Hans Litten was born as the son of a legal scholar and his wife. Although he was baptized, he identified as a Jew. Armed with a comprehensive humanistic education, he became a lawyer. Litten gravitated towards the Social Democrats and Communists, whom he also represented in court. He drew the personal ire of Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) during the Edenpalast trial in 1931. Under Litten’s skillful questioning, Hitler was forced to divulge that the attack by stormtroopers on a dance hall frequented by leftists had been orchestrated by the NSDAP.
Litten was arrested already in February 1933. He passed through numerous detention facilities, including the Columbia-Haus Prison. On 4 or 5 February 1938, he hanged himself at the Dachau concentration camp. His suicide was the result of years of incarceration and torture.