Hitler's Willing Law Professors
THE BETRAYAL OF THE HUMANITIES: THE UNIVERSITY DURING THE THIRD REICH (Bernard Levinson and Robert Eriksen eds.) (Forthcoming)
Posted: 1 Mar 2019
Date Written: January 1, 2019
While legal scholars did not, by and large, participate directly in the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis, they facilitated those by conferring a veneer of legality and legitimacy to the actions of the regime making it possible for the Nazi leadership to proclaim, and for ordinary Germans to accept the claim, that theirs was, when all was said and done, a Rechtsstaat.
The paper examines the significant role played by German law professors in creating and establishing the National Socialist legal system. Far from the claims made after the War, that the number of “genuine Nazis” on faculties was very small, the majority of German legal scholars supported National Socialism. The paper focuses on the support given to the Nazis by several leading scholars while arguing that the story of the moral decline of German universities and professors in general, and of German law professors in particular, was one in which professional myopia, personal opportunism, moral weakness, antisemitism, and legal jurisprudential claims had been inexorably intermingled.
Keywords: Germany, Nazism, Rechtsstaat, Schmitt
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