Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

“In the Interest of the Volk…”: Nazi-German Paternity Suits and Racial Recategorization in the Munich Superior Courts, 1938–1945


In Nazi Germany, integration into the community of the Volk, or exclusion and persecution, were determined by the regime's categories. As legal historian Michael Stolleis has noted, this new National Socialist terminology “quick[ly] penetrat[ed] … into the old conceptual world” of German jurisprudence and the country's court system. In line with the prescriptions of the political leadership of the Hitler state, bureaucrats of the Justice and Interior Ministries in Berlin drafted novel legislation that, once issued as new laws, judges, state attorneys, and lawyers readily interpreted and put into practice. With the promulgation of the Nuremberg Laws in September 1935, the main racial designations evolved around a tripartite terminology of “full Jews [Volljuden],” “Jewish mixed breeds [Mischlinge],” and “persons of German and kindred blood.” In accordance with paragraph 5 of the first supplementary decree to the Reich Citizenship Law of November 1935, state authorities classified any descendant “from at least three grandparents who [we]re racially full Jews” as Jewish. Paragraph 3 defined Mischlinge of the first degree, introduced as a novel legal category, as Jewish Mischlinge with two grandparents “who [we]re racially full Jews.” The supplementary decrees did not explicitly delineate the term “person of German blood”, but the main commentary of the Nuremberg Laws loosely tied this term to the “German Volk” as a community comprised of six basic races, including the Nordic and East Baltic ones.

Corresponding author
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Hans Robinsohn , Justiz als politische Verfolgung. Die Rechtsprechung in “Rassenschandefällen” beim Landgericht Hamburg 1936–1943 (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1977)

Robert Gellately , The Gestapo and German Society. Enforcing Racial Policy 1933–1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 3140

Thomas Pegelow Kaplan , The Language of Nazi Genocide: Linguistic Violence and the Struggle of Germans of Jewish Ancestry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Law and History Review
  • ISSN: 0738-2480
  • EISSN: 1939-9022
  • URL: /core/journals/law-and-history-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 3
Total number of PDF views: 18 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 57 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 29th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.