Law in West German Democracy

Seventy Years of History as Seen Through German Courts


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.

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Biographical Note

Hugh Ridley, Ph.D., Dr. h.c. (Essen), MRIA. Emeritus Professor of German at University College Dublin. Author of books on Thomas Mann, Gottfried Benn, US-German literary relations, Darwinism, Richard Wagner and European colonial literature.


All interested in the post-war history of Germany. Students of law, politics and history of Germany.

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