The Nazi Parallel


In looking back at the Bush-Cheney administration's actions one cannot help but think back to the process that took place in Germany in the early 1930's as the Hitler led Nazi Party slowly but methodically moved Germany from a Democracy to a Dictatorship.  Although immoral, most of what Hitler and his followers did was legal under German law.  The articles below show how this was accomplished.

As shown so vividly in Charlie Savage's book "Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy" and the superb Frontline presentation there was an unreleting attack, by the Bush-Cheney group, on the Rule of Law.  Their goal was to make the Executive Branch unaccountable to Congress, the law and the citizenry.  The attempted result was to place all the power in one individual, the Presidency, whether by coercing Congress to provide statutory authority, or by the unilateral usurpation by the Executive Branch.  Added to this was the unmitgated arrogance of secrecy and obstruction.

Perhaps the biggest insult to the Rule were the statements by Dick Cheney after leaving office justifying the actions by claiming they worked and therefore they were right.  According to him the end justified the means.



The Legacy of Nuremberg: Confronting Genocide and Terrorism Through the Rule of Law

The Legacy of Nuremberg: Confronting Genocide and Terrorism Through the Rule of Law, 10 Gonz. J. Int’l L. (2006)
John Shattuck -- CEO, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (1993-98); U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic (1998-2000).



Legal Terror in Nazi Germany   A book review by Austin Cline

Some believe that the president's responsibilities in time of war and to protect the national interests mean that he can ignore laws and treaties. They posit that if he believes that protecting the nation requires violating a law, he has the authority to do so.
Where does such reasoning lead? Hitler’s Prisons: Legal Terror in Nazi Germany.

Law, Justice and the Holocaust
Brochure published by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Part I. Documents Relating to the Transition from Democracy to Dictatorship 
A summary of the systematic changes in the law and executive proclamations 1933-34.

Part II. Selected Documents Showing Key Legal Mechanisms Used to Implement the Nazi Agenda

Law and the Holocaust
Brochure published by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

An excellent discussion on the role of the legal community and the judiciary in allowing and furthering the Nazi plan.


Lawyers without Rights

Jewish Lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich

From an exhibition presented by the German Federal Bar in cooperation with the American Bar Association and its Section of International Law

The Nuremberg Justice Trial
United States of America v. Alstötter et al. 
The Justice Trial is one of the most interesting of the Nuremberg trials.  The trial of sixteen defendants, members of the Reich Ministry of Justice or People's and Special Courts, raised the issue of what responsibility judges might have for enforcing grossly unjust--but arguably binding--laws. The trial was the inspiration for the movie Judgment at Nuremberg.  The movie presented a somewhat fictionalized view of the trial. The scene of the rendering of the verdict is a strong message in support of the Rule of Law
Hitler's Courts: The betrayal of the Rule of Law in Nazi Germany

An excellent PBS Open Mind documentary that hopefully will serve as a cautionary tale for our own times (1 hr.)