Research Unit »Law«

The Research Unit »Law« is dedicated to Jewish activities in various fields of law from the late eighteenth century onwards as well as to modern legal thought. This era was characterized by manifold efforts to achieve legal equality on the one hand, contrasting with ongoing experiences of exclusion and disenfranchisement, eventually climaxing in extermination, on the other. Against this background, this research unit centers on the lifeworlds and spheres of activity of European Jews within their surrounding societies, with a particular emphasis on their historical legal implications.

Three focal points are of special significance here:

Under the keyword »Emancipation,« this research unit examines the struggle for recognition, participation, and equality before the law in Europe through the example of selected Jewish jurists of various generations as well as various legal networks and associations.

The focal point »International Law« decodes the role of Jewish organizations and agents in their various experiential contexts in the European nation states or multinational empires from the nineteenth century onwards, particularly with regard to the novel legal concepts and instruments of modern international law. Of particular importance here are the engagements with National Socialism and its consequences.

The focal point »The Restoration of Justice after 1945« focuses on two thematic contexts: The first concentrates on the process of restoring legal systems in Europe and the Jewish participation in reconceiving legal structures and dealing with the prosecution of Nazi crimes. The second concentrates on questions of restitution, property, and inheritance.

Head of Research Unit
Dr. Elisabeth Gallas

Deputy Head of Research Unit

Research Projects