Justice Minister Gürtner Passes Law Giving Retroactive Authorization to Night of the Long Knives

Justice Minister Gürtner Passes Law Giving Retroactive Authorization to Night of the Long Knives

Franz Gürtner
Source: Deutsches Bundesarchiv

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Reich Minister of Justice Franz Gürtner puts into place a law ("Law Regarding Measures of State Self-Defense," Gesetz über Maßnahmen der Staatsnotwehr) retroactively authorizing the murders committed by Adolf Hitler's men in the Night of the Long Knives, June 30.

This prevents the courts from looking too closely at the murders and why they occurred.

Although Hitler and his henchmen exercise great control over the courts, any sort of independent investigation might lead to revelations which would prove embarrassing.

Gürtner justifies the law by saying that the murders were necessary for the "self-defense of the state" against a "treasonable attack" by radical elements.

A very similar justification will be used for other mass killings, including the extermination of Europe's Jews: they represent a threat to the safety of the nation, and it is justifiable "self-defense" to kill them first.

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