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The Law in Nazi Germany: Ideology, Opportunism, and the Perversion of Justice

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Volume 5

Vermont Studies on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust

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The Law in Nazi Germany

Ideology, Opportunism, and the Perversion of Justice

Edited by Alan E. Steinweis and Robert D. Rachlin

256 pages, 7 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-780-6 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (March 2013)

ISBN  978-1-78238-921-7 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (May 2015)

eISBN 978-0-85745-781-3 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“This collection of essays on The Law in Nazi Germany achieves two main objectives: first, it provides a concise overview of the current research strata on law in Nazi Germany, and second, the essays leave enough space to invite the reader to pose additional questions about the subject and pursue further reading.”  ·  German History

“The essays in The Law in Nazi Germany provide a thorough understanding of the threats that come along with reinterpreting laws to take account of a society’s changed principles. This should be emphasized not only in German legal education, but in every law school, everywhere.”  ·  The Federal Lawyer

Overall, this volume is very useful in that it makes the studies on justice under the Nazi regime and its memory accessible. It should therefore be of interest to readers well beyond the circle of specialists.”  ·  Vingtième Siècle. Revue d'histoire

These essays offer a significant contribution to our understanding of the role of one of the most important professions in underpinning the National Socialist regime and enabling its leaders to proceed with its murderous agenda.”  ·  Geoffrey J Giles, University of Florida


While we often tend to think of the Third Reich as a zone of lawlessness, the Nazi dictatorship and its policies of persecution rested on a legal foundation set in place and maintained by judges, lawyers, and civil servants trained in the law. This volume offers a concise and compelling account of how these intelligent and welleducated legal professionals lent their skills and knowledge to a system of oppression and domination. The chapters address why German lawyers and jurists were attracted to Nazism; how their support of the regime resulted from a combination of ideological conviction, careerist opportunism, and legalistic selfdelusion; and whether they were held accountable for their Nazi-era actions after 1945. This book also examines the experiences of Jewish lawyers who fell victim to anti-Semitic measures. The volume will appeal to scholars, students, and other readers with an interest in Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, and the history of jurisprudence.

Alan E. Steinweis is the Miller Distinguished Professor of Holocaust Studies and Director of the Carolyn and Leonard Miller Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Vermont. His books include Art, Ideology, and Economics in Nazi Germany: The Reich Chambers of Music, Theater, and the Visual Arts (1993); Studying the Jew: Scholarly Antisemitism in Nazi Germany (2006); and Kristallnacht 1938 (2009). In 2011 he held the visiting professorship in Interdisciplinary Holocaust Studies and German-Jewish History at the Fritz Bauer Institute at the University of Frankfurt, Germany.

Robert D. Rachlin is Senior Director and General Counsel of Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC, in Burlington, Vermont. He is also a visiting professor at the Vermont Law School and adjunct faculty in the Carolyn and Leonard Miller Center for Holocaust Studies and the Department of German and Russian, University of Vermont. He has published on the Finnish response to the Holocaust, Nazi-era law in Germany, early Vermont history, and American law.

Other titles by Alan E. Steinweis published by Berghahn Books: COPING WITH THE NAZI PAST
West German Debates on Nazism and Generational Conflict, 1955-1975
(Co-edited with Philipp Gassert)
Subject: WWII History
Area: Germany


List of Illustrations

Introduction: The Law in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust
Alan E. Steinweis and Robert D. Rachlin

Chapter 1. The Conundrum of Complicity: German Professionals and the Final Solution
Konrad H. Jarausch

Chapter 2. Civil Service Lawyers and the Holocaust: The Case of Wilhelm Stuckart
Hans-Christian Jasch

Chapter 3. Roland Freisler and the Volksgerichtshof: The Court as an Instrument of Terror
Robert D. Rachlin

Chapter 4. Guilt, Shame, Anger, Indignation: Nazi Law and Nazi Morals
Raphael Gross

Chapter 5. Discrimination, Degradation, Defiance: Jewish Lawyers under Nazism
Douglas G. Morris

Chapter 6. Evading Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity: Murderous Lawyers at Nuremberg
Harry Reicher

Chapter 7. Judging German Judges in the Third Reich: Excusing and Confronting the Past
Kenneth F. Ledford


  1. Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, 11 August 1919
  2. Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and State (Reichstag Fire Decree), 28 February 1933
  3. Law to Remove the Distress of the People and the State (The Enabling Act), 23 March 1933
  4. Hitler’s Call for a Nazi Lawyers’ League, 12 September 1928
  5. Circular No. 8/1938 from Dr. Karl Leitmeyer, League of National Socialist Guardians of the Law, 4 March 1938
  6. Law Amending Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure (Excerpts), 24 April 1934
  7. White Rose - Leaflet 5, February 1943
  8. The Sentencing of Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst, 22 February 1943
  9. The Fate of Markus Luftglass: Excerpt from the Record of the Nuremberg Justice Case, October 1941
  10. Opinion and Sentence of the Nuremberg Special Court in the Case of Leo Katzenberger, 13 March 1942
  11. Testimony of Curt Rothenberger at the Nuremberg Justice Case (Excerpts), 1947
  12. Gustav Radbruch, “Statutory Lawlessness and Supra-Statutory Law” (excerpt), 1946

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