Berufsverbot is an order of "professional disqualification" under German law. Berufsverbot may be translated into English as "professional ban".

A Berufsverbot disqualifies the recipient from engaging in certain professions or activities on the grounds of his or her criminal record, political convictions or membership in a particular group.

The Berufsverbot in Nazi Germany

Pursuant to a 1933 law (the Berufsbeamtengesetz), many Jews, artists, political opponents, and others were prohibited by the Nazi government in Germany from engaging in certain professions.

Post-World War II Berufsverbot

After 1945, the allied authorities in West Germany issued Berufsverbot orders against certain political filmmakers.

The 1972 Anti-Radical Decree

On January 28, 1972, West German Chancellor Willy Brandt and the premiers of the states instituted the so-called Radikalenerlass (Anti-Radical Decree). Under this law, people who were considered to have radical views, especially if they were members of such parties, could be forbidden to work as civil servants (Beamter), which includes a variety of public sector occupations such as teaching. The decree was declared as response to terrorism by the Red Army Faction.

Berufsverbot is the common name for the decree by people who opposed it, because they claim it contradicts the freedom of occupational choice guaranteed by the Basic Law of Germany.

The law was applied unevenly after 1979, and many of the states of Germany repealed the relevant legislation. Other states, like Bavaria, still apply the decree.

Treatment under Council of Europe law

In at least one case (Vogt v. Germany, 1995) the European Court of Human Rights found Germany in breach of its responsibilities to a citizen (Dorothea Vogt, a dismissed teacher who was an active member of the German Communist Party) under article 10 (right to freedom of expression) and 11 (right to freedom of assembly and association) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The government subsequently settled with her, providing compensation for her time without full earnings, topping up her pension rights for that period, as well as other modest damages and costs.


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