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Courtroom to Revolutionary StagePerformance and Ideology in Weimar Political Trials$
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Henning Grunwald

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199609048

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609048.001.0001

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

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

(p.17) 1 The Rosa Luxemburg Trials of 1914 and the Emergence of the Ideal Type of the Weimar Party Lawyer
Courtroom to Revolutionary Stage

Grunwald Henning

Oxford University Press

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

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