Berufsverbote - what is it all about?

Now available in English translation: "Berufsverbote" (Occupational bans in Germany) and the European Convention on Human Rights - Some legal and political implications, by Klaus Dammann. This article by a very experienced lawyer from Hamburg (who, sadly, passed away in January 2020) appeared in two books in 2019, and was presented by the author in the form of various lectures. It describes in great detail the legal battles that were fought in German courts and involving the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).


Klaus Samson (“Former Coordinator for Human Rights Questions, International Labour Standards Department”): The “Berufsverbot” problem revisited – Views from Geneva and Strasbourg. In: Les normes internationales du travail: un patrimoine pour lavenir (Mélanges en l’honneur de Nicolas Valticos). Genève: Bureau international du Travail, 2004. ISBN 92-2-216555-1, pp.21-46


The most recent case at the University of Munich, reported in International Communist Press ICP 29.10.2016 (pdf) (German coverage of Kerem Schamberger's story with links to reports in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Turkish, Greek and Arabic. It was only after months of uncertainty that Kerem was able to sign his 3-year work contract as postgraduate researcher on 22 Dec 2016. The University decided to overrule the interference by the so-called "Office for the Protection of the Constitution".



„Forgotten“ History – Political Persecution in the Federal Republic of Germany


An exhibition consisting of 20 posters, first shown from October to December 2015 in Hanover, Germany, is now available in English. (pdf file of the 20 posters - starting poster: see below)

The English version was first shown in April/May 2016 at the University Library of Roskilde / Denmark. The presentation was linked with a one-day conference that attempted to connect experiences with the Berufsverbote policy of the 1970s in West Germany and related practices with some aspects of the current situation in Denmark, including short-term academic contracts (which are strong barrier to freely expressing one’s own opinion).

The exhibition is suitable, say, for trade union conferences, universities, solidarity events …


Institutions interested in showing these posters should get in touch with Cornelia Booss-Ziegling: Booss-Ziegling(AT) in Hanover. (Loan information download link)


Material from Michael Csaszkóczy's supporters' website


Background summary   Additional material in English


Material from Lothar Letsche's tour of Scotland and England (February/March 1980):


Edinburgh Campaign Committee  Crann-Tara (Scotland's Radical Quarterly)  Scottish Miner (NUM)

Comment (CPGB)    and two later articles (1986) from Australia and New Zealand

"If people are led into believing that some kind of big brother computer will file everything they say or do, the sooner or later they will cease to say what they think, the sooner will they refrain from going to meetings of, or joining organisations that appeal to them. Many people in Universities and Teacher Training Colleges have complained that real discussion in lectures and seminars is sometimes impossible because students refrain from critical opinions for fear of jeopardising future careers ..."

"Pro trade union politics can lead to Berufsverbot, as in the case of C.P. The judgment from the court states: ...'Herr P. characterizes wage negotiations like strikes and lockouts in the metal and printing industries as conflicts between different social classes. He does not consider wage negotiations simply as a matter of arithmetic, where pay rises and pay cuts would be considered on equal terms, but as a sort of struggle on behalf of the working class. There is no difference between his views, and the views of people who talk about employers dictating wages, but who would never describe action by workers' organisations as blackmail.' ..."

"The man who drafted the guidelines that led to my rejection had at one time been so pro-Nazi that he had been nicknamed Swastika Charlie ..."

"The Social-Democrat/Liberal coalition of North Rhine Westphalia tried to 'liberalize' Berufsverbot by trying to introduce what has been called a 'Do-it-yourself self-incrimination kit'. You would have to state in writing that you never belonged to certain organisations. Only selected cases will be checked by the computer, but if you have made an incorrect statement, you will be dismissed ..."

Flyer describing case of Hans Peter, telecommunications engineer working for the Post Office, then awaiting trial at the Federal Disciplinary Court. (He finally lost his case in 1981 and died nine years later as a broken man - his full story in German)

Flyer describing Lothar's own case (as in February 1980; the full story 1977-2003 is only available in German)


English-speaking readers will definitely benefit from the following book:


Gerard Braunthal:   Political Loyalty and Public Service in West Germany.
The 1972 Decree against Radicals and its Consequences.
Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1990. ISBN 0-87023-707-1. (249 pages)

(We were able in 2012 to order a copy through the Internet for € 16,98.)


