Law after Auschwitz

Towards a Jurisprudence of the Holocaust

by David Fraser

Tags: Jurisprudence, Legal History

Table of Contents (PDF)

464 pp  $48.00

ISBN 978-0-89089-243-5

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The idea of Nazi law is, for many lawyers, an oxymoron. Today, law under the National Socialist regime continues to be portrayed and understood as the ultimate perversion of legality and the Holocaust as the inevitable result of the collapse of the rule of law. This book offers important insights into the ways in which our understanding of the Holocaust and of the law have been built upon mutually reinforcing but erroneous constructions of the two. Fraser argues that the Holocaust is best understood, or at least studied, not as a point of lawless, criminal disjuncture with law, but as offering remarkable points of commonality and continuity with the law, with legality as understood at the time, and with law as we understand and practice it today.

Law after Auschwitz studies law and lawyers under Nazi rule, the jurisprudence of Nazi law, and the reception of Nazi law by contemporary legal scholarship. It offers detailed analyses of the ways in which the Holocaust has been constructed in post-war trials. This book raises fundamental questions about legality and ethics in the 21st century. If the Holocaust took place in a "legal" framework, and if the legal system today operates in part in a continuous fashion with Nazi legality, then law must be understood as still operating in the shadow of Auschwitz. Throughout the book, the consequences of a legal system which operates in a state of willful amnesia about its own implication in the Shoah, is the central focus.

"Fraser writes in an engaging style and keeps the reader with him throughout the book, no mean feat given the morass of material managed and the uncomfortable ideas engaged… a thought-provoking work, it will be useful reading for scholars from a variety of disciplines." — Law & Politics Book Review
"[Law after Auschwitz] show[s] resonances of fascist legal thought in contemporary European law and wider Western culture…by documenting antisemitic-inspired discourses of 'forgiving and forgetting', and asserting an uncomfortable parity between contemporary medico-legal thought and eugenics… Law after Auschwitz…has some fascinating material on antisemitic-fuelled amnesia." — International Journal of Law in Context