Fall 2022 Course Schedule

Prof Ethics & the Holocaust (Compressed) (LAW-778-001)
Paula Jacobs

Meets: (FSaSu)

Enrolled: 23 / Limit: 32

Administrator Access


This course will meet Friday October 21 6pm-9pm, Saturday October 22 9am-5pm and Sunday October 23, 9am-12pm.


“Ethics in the Holocaust” will examine the history and ethics of the legal profession in Germany both prior to the ascension of the Nazi Party in 1933 and then during the Nazi period. Examining the role of legal practitioners - lawyers and judges - in Nazi Germany will underscore the reality that moral codes governing the legal profession can break down or be distorted with devastating consequences. What is the proper role of lawyers, judges and the Rule of Law? What did the legal profession do to further or oppose the legal system during the Holocaust? What are some of the characteristics and early warning signs of those ethical challenges that may recur - in a different form - in other situations, including in the present? This course will investigate the enabling and executing roles that legal professionals and legal institutions played in Nazi Germany as a means of displaying the importance of professions in contemporary society and their ethical responsibilities. The course will partially take place at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It is a compressed course, meaning that you will do the same amount of work per credit as any other course but the classroom time is compressed over three sessions, with about 30 hours of course preparation required prior to that. The course will allow you to learn both about the historical significance of lawyers, the judiciary and the German legal system during the Holocaust, and also reflect on issues of professional and personal ethics and the relationship between law and politics today.

Textbooks and Other Materials

The textbook information on this page was provided by the instructor. Students should use this information when considering purchases from the AU Campus Store or other vendors. Students may check to determine if books are currently available for purchase online.

This course has one assigned book that you must purchase. All other assigned readings are available online, as indicated in the outline of class sessions and bibliography below. Students are responsible for obtaining, reading, and being prepared to discuss assigned readings. A list of additional, optional readings also appears below. As time allows, students may wish to supplement course materials and lectures by reading some of these materials.

First Class Readings

Required Prior to Session 1: (approximately 10 hours of reading, total of approximately 300 pages)

  • Doris L. Bergin, War & Genocide
  • The Path to Nazi Genocide - USHMM film, on website, 38 minutes
  • Hannah Arendt, Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship, “Responsibility and Judgment”
  • Christopher Browning, “Revisiting the Holocaust Perpetrators: Why Did They Kill?”
  • Simone Ladwig-Winters, “Lawyers Without Rights - The Fate of Jewish Lawyers in Berlin After 1933”, Exclusion After the Seizure of Power, pp. 23 - 90
  • “The Mentally and Physically Handicapped: Victims of the Nazi Era - The Charrell Case: The “Civil Death” of the Jews Justifies Breaking a Contract”
  • The Wannsee Protocol
  • Decree on Citizenship and Assets of Deported Jews
  • Gustav Radbruch, “Legalized Lawlessness and Extralegal Law” (1946) (excerpts)


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