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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Why Adolf Hitler Spared the Judges: judicial opposition against the Nazi state

8th November 2016, 17:30 to 18:30, Kenworthy Hall, St Mary's College, Professor Hans Petter Graver, University of Oslo

Contrary to what one could presume based on the ideology of the rule of law, law and authoritarian rule are not mutually exclusive. In fact, many authoritarian rulers actively employ law and legal institutions in their oppression and go to great pains to maintain a working legal order with independent courts. In most cases, the judiciary complies with authoritarian rulers and becomes part of an instrument of oppression. This is fortunately not the whole picture. “Despite the deep fall of our supreme servants of the law, the flame of law never quite extinguished in our judiciary through these most difficult years,” wrote professor and former minister of justice in the Weimar Republic for the Social Democrat Party, Gustav Radbruch after the collapse of the Nazi regime. Unknown by many, Hitler and his regime tolerated judicial opposition. Opposing judges were subject to criticism and verbal abuse both privately and in public and were sometimes removed to less prestigious or sensitive posts. Nevertheless, even in Nazi Germany there is not one known incident of a judge being punished or subject to the claws of the secret police because of non-conforming judgments. Instances of judicial opposition, though rare, are important because they show that judicial resistance is possible. In this lecture, Professor Hans Petter Graver will present some instances of judicial opposition against Hitler, and discuss their implications for judicial policy today.

This lecture is free and open to all.

Details about Professor Hans Petter Graver

Directions to St Mary's College

Map - St Mary's College is denoted as building No: 10

Contact for more information about this event.