Part 1, Third Reich

Lawlessness can coexist, even thrive, with laws, lawyers, judges and courts

By ——--May 6, 2021

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October 1936: Berlin judges swear allegiance to Adolf Hitler saying, “I swear I will be true and obedient to the Fuhrer of the German Reich and people, Adolf Hitler, observe the law, and conscientiously fulfill the duties of my office, so help me God.” 
Lawlessness can coexist, even thrive, with laws, lawyers, judges and courts

Lawlessness is a state of disorder due to disregard of the law.  

That is an incomplete definition. For it neither takes into consideration the nature of the law disregarded, nor the vigor with which an unjust law is sometimes enforced. 

Bad law, vigorously enforced, moves a nation toward tyranny. 

Good law, negligently ignored, destroys respect for the law.  

Very bad laws ruled Nazi Germany between 1933-1945.

Few German lawyers and judges foresaw what was ahead

Between 23 September 23rd - October 4th 1930, Adolf Hitler was the sole witness to testify before the German Supreme Court about whether the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP; AKA: Nazis) intended to attempt an overthrow of the government. The Court accepted Hitler’s two-hour denial as an “Oath of Purification”. 

Adolf verbally baptized himself in the Innocence River.

Then, a year later, a Social Democratic Party document cited 1,184 cases of Nazi violence which killed 62 persons and injured 3,209, plus made 26 attacks on trade union headquarters, and desecrated many cemeteries. 

The German Supreme Court did not realize that: “The support and preferred treatment accorded accused criminals who had acted from ‘nationalist’ motives had disastrous political consequences, for they encouraged the radical right and undermined the confidence of the supporters of democracy. However, the erosion of the law itself proved to have even more serious consequences.”  (”Hitler’s Justice: The Courts of the Third Reich,” Ingo Muller, ©1991, p. 21.)  

Few German lawyers and judges foresaw what was ahead.

When the “more serious consequences” began to unfold after the Nazis took complete control of Germany in 1933, the German legal community generally welcomed those consequences.

““Irrespective of private misgivings, the German legal profession, above all the judges, had fully succumbed to the power of corruption, not in the material but in the ethical sense.” (“In the Name of the Folk: Political Justice in Hitler’s Germany,” H.W. Koch, ©1989, p.119.)

In October 1933, during the first national convention of jurists in Leipzig, 10,000 lawyers raised their right arms in the Nazi salute swearing, “by the soul of the German people” to “strive as German jurists, to follow the course of our Fuhrer, to the end of our days”. (Muller, p. 38.)

Germany legal profession surrendered to Adolf Hitler

So, the Germany legal profession surrendered to Adolf Hitler.  The word was gleichschaltung – synchronization, as in coordination between the legal professionals and their Leader. In perfect sync with each other. 

“[N]either the president of the Supreme Court nor the celebrated constitutional scholar (referring to Carl Schmitt) was exceptional in sympathizing with the Nazis. On the contrary, they were quite representative of the rank and file of less prominent judges, public prosecutors, law professors, and – to a lesser extent – attorneys.” (Muller, p. 45.)

By July 1933, all political parties, except the NSDAP, were banned. Genuine elections were no longer needed. 

“There can be no doubt about it: despite considerable unease, the representatives of the German legal system, and in particular the judges, bowed to the dictates of the National Socialist regime – at the very least, it can be said that there was no significant criticism.” (“Hitler’s Executioner: Judge, jury and Mass Murderer for the Nazis,” by Helmut Ortner, ©2018, p.63.)

The men in black robes marched in lock-step with the Fuhrer.

“[T]he first and foremost task of the judiciary was to subordinate itself to the totalitarian will of National Socialism. (Koch, pp. 84.)

On 24 April 1934, the Peoples’ Court (Volksgerichtshof; AKA: VGH) was formally founded. 


The National Socialist state created the Peoples’ Court to embody the basic concepts of law as practiced by National Socialism

On 15 July 1934, the Volkischer Beobachter (AKA: Popular Observer, VB), the Nazi daily newspaper, stated the court’s mission: “Anyone who turns against the political unity of the National Socialist state today will be judged by this court. The disastrous trial of the Reichstag arsonists [more on that later] is still fresh in our memory. Despite the blatantly political motivation behind the crime, it dragged on for months, delayed by politically inexperienced judges who, in order to reach an ‘objective judgement,’ again and again called for fresh testimony from experts, questioned countless witnesses and nevertheless produced a miscarriage of justice. This in particular makes the need for politically trained judges obvious.” 

