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The Museum’s Law, Justice, and the Holocaust program challenges judicial professionals to critically examine the decisions German jurists made and the pressures they faced under the Nazi regime. In understanding this history, participants gain new insight into their responsibilities as professionals and as individuals in a democracy today.

About the Program

The Museum provides this program for judges, prosecutors, and government attorneys both on-site in Washington, DC, and at state and federal judicial conferences around the country. Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit is available.

Guided by Museum historians and educators, participants analyze legal documents and case studies from the Nazi era and grapple with the ethical questions they raise, including:

  • What is the responsibility of judges to the legal system as a whole?
  • What have been the challenges to a fair and impartial administration of justice in the United States?
  • What can judges do to ensure that the kinds of failures that led to the Holocaust do not happen in this country?

The Museum has presented Law, Justice, and the Holocaust at judicial conferences in over 40 states and five federal circuits, and has worked in coordination with the American Judges Association, the National Association of Women Judges, and the Federal Judicial Center.

Judiciary and the Holocaust

Judges were among those inside Germany who might have changed the course of history by challenging the legitimacy of the Nazi regime and the hundreds of laws that restricted political freedoms and civil rights. And yet the overwhelming majority did not. Most not only upheld the law but interpreted it in far-reaching ways that helped the Nazis carry out their political agenda, ultimately resulting in the deaths of millions. Explore this history through the links below.

Learn more about the role of the judiciary during the Holocaust in the Museum’s Holocaust Encyclopedia. Articles include:

Law, Justice, and the Holocaust

This booklet contains a series of key decrees, legislative acts, and case law that show the gradual process by which the Nazi leadership, with support or acquiescence from the majority of German people, including judges, moved the nation from a democracy to a dictatorship, and the series of legal steps that left millions vulnerable to the racist and antisemitic ideology of the Nazi state. 

Download Booklet (PDF)

Contact Us

Ann O'Rourke
Program Coordinator, Law and Justice Initiatives
aorourke@ushmm.org


The Law, Justice, and the Holocaust program is made possible through the generous support of Dr. Donald and Sue Hecht.