|An Attempt to Seek the Protection of the Courts
Testimony of Dr. Werner Rosenstock
Source: Yad Vashem Archive 0.2/1050 Reproduced by the kind permission of the Wiener Library, London.
[Dr. Rosenstock was a lawyer working for the Centralverein (Central Association (CV) of German Jews), in its attempt to organise legal representation for Jews. The testimony was originally written in English.]
On Boycott Day many department stores dismissed their Jewish employees without notice They acted under pressure of their Nazi cells. According to the labour law, however, notice could only take effect from a certain time after it had been served. The time depended on the length of service Many of those dismissed lodged claims for payment with the Labour Court .To meet the situation the Centralverein, to which I was attached at that time, organised a panel of Referendare (legal assistants) who represented the case before the courts. I was allocated a client by the name of Miss Bab, who had for many years been employed as a supervisor by the Moabit branch of the Karstadt department stores. She was entitled to six months' pay. The case was to be heard before the labour court in the Wilhelmstrasse. The judge in charge was Amtsgerichtsrat Rohlfing who in articles in legal periodicals had already expressed the view that dismissed Jewish employees were not entitled to any payments. The outcome of the case was therefore a foregone conclusion. When I entered the courtroom, I saw a number of uniformed members of the Karstadt Nazi Cell, who were in the corridor and in the chamber. They adopted a threatening attitude towards me, and made anti-Semitic remarks. In the course of the hearing some of them appeared as witnesses and, in no uncertain terms, lodged complaints against the allegedly bad treatment meted out to the subordinates of the plaintiff. On of the Nazis said: Miss Bab is a most disagreeable Jewess, who actually belongs to a concentration camp.' The judge did not refute this and similar utterances, and pointed out to me that in view of the pressure exercised by the Nazi Cell as the consequence of Miss Bab's behaviour, the Karstadt Combine had had no choice but to dismiss her without notice. My reply was that Miss Bab's dismissal appeared to me to be a pre-arranged affair between the Nazi Cell and the firm; meaning that the firm had arranged, or at least welcomed the pressure, in order to have a pretext for dismissing the plaintiff The hearing ended ¯ of course with the dismissal of the case. The judge retired to his room and the Nazis assembled in the corridor In the corridor, two Nazis took hold of my arms and told me that I was under arrest. A few days before the government had promulgated an order against "wild actions" by the party and had stated that only the police were authorised to make arrests. Therefore whilst I was led through the building and brought down to the street, I repeatedly protested that I would only go with the police. But neither the law court employees, the public nor the policeman on duty paid any attention I was taken by taxi (which I eventually had to pay for) to the Ulap exhibition grounds which had been converted into a SA headquarters. There I had to carry buckets under the supervision of a Hitler Youth, aged about 12 years, who addressed me as "Du" He asked me in a mocking way, what my religion was, and when I answered "a Jew", he gave me a hearty punch, exclaiming "stink Jew" was the correct answer There was a constant influx of other prisoners most of them brought in by the SA, and more often than not victims of denunciations for personal reasons. Some of them were taken into the cellar. Their cries could be heard, and when they were brought back, they were covered with blood, and had been brutally beaten all over. My main concern was whether my family and friends had learned of my arrest and would succeed in tracing me before I too was taken down to the cellar. At nightfall I was called and seen by two SS men in the presence of a guard. It was obvious that they had come from outside to intervene on my behalf, and I realised that my people had traced me. Later, I learned how this had come about. Miss Bab had witnessed my arrest and had informed the office of the Centralverein (CV).
Back to the top