The anti-Semitic “hate prayers” introduced into the public schools of Thuringia by the National Socialist minister of education, Dr. Wilhelm Frick, were yesterday declared unconstitutional and prohibited by the State Tribunal here, the highest court in Germany. This decision is a severe set-back to the National Socialists in Thuringia. The matter of the prayers had been raised in the Reichstag and Jews and others who saw in them a violation of the German constitution had also protested.
M. Bumke, president of the State Tribunal, explained that the prayers hurt the feelings of people holding different convictions, because they contain anti-Semitic utterances which degrade the Jews by calling them “the people’s betrayers.” M. Bumke, whose position is similar to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the United States, pointed out in his decision that the anti-Semitic spirit of the prayers in the schools is transferred to the homes.
In the course of his interrogation on behalf of the Federal government, M. Zweigert, state secretary for constitutional political affairs, declared that the prayers poison the minds of the youth of Thuringia by accusing the Jews of treason, and infringe on the constitution. M. Zweigert said that the Jews were not the traitors but that Frick was a traitor.
The noted theologian and lecturer on Catholicism, Professor Eger, testified that the prayers corrupt the sense of higher devotion.
The prayers were introduced last May and were directed against “aliens to our race, the Jews who demoralize the German people.” The prayers called on the “Lord to protect us from people of a foreign element.” When the prayers were first framed the Socialist members of the Thuringian landtag denounced them as unconstitutional and called on the Reich government to prohibit them. Shortly after the Reich minister of the interior, Dr. Joseph Wirth, protested to the Thuringian government against the use of the prayers.
Dr. Wirth then brought the matter up in the Federal parliament where he reported his negotiations with Premier Baum of Thuringia. Dr. Wirth said that as a Catholic and a minister under the Weimar constitution the prayers had touched him painfully. The prayers issue came up again in the Thuringian landtag and Dr. Frick was called “a coward” when he denied that they were aimed at the Jews. His denial was seen as caused by the fear that the Reich government would intervene.
Another note to the Thuringian government calling upon it to revoke the prayers carried with it a threat that unless this demand was complied more strenuous action would be taken and the Reich government would intervene. Finally, when the Thuringian government point blank refused to rescind the prayers suit was instituted.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.