Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gun Confiscation in Nazi Germany

Independent Institute Research Fellow Stephen Halbrook, author of The Founders' Second Amendment, has written a law-review article on the confiscation of firearms in Nazi Germany that merits much attention. "Based in large part on German archival resources, the article contributes to a neglected topic in human rights and Holocaust studies," Halbrook writes. Former Olympic gymnast Alfred Flatow, a gold medalist at the 1896 Athens games, is one of three gun-owners profiled in the paper. Here's an excerpt:

"Over a period of several weeks in October and November 1938, the Nazi government disarmed the German Jewish population. The process was carried out both by following a combination of legal reforms enacted by the Weimar Republic and by