BONN (Jan. 13)
The office of the Federal Attorney General opened an investigation today into the refusal of the Hamburg Supreme Court to act against the publisher and printer of an anti-Semitic pamphlet in an incident which has evoked protests from the German press and public that anti-Semitism is again rising.
The pamphlet, printed by Adolf Heimberg and written and distributed by Friedrich Nieland, lumber merchant, drew a distinction between the Jewish people and “international Jewry.” The Hamburg court declined to take action on a charge that publication of the pamphlet violated the Federal law against preaching anti-Semitism and race hatred. The court ruled that the booklet did not call for a campaign against the Jewish people but discussed only “international Jewry.”
The Attorney General’s office will investigate the possibility of whether the case can be reviewed by the Federal Supreme Court, as well as whether other measures can be taken to ban further distribution. The Attorney General’s plans followed personal intervention in the case by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer after a conference with Max Brauer, Mayor of Hamburg, who asked for vigorous federal action.
While newspapers continued to condemn the Hamburg court ruling, the influential Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung declared that the Chancellor’s intervention created the possibility of executive influence over the judiciary. Political observers said that the application by the West German Republics highest court of Article 18 of the basic law, which makes the abuse of basic rights a punishable offense, might have “undemocratic consequences in the long run.” Experts in Bonn and Hamburg indicated they felt that action under civil law would most likely be taken against the two men.
The German Trade Union Council and the Central Council of Jews of Germany asserted that the incident showed the need for a new criminal code to prevent recurrences of Nazism and to protect minorities against defamation.