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Emil Lehmann’s Petition to Improve the Legal Rights of Jews in Saxony (November 25, 1869)

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What remained, however, were the words “as a rule,” because exceptions definitely continued to be in effect with respect to Jews who are not Saxon citizens, as well as other non-Christians, e.g., Muslims and heathens. [Siebenhaar loc. cit. p. 85.]

After all of these exceptions have now been eliminated by the older version of § 33 of the Constitution Charter, it is necessary to omit the words “as a rule” in § 51 of the Civil Code, even if the form of a decree does not suffice for this purpose.

4. The drawing up and renewal of a restriction conflicting with § 33 of the constitutional document has a far more serious effect than an omission, as it can be read in § 2 of the decree quoted word for word earlier.* The regulation thus stipulated and repeated on the maintenance of unalterable first and last names is – under the proviso that dispensations may be ordered in exceptional cases – quite appropriate per se and necessary in the interest of legal security, not only for Jews exclusively but also for everyone. Nevertheless, the legislation of our fatherland lacks a universally applicable legal norm, so that baptisms of proselytes and other occasions have witnessed successful name changes without permission by the authorities or the government; not to mention the practice so common in earlier times of heavy-handedly translating first names into their Latin, Greek, French, and English equivalents (Gottlieb to Theophil, Johann to Jean, etc.). If now even the Royal Ministry of the Interior, in a decree published a few weeks ago, starts with the assumption: that the principle of inalterability was already observed in the past with regard to the first names of Christian citizens and shall be observed in the future, then this principle lacks the desirable legal basis per se, so that especially according to the sentence “what is not prohibited, is allowed,” the right associated with the fatherly authority of name-giving does not rule out the changing of names.

But if no law currently exists on the inalterability of first and last names for citizens, then making it an obligation for a single category of co-religionists conflicts with the current § 33 of the Constitutional Charter and thus repeatedly establishes a restriction based on denominational grounds.

The regulation concerned is based on § 9 of the law of August 16, 1838 [Law and Administration Gazette from 1838, p. 396] and § 8 of the implementing ordinance issued on the same date [in idem, p. 399].

The former law, passed – as the introduction indicates – in order to “grant an expedient improvement to the civil conditions of local Jews,” rules that “as far as it has not already happened,” every Jew at home has to adopt a certain hereditary last name and submit it for approval by the local authority.

* Meaning: “what shall be left in place in the future is the regulation, to be controlled by authorities to the present extent, that any Jew living in Saxony must go by a certain inherited last name and a first name that must be preserved without alteration and used in legal dealings of any sort.” – trans.

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