“internAA” is a magazine by “staff members for staff members” of the German Foreign Office. Every month it has a different thematic focus. In the October 2020 issue, the theme was “Showing your colours”. Starting on page 7, there is a three-page text about the initiative “Diplomats of Colour”, written by its founder Tiaji Sio, a young female diplomat who, as a “black person”, is committed to fighting racism. Tiaji Sio is currently serving in Hanoi. Her text was illustrated by the German Foreign Office. On the bottom left of page 8, Foreign Minister Maas can be seen between the author and another DoC activist. And above the text is a photo of a road sign in Berlin that has been pasted over.Bernhard Weiss Street became George Floyd Street. The campaign was part of the worldwide protests against “white” state violence. The terms “police” and “white” were apparently enough to awaken in ignorant “anti-racists” the desire to erase the name of the militant Jewish democrat persecuted by the Nazis.Department 102 in the Foreign Office in Berlin adopts the picture without comment, thus showing all diplomatic representatives of Germany how the memory of a Jew persecuted under the Nazis is desecrated today in the name of anti-racism at Werderscher Markt (seat of the Foreign Minister, editor’s note).
Like many other German Jews, all the sons of the Weiß family served in the First World War. Bernhard was promoted from platoon leader of a medical company to first lieutenant to cavalry captain and earned the Iron Cross, 1st class. A breathtaking military career for a Jew in the imperial era. This was also noticed in Berlin. In the summer of 1918, the Prussian Minister of the Interior Bill Drews asked the Bavarians to release Weiß and appointed him deputy head of the criminal police in crisis-ridden Berlin. Weiß became head of the criminal investigation department as early as 1925 and police vice-president in 1927. This made him the highest-ranking Jew in the field of German law enforcement. He was a member of the German Democratic Party (DDP) and a tireless defender of the endangered democratic republic against right-wing and left-wing extremists. In doing so, he always stood faithful to his Jewish identity, while many other Jews had themselves baptised in order to be able to work their way up in the civil service.His unswerving loyalty to the democratically legitimised constitutional state brought Weiß into direct conflict with the leader of the emerging National Socialists in Berlin. For Joseph Goebbels, Weiß was the perfect object of hatred – a liberal Jew who, after a career in the army as a highly decorated front-line fighter, had also attained a position of civilian power. Goebbels’ inflammatory newspaper “Der Angriff” launched an unprecedented campaign to delegitimise the popular deputy police chief in Berlin. He portrayed Weiß as a big-nosed ape, donkey and snake and always referred to him as “Isidor” Weiß in order to hammer into his readers heads that as a Jew, Weiß had no rights in Germany.In 1932, after Papen’s “Prussian strike”, Weiß, like the entire government of Prussia, loses his office and is forced to resign in writing that he renounces any further activity in the civil service. Two months after Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933, Hermann Göhring puts a manhunt out for the Jew Weiß. A high bounty is placed on his head. Nazi henchmen storm his flat. Germany’s former most famous policeman has to go into hiding and flee. Together with Alfred Kerr, Kurt Tucholsky, Ernst Toller, Heinrich Mann and many others, Bernhard Weiß is on Hitler’s first expatriation list on 25 August 1933. Via Czechoslovakia he comes to London, where he sets up a small business. It was not until 1949 that Weiß visited his old homeland again. His most fervent wish in life, he says, is to return to Berlin. The Social Democratic mayor Ernst Reuter then offers him a position with an advisory function in the police service. But Weiß is already too ill to take up this post. On July 29, 1951, Dr. Bernhard Weiß, a Prussian Jew, died of cancer in a hospital in London. After his death, his widow Lotte returned to Berlin. Today, the courageous democrat is considered one of the founding fathers of modern German law enforcement.