Law in the Time of Party Rule: Humboldt University’s Law Faculty Under Socialism
“Lawyers make bad Christians,” Martin Luther once said (“Juristen – böse Christen”). Why? Lawyers are too contrary, too skeptical, too willing to argue either side of any controversy in order to win. They have no talent for unquestioning faith, no convictions, no allegiance. This same rationale might explain, says Inga Markovits, the Ellen Maria Gorrissen Fellow at the Academy this spring, why Socialism, a secular religion of sorts, was always wary of its lawyers and kept them under tight control. Nevertheless, after the miraculous turn-about of 1989, no other group of socialist professionals was met by the Rule of Law with as much suspicion and rejection as East German lawyers. Were they indeed just willing servants of the Unrechtsstaat? Markovits, a University of Texas Law School professor who is currently working on a history of Humboldt University’s law faculty under Party-rule, investigates how religiously, how eagerly, and how effectively one group of prestigious lawyers in the GDR served Party goals and to what degree authoritarian law not only advanced, but also undermined the obsessions of a power-hungry state.
Markovits was introduced by Dieter Grimm, a professor of constitutional law at Humboldt University and at the Yale Law School. From 1987 to 1999 he was a Justice of the Federal Constitutional Court, and from 2001 to 2007 he was Rector of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Institute for Advanced Study.