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Law, Justice, and the Holocaust: How the Courts Failed Germany
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 | 1:00pm - 4:30pm UTC
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Co-sponsored with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The Nazi period presented the German judiciary with intense personal and professional dilemmas. Judges, especially, were among the few inside Germany who could have challenged the legitimacy of the regime as well as the laws restricting civil rights and guarantees of property. And yet the overwhelming majority did not. Instead, over 12 years of Nazi rule, most judges not only upheld the law but interpreted it in broad and far-reaching ways that facilitated, rather than hindered, the Nazis’ ability to carry out their agenda.
This afternoon program for Massachusetts judges will examine the pressures faced by German jurists under the Nazis. Using legal decrees, judicial opinions, and case law of the period, participants will examine the role of judges in what evolved into the destruction of democracy and the establishment of the Nazi German state. This close scrutiny of the past provides a framework for a debate on the role of the judiciary in the United States today:
- What is the responsibility of judges to the legal system as a whole?
- What have been the challenges to a fair and impartial administration of justice in the United States?
- What can judges do to ensure that the kinds of failures that led to the Holocaust do not happen in this country?
Judges will be given the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of Holocaust history and its implications on the work they do.
About the Presenter: William F. Meinecke, Jr., PhD
Dr. William Meinecke is a historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and is the author of Nazi Ideology and the Holocaust, published in 2007. A graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, he also attended the Universities of Bonn and Berlin in Germany and received an MA and a PhD in history from the University of Maryland at College Park. Since 2000, Dr. Meinecke has worked with law enforcement officers, judges, prosecutors, and attorneys in the Law, Justice and the Holocaust training program.