Europe

German official: Nazi history a warning against legal excess

  • FILE - The Sept. 29, 1933 file photo shows a general view of a courtroom in the hall of justice at Leipzig, Germany, where Marinus Van Der Lubbe and four communists have been tried for burning the Reichstag building. A new study published Monday, Oct. 10, 2016 details how thousands of Germans who committed crimes during the Third Reich were protected by former Nazi party members holding key positions in the post-war legal system. (AP Photo)

    FILE - The Sept. 29, 1933 file photo shows a general view of a courtroom in the hall of justice at Leipzig, Germany, where Marinus Van Der Lubbe and four communists have been tried for burning the Reichstag building. A new study published Monday, Oct. 10, 2016 details how thousands of Germans who committed crimes during the Third Reich were protected by former Nazi party members holding key positions in the post-war legal system. (AP Photo)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this June 15, 2016 German Justice Minister Heiko Maas attends the weekly cabinet meeting of the German government at the chancellery in Berlin. Justice Minister Heiko Maas said Monday, Oct. 10, 2016 a new study highlighting the extent to which former Nazis protected each other from prosecution in post-war West Germany should serve as a warning to the legal profession.  (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, file)

    FILE - In this June 15, 2016 German Justice Minister Heiko Maas attends the weekly cabinet meeting of the German government at the chancellery in Berlin. Justice Minister Heiko Maas said Monday, Oct. 10, 2016 a new study highlighting the extent to which former Nazis protected each other from prosecution in post-war West Germany should serve as a warning to the legal profession. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, file)  (The Associated Press)

Germany's justice minister says the country's failure to properly prosecute former Nazis during the post-war period should serve as a warning to the legal profession in Germany and elsewhere.

An independent study published Monday details how thousands of Germans who committed crimes during the Third Reich were protected by former Nazi party members holding key positions in Germany's legal system after the war.

The study found that more than half of all senior officials in the Justice Ministry in the 1950s and 1960s were former members of Adolf Hitler's National Socialist party.

Through inaction or intentional sabotage they systematically protected Nazi criminals from prosecution and shaped Germany's legal code for decades.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the study illustrates the important of teaching even jurists to resist injustice.