Not available in 2013/14
LL4L4      Half Unit
Law and the Holocaust

This information is for the 2013/14 session.


This course is available on the MSc in Human Rights, Master of Laws and Master of Laws (extended part-time study). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is capped at 30 students. Students must apply through Graduate Course Choice on LSEforYou.

Course content

This course examines the relationship between law, legal pathology, and the origins and implementation of the events known as the Holocaust. Students will explore the lessons for legal theory and practice arising from Hitler's rise to power under the Weimar Constitution, the legalization of the Nazi racial-biological worldview through eugenics and anti-Jewish legislation, the differential treatment of citizens and non-citizens in parallel anti-Jewish legal programs in Vichy France and elsewhere, the challenge to our conceptions of legal and moral responsibility that is presented by the idea of 'administrative massacre', and the question of how the Nazi legal era has been represented in mainstream jurisprudence. By studying the sequential moments of legal and institutional pathology that provided the context for the persecution of the Jews – loss of meaningful constitutionalism or constitutional values, loss of legal rights, loss of citizenship, loss of the standards of the rule of law, loss of the status of the legal subject as a bearer of dignity, amongst others – students will have the opportunity to think deeply about the significance of these pathologies for our understanding of what law is, what law should be, and what conditions are required for law to mediate power rather than merely provide a vehicle for its expression. The crucial role played by legal thinkers and legal actors in the Nazi project will be a key reference point, as will the question of the adequacy of our scholarly resources to the task of illuminating the complex questions and connections that a study of law and the Holocaust presents.


20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Short writing task (1500 words) at the mid-point of course.

Indicative reading

In addition to key primary sources (legislation etc), the following materials will be assigned:

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1951).

Ingo Muller, Hitler's Justice, (Harvard University Press, 1991), extracts

Carl Schmitt, "The Liberal Rule of Law", with an introduction by Volker Neumann, in Arthur J. Jacobsen and Bernhard Schlink, eds, Weimar: A Jurisprudence of Crisis (Berkeley: UC Press, 2000), pp 280-289 and 294-300.

Victor Klemperer, I Will Bear Witness - A Diary of the Nazi Years 1933-1941 (1998: Random House, New York), extracts

Karl A. Schleunes (ed), Legislating the Holocaust - The Bernhard Loesener Memoirs and Supporting Documents (memoirs translated by Carol Scherer), (2001: Westview Press), extracts

H. L. A. Hart, "Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals", 71 (4) Harvard Law Review 593, and Lon L. Fuller, "Positivism and Fidelity to Law - A Reply to Professor Hart", 71 (4) Harvard Law Review 630 (extracts)

Gustav Radbruch, "Statutory Lawlessness and Supra-Statutory Law (1946)", translated by Bonnie Litschewski Paulson and Stanley Paulson, (2006) 26 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 1 (extract pp 6-8)

Kristen Rundle, "The Impossibility of an Exterminatory Legality: Law and the Holocaust", (2009) 59 University of Toronto Law Journal 65.

David Fraser, Law after Auschwitz: towards a jurisprudence of the Holocaust (Durham N.C.: Carolina Academic Press)

David Fraser, "The Fragility of Law: Anti-Jewish decrees and Belgian legal elites", Chapter 3 in The Fragility of Law: Constitutional Patriotism and the Jews of Belgium, 1940-1945 (Routledge Cavendish, 2009)

Symposium, Nazis in the Courtroom: Lessons from the Conduct of Lawyers and Judges Under the Laws of the Third Reich and Vichy, France, in 61 (4) Brooklyn Law Review 1121 (1995).

Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, (Penguin Books, 1964 revised edition), extracts.

David Luban, Alan Strudler and David Wasserman, "Moral Responsibility in the Age of Bureaucracy", 90 Michigan Law Review 2348 (1990).


Conspiracy (2001)
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
The Specialist (1999)


Essay (100%, 8000 words).

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills