Exhibit in the Osgoode Library – Lawyers without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich

Nazis block Jews from entering the University of Vienna. Austria, 1938. Photograph from the National Archives & Records Administration, College Park, MD

Nazis block Jews from entering the University of Vienna. Austria, 1938. Photograph from the National Archives & Records Administration, College Park, MD

The Osgoode Hall Law School Library is proud to be hosting the highly acclaimed international exhibition “Lawyers without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich”. The exhibition was prepared by the German Federal Bar (Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer) and was translated into English and prepared for exhibit in North America by the American Bar Association. It has been shown in nearly 100 cities in Germany, the United States and other countries: the Osgoode Library is the only Canadian venue for the exhibit. The exhibition at Osgoode is sponsored by the Jack & Mae Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime & Security at Osgoode Hall Law School.

“As important as it is to our everyday lives as a bulwark against arbitrary governance, the rule of law can never be taken for granted,” said Associate Professor and Nathanson Director François Tanguay-Renaud. “This exhibition – focusing on an insufficiently known aspect of the Third Reich – constitutes a vibrant historical testament to the importance of lawyers in holding governments to account, and the grave threats to social organization that inevitably follow when their role is undermined.

“Given Osgoode’s core mission to educate tomorrow’s lawyers and, through bodies like the Nathanson Centre, generate cutting-edge research about their responsibilities and predicaments at home and abroad, ‘Lawyers without Rights’ serves as a forceful, eye-opening reminder of what we stand for, and stand against,” said Tanguay-Renaud.

The idea for the exhibition was conceived in 1998 when an Israeli lawyer asked the regional bar of Berlin for a list of Jewish lawyers whose licences had been revoked by the Nazi regime.

“The regional bar decided not only to research a list of names but also to try to find out more about the fates behind all those names,” said Axel Filges, past president of the German Federal Bar. “Some were able to leave the country after the Nazis came into power, but very many of them were incarcerated or murdered. The non-Jewish German lawyers of those days remained silent. They failed miserably, and so did the lawyers’ organizations. We do not know why.”

After the Berlin bar transformed its research into an exhibition, other regional bars began asking whether they could show it and add their own research. “So, like a puzzle, a portrait of the fate of Jewish lawyers in Germany has emerged step by step,” Filges said.

Related to the exibit, Osgood Hall Law School and The Nathanson Centre will host “Nuremberg at 70: A Commemorative Panel on the Implications of the Trials for Legal and Medical Ethics” on Saturday, November 20, 2015. Speakers include Mélanie Deshaies (Osgoode), Eric Gertner (Ryerson/McCarthy Tétrault), Hengameh Saberi(Osgoode), and Dean Lorne Sossin (Osgoode). The panel will be take place at Osgoode Hall Law School (Ignat Kaneff Building), in Room IKB 2027, 12:30-2:30 pm.

The exhibit is on view in the Library from Monday, November 9, through Sunday, November 22. The hours are Monday to Thursday, from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm; Friday, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Art in the Osgoode Law Library (1): Roy Kiyooka, Homage to Ben Nicholson, 1967

We thought we’d start the new year with a new series of posts on the artworks that can be seen in the Osgoode Hall Law School Library. We thought we’d start with this piece, the largest in the library, which hangs prominently near library entrance, dominating the stairway between the library’s two floors.

Roy Kiyooka (1926-1994)
Homage to Ben Nicholson, 1967
acrylic on canvas
Collection of York University
Purchased from the artist

Kiyooka: Homage to Ben Nicholson

Kiyooka: Homage to Ben Nicholson (credit: Bernard Sandler, Osgoode PD)

Roy Kiyooka was a second-generation Japanese Canadian artist, poet and photographer, born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in 1926. He grew up in the Prairies and studied art in Calgary and Regina. He moved to Vancouver 1959, already an accomplished respected painter. Here he challenged a generation of artists to move beyond regional styles and seek inspiration from international art currents. In the late 1960s, he rejected painting and began writing poetry and taking photographs. As a part of the rejection of a modernist aesthetic, he eventually took up performance, film, and music. Kiyooka was one of Canada’s first interdisciplinary artists and was highly influential in Vancouver’s bustling cultural scene. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1978, not only in recognition of his work as a painter but for his significant contribution as a teacher. Kiyooka died in Vancouver in 1994.

Homage to Ben Nicholson, the painting in the Osgoode Library, was among Roy Kiyooka’s last paintings. While he was painting, Kiyooka worked in the hard-edged modernism of the New York avant-garde of the time, just as the artist referred to in the title, Ben Nicholson, had popularized the spare formalism of Constructivism in Britain before him.

