“Blind in the Right Eye…” Political Justice in Potsdam between 1919 and 1933
September, 8, 2023 until January, 7, 2024
The special exhibition “Blind in the Right Eye… Political Justice in Potsdam between 1919 and 1933” takes a critical look at the judicial practice at Potsdam’s district and regional court during the Weimar Republic. From September 8, 2023 to January 7, 2024, the show presents aspects of Potsdam’s city history during the period of the Weimar Republic that have hardly been addressed to date and adds significant new insights to the house history of the judicial and detention complex at Lindenstraße 54/55 as a place of pretrial detention and political injustice.
With World War I over and the monarchy swept away by revolution, Germany establishes its first-ever democracy on the foundation of the Weimar Constitution. This document for the first time sets forth that every German is equal before the law. Women and men have the same civil rights and duties.
Within the justice system, most judges would retain their positions following the 1918 revolution. Many are still molded by the past and reject the new republic. A great number of them are partisan in their handling of criminal and civil cases. The sentences handed down to wrongdoers on the political left are much harsher than the verdicts delivered to perpetrators on the right. These judges put their political sentiments above the rule of law.
This tendency of going “soft on the right and hard on the left” is also evident in the criminal cases brought before the Potsdam Local and Regional Courts. Many of these trials are held in the courtroom in Lindenstrasse, with the accused jailed here as they awaited their trial.
This exhibition shows how judges in Potsdam based their decisions on political criteria, and how this would increasingly erode the population’s trust in the neutrality of the justice system and in the potency of democracy.
The Marginalization of Law Professionals of Jewish Origin in 1933
March, 24, 2023 until January, 7, 2024
Ninety years ago, large portions of the German population welcomed the takeover of power by the National Socialists (Nazis) on 30 January 1933. Using the tools of terror and propaganda, the new Nazi regime eliminated many of the basic democratic rights established in the Weimar Republic. In just a few weeks, the Nazis managed to institute the dictatorship they longed for. They persecuted, incarcerated and mistreated not only political rivals,
critics and dissidents, but also many others due to their religion or sexual identity as well as for anti-Semitic and racial motives.
The jail and courthouse in Lindenstrasse was part of the Nazi’s system of terror. A large number of the lawyers and judicial staff who worked here were also persecuted, stripped of their rights and expelled by the Nazi dictatorship because of their Jewish heritage. Their little-known stories serve to illustrate the fates of the millions of people across Europe murdered by the Nazi regime until its demise in 1945.
Ludwig Levy shared the fate of persecution with more than 600 people of Jewish origin in the area of today’s city of Potsdam alone.