Law 956 - Legal Holocaust in Hitler's Europe

Richard H. Weisberg

Richard H. Weisberg

Visiting Professor
B.A. Brandeis University, 1965
Ph.D. Cornell University, 1970, Asst. Prof., French and Comp. Lit, U of Chicago (1970-75).
J.D. Columbia Law School, 1974
Course Description:

This course examines the development of racial laws during WWII in France, Germany, and the British Channel Islands. We will use original documents and actual statutes and cases to understand how what was once legally grotesque became "law" in these places. We will then fast forward a half century to the time when victims or their heirs began bringing restitution lawsuits in US federal courts, a development that continues to this day, the instructor being one of the plaintiffs' lawyers in a half dozen such cases, including a pending matter in the Seventh Circuit. Thus the course examines historical material as well as complex contemporary questions under US federal law and standards of professional ethics. Richard Weisberg, Floersheimer Prof. of Constitutional Law, Cardozo Law School, is the author of VICHY LAW AND THE HOLOCAUST IN FRANCE (NYU Press, 1996). He was awarded the French Legion of Honor for "his work on behalf of the human rights of victims of the Vichy regime".

Course Learning Outcomes:

At the end of the course, students will have developed a good understanding of the ways in which lawyers and judges behaved during the Hitlerian Holocaust of WWII. They will have read about legal systems remaining in place even in Nazi Germany, as well as in Vichy France and the occupied British Channel Islands, and they will have thought about the choices legal figures had and the usually disappointing results of those choices. Urged to learn from this data, they will understand their own professional obligations better when actual or perceived crises occur; they will also find out about attempts in US federal courts since the mid-1990's to achieve a measure of justice for the victims of that legalistic wrongdoing 70 years ago.