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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: August 2020

5 - Thinking about the Legal Justifications for Sabotaging a Tyrannical Regime


hen the seventeenth-century English poet John Donne famously wrote in a Meditation that “no man is an island,” he was not contemplating the plight of opponents to a regime like Nazi Germany’s. But, in one sense, his vivid metaphor applies to them, too. Acting in a shrinking world, losing friends and opportunities, and knowing that their foes might lie in wait around any corner, Nazism’s opponents still rarely acted alone. They worked with others. Fraenkel often did. But if he was, in Donne’s words, still “a piece of the continent, a part of the main,” Fraenkel stood out. Among other things, he was unusual in relating his own direct experience resisting Nazi oppression to an attempt to set forth a logically developed theory justifying resistance.