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In the Name of the Volk: Political Justice in Hitler's Germany [Hardcover]

H. W. Koch


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Book Description

Nov 1989
In 1934 the Nazis set up a special court to deal with treason against the German state. Between 1934 and 1945 this court - the "Volksgerichtshof" or "People's Court" - condemned more than 12,000 civilians to death and sent thousands more to concentration camps. Yet in spite of its blatantly political character, the People's Court was never indicted, either at Nuremberg or in subsequent trials. This text traces the roots of the Court, its establishment and procedures, and assesses the controversial question of the German judiciary's complicity with the Nazi regime.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Legal terror. 24 Jan 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Of all the totalitarian institutions of Nazi Germany, the National Socialist People's Court occupies a special place.
Set up specifically to try cases of treason against the State (or National Socialism, which amounted to the same thing), these kangaroo courts meted out over 12,000 death sentences for civilians accused of everything from actual sabotage to joke-telling and listening to the BBC. The mandate was total, the methods ruthless, and not even the rare acquittal meant freedom - the Gestapo waited outside to take the unfortunate victim to a concentration camp anyhow.
This sorry record of legalistic lynching is well told here with useful appendices, notes, sources, and index, and by the way - the guilty jurists were not prosecuted, but smoothly and quietly resumed their careers after the war.

(The "score" rating is an ineradicable feature of the page. This reviewer does not "score" books.)
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 18 Oct 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm not an expert on law or Nazi Germany. I can only say I found this most informative as a detailing of the "lawful" means used by the judiciary in Germany to wipe out their opposition. We must always remember that any legal system can be warped and misused, and no legal system is a guarantee of rights or a substitute for an active and aware polity. Once in a blue moon, the party leadership did not get the verdicts they hoped out of their pet court, but to maintain the gloss of lawful authority they allowed their targets to walk. Let this serve as a caution to anyone who has faith that any Establishment, when left to its own devices, will pursue anything but its own interests!
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the most frightening books I've ever read... 17 Mar 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I picked up this book to research Roland Freisler, "Hitler's hanging judge". What you will read on these pages is informative and frighteningly real. I was specifically looking for info related to Freisler and The White Rose trials... I was surprised and disappointed to find seemingly inaccurate information. I did, however, learn a lot about the laws in Nazi Germany.
6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great. 4 May 2001
By Jason Wollard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"In the Name of the Volk" is a long testimony to the correct conclusion by some that our choice for law is either God's law or man's law, which results, when it is consistent to its humanistic presupposition, in either tyranny or chaos. The similarities between the Nazi law system and our own are frightening. Just as several of the legal precedents were laid beforehand for Hitler in the Weimar Republic for a legal tyranny, so have many of them been laid in America for a future charismatic tyrant of our own (see Greg Durand's "America's Caesar" (2nd ed.) for a detailed study of our "evolving" law and its tyrannical direction during and since the Civil War). "In the Name of the Volk" chronicles the change of the German "high court" for treason, the VGH (Volksgerichtshof) or National Socialist People's Court, from its foundation on "natural law" (whatever that is) during the Republic to its foundation on the "healthy intuitive feeling of the Volk" (p.39,123) to finally the subjective will of the Führer himself, the incarnation of Hegel's "god" (the State) walking upon the earth. God's law is so gracious in and of itself, but especially when compared to man's law. This has been proven true again and again throughout the 20th century as man has become more and more consistent in his claim to deity. Rushdoony's idea of "disposable man" receives much credence from books like these. When men see themselves as God, they then proceed to see all who disagree with them or resist them as the devil. Man then becomes disposable, and it becomes quite "good" to kill the devil. Thus it was with the Nazis, Russians, Chinese, pro-death Americans, etc... The devils (in addition to the Jews, who were considered subhuman) were those who disagreed with and resisted Nazism. Not only was it illegal to act against Nazi doctrine, it became illegal to even think differently than Nazi doctrine. Early in 1943 a young war widow was executed for telling political jokes--in this case, a disposable woman (p.94). Treason increasingly became less and less defined; hence, it became more and more subjective as the war drug on, and more and more common. Those who infrequently managed to escape with their lives and freedom from the unjust "justice" system, were routinely re-arrested by the Gestapo and either shot or placed in concentration camps. So it was that justice was equally disposable. An interesting point of the book is that Hitler, unlike most Christians today, recognized that neutrality is a myth. His motto, as Koch reveals, was "those not with me are against me" (ix). These, of course, are the words of Christ--words blasphemously said by Germany's self-professed "messiah." Some key concepts in this book besides those typically discussed in Nazi books, most of which should look very familiar to Americans, are: the Nazis controlled "political" sermons (p.55); law became preventive (p.49); the Führer was seen as "God", and he was expected to solve all of Germany's problems (38-9); Weimar judges became legislating judges before finally becoming Party pawns (p.14); VGH judges were picked because of their Party views, not their knowledge of the law (p.6); Jews [as with the unborn in the US] were not deemed worthy of rule of law (p.5); law was seen as organic and ever-changing with the "needs" of society (p.4, 71); the Germanic concept of loyalty was perverted from its feudal, reciprocal nature to the one-sided loyalty of the people to the State (p.74-9); and, 'The Final Solution' to the Jews was meant for all of Europe (p.117) and then the world (Hitler had plans for invading the United States, although Koch does not discuss this). The quote of the book is the statement by Koch on Goebbels' interpretation of the law: "As Goebbels told an audience of VGH judges in 1942, the judiciary had to recognize its political task. Whether a judgment was just or unjust was unimportant; what mattered was that it fulfilled its purpose" (p.4). Another quote akin to the above is from the Minister of Justice to the newly appointed President of the VGH: "In general, 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" (p.127). What is this but "disposable man"?
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