Between 1929 and 1933 the SA (Sturmabteilung) was instrumental in Hitler’s rise to power. Led by Ernst Röhm, an ambitious professional soldier, the SA became increasingly violent in its support of the Nazi Party. When Röhm refused to curtail the violence after the Nazis came to power, Hitler ordered Röhm and his top aides to be executed. The purge, known as the “Night of the Long Knives,” (30 June 1934 to July 2) eliminated rivals, especially “activist judges” and jurist who sought to protect basic human rights–including the right of association.
When Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, the first thing that his Nazi party did was to take control of the courts, local government, and all civic organizations except the Protestant and Catholic churches. The courts were the Nazis primary concern–seeing the courts of Germany as too liberal and too concerned with individual human and civil rights.
On March 23, 1933, the Nazi-dominated Reichstag passed a law “for the removal of distress from the people and the state.” This law, known as the Enabling Act, gave the government full dictatorial powers and, in effect, suspended basic civil and human rights for four years. When the president had signed it, Hitler had a firm “legal” basis on which to govern as he pleased. He had also destroyed the constitution through outwardly legal means.
By mid-July 1933, the government had outlawed freedom of the press, all trade unions, and all political parties except the Nazis. The Gestapo (secret state police) hunted down the enemies and opponents of the government. People were jailed or shot on suspicion alone. By the time Hindenburg died in August 1934, Hitler ruled Germany completely. He assumed the title Fuhrer und Reichskanzler (leader and Reich chancellor).
The People’s Court had been established by Hitler as part of the government’s war on terrorism after the terrorist firebombing of the German parliament building. Displeased with the independence of the judiciary in the trials of the suspected Reichstag terrorists, Hitler had set up the People’s Court to ensure that terrorists and traitors would receive the “proper” verdict and punishment. Judicial proceedings were conducted in secret for reasons of national security (cp. http://www.mcgill.ca/channels/announcements/item/?item_id=22295).
On July 14, 1933, Hitler pushed through “The Enabling Act” granting him supreme power, including power over the entire court system. Any court opinion, judgment, or ruling that he opposed required that those jurists who issued the opposing ruling had to step down, be impeached, and in most cases shot to death.
The Nazis proclaimed that the “profession of the attorney is not a trade but a service to the law”, requiring attorneys to raise the bar and respect the will of the Führer over the self-interest of their client (See: Matthew Lippman. “Law, Lawyers, and Legality in the Third Reich: The Perversion of Principle and Professionalism.” Temple International and Comparative Law Journal (Fall 1997): 11). What were once innocent interactions between lawyers were now considered ethical breaches. The threat of retribution often deterred lawyers from involvement in politically sensitive cases. In sum, the sovereignty of the legal profession was lost as lawyers were absorbed into Nazi organizations and subjected to the supervision and stringency of the Nazi regime. Ideological conformity was stressed as opposed to intellectual competence.
A series of notices, soon to be called Judges’ Letters began in circulation. Their purpose was to instruct jurists to preserve the purity of the nation. The Letters proved to be a successful effort in influencing judicial decision-making. How much was voluntary is highly disputed though, because jurists were aware that their decisions were subjected to surveillance and scrutiny and that these letters would be distributed to their peers. Failure to comply with the Letters or their recommendations would surely lead to punishment.
In conjunction with regulating attorneys and jurists the Nazi party also felt the responsibility to police the judiciary. The Ministry of Justice began to issue instructions to prosecutors concerning appropriate punishment for each case, which was then immediately relayed from the prosecutors to the judges. The judiciary merely accepted these persuasions, and acted accordingly. Unfortunately the initial coordination between the executive and legislative branches wasn’t fully effective in regards to controversial verdicts. In a fit of frustration Hitler announced to the Reichstag that he would directly intervene in the judicial process (See: ibid, pp. 18, 21).
The most infamous institutional creation was established in April 24, 1934 and named the People’s Court. The creation of the People’s Court proved popular in evangelical communities throughout the USA, especially in Long Island, NY.
This court was envisioned to replace the Supreme Court and the first and last resort in treason trials. Each hearing sat five members, each appointed for five years by Hitler. Politics rather than law, with the main goal to eliminate opposition to National Socialism, blatantly guided the court. In 1941 the People’s Court delivered death sentences to ten percent of the defendants with the figures culminating between 1942 and 1944 when it rose to forty percent, approximately 12, 891 death sentences. These are the courts that Bob Vander Plaats of Iowa wants established in Iowa for Iowans and anyone who opposes him.
The efficiency of the Special Courts necessitated their expansion. In 1943, The Reich Minister of Justice observed that the Special Courts now heard virtually all important criminal cases. Basically speaking, anyone convicted of a criminal case was sent to a court that never allowed appeal, found minimal individuals innocent and were encouraged to dole out death penalties to those found guilty. The emergence of new courts did not stop here (for further commentary and videos see: http://researchris.blogspot.com/2008/08/why-germans-supported-hitler.html; cp. Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Three new deals : reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939; translated by Jefferson Chase. New York : Metropolitan Books, 2006).
Hitler, a devout Roman Catholic, had the support not only of the Lutheran Church (one of the two official religions in twentieth-century Germany) but also of the evangelical movement. “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.” (see John Toland, Adolf Hitler, New York: Anchor Publishing, 1992, p. 507). The German leader of the Third
The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, vol. 1, Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1942, p. 378; cf. p. 371). So fearful of atheism and what he termed “open doors to atheism”, that Hitler promised never to tolerate
public secular schools: “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.” (Adolf Hitler in a speech on 26 April 1933, during negotiations that led to the Nazi-Vatican Concordant of 1933 with Pope Pius XII, from Ernst Helmreich’s The German Churches Under Hitler, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1979, p. 24 (for further discussion see my blog: http://arthuride.wordpress.com/category/adolf-hitler/).
Using the pretext of religion to disguise personal ambition and to limit individual rights have long been a tool of would be dictators, especially in the USA where a niche in infamy was carved out by US Senator Joe
Courier December 7, 2010: http://wcfcourier.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_3567a97a-024c-11e0-b648-001cc4c03286.html; cf. http://www.kcci.com/r/26050009/detail.html; cp. http://www.religionfacts.com/homosexuality/islam.htm, and http://www.glapn.org/sodomylaws/world/afghanistan/afnews006.htm with the mangled Taliban Arabic chortling الشذوذ الجنسي هو جريمة ضد الله والانسان ، وهؤلاء القضاة الذين الناعمة على مثليون جنسيا يجب إزالتها من على مقاعد البدلاء القضائية وتنفيذها.) Vander Plaats actually articulates numerous Hitler-eras laws, the least of which comes from Criminal Code
Paragraph 175: A male who commits a sex offense with another male or allows himself to be used by another male for a sex offense shall be punished with imprisonment.
Using the pretext of religion to disguise personal ambition and to limit
individual rights has long been a tool of would be dictators, especially in the USA where would-be demigods such as “Pat” Robertson and Jerry Falwell would blast gay people as “pawns of Satan” would create theocratic television empires to deny basic human rights to homosexuals. But no where is this evil less disguised than in the religious rantings of a one-time teacher and Iowa coach: Bob Vander Plaats. Vander Plaats, the head of The Family Leader, has emerged as the state’s most influential Religious Right activist despite losing the 2010 Republican primary for governor. His effort to remove the four Justices last election was backed by millions of dollars of spending from outside groups such as the American Family Association, the Family Research Council (a neo-Nazi front: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/family-research-council, cp. http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/splc-adds-family-research-council-to-hate-groups-list) and the National Organization for Marriage (See: http://iowaindependent.com/49721/vander-plaats-raising-money-to-remove-remaining-four-justices). A former adviser recently wrote that Vander Plaats is “obsessed with the gay-marriage issue” and “so obsessed that he would rather see the Iowa judicial system destroyed, instead of pursuing a change in the law within the channels provided (a constitutional amendment)” (Read the full opinion published by the Des Moines Register at http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20110102/OPINION01/101020319/1036/OPINION/Guest-column-Obsessed-with-gay-marriage-Vander-Plaats-has-gone-too-far?GID=0). Vander Plaats, drawing a direct line from the speeches of Hitler, with modest modifications minced his words:
“All seven justices are guilty of overstepping the line by their votes in the Varnum decision, therefore we are asking for the remaining four justices to resign in an orderly fashion,” he said. “As long as the Iowa Supreme Court is comprised [sic: composed] of justices that abuse their authority, the credibility of our court will be compromised” (See: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/former-adviser-says-vander-plaats-obsessed-gay-marriage-issue; cp. http://www.rightwingwatch.org/category/groups/-family-leader)
Vander Plaats led the campaign to oust the three judges, with nearly $1 million in funding from out-of-state anti-gay organizations like the American Family Association, the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage. After the election, he was named CEO and president of The Family Leader — an umbrella organization consisting of the Iowa Family Policy Center, the Iowa Family PAC and Marriage Matters. He was hosted by the University of Northern Iowa at Cedar Falls and by its leading hate mongers, especially those from fundamentalist churches in Waterloo (cf. http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/iowa/article_9e0bd296-0286-11e0-a727-001cc4c03286.html, cp. http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2010/12/23/vander-plaats-compares-iowa-justices-to-teens-who-flee-a-beer-party/ and http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/news/state-and-regional/iowa/article_f04fe563-e55b-5203-afa9-f862bb5f2955.html his words comparing the Supreme Court of Iowa to “teenagers caught at a beer
drinking party” matches those of Nazi propaganda minister’s equation in 1939 [Goebbels stayed with Hitler in the bunker in Berlin until the very end. When the end came, Goebbels poisoned his 6 children, shot his wife, and then shot himself.] Goebbels was one of the “secret” supporters of Endlosung [final solution] which including murdering all homosexuals that could be found in Germany). Vander Plaats has the endorsement of seventeen recognized organized hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan (Charles City,
New Hampton, Mason City, Clear Lake, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Riceville, Rockwell, Iona, and Denison that endorsed Republican Congressman King), various Nazi groups (see: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/groups/national-socialist-movement): Knights of the Nordic Order, Nationalist Socialist Movement and Nationalist Socialist Women’s Movement, White Boys Society, and the Creativity Alliance of Boone, Iowa; see: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/hate-map#s=IA). He would move to declare that all judges were “at risk” of losing their judicial appointments when the Iowa Supreme Court granted homosexuals equal rights before the law (See: http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2010/10/29/vander-plaats-district-court-judges-at-risk/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IowaPolitics+%28Iowa+Politics+Insider+-+Des+Moines+Register%29&utm_content=Yahoo%21+Mail).
Vander Plaats subsequent attack, led by the GOP majority in the State Legislature, was identical to that of Hitler: denying public day care and primary education (in “exchange” for vouchers), getting rid of the Grow Iowa Values Fund, which provides loans, grants and other incentives for small businesses, eliminating core curriculum for what Iowa students had to know
before graduating from an Iowa school, limiting purchases of new material for libraries and state operated colleges and universities, ending research sabbaticals for faculty, cutting back money for advertisement and education against smoking, and more–all matching Hitler’s moves in Nazi Germany (see: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20110104/NEWS10/101040358/-1/AMES/House-GOP-rolls-out-savings-ideas-for-Iowa),