“Historically speaking, the Volksgerichtshof, which convenes for the first time today and is intended to be a permanent institution, therefore represents something completely new [not exactly true] within the German legal system. It marks the end of an inglorious chapter in the history of German justice, an era in which politically and criminologically insensitive German legal authorities were so intent on objectivity and loyal to the constitution that they were unable or unwilling to see what was happening around them.” (Ortner, p. 5.)

Elsewhere, the VB’s Editor-in-Chief, Wilhelm Weiss, described the new court’s mission. Here is a summary of his very long statement:

After seizing power, the Nazis created a special court for the most serious political crimes. Before 30 January 1933, treason was the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court which reflected the general “political and spiritual basic attitude” typical of the Weimar Republic. Supreme Court trials often led to parliamentary confrontations and press efforts to protect those guilty of treason. The result was “legal uncertainty” meaning that a state could not be protected by “the letter of the law” if the law “is not in accord with a clear political idea.” The National Socialist state created the Peoples’ Court to embody the basic concepts of law as practiced by National Socialism. (paraphrased from Koch, p. 45.)

Justice in Germany was no longer about written law, but about the will of the Fuhrer

Justice in Germany was no longer about written law, but about the will of the Fuhrer. For he is the law.   

“In Germany after 1933 law became preventive law.  It often struck before it had been broken.  It then no longer took account of the personality of the accused or his or her human and personal requirements. It struck blindly…After 1939, the liberal traditions of the German judiciary were largely abandoned, on the justification of a superficial reference to the emergencies of war, to make way for the extensive use of ‘preventive detention,’ the collective identification of groups as ‘criminals’ such as Jews, gypsies, and other minorities, and the complete hopelessness of the case of any individual caught up in the machinery of what was called the law.” (Koch, pp. 49f.

Meanwhile, Germany’s lawyers became civil service workers.  

Roland Freisler
Roland Freisler

Roland Freisler (pictured left, in his robe) – the highest-ranking Nazi judge in the Peoples’ Court – was eager to hand out death sentences.  Executions rose from 32 in 1937 to 2,097 in 1944. Total executions eventually reached 5,191. Disparaging comments, even in private conversations, concerning Hitler, Germany or the war merited death.  It was the Nazis’ version of “hate speech”.

Freisler’s predecessor as President of the Peoples’ Court was Otto Thierack (seen below, bald head, cheek scar). Years later, after being appointed Minister of Justice, President of the Academy for German Law and Leader of the National Association of German Legal Professions, Otto occasionally distributed “Judges’ Letters” (Richterbriefe) to keep Nazi judges updated on National Socialism’s legal principles. 

Leader of the nation was always its supreme judge

Otto Thierack
Court was Otto Thierack

These were among Thierack’s statements to “German Judges!” in his first such letter issued on 1 October 1942:

“According to the ancient Germanic interpretation of the law, the leader of the nation was always its supreme judge. Therefore, when the leader of the nation invests another person with the authority of a judge, this means not only that the latter derives his judicial power from the leader and is responsible to him, but also that leadership and judgeship are related in character…A corps of judges like this will not cling slavishly to the letter of the law.  It will not anxiously search for support in the law, but with satisfaction in its responsibility, will find within the bounds of the law the decision which is best for the life of the community.” (Ortner, pp. 69f.)

Thierack’s advice to his successor, Freisler, as in-coming VGH President, was that “the judge of the VGH must become accustomed to seeing primarily the ideas and intentions of the leadership of the state, while the human fate which depends on it is only secondary…The accused before the VGH are only little figures in a much greater circle…which fights the Reich.” (Koch, p. 6.)

On 26 October 1946, Otto Thierack (above) hanged himself before he was scheduled to face trial at Nuremberg.

On 3 February 1945, Roland Freisler (above) is believed to have been on the lethal receiving end of part of the 3,000 tons of explosives dropped on Berlin by allied bombers that day.

Note: This is part of the series based on the hypothesis that today’s Democratic Party has, since Donald J. Trump emerged as a contender for the Presidency in 2016, adopted several methods and tactics used by the National Socialist German Worker’ Party (1920-1945) to control the German people. Next: The current threat to American justice.


Lee Cary -- Bio and ArchivesSince November 2007, Lee Cary has written for several websites, but, since shortly before the 2016 election, now writes only for the [em]Canada Free Press[/em]. He holds a Doctorate in Theology from the Methodist seminary at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, and served with US Army Intelligence in Vietnam. Cary is a great nephew of Archibald Cary (1721-1787) who was a member of Virginia's Committee of Correspondence. Archibald chaired the Committee of the Whole that adopted the Resolution of Independence that instructed Virginia's delegates to the Second Continental Congress to propose a Declaration of Independence. After Virginia became an independent state, he became the first speaker of the Virginia Senate. Among Archibald’s closest friends were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Archibald died broke, having spent himself out by financially supporting the American Revolution.

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