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Law in West German Democracy

Seventy Years of History as Seen Through German Courts

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Hugh Ridley

Law in West German Democracy relates the history of the Federal Republic of Germany as seen through a series of significant trials conducted between 1947 and 2017, explaining how these trials came to take place, the legal issues which they raised, and their importance to the development of democracy in a country slowly emerging from a murderous and criminal régime. It thus illustrates the central issues of the new republic. If, as a Minister for Justice once remarked, crime can be seen as ‘the reverse image of any political system, the shadow cast by the social and economic structures of the day’, it is natural to use court cases to illuminate the eventful history of the Federal Republic’s first seventy years.