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Mincs, Pauls

(1868–1941), lawyer. Born into the family of a businessman in Daugavpils, Latvia, Pauls Mincs (Paul Mintz) graduated from gymnasium in Riga in 1885. He received a law degree from Saint Petersburg University and another from Tartu University in Estonia in 1892. His brother Vladimirs, a lawyer, was also prominent in Latvian public life. From 1918, Mincs taught at Tartu University. He also devoted much of his time to Jewish social issues, having in 1898 been one of the founders and then head of Riga’s chapter of the Society for the Promotion of Culture among the Jews of Russia.

In 1918, Mincs joined the national council, the body governing newly independent Latvia. At the end of 1918 he was elected to the Latvian senate. Taking a break from public duties, he did research at Heidelberg University in Germany in 1919. From 1919 to 1921 he was state controller of the Latvian government, and in 1920 he served as deputy labor minister. Mincs was a coauthor of the Latvian constitution and later chair of the state’s penal code commission. From 1934, he represented Latvia at the Commission Internationale Pénale et Pénitentiaire in Bern; and from 1935 he served on the Bureau International pour l’Unification du Droit Pénal in Paris.

Mincs’s colorful personality was felt in many realms of public life in interbellum Latvia. He taught at the University of Latvia; was a professor of criminal law; served as head of the Jewish Bar Association; was the head of the Latvian Jewish National Democratic party; and was a member of the Jewish Agency. He also published numerous scholarly studies on legal subjects. He was awarded Latvian orders and medals and was considered one of the most successful public figures in that country.

Mincs retired in 1939 but continued his public role. However, after the Soviet Union annexed Latvia in 1940, he and many other activists for Latvian independence were arrested and sent to a Soviet concentration camp in Kansk, Siberia, where he died in 1941.

Suggested Reading

Latvijas Universitate dividesmit gados (1919–1939), vol. 2, Latvijas Universitate (Riga, 1939), pp. 531–534; Pauls Mincs, Kriminaltiesibas, Latvijas Universitates Macibas Gramatu Serija, no. 11 (Riga, 1939); Grigorii Smirin, Vydaiushchiesia evrei latvii, ed. Maija Šetlere (Riga, 2003).