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The Remnants of the RechtsstaatAn Ethnography of Nazi Law$
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Jens Meierhenrich

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198814412

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198814412.001.0001

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Behemoth and Beyond

Behemoth and Beyond

(p.25) 2 Behemoth and Beyond
The Remnants of the Rechtsstaat

Jens Meierhenrich

Oxford University Press

Few issues in the historiography of the “Third Reich” have provoked as much acrimony in the academy as the debate over the nature of the Nazi state. To enable readers to appreciate Fraenkel’s contribution to this debate, this chapter provides a critical review of contending theories of the Nazi state, with particular reference to Franz Neumann’s Behemoth, first published in 1942, and in an enlarged edition in 1944, which has inspired much scholarship on the racial state. The rise of Behemoth corresponded directly with the decline of The Dual State in the final war and early postwar years. Neumann’s Behemoth, which has never gone out of print, exemplifies major shortcomings—theoretical, empirical, methodological—in early studies of Nazi rule. I argue that it gave rise in the 1950s and 1960s to an intellectual trajectory in scholarship on the Third Reich that has done a fair amount to obscure—rather than illuminate—the logic of Nazi dictatorship, including law’s role in it.

Keywords:   Nazi state, Behemoth, Franz Neumann, Hannah Arendt, capitalism, Frankfurt School, Office of Strategic Services

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