Nazi Law Still on the Books

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

                                         In 1941, the Third Reich passed a law that essentially made women in Germany second class citizens. The Nazi’s view of women at that point was that they were little more than baby machines who produced sons for the military and daughters for the next generation. The law, dealing with murder, prescribed very different punishments for women who committed murder compared to men who committed murder. Under this law, if a man killed his wife or girlfriend, they might be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison. However, if a woman killed her husband or boyfriend, they were either sentenced to life imprisonment or (in the case of the Nazi regime) executed.
                                          Despite all of the changes in the German legal system since the fall of the Third Reich, this law still remains on the books. For those not entirely unfamiliar with the German legal system, not all laws from the time of the Nazis (or even before them), were taken off the books until in fact quite recently. There are two examples I wish to give that demonstrate that not all German laws were in correlation with the standards of today. One law was on German nationality. Before the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany, German citizenship was recognized solely on the basis of blood relationship.
                                         The major problem with this is that immigrant groups like the Turkish guest workers who stayed on in Germany for over 40 years, and one ethnic minority, a Slavic group called the Sorbs, were denied German citizenship because they were never ethnically German. This law was not changed until the 1990’s. One other law, made before the rise of the Nazis, was a law against homosexuality known as paragraph 175. This law criminalized any and all homosexual acts. The Nazis took this law and added to it with even more horrible punishments like being sent to a concentration camp, being experimented on, or simply being executed. This law was not gotten rid of until 1994.
                                         From the postwar period to the division of Germany into Communist and capitalist states, and then eventual German reunification in 1990, the German government had taken decades to change many laws on the books that had been left from the Nazi era. Even with all of the changes, not all of the laws put in by the Nazis were completely eliminated. This is one of them. There has been movement in the German parliament, the Bundestag, to get rid of this law. I hope it will happen soon.


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