Remembering Hans Litten

I think I know a fair bit about the Second World War and then I discover something I never knew. Recently it was the story of Hans Litten, a German lawyer who defended victims of Nazism in the courts in the late 1920s and early 1930s, who has just been the subject of a both a dramatisation and a documentary on BBC television.

Astonishingly Litten managed to compel Adolf Hitler to give some three hours of evidence in a 1931 trial where Litten was able to expose the brutality of the SA – the forerunners to the SS – and the responsibility for this of the National Socialist Party.

Hitler was so outraged by this experience that, on the night of the Reichstag fire in 1933, Litten was arrested. He was savagely interrogated and tortured over a period of years before he committed suicide in Dachau in 1938.

Litten is quite well-known in Germany but not elsewhere. His bravery is a reminder that, all around the world today, independent-minded lawyers are standing up to authoritarian regimes to defend their victims and expose tyranny.

One Comment

  • phil sterdt

    My father Fritz Sterdt was defended by Hans Kitten. He was accused of murdering a facist in 1933 in Berlin during a street fight with antifascists. HANS AND Kurt Rosemfeld showed that in fact the facist Was killed BY ANother racist. My father fled to America but his codefendents were killed latter by Hitler.


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