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Fritz Bauer was born in Stuttgart, Germany, on July 16, 1903, and his life is an example of bravery, tenacity, and an unwavering dedication to justice. Bauer’s reputation as a German Jewish judge and prosecutor is characterized by his crucial contribution to holding former Nazi offenders accountable, opposing political prejudices, and defending human rights. Sadly, Fritz passed away on 1 July 1986.
Early Life and Career
Fritz was raised by Jewish parents, Ludwig and Ella Bauer, and he subsequently labeled his upbringing as “liberally Jewish.” Bauer’s sense of identity was shaped by his family’s preservation of Jewish customs despite their assimilation into German society. After leaving the Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium, he continued his studies at the Universities of Heidelberg, Munich, and Tübingen, where he studied law and commerce.
Bauer joined the legal field at the same time as the völkisch movement gained traction in German colleges. He was rejected from numerous student fraternities because he was Jewish, but the liberal Jewish fraternity FWV (Freie Wissenschaftliche Vereinigung) provided him with comfort.
Bauer started serving as an assessor judge at the Stuttgart local district court in 1928 when he was 25 years old. His membership in the Social Democratic Party (SPD) distinguished him as an outsider in a judiciary that was predominately made up of conservative and autocratic individuals. Bauer’s early encounters with the judiciary exposed a predisposition against the Weimar Republic and predicted future difficulties.
In Stuttgart, he rose to prominence as the head of the SPD’s Reichsbanner defense league and developed a rivalry with SA chief Dietrich von Jagow. Bauer was worried by the political prejudices in the judiciary because he thought they were a pretext for Nazi government acts.
Bauer’s vocal resistance during the Nazi takeover in 1933 resulted in his detention and internment in concentration camps. He endured insults and humiliation, yet he never wavered from his beliefs. His experiences in Heuberg and later in the Oberer Kuhberg concentration camp were harrowing but instilled in him a deep sense of resilience.
After immigrating to Denmark in 1936, Bauer had further difficulties, including a temporary detention on homosexuality-related allegations by Danish authorities. His incarceration resulted from the German takeover in 1940, and he escaped to Sweden in 1943 as the Nazis tightened their hold on power. Alongside Willy Brandt, Bauer was instrumental in establishing the journal “Sozialistische Tribüne”.
In 1943 Bauer entered into a civil marriage with Danish kindergarten teacher Anna Maria Petersen to protect himself under the Nazi occupation. Although some people conjecture regarding Bauer’s sexual orientation, his acts during this time frame illustrate the extreme lengths people will go to to live.
Bauer went back to his own country in 1949 after the creation of West Germany following World War II. His dedication to justice did not waver. Resuming his attempts to reform the legal system, Bauer was the Generalstaatsanwalt (state prosecutor) for Hessen, situated in Frankfurt.
In keeping with his continued devotion to civil rights, Bauer co-founded the Humanist Union, a human rights group, in 1968. Through his work, the legacy of Nazi atrocities was challenged and an independent, democratic legal system was established in West Germany.
What was Fritz Bauer’s Cause of Death?
Fritz Bauer passed away on July 1 1986 at the age of 64. After a post-mortem, the cause of his death was revealed as he had taken both alcohol and sleeping tablets.