Law, Democracy, and Transitional Justice in Germany, 1945-1955


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress during academic year 2009-2010


The literature on transitional justice frequently assumes that there is a direct correlation between “good” justice in the wake of mass atrocity and the democratization of post-conflict societies. The experience of Germany in the first decade after World War II provides an excellent opportunity to interrogate this assumption. While the Allied trials of Nazi criminals have been reasonably well studied, their counterparts in German courts have not. Yet these formed the backbone of transitional justice in postwar Germany. This project examines the role played by these trials in the diverging political developments in the two Germanys in the first postwar decade. Transitional justice in German appears to have had at best an ambivalent relationship to democracy.