Bernhard Getz 1850-1901

Bernhard Getz grew up at Bakkaunet farm. He was a third-generation immigrant on both his father's and mother's sides: His father's family came to Trondheim from Bohemia early in the 1800s, while his mother's family came from South Jylland in Denmark around 1790. The latter family (Jenssen) had a dominant position in business and industry in Trøndelag.
Bernhard attended Katedralskolen from 1863, and exhibited exceptional maturity and talent. After graduating (artium) in 1868 he went to Kristiania [now Oslo] to study law, and later remained in the capital. But for all his life he felt that he was a Trønder [a person from Trøndelag], and would visit this region annually. In 1877 he married (at Bakkaunet, the neighbourhood of his youth) Johanne Berg, who was his second cousin on his mother's side.
As a student Getz was a standout, and he graduated from university in 1873 with very high grades. At the age of 26 he was awarded a professorship at the university.
In the years leading up to the dissolution of the union in 1905 Getz was to play a decisive role in developing and reforming key sections of Norwegian legislation. As a politician he was a Conservative, with important posts in Oslo local authority. But he was also a key figure in designing the foundation for the emerging independent Norway, based on modern, liberal principles. Getz headed several central legal committees, and his contributions have left enduring tracks. In 1889 Bernhard Getz was appointed the first Director General of Public Prosecutions, but was often on leave to work on legal reforms. His name is particularly connected to penal law and penal process legislation.
Bernhard Getz had a unique and towering position in his field. In the historical process Norway was in it was therefore a painful loss when Getz passed away in 1901, barely 50 years old. A memorial stone has been erected in Vestre Akers cemetery. In Trondheim a street is named in his honour, Bernhard Getz' gate (street) in Bakkaunet, a stone's throw from where he grew up.
Recommended reading: Adler Vogt: Bernhard Getz. Aschehoug 1950.

Author: Einar Rædergård