PRAVNI ZAPISI • Year III • No. 1 • pp. 36-53
JUDICIARY IN THE THIRD REICH
Doc. dr Jelena Volić-Hellbusch
Docentkinja, Filološko-umetnički fakultet, Univerzitet u Kragujevcu
Pravni zapisi, no. 1/2012, pp. 36-53
Original Scientific Article
judiciary; Third Reich; reason; people; law; justice; separation of powers
Each dictatorship attempts to maintain the appearance of legality. The coercion by which dictatorships retain in power is, as a rule, vested in a legal form. National socialism has also followed this pattern, having even the commands of Adolf Hitler formulated in an appearance of legality. By a Reichstag decision of April 26, 1942, Hitler was promoted to a supreme justice of the Reich. In the beginning of their rule, national socialists have tried to maintain the impression of a Rechtsstat, and consequently amended or changed the laws only when these prevented them from eliminating their opponents. The law had to be incorporated in the national socialist ideology and become the means to achieve the ultimate objective. The law was what is of use to the people, and it was the Leader who decided what was of use to the people. In 1946, Gustav Radbruch has denoted this period of German legislation as the time of ‘legal non-law’. He contrasted this with the idea of ‘supra-statutory law’, thus giving absolute priority to human rights. Similar standards were used in the Nurnberg process when war criminals were tried for crimes against humanity. Judges were among the accused.