- State Secretary in the Ministry of Justice 1920-1931
- Minister of Justice 1931-1932
Joël grew up in a Jewish family. After secondary schooling, he studied law in Jena, Freiburg and Berlin. While in Jena, he joined the Teutonia Jena fraternity. Joël obtained a doctoral degree in law. In the Kaiserreich, he started working as a public prosecutor in 1899; then, in 1908, he was appointed to the Reichsjustizamt (Office for National Justice). From the start of 1915 to 1917, he served as a captain in charge of a unit in occupied Belgium (known as the Generalgouvernement), where he also headed the police headquarters’ counter-intelligence unit. After the war and the revolution, he became state secretary in the Ministry of Justice in 1920. Throughout his many years of service there, he inspired a great deal of trust; both Majority Socialist (SPD) and conservative chancellors and ministers felt they could count on him. Moreover, given his key position within the Ministry, he was seen as a gray eminence of the German justice system. However, his attitude towards the republic was ambivalent. On the one hand, his refused any cooperation with Kapp during the putsch of March 1920 and declared his strong support for the constitutional, legitimate government. On the other hand, he helped opponents of the republic obtain powerful posts; for example, the Oberreichsanwalt (highest-level public prosecutor), Karl August Werner. He served as Minister of Justice in the Brüning cabinet from 1931 to 1932, yet rejected the possibility of continuing in this function in Papen’s government. He retired instead. Despite his Jewish background, the Nazis did not persecute him after they seized power. He died in 1945 in Berlin just before the war ended.