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Secret Reports on Nazi GermanyThe Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort$
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Franz Neumann, Herbert Marcuse, Otto Kirchheimer, and Raffaele Laudani

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691134130

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691134130.001.0001

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Leadership Principle and Criminal Responsibility

Leadership Principle and Criminal Responsibility

(July 18, 1945)

(p.464) 27 Leadership Principle and Criminal Responsibility
Secret Reports on Nazi Germany

Otto Kircheimer

, John Herz
Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the leadership principle and criminal responsibility underlying the Nazi hierarchical organization. The report explains that according to Nazi theory, Nazi Germany's political community—built upon three basic pillars consisting of the Nazi Party, the state machine, and the military—is organized as an “order of leadership.” At the top of the structure was Adolf Hitler as Führer, but a great range of discretionary power was exercised by regional “sub-leaders” who were considered collaborators in the Nazi scheme. By drawing an analogy to the Nazi theory of leadership, a theory of incrimination in connection with war crimes might be developed which could be applied to fit the special circumstances arising under the Nazi hierarchy, and which might be much more comprehensible to an incriminated member of the Nazi Party or state than any technical established rule of law which might otherwise be followed.

Keywords:   leadership principle, criminal responsibility, Nazi Germany, Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler, Nazi leadership, incrimination, war crimes, Nazi hierarchy

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