The painting is a triptych of three identical panels, each five square. Across the surface of the painting, slight differences in paint application distinguish the oval forms from the serene blue ground. The subtleties of colour here are typical of Kiyooka, but the punctuating orange framing the painting allows for the levitation of the blue, while reinforcing the fundamental objectivity of the painting by counteracting the use of a conventional frame. While a viewer might infer the wide blue sweep of a Pacific vista, a concern for the painting as closed formal world, rather than a system of representation, was a defining principle of the New York modernism to which Kiyooka responded. His international modernist vision in 1960s Vancouver, a city at the time overwhelmed with regionalist attention to particulars of place and landscape, secured the artist a place in the São Paolo Biennale of 1966.

A film about Kiyooka’s life was produced in 2012. REED: The Life and Works of Roy Kiyooka follows the radical times in which the artist lived, from the Beat Era to the turmoil of the 60s and redress for Japanese Canadians in the 1980s. It is an extraordinary tribute to a great artist, showing a broad spectrum of his work while revealing the personal and social history that inspired him. A trailer for the film can be viewed here.

This painting is appropriate to Osgoode for a number of reasons. The painting’s modernism is contemporary with and a reflection of the spirit that saw Osgoode move from it’s staid quarters in old Osgoode Hall on Queen Street to the new campus of York University. The painting was painted in 1967, the centennial year of Canadian Confederation and also the year the new Osgoode Hall Law School was designed. The law school finally opened at York 1969.

The painting is on permanent loan to Osgoode Hall Law School from the Collection of York University.

Kiyooka in the Library Staircase

Kiyooka in the Library Staircase

Festive Footstools and Best Wishes from the Osgoode Library


It’s the last week of exams before the New Year holiday break at Osgoode. The students are stressed. We have seen them doing jumping jacks in the group study rooms. So we weren’t so surprised when we discovered this expression of student anxiety while closing the library last night. What can it mean? I put the question to some of my colleagues and John Eaton, Head Librarian of the EK Williams Law Library at the University of Manitoba, offered the following possibility:

You may be aware (or maybe not?) of the 1984 musical Footloose!, wherein a group of exuberant youth, led by the actor Kevin Bacon, break free of the strictures of their sleepy Texas town and express themselves through dance. These are just the props for the exciting new library musical Footstool! in which stressed out law students break free of the monotony of cramming for torts and contracts by devising more inventive uses of standard library furniture.

They also look a bit like a library Yuletide tree. Other interpretations are welcome.

And a quick reminder that the Library closes for the holiday this Friday, December 19, at 5:00 pm. We look forward to seeing everyone when the library reopens on Monday, January 5, at 8:00 am. Until then, have a Happy Holiday and all the best for the New Year 2015.

Past Examination Papers are Available Online & Print

Past exams come very handy and useful at this time of the year. They are now available through the My Osgoode page; note that you have to be logged in. Print version for previous years are available on the last shelf in the Upper Floor of the Law Library.

To access them online, on the My Osgoode page under the subheading “Programs & Records”, select “Exams & Assignments”:

Select “Exam Archive”.
Good luck!


Libraries Celebrate Open Access Week with screening of “The Internet’s Own Boy”

York University Libraries will celebrate International Open Access Week from Oct. 20 to 26. Open Access Week is a global campaign that promotes open access as an ideal for the dissemination of scholarship and research. On Oct. 24, to reflect this year’s theme “Generation Open,” the libraries will host a movie screening and talk by Carys Craig, renowned copyright scholar and associate dean research and institutional relations at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Osgoode Prof Carys Craig

Osgoode Prof Carys Craiig

Professor Craig shares the enthusiasm of the global campaign. “I’m delighted that York University Libraries is celebrating Open Access Week. This is truly one of the most important social movements of the digital age, and one in which universities like ours have a vital role to play.” Open Access Week serves to highlight the successful realization of viable and sustainable business models for open access scholarship, particularly in the science, technology and medicine disciplines, and also provides an opportunity to identify, discuss and address barriers to adoption. The ultimate goal is to ensure that publicly funded research is available to the public, and that all global citizens have equal and barrier-free access to the wealth of the educational commons, regardless of their economic means.

Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz

The Internet’s Own Boy is a documentary highlighting the extraordinary life of Aaron Swartz. A key author of the RSS standard at the age of 14, Swartz was also a tireless advocate against censorship, co-founding the Demand Progress organization, which successfully halted SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) legislation from coming into force. In the course of his pursuit of public access to academic research, Swartz was apprehended for a mass downloading attempt of JSTOR holdings. Facing excessive punitive charges from a regime determined to make an example of him, he took his own life.

The screening will be introduced by Prof Craig. “This powerful documentary is not just a tribute to Swartz’s life and legacy, but is also a call to action for all of us.”  As author of Copyright, Communication & Culture: Towards a Relational Theory of Copyright Law (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Press, 2011), Craig asks people to broaden their view of copyright beyond its tradition of possessive authorship to allow space for collective communication with the broader community with an eye for the greater public good. In her work, she calls on people to reimagine copyright and to correct the imbalance that Swartz fought to bring to the attention of the public sphere. Her insights will foster a nuanced and deeper appreciation for the causes Swartz so bravely hoped to further, highlighting the tragedy of his loss.