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Reconsecrating the Temple of Justice: Invocations of Civilization and Humanity in the Nuremberg Justice Case

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2014

Christiane Wilke
Affiliation:
Department of Law, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, christiane_wilke@carleton.ca
Corresponding

Abstract

The Nuremberg Trials provide the foundation for contemporary international criminal law. Yet these trials are rarely explored in their broader ideational and social context. This article examines the context and role of the concept of “civilization” as used in U.S. v Altstoetter, the 1947 trial of Nazi judges and judicial administrators at Nuremberg. I place the reference to civilization in Altstoetter within a tradition of international law that understood law and civilization as co-constitutive. The Altstoetter Court conceptualized Germany as an essentially civilized country that lapsed into barbaric and therefore lawless violence. This account helped the Court to establish the blameworthiness of the defendants' conduct, blame the Nazi violence on lawlessness, and establish its own authority.

Résumé

Les procès de Nuremberg constituent le fondement du droit criminel international contemporain. Néanmoins, ces procès sont rarement étudiés dans un contexte social et conceptuel plus large. Cet article examine le contexte ainsi que le rôle du concept de «civilisation» tel qu'utilisé dans le cas de U.S. v. Altstoetter, c'est-à-dire le procès de 1947 des juges et administrateurs judiciaires nazis à Nuremberg. L'auteure place la référence au concept de «civilisation» telle qu'évoqué par Altstoetter au sein d'une tradition du droit international qui définit la loi et la civilisation comme étant «co-constitutives». La cour Altstoetter conceptualisait l'Allemagne comme un pays essentiellenient civilisé tombant dans une violence barbare et anarchique. Cette représentation aide la cour à établir la culpabilité des accusés, à blâmer la violence nazie sur l'absence de loi ainsi qu'à établir sa propre autorité.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Canadian Law and Society Association 2009

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References

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