13 September 2023

BOOK: David FRASER, Nazi Antisemitism and Jewish Legal Self-defense: The Turn to Law in Liberal Democracies, 1932-39 [Routledge Studies in Comparative Legal History] (London: Routledge, 2023), 324 p. ISBN 9781032520100, £ 130

Nazi Antisemitism and Jewish Legal Self-Defense: The Turn to Law in Liberal Democracies, 1932–39 book cover 

 (Image source: Routledge)



One of the first to provide a socio-legal comparative history of under-studied or ignored Jewish attempts in the 1930s "Anglosphere" to counter the rise in fascist and Nazi antisemitism, this book examines the ways in which Jewish individuals and organized communal bodies in the mid-to-late 1930s sought to counter this increasing antisemitic violence, physical and verbal, by using the law against their fascist and Nazi attackers.

This is the first study to explore how Jews in these countries organized themselves, brought their oppressors to court, while seeking to convince their governments that an attack on Jews was a threat to the social order. The book analyzes the networks of knowledge and the personal relationships between and among key actors and institutions of the "Antisemitic International." Nazi "nationalists" always participated in networks that transcended borders. Case studies from Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States, illustrate the ways in which different mechanisms of Jewish resistance were deployed throughout the mid-to-late 1930s. They embody significant concerns about the "turn to law" and the importance of litigation and legislation. Grounded in original archival research on three continents, the book examines the ways in which professional legal discourse about public order and democratic citizenship proffered by Jewish communities and individual Jews was countered by their Nazi opponents with legal and political arguments about "truth," "persecution," and Jewish perfidy.

The book will be of interest to students, academics, and researchers working in the areas of Legal History, History, Jewish Studies, the study of Antisemitism, and the History of the far right, fascism and Nazism.


1. Jews, Nazis, and the Turn to Law 

2. The Antisemitic International: The Protocols and Jewish-Legal Self-defense 

3. Europe: Jewish legal Self-defense as an International Phenomenon 

4. The Greyshirts Trial: Jews, Nazis, and Legal Self-defense in South Africa 

5. After the Greyshirts Trial: Jewish Self-defense in South Africa following the Victory of Rabbi Levy 

6. Jews, Nazis, and the Québec Experience: The Failures of Law 

7. Canadian Nazis and Jewish Legal Self-defense in Manitoba: Tobias v. Whittaker 

8. The Freiman-Tissot Affair; Nazis Antisemites, Jews, and the Canadian Criminal Code 

9. Nazi Antisemitism, Jewish legal Self-defense, and Criminal Libel in Ottawa 

10. Nazi Antisemites, Libel Suits, and Jewish Legal Self-defense in the United States 

11. The Edmondson Case and the Trial That Wasn’t: American Antisemitism, American Law, American Jews 

12. English Jewish Self-defense: Elites, Masses, and Law 

13. The Leese Case: Libel Laws, Nazi Antisemites, and Jewish Self-defense in England 

14. Conclusion: Beyond Jewish Legal Self-defense?


More information can be found here.

No comments: