Prosecuting the Cheerful Murderer: Natural Law and National Socialist Crimes in West German Courts, 1945-1950

Document Type



Published by Transaction Publishers in Human Rights Review, volume 5 issue 4, 2004. Bryant users may access this article here.


natural law, courts, jurisdiction, nazi persecution, secularization, history


Transactional Publishers

Publication Source

Human Rights Review


Explores how West German courts resurrected natural law theory as the main pillar of their jurisdiction over Nazi crimes, focusing on the murders of mentally disabled patients associated with the euthanasia program from 1945 to 1950. Examination of natural law theory from its origins in ancient Greece to its increasing secularization in the early modern period; Overview of the rise and fall of natural law in nineteenth and twentieth-century Germany; Discussion of the reinvigoration of the natural law after the disastrous twelve-year imperium of the Third Reich.