Joel, Curt

(1865-1945)
   bureaucrat; served as State Secretary in the Justice Ministry during 1920-1930 and as Justice Minister under Heinrich Brüning.* Born in Greiffenburg in Silesia of Jewish lineage, he studied law before launch-ing a career in 1899 as a public prosecutor. After two years with the state attorney's office in Leipzig, he became a counselor in 1908 at the Reich Justice Office. When World War I erupted, he gained a commission in the counterin-telligence branch of the Berlin* national guard (Landwehr). From 1915 until November 1917 Captain Joel was head of the police office in the General Gov-ernment of Belgium. Simultaneously assigned to the General Staff's counter-intelligence unit, he vainly endeavored to repeal the death sentence against the Belgian nurse Edith Cavell. Early in 1918 he returned to the Justice Office and resumed prewar work on criminal-law reform, work he pursued during the Wei-mar years with Erwin Bumke.*
   Joel became Staatssekretär at the Justice Ministry (renamed "Ministry" in January 1919) on 1 April 1920; he thereafter served eleven Justice Ministers through fifteen cabinets. Although his friendships were on the political Right (e.g., Brüning and Kuno von Westarp*), he enjoyed the trust of Friedrich Ebert,* Paul von Hindenburg,* and Chancellors as dissimilar as Joseph Wirth* and Hans Luther.* He was esteemed for his honesty, loyalty, and intelligence; it was due to his presence that the Justice Ministry was perceived throughout most of the Weimar era as free from partisan influence (he refused to join a party). Yet Joel was a stalwart reactionary, serving as the DNVP's steward throughout the many rotations in Justice Minister. In October 1931 Brüning appointed him Justice Minister; championing the SA* ban, he retained the portfolio until Brüning resigned on 2 June 1932. He declined Franz von Papen's* offer to stay on when he learned of the latter's plan to lift the SA ban.
   Although Joel, of Jewish ancestry, suffered during the Third Reich (he per-sonally deemed his heritage a blemish), his powerful friends shielded him from the fate awaiting most of his ethnic cohorts. Subjected to abundant humiliation, he nevertheless survived in Berlin under comparatively privileged conditions. He died in his eightieth year within days of Germany's defeat.
   REFERENCES:Ingo Muller, Hitler's Justice; NDB, vol. 10.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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