the wrong undertone of a murderous conspiracy against Bauer. The Brandenburg Public Prosecutor Rautenberg remarked: “Also, Ziok could not ignore the fact that because of the numerous death threats made to Fritz Bauer, not a few are convinced of his murder. Although there were no indications of this, it cannot, on the other hand, be ruled out with complete certainty. In view of the fact that a large number of people could have had a motive for the crime - and some of them might also have known how to cover up a murder, this finding is not suitable for finally silencing the doubters. "
  51. Anja Seeliger: Berlinale The Unheard of. Review on, accessed on April 28, 2017
  52. Ann Claire Richter: A brave fighter against repression. in Braunschweiger Zeitung, accessed on April 28, 2017 (PDF; 601 kB)
  53. Video ZDF History: Murderers Among Us - Fritz Bauer's Fight (January 29, 2014, 11:25 p.m., 44:19 min.)  In the ZDFmediathek , accessed on January 29, 2014.
  54. Trailer In the Labyrinth of Silence. at, accessed on April 28, 2017
  55. Paul Katzenberger: Held in Robe , review July 31, 2015,, accessed on April 28, 2017
  56. ^ Fritz Bauer - Attorney General. Nazi hunter. Retrieved August 24, 2020 .
  57. Meticulous consideration of criminal, forensic and psychological factors, with the result that Bauer's death was involuntary and medically caused. In contrast, the Brandenburg Public Prosecutor Rautenberg in his discussion of the circumstances of death (Lit. 2015, pp. 179–185 and pp. 15–21) has now come to the conclusion that neither a suicide nor a covert murder can be ruled out with absolute certainty, because the Frankfurt investigating authorities did not even try to fully clarify the circumstances of the death and this was no longer possible in retrospect.
  58. ^ Claudia Moisel: Review by Fritz Bauer 1903–1968. A biography. at, accessed on April 28, 2017.
  59. Fritz Bauer 1903–1968. A biography. Review overview on, accessed on April 28, 2017.

Web links

Commons : Fritz Bauer  - Collection of Images