Martin Eduard Simson 1810-1899
Simson was raised in an intellectual Jewish home in Koenigsberg, oriented towards education and advancement. For this purpose, though evidently not without deep personal conviction, his parents had their children converted to the evangelical faith, some years before they themselves followed suit. Of his brothers, one became a professor of Oriental languages in Koenisberg, and the other two studied law.
Martin Eduard studied law and became professor of Roman law in 1833. In 1836 he was made judge, and by 1848 had risen to the title of advisor (Rath) in the higher court. In this year he represented Koenigsberg in the National Congress at Frankfurt. He became the president of the Congress, and headed the deputation of the Frankfort parliament to announce to King Frederick William IV his election as German Emperor by the representatives of the people. The king, either apprehensive of a rupture with Austria, or fearing detriment to the prerogatives of the Prussian crown should he accept this dignity at the hands of a democracy, refused the offer. Simson, bitterly disappointed at the outcome of his mission, resigned his seat in the Frankfort parliament, but in the summer of the same year was elected deputy for Konigsberg in the popular chamber of the Prussian Landtag. Here he soon made his mark as one of the best orators in that assembly. A member of the short-lived Erfurt parliament of 1850, he was again summoned to the presidential chair. who offered the crown of the German Empire to King Frederick William IV of Prussia. Subsequently he held other offices of state. In 1879 he was appointed first president of the German Supreme Court at Leipzig.
In 1888 Simson received the decoration of the Black Eagle of Prussia and was ennobled. He retired from public life in 1892 and dedicated himself to academic studies and law.
The Jewish Encyclopedia notes:
His political career coincides with the era of German struggles towards unity. As a politician he was one of the leaders of modern Liberalism, and though always loyal when appeals were made to patriotism, such as government demands for the army, he remained obdurate on constitutional questions; and he resolutely opposed the reactionary policy of the Prussian Conservatives. On his retirement from the presidency of the Reichsgericht, he left Leipzig and made his home in Berlin, where he died on the 2nd of May 1899.
Geschichte des Koenigsberger Ober Tribunals.
Bernstein, A. Jewish Witnesses for Christ. Keren Ahvah Meshichit, new edition 1999.
Mast, Peter. Simson, Eduard von. in Ostdeutsche Biographie
Meinhardt, Guenther. Eduard von Simon. Der Parlamentspraesident Preussens und der Reichseinigung, Bonn 1981.
Petersdorff, Herman von. Eduard von Simon; in: Allegemine Deutsche Biographie, Bd. 54 (1908), S. 348-364 (mit Literature)
Simson, Bernhard von. Erinnerungen aus seinem Leben. Leipzig, 1900
Jewish Virtual Library