Nazi Law as Non-law in Academic Discourse

Lavis, Simon (2019). Nazi Law as Non-law in Academic Discourse. In: Skinner, Stephen ed. Ideology and Criminal Law: Fascist, National Socialist and Authoritarian Regimes. Oxford: Hart Publishing, pp. 59–76.




This chapter is focused on exploring and interrogating key elements of the interpretation of Nazi law as non-law that has been constructed in English language scholarship, in order to establish how that interpretation has become an important narrative of Nazi law, and what its consequences are for understanding law in the Third Reich and the concept of law in general from the perspective of that body of research and reflection.
On that basis the chapter makes two related arguments. First, that the predominant approach of legal and historical work produced and available in English in the decades since the collapse of Nazi Germany has consistently characterised its legal system as non-law, and as reflecting a period of rupture from normal legal-historical development.
Second, that this characterisation has meant that such approaches have prevented a full coming to terms with the legal system in Nazi Germany, and a comprehensive examination of the systemic nature of Nazi law. This chapter thus focuses on the construction of a discursive position and how it omits and precludes engagement with Nazi law, rather than addressing the nature of that law itself; that is, the chapter emphasises the need for such engagement and establishes rationales to support it.

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