Timothy W. Ryback talks to Mishcon de Reya Deputy Chairman Anthony Julius about his book, Hitler’s First Victims: One Man’s Race for Justice. The book reveals how, as the Nazis put Jews and communists into the first camps in 1933, brave attempts were made by the lawyer Josef Hartinger to uphold the rule of law.

Timothy is the Deputy-Secretary General of the Académie Diplomatique Internationale in Paris, and co-founder of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation in The Hague. He was previously Director and Vice President of the Salzburg Global Seminar and a lecturer at Harvard University. He is also author of The Last Survivor: Legacies of Dachau, published in 2000 and wrote Hitler’s Private Library: The Books That Shaped His Life, published in 2008.

Mishcon Academy:
In Conversation with Timothy W. Ryback
Author, Hitler’s First Victims: One Man’s Race for Justice

Timothy W. Ryback

My book is about Weimar Germany and the Weimar Republic which found itself under threat to public security and made certain compromises that ultimately led to Nazi Germany.

Anthony Julius
Deputy Chairman, Mishcon de Reya

Tim is an extraordinarily interesting storyteller and he has quite a story to tell about a lawyer who actually affirmed the principle of the rule of law under the most extreme and challenging circumstances and for a short time won.

Timothy W. Ryback

His name was Josef Hartinger, he was a middle-aged civil servant, a deputy prosecutor, who ultimately and astonishingly, issued an arrest warrant and murder indictment against the Commandant of the Dachau Concentration Camp.  He issued this on June 30th,1933 and the killing stopped for all of June, all of July and into August.  He had literally thrown a legal wrench into the Nazi killing machine.

Anthony Julius
Deputy Chairman, Mishcon de Reya

The Nazis defended and justified their crimes under the principle of a state of emergency when all constitutional guarantees and protections were suspended and, we are not living in a Nazi state or anything like it, but the same legal principle, which is to suspend legal principles, is being invoked and we have to be very careful about that and guard against it.

Timothy W. Ryback

Hartinger is an incredible act of courage in an era of collective public failure.  I mean, this is a society just abandoned its values, it abandoned the notions of rule of law, and this is one man that stood up and said ‘This cannot happen’ and actually did something about it.  This is a story about the power of the rule of law and what it’s capable of doing.

Anthony Julius
Deputy Chairman, Mishcon de Reya

Very much what we are about at the Academy, we are about educating, raising intellectual standards which are already very high here, and giving our lawyers and our non-lawyers a broader context in which to understand the work that we do as a firm.