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Legal Sabotage
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Book description

The Jewish leftist lawyer Ernst Fraenkel was one of twentieth-century Germany's great intellectuals. During the Weimar Republic he was a shrewd constitutional theorist for the Social Democrats and in post-World War II Germany a respected political scientist who worked to secure West Germany's new democracy. This book homes in on the most dramatic years of Fraenkel's life, when he worked within Nazi Germany actively resisting the regime, both publicly and secretly. As a lawyer, he represented political defendants in court. As a dissident, he worked in the underground. As an intellectual, he wrote his most famous work, The Dual State – a classic account of Nazi law and politics. This first detailed account of Fraenkel's career in Nazi Germany opens up a new view on anti-Nazi resistance – its nature, possibilities, and limits. With grit, daring and imagination, Fraenkel fought for freedom against an increasingly repressive regime.

Reviews

'German-Jewish lawyer Ernst Fraenkel is remembered for his study of Nazi Germany, The Dual State. But talented historian Douglas Morris goes far beyond reconstructing Fraenkel’s biography, and following his path to his classic book, in order to dramatize the difficult choices of a pivotal lawyer in resistance. The result is an absorbing contribution not just to the history of German law in the twentieth century. It helps us to ponder the dilemmas of resistance for believers in the rule of law anywhere and even today.'

Samuel Moyn - Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence, Yale University, Connecticut

'There is a rich biographical and analytical literature on the lawyer and political scientist Ernst Fraenkel. We know his clear description of the Nazism as a 'dual state', we also know how important he was for the modernization of political theory, especially in Western Germany. But an investigation of his activities as a lawyer and author in the underground after 1933, based on all available sources, has not yet been carried out. It is presented here in an excellent manner, and at the same time it sheds light on the old problem: How can one use the legal order as a means of sabotage against a system of tyranny?'

Michael Stolleis - Professor Emeritus of Legal History, Wolfgang-Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main

'Ernst Fraenkel was an astonishing figure. For the first five years of the Nazi regime, this Jewish, Social Democratic lawyer courageously defended political opponents of Nazis in court, while also essaying brilliant underground critiques of the Nazi legal system. Morris, himself a practicing lawyer and an accomplished scholar, has written an elegant - and all too timely - study of the possibilities and limits of resistance to a regime of perverted legality.'

Lawrence Douglas - James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought, Amherst College, and author of The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes Trial

‘Morris not only empathically portrays the personality of the 35-40 year-old Fraenkel. He also thoughtfully illuminates his immediate surroundings in the resistance … And he incisively works out the different intellectual strands that the ‘intellectual twins’ [(p. 174)] Fraenkel and Neumann followed as they tried - one on the spot, the other from exile - to explain the character of the Nazi regime.’

Rainer Eisfeld Source: translated from Politische Vierteljahresschrift

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