Professor Braunthal's "first comprehensive study of the 1972 decree", published in 1990, ends with "The Aftermath, the 1980s".
So it could not take into account

  • what happened to former citizens of the German Democratic Republic after 1990 in the public service of the Federal Republic;
  • the Dorothea Vogt ruling of the European Court for Human Rights (1995) (see below)
  • current EU legislation - including European Council Directive 2000/78/EC (27 November 2000) establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (see below) - and its implementation in Germany
  • more recent findings on the role of the German "Verfassungsschutz" (domestic intelligence service) and their agents in neo-nazi activities and crimes.


A scan of the most authoritative international document in this context can be downloaded here:


Report of the Commission of Inquiry appointed under article 26 of the Constitution of the International Labour Organisation to examine the observance of the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention 1958 (No.111), by the Federal Republic of Germany (pdf). In: International Labour Office [Geneva] Official Bulletin, Supplement 1, Vol. LXX, 1987, Series B, ISSN 0378-5890. - In German - French - Spanish

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Events leading to the establishment of the Commission (no. 1 – 17, p. 1 – 6)

Chapter 2: Procedure followed by the Commission (no. 18 – 66, p. 7 – 35)

Chapter 3: The requirements of the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention 1958 (No.111) in relation to protection against discrimination on the basis of political opinion (no. 67 - 96, p. 36 – 46)

Chapter 4: Earlier examination of the situation by ILO supervisory bodies (no. 97 – 108, p. 47 - 50)

Chapter 5: Structure of the public service and the legislation governing the public service in the Federal Republic of Germany (no. 109 - 236, p. 51 – 88)

Chapter 6: The allegations submitted and related documentation (no. 237 - 393, p. 89 – 140)

Chapter 7: The position of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany (no. 394 - 398, p. 141 – 183)

Chapter 8: The position of employers’ and workers’ organisations (no. 399 - 420, p. 184 – 195)

Chapter 9: The numerical importance of cases (no. 420 - 448, p. 196 – 203)

Chapter 10: Findings and recommendations (no. 449 - 594, p. 204 – 248)

Dissenting opinion of Professor Gonzalo Parra-Aranguren, Caracas, and observations of the Chairman Voitto Saario and Professor Dietrich Schindler (p. 249 – 253)

Notes (p. 254 – 259)

Appendix I: Text of the substantial provisions  of the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention 1958 (No.111)

Appendix II: Provisions of the ILO Constitution relating to Commissions of Inquiry


Other sources of International Law which are relevant in this context


 Additional material of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)

Convention No. 111 concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation 1958 (Entry into force: 15 Jun 1960)

"Observations" of the Committee of Expert, 1988, concerning the implementation of its recommendations -

Record of discussion held on 75th ILO session, 14.06.1988 - Statement by Gerd Muhr, at that time Vice-Chairman of DGB (i.e. German TUC): “The supervisory machinery of the ILO makes it clear that these rights are not merely moral in nature, but also have legal implications.”

The implementation was monitored later as well;  “Individual observations” for the following years can be downloaded here (for the years 1988 - 1989 - 1991199219931994199619982000 - no longer available on the ILO server, reporting to the Committee was discontinued, the proceedings are now “closed”).

European Convention of Human Rights (current version 2010)

Website leading to Protocols on amendments

“Vogt vs. Germany” judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg) 17851/91, 26 September 1995:

Wikipedia page [No such Wikipedia page exists in German!]Full text (pdf)

Christoph Grabenwarter: “The European Convention on Human Rights: Inherent Constitutional Tendencies and the Role of the European Court of Human Rights” (Elite Law Journal)

European Union

Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (No.4 of the Preamble contains an explicit reference to ILO Convention No.111, thus making it a binding framework of reference for national legislation.)

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000/C 364/01)


Starting poster of the "Forgotten History" exhibition,using an oil painting of 1976 by the German artist Jürgen Waller (*1939): "The damaged identity of the art teacher H.J.Schreiber affected by Berufsverbot"