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Background: Hans Frank was a high German legal official. He is perhaps most familiar from Riefenstahl”s Triumph of the Will, which puts him on stage to deliver the concluding paragraphs of this speech. It is interesting that he makes no mention of the “Night of the Long Knives,” little over a month prior to this speech, when several hundred people were killed by extrajudicial processes. Frank argues that National Socialism is working to transform the German legal system so that it will serve the community, suggesting between the lines that abstract principles of justice are not needed. Instead, the party and Hitler should be able to do whatever they think necessary. As Frank says in his conclusion, Hitler is the “supreme judge” in Germany.

Source: Dr. Hans Frank, “Die Einwirkung des nationalsozialistischen Ideengutes auf das deutsche Rechtsleben,” Der Kongreß zu Nürnberg vom 5. bis 10. September 1934 (Munich: Eher Verlag, 1934), pp. 187-192.

The Impact of National Socialist Thinking on the German Legal System


The Führer announced that National Socialism would greatly transform the German legal system in the party program of 1920. We formulated the first principles at that time, demanding the replacement of law that served a materialistic worldview foreign to us and its replacement with German law. Now that the Führer with his movement and party have taken power in the German Reich and its provinces, it is essential to implement National Socialist principles of justice. Today, just as National Socialism has taken over the political, economic, and cultural life of the nation and formed them according to its irrevocable program, it is also necessary to have a breakthrough in law to fill it with National Socialist thinking.

It is necessary to transform law from its very foundations since the nation’s legal system had become foreign.

Legislation and the courts developed according to the general decline of our social, cultural, and governmental systems at that time, which no longer had any relationship to the needs of the people’s community, but rather exhausted themselves in stubbornly applying foreign and formal principles of justice.

The justice system was entirely subordinate to the usual evils of political self-interest and were in constant conflict with the needs of the community. A deep chasm opened between the people and its justice system. Justice in Germany had become a catastrophe. Faith in justice declined, as did confidence in German jurists.

One need not speak of the justice system between 1918 and 1932. In the Reich as in the provinces, the judicial system during these years was completely unfruitful, without any creative achievements on the part of the legal bodies.

From the beginning, we National Socialist jurists were at the center of our movement’s battle against a system that attempted to battle or even destroy nationalism, shamelessly misusing every resource of weak and worn out liberal or reactionary legal pettifoggery.

Today the National Socialist German Workers’ Party is responsible for the direction of the German legal system, led by the Reich Legal Department and the League of National Socialist German Legal Professionals. Consistent with the unity of party and state, they have the task of ensuring that the whole philosophy of our government flows exclusively from National Socialism. As everywhere else in government, the party and its ideas must guide justice since it is only a means of the Führer for the realization of National Socialism.

Here as everywhere else, representatives of decay may not be leaders of the National Socialist legal system.

Despite the resistance that still surfaces occasionally here and there, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party has already implemented many legal measures that have taken our legal system into fundamentally new directions. Law is a way of maintaining both the internal and outward order of the life of the people and state. Law, like the state, serves the people. The task of the legal system is not to enforce legal pettifoggery, but above all to guarantee the life of the people. Law cannot privilege one part of the people over against others. Law must rather be based on this principle: the common good before the individual good. No legal system can claim to be a servant of the people if it enables those who harm the people to conceal themselves under the cover of law and receive advantages that harm the people.

The individual has value under the law only insofar as he is valuable to the community. The individual must bow under the law to the needs of the whole people. Formerly law aimed only at preserving the outward order. National Socialism recognized only that law that protects the substance of the existence of the people and the state. The people does not exist for the sake of the law, rather law exists for the sake of the people. In our new legal order, we do not want to permit formal principles that allow for selfish ambition. No, the National Socialist millennium ahead of us demands a legal system with firm foundations that all of Aryan humanity can view with pride.

The goal of National Socialist legal renewal is to realize the principles of National Socialism firmly and and untiringly in all areas of law. The whole legal system, including independent judges who naturally enjoy the protection of the National Socialist state, must be based entirely on the National Socialist worldview. A unified and authoritarian state is the foundation for the outward and strong life of our people. The foundation of racial protection which alone can receive effective support under our legal system depends on the party as the powerful organism of the idea and worldview upon which the German people and government are building, on the soil of Germandom, the territorial foundation of national existence, on the honor of the German people, and on the cultural institutions of the nation.

Over the past year we have ensured in all these areas an enormous legal transformation in the nature of all our ethnic and governmental institutions. It would exceed the scope of my discussion were I to go into detail on all the individual laws. However, we can say today with pride to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party that a legal transformation similar to what National Socialism has accomplished is unique in German legal and governmental history. As National Socialist jurists, we are proud of our work and I encourage jurists of all countries of the world not to criticize the National Socialist state, but rather to study our legal system that I declare to be the most modern system of any country on earth.

Liberal jurists are always proud that their legal system protects individual rights. We favor instead the rights of the community, and such community law is the center of the transformation of our legal system. Earlier, the individual was at the center of the law. Liberal or immoral laws gave the individual the right to violate the moral order, which was often very harmful to the people. We, on the other hand, have so strongly established protections for the community such that no one in Germany today can threaten the security of our people without being punished. We have in the broadest sense guaranteed the security of the decent part of the German people by acting against criminals in the broadest sense, in particular through ruthlessly administering the death penalty, through introducing special courts, through introducing people’s courts to protect the people and state, thus discouraging all harmful currents. The results are clear after a year-and-a-half of National Socialist legislation. Capital crimes like murder have diminished by about half since 1932. In Bavaria alone, the number convicted of crimes has declined by over a fifth in comparison to 1924-1932, from 19,402 to 17,200 in the first quarter of 1934. The positive results of the Führer’s labor laws show particularly happy effects in the reduction of crime. That is a result of the authoritarian legal system of the National Socialist state.

The results are particularly outstanding with regards to juvenile crime. In 1932 there were 42,000 cases in Germany, but 18,000 now, a reduction of about 42%. This shows National Socialism’s clear moral approach to questions of daily life, which has greatly reduced the inclination to criminality by the youth.

National Socialism’s social legislation has had effects in the broadest areas. Let me give several as yet unpublished statistics that are particularly interesting. Forced auctions in 1934, for example, have declined from 255,000 to 14,000. The number of seizures by court bailiffs to this point in 1934 is 800,000. In 1932 the figure was 1,500,000. There was thus been a decline of nearly half in such court actions.

I provide these statistics only to show you that National Socialism’s legal actions are closely related to its social policies, working to the advantage of the entire German people. The racial legislation, the legislation to eliminate inferior elements, the legislation to protect the labor service, the legislation to protect the land of hereditary farmers, are only the foundation on which National Socialism’s thousand-year legal order will grow.

Court proceedings are now conducted in a manner appropriate for the dignity of the German people. Civil procedure in the past had gradually sunk to the level of the stock exchange. We will make the principle that one does not beg for his rights, but fights for them, the foundation of civil and criminal proceedings. Our National Socialist movement appeals to the Führer to forbid as soon as possible the participation of non-Aryan “citizens” in the law. Naturally this process will use methods consistent with the high level of German culture, as was previously the case with Aryan legislation.

I do not have time to go into details of the law. I only wish to promise you, my fellow people’s comrades, that the Legal Department of the Reichsleitung will continue our systematic work here as in all other areas. I have established the Federation of National Socialist German Legal Professionals. It is a reliable means of gathering German legal professionals together, encouraging them to once again become close to the people and to understand, to have an obligation, to serve not themselves and the letter of the law, but rather to live for the community of all working Germans. This standing organization has incorporated the Academy for German Law, which uses tested scientific methods to carefully and without haste study and promote changes in the legal system. I believe that I may say that the Academy of German Law is an effective cultural instrument of National Socialism. In any event, the Academy of German Law has begun lively communication with foreign academic and scientific centers and it has been possible to eliminate frequent prejudices against National Socialism. There are many attacks in this area from evil-minded foreign critics against National Socialism and its Führer.

As leader of the German legal professionals I can say that the foundation of the National Socialist State is the National Socialist legal system, and that for us our supreme leader is also the supreme judge and that his will is now the foundation of our legal system. Since we know how holy the foundations of our legal system are to the Führer, we and our people’s comrades can be sure:

Your life and your existence are secure in this National Socialist state of order, freedom, and justice.

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