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Stolleis studies a wide range of legal fields—constitutional, judicial, agrarian, administrative, civil, and business—arguing that all types of law were affected by the political realities of National Socialism. Moreover, he shows that legal traditions were not relinquished immediately with the onset of a new regime. For the first time we can see clearly the continuities between the Nazi period and the postwar period. The law under National Socialism did not make a complete break with the law during the Weimar Republic, nor did the law of the Federal Republic nullify all of the laws under National Socialism. Through a rich and subtle investigation, Stolleis shows how the legal profession and the political regime both reacted to the conditions of the period and molded the judicial system accordingly.
Breaking the conspiracy of silence held by the justices in the postwar period, Stolleis stresses the importance of researching Nazi law in order to confront ethical problems in today's legal profession.
Written by the eminent German legal historian, Michael Stolleis, these two ‘Essays on Legal History’ offer an original and compelling history of the symbolism through which law is characterised as being 'above' us. In ‘The Eye of the Law’, the history of this metaphor is followed from antiquity through to the present day: from the Greek Eye of Justice, the eye of the impartial judge of the Underworld, the Eye of God watching past, present and future, the Eye of the Prince, guiding his subjects, to the almighty Eye of the Law. While our belief in the law may have become brittle, nothing escapes what is now the Eye of Big Brother. ‘In the Name of the Law’ takes up the various formulas used to legitimate the decisions of the courts, from the times of absolutism over the 19th century until today. The speaker who speaks in the name of a higher being underlines his function: his authority comes from above. And it is ‘in the name of’ god, king, people, state, nation, or law, that a weak, earthly, justice receives its support.