By Sir Eric Beckett, K.C.M.G., K.C.
Legal Adviser to the Foreign Office
The publication in the English language of a " Manual of German Law" is an event which invites enquiries as to how it comes about. It is in fact one of various small beneficial things which have resulted from the great calamity of the second World War. As a result of this calamity an area of some 40,000 square miles in Germany containing 25 million people, has been now for four years a British Zone administered under a British Military Governor appointed by the Government of the United Kingdom and responsible to it, as part of the arrangement made by the Allies for the government of Germany as a whole. The statement issued by the Governments of the U.K., the U.S.A., and the U.S.S.R., and the Provisional Government of France on 5th June, 1945, provided that Germany would be divided into four zones, one to be allotted to each Power. The North-Western Zone was allotted to the United Kingdom. As a result, the Control Commission for Germany under the British Military Governor had to contain a Legal Division consisting at various times of between 150 and 250 lawyers. The British Zone of Germany remains subject to German law purified by the repeal of objectionable Nazi legislation and amended to meet the circumstances of the case by Military Government legislation or by German legislation. Consequently, it was necessary for the lawyers in the Legal Division to acquaint themselves with German law, and, as Dr. Cohn explains in his preface, the primary object of this Manual is to provide in the most convenient form a background knowledge of German law for these legal officers. But the Manual will serve many useful purposes besides that for which it was primarily produced. The late Sir Maurice Amos's work in English called " An Introduction to French Law " has been acclaimed as an invaluable work and the wish has often been expressed that similar volumes in English relating to other systems of law should be produced. Here is an elementary explanation of German law in English, written in a form to make it most intelligible to English lawyers, and it is, therefore, offered to the English legal profession as a whole.
A work like that of Sir Maurice Amos or the present work is obviously useful to lawyers in England in the following ways. In the first place, to the English practitioner, who has a case involving German law. He will, of course, obtain the expert evidence of a German...