"In criminal proceedings against the Jews, the decisive factor is their Jewishness, rather than their culpability."

Letter from Otto Thierack (1889-1946), Minister of Justice, German Reich, on September 9, 1942 to the President of the People's Court of Germany.

It had been centuries since the civilized world had witnessed state-sanctioned genocide even within the laws of its nations.

In spite of a rich civil law history, Germany took a sharp exit from the evolution of law when Hitler's Third Reich came to power.

The words of this trained German lawyer are an ominous reminder of how the law can be used as a tool not just for fairness, peace and order but also as a weapon of wrong.

Otto ThierackNazi Germany's legislative and judicial persecution and murder of Jews shows a clear return to cruel and unreasonable law. The Nuremberg law of 1935, the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, had made all German Jews aliens in their own country. This led to the arbitrary confiscation of their property.

A year after the 1942 letter, under Thierack's leadership, the Third Reich changed the laws again; this time removing Jews from the jurisdiction of the court altogether and leaving their fate in the hands of the police or the dreaded SS (secret service). In the result, this ultimately meant death at a concentration camp.

Thierack was arrested by the Allies but committed suicide at the POW Eselheide Camp on November 22, 1946, before he could face trial at Nuremberg.