I am one of the
founding fathers of the American Embassy. I left Germany for the United
States in 1934 after growing increasingly uncomfortable under Nazi rule.
When I was a civil servant in Potsdam, the information required by Nazi
Aryan laws revealed that my grandmother had been the niece of Felix
Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Although she was baptized Christian, her family
name was undeniably of Jewish origin, and I was released from my government
job. After graduating from Yale law school, I became an American citizen
in 1941 and was drafted one year later into the U.S. Army. Upon my discharge
in 1946, I returned to Germany to work for the legal division of Office
of Military Government of the United States. Trained in both German
and American law, I was determined to help restore German legal order.
Ironically, one of my first assignments was to repeal Nazi provisions
from German laws. These laws were the very reason I had left Germany.
Dr. Joachim von Elbe worked on the legal staff of the Military Government, High Commission and Embassy of the United States from 19461969. This text was taken from interviews conducted by Ambassador Kornblum and Embassy staff.
From: A Vision Fulfilled. 50 Jahre Amerikaner am Rhein. United States Embassy Bonn, 1949 - 1999. Edited by Christine Elder and Elizabeth G. Sammis. Published by United States Embassy Bonn. © Department of State, 1999.
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