Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Integrative Research Institute Law & Society (LSI)

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Faculty of Law | Integrative Research Institute Law & Society (LSI) | Research Areas | Law and Crisis | The administration of normality - German law and German society 1944-1952

The administration of normality - German law and German society 1944-1952


Dr. Benjamin Lahusen


During war, the law takes a break. § 245 of the German code of civil procedure orders the suspension of all proceedings in the event of war; after the war, they are to continue. This condition came into force nationwide only one single time: September 1944, as the allied occupation of Germany got underway, all German courts were closed by decree. But when the justice system returned to work in 1945, it found itself no longer in a totalitarian dictatorship. The west of the country operated under the rule of law within a forced democracy, the east, according to the principles of real socialism.

This project examines how this political and social upheaval was processed by the law. Preliminary studies deal with practical questions, for instance, how the justice system was equipped in terms of bureaucracy and personnel so that it could perform its duties during wartime. Furthermore, biographical deliberations come into focus, namely, what juridical and party interests led to the continued processing of even the most banal disputes between neighbors before and after Germany’s surrender. And finally, we look at the political considerations that revolve around the question: What functions does a justice system fulfill in a modern society?