German-educated judges in Israel / Deutsche Richter in Israel

The Legal History Blog links to a paper (PDF) by Fanie Oz-Salzberger and Eli Salzberger on The Secret German Sources of the Israeli Supreme Court. Its main emphasis is on important Israeli judges who were educated in German-speaking Europe.

The present paper … offers a glimpse into the collective biography and intellectual legacy of a distinct group of German-born or German-educated jurists who came to Palestine during the 1930s following the rise of Nazism, reached key positions within the Israeli legal system, and became the founding fathers of the Supreme Court of Israel.

Most fascinating is the glimpse of a cosmopolitan German-speaking intellectual world with centres in Vienna, Krakow, Danzig, Heidelberg, Frankfurt-am-Main and Berlin. About 40 per cent of the lawyers in Frankfurt and Berlin were Jewish when Hitler came to power.

The German influence on the Israeli Supreme Court has not yet been an issue for discussion or research, despite the large number of judges born and/or educated in Germany. Nearly 50 percent of the Court’s first-generation judges were educated in German institutions. They were part of a mass migration that reluctantly left a beloved country and culture in the wake of the Nazi rise to power. They were immediately recognized in their new homeland as a group markedly different in accent and personality from the more numerous east-European immigrants. They even earned a collective nickname – “Yekkes”. This slang term, which is still alive, has been associated over the years with both positive and negative characteristics, from punctuality to excessive toughness.

The characteristics associated with the term Yekke (from German Jecke) seem to show some consistency over the years: see Wikipedia.

Thanks to Isabella Massardo, who sadly has closed her weblog Taccuino di traduzione, for the Legal History blog)

2 thoughts on “German-educated judges in Israel / Deutsche Richter in Israel

  1. Not borne out by Wikipedia: the Yekkim means Germans and, by extension, Christians or Gentiles. In the East End of London a 100 years ago – no, I wasn’t alive then – the Yoks meant the indigenous English-Christian population cf. Schikse (excuse the expression) for non-Jewish females. Whether Whitechapel Road now populated by Indian and Pakistani street-traders would qualify for either epithet is debatable.

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