chapter  6
25 Pages

The extreme right in power: pursuing an ever radicalizing agenda

In retrospect, Nazism's political opponents had simply underestimated the full extent of Hitler's intent of eradicating parliamentary democracy despite repeated pronouncements to this end and representative democracy was replaced for the remainder of the Nazi regime's existence by recourse to referenda (following the death of President Hindenburg, the remilitarization of the Rhineland and the annexation of Austria) and produced a massive 90 per cent return for the government's position and bolstered and reinforced the regime's popularity both at home and abroad, all to Hitler's advantage

While the army monitored events the Nazi regime turned its attention to another potential source of friction for the new order that was encapsulated in the judiciary and the entire legal system. The significance of the demise of the rule of law under Nazism, as Burleigh argues, has often been underplayed but it forms an essential part of the Nazi domestic agenda. The regime showed complete disdain for the legal system which it subverted by swiftly removing many judges of the Jewish faith and those with SPD leanings from courts across the state. The Nazis did not attempt to replace these individuals with their own members as in Soviet Russia, but did require all judges and lawyers to join the Nazi Party. Most of these new recruits to the party's swelling ranks were far from committed Nazis and maybe this reality explains why few came to occupy any senior position within the new state. Instead, judges were sent on courses on Nazi ideology and physical training and rapidly found their supposed independence undermined. Indeed, by the early 1940s judges across the Reich were being informed in 'judicial letters' of good judgments for the national community and, thus, furthered the degree of political interference.