Ernst Schopflocher was born on September 5, 1895 in Furth Germany to Jewish parents. He had three years of grade school and nine years of “Humanistisches Gymnasium.” He studied law at Munich, Freiburg-Baden and Erlangen from 1913 to 1919, and volunteered for and served with the German army in World War I. In 1919 he passed the University examinations with the highest grade and in 1920 he was awarded the degree of Doctor juris summa cum laude. In 1920-21 he worked as “Referender” in the lower and higher courts; in 1921, he passed the final state examination for the Higher Law and Administration service. From April 1922 to May 1938 he practiced law in Nuremberg-Furth in all the courts. He also contributed to scientific journals. He left Germany on June 30, 1938 and came with his family to the United States. In September, 1938, he entered the University of Wisconsin Law School, receiving two scholarships, a fellowship, and the Salmon W. Dalberg Prize. He was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Laws with high honors, was elected a member of the Order of Coif, an honorary legal society, and honorary member of Epsilon Tau Rho, a Jewish legal fraternity, and joined the faculty. In 1940/41, he was awarded a fellowship at Harvard Law School, where he was admitted as a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Juridical Science. He was employed as an associate editor in the staff of the Lawyers Cooperative Company in Rochester, New York, where he continued to work for the rest of his professional career.
The Schopflocher family departed Germany in June, 1938. He and his wife’s German citizenships were cancelled and their property confiscated according to a 1941 German letter. As Jews, they had no rights in Germany.
Mr. Schopflocher and his wife changed their names to Schopfler. They had three children: Irene, Eric, and John. They resided at 120 Highland Parkway, Rochester.
Erna Oppenheimer Schopflocher was born in 1899 in Nuremberg, Germany and died in 1988. In America, she quickly became involved in community activities like being a den mother for her sons’ Boy Scout troop. The parents’ “greatest desire…is to become American citizens and to be free of being stigmatized as Germans,” according to Mr. Schopflocher’s letter to Attorney General Francis Biddle. The family purchased United States Savings bonds and cited that as an example of their patriotic actions. As well, Ernest Schopflocher listed his donation of blood to the American Red Cross and his volunteering for the Rochester Office for Civilian Defense as other examples of fulfilling his civic responsibility.
While they did not endure the tortures and tribulations of those who were in the camps, and he was able to re-establish himself in the legal profession in the United States, they nonetheless experienced the anxiety and the dislocation of many who endured the Holocaust years – losing their citizenship and their property and their connection to a country whose language they spoke and on whose behalf Mr. Schopflocher fought courageously in the First World War.
In a letter to the American attorney general Francis Biddle, Dean of the University of Wisconsin Law School Lloyd Garrison wrote in 1943: “…[Schopflocher] and his wife are two of the finest people that I have ever known….I know of no people more fervently anti-Nazi or more devoted to American institutions and to the American way of life than the Schopflochers. I believe in them so strongly that I would do anything within my power to help them achieve citizenship.”