Current Issue 4/2019

Content Overview: English Titles and Abstracts

  • Hans Maier: Hitler and the Reich – free access until the publication of the new issue
  • Anna Georgiev: Jewish Self-Assertion in Berlin. The History of the 500 Torah Rolls which Survived in Berlin-Weißensee during the Nazi Era.
  • Felix Lieb: An Overrated Book? Karl Jaspers and “The Question of German Guilt”.
  • Felix Wiedemann: “Decent” Perpetrators – “Anti-Social” Victims. The Wiesbaden Jurists’ Trial of 1951/52 and dealing with the National Socialist Murder of Prison Inmates – free access until the publication of the new issue
  • Hubert Leber: The German-Israeli Missile Dispute of 1978. How did the Social-Liberal Government Deal with Co-Produced Armaments Exports?

 

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Abstracts

Hans Maier, Hitler and the Reich


The Reich has been a central category of German legal and political thought since the Middle Ages. From the Holy Roman Empire (in German: Reich) to the Kaiserreich and the Third Reich it has at the same time defined the political and territorial structure as well as the political aspirations of the German lands. Despite its centrality, the concept of the Reich has not been fully explored in the context of National Socialism. Important questions about the regime’s relationship with the political term and the political model therefore remain unanswered: How, for example, did Hitler see the Reich? This article examines the concept of the Reich in the thinking of central Nazi figures, including Hitler himself as well as Goebbels, Rosenberg, and Himmler. It shows that despite the well-known identification of Nazism with the term Third Reich, Hitler, in fact, distanced himself from the Reich concept – particularly from the Holy Roman Empire and its Christian-universalist tradition. Even Bismarck’s Empire was not quite the paragon it is often suggested to have been. The term Third Reich itself was even expressly rejected by Hitler. With the end of Nazism, the Reich finally faded from the German legal tradition. It was replaced by the simple term Germany.

 


 

Anna Georgiev, Jewish Self-Assertion in Berlin. The History of the 500 Torah Rolls which Survived in Berlin-Weißensee during the Nazi Era

 

During the Nazi period approximately 500 Torah rolls were saved from destruction at the Jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weißensee. Research into the exact circumstances has been lacking so far. Anna Georgiev can now extensively reconstruct the history of the Torah rolls hidden in Weißensee – from their storage to their post-war distribution by Hannah Arendt in the context of her activities for Jewish Cultural Reconstruction. In doing so, Georgiev can also rely on hitherto unpublished photographs. Hiding the Torah rolls can be interpreted as an act of resistance and Jewish self-assertion. Despite the threat of deportation, those involved aided the preservation of the rolls and thereby of Jewish traditions.

 


 

Felix Lieb, An Overrated Book? Karl Jaspers and “The Question of German Guilt”

 

Only a few months after the end of the Second World War, the philosopher Karl Jaspers proclaimed that “acceptance of the guilt [is] to be a fundamental trait of our German self-consciousness”. Jaspers book “Die Schuldfrage” (The Question of German Guilt) published in 1946 and his differentiation between criminal, political, moral and metaphysical guilt formulated therein are to this day seen as contributions of the highest import towards the question of responsibility for the crimes of National Socialism. Based on the contemporary reactions, Felix Lieb can show that Jasper’s book received very little notice in the post-war period. Additionally, the Germans saw his theses less as a call for admitting one’s own guilt, but rather as a welcome instrument to deflect a supposed allegation of collective guilt.

 


 

Felix Wiedemann, “Decent” Perpetrators – “Anti-Social” Victims. The Wiesbaden Jurists’ Trial of 1951/52 and dealing with the National Socialist Murder of Prison Inmates

 

The murder of thousands of “anti-social” prison inmates between 1942 and 1944 is one of the lesser known National Socialist crimes, even though these events were the subject of extensive judicial investigations during the post-war period, which culminated in the 1951 Wiesbaden jurists trial against leading officials of the former Reich Ministry of Justice. As an immediate successor investigation to the Nuremberg Judges Trial, the Wiesbaden trial with its acquittals marked the transition between the judiciary under Allied occupation to the judiciary of the early Federal Republic of Germany. Additionally, the trial reflects the specific decisions regarding judicial politics and the politics of recent history, the social narratives as well as the moral conceptions of the early 1950s.

 


 

Hubert Leber, The German-Israeli Missile Dispute of 1978. How did the Social-Liberal Government Deal with Co-Produced Armaments Exports?

 

The news that France would deliver modern anti-tank missiles to Syria led to disquiet in Israel in 1978. The missiles were being produced within the context of German-French armaments cooperation. Therefore, Israel demanded that the West German government prevent the weapons deal. Months of conflict between Bonn and Jerusalem followed, which Hubert Leber investigates here using archival sources from both countries for the first time. The analysis offers insights into the normative development of German armaments exports and Israel policy. The Schmidt/Genscher government outwardly proclaimed its impotence. In fact, it decided not to use an internally preserved veto option regarding exports from armaments cooperation partner countries. One of the consequences was that Israeli soldiers were injured or killed by German military technology during the Lebanon War of 1982.

 


 




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