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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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The Debate about the Rechtsstaat in Nazi Germany, 1933–1936

The Debate about the Rechtsstaat in Nazi Germany, 1933–1936

(p.95) 5 The Debate about the Rechtsstaat in Nazi Germany, 1933–1936
The Remnants of the Rechtsstaat

Jens Meierhenrich

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides the legal and historical context necessary for appreciating the contribution of Fraenkel’s ethnography of Nazi law. I begin with a brief history of the idea of the Rechtsstaat in Germany. I trace the term’s evolution from its emergence in the early nineteenth century until 1933. In the second section I overview the most important Nazi critiques of the liberal Rechtsstaat, with a particular focus on the theoretical study of public law. The focus is on the major intellectual faultlines in the legal subfield of Staatsrechtslehre, from which Jewish protagonists were purged. In the third section, I focus on intellectual efforts inside the Nazi academy to “racialize” the Rechtsstaat, to bring it in line with the racial imaginary. The final section explains why, and when, the concept of Rechtsstaat was abandoned by legal theorists in the “Third Reich,” and the consequences for the practice of law.

Keywords:   Race, antisemitism, total state, Volk, Staatsrechtslehre, Carl Schmitt, Roland Freisler, Otto Koellreutter, Hans Frank

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