Hirsch’s Istanbul

The lawyer and university lecturer Ernst Eduard Hirsch (1902-1985), like thousands of others, had to leave Germany after the Nazi rise to power. His new life began in Istanbul, where he was able to advance his academic career and later felt like a Turkish civil servant.

In March 1933, Ernst Eduard Hirsch was dismissed from his position as a judge and private lecturer in Frankfurt am Main because of his Jewish origin. In October 1933, he accepted a call from the University of Istanbul to the chair of commercial law. Hirsch was probably the youngest of all those appointed to the University of Istanbul and the only one who succeeded in making the leap from Privatdozent (still without a professorial title) to full professor.

He was one of the few who, in a relatively short time, learned the Turkish language in such a way that they were able to use it first in examinations, then also in lectures, and soon after to write their own books in the national language. After acquiring Turkish citizenship in 1943, he moved to the University of Ankara, where he taught not only commercial law but also the philosophy and sociology of law. In addition to his teaching activities, he devoted himself to building up the law faculty library in Istanbul, on which he reports in his autobiography. Although a library already existed there, it consisted of specialist literature on Ottoman law in Arabic script, but not on the law of the Republic of Turkey, which was founded in 1923, and on international law.

Although he initially wanted to stay in Turkey, he accepted a call to the Free University of Berlin in 1952 and was elected its rector in 1953.

Film by Cansu Boğuşlu

Edited by Mustafa Koca

Music by Beyza Yazgan

Historical Research by Mahir Gecikligün

Voice-Over Hilmi Ergül

The text is taken from the book titled by “Anılarım – Kayzer Dönemi Weimar Cumhuriyeti Atatürk Ülkesi”  by Ernst Eduard Hirsch,1982.

Thanks to

Seyfettin Gürsel

Tayga Ak

Enver Tandoğan Hirsch

Ömer Ekmekçi

Istanbul University Faculty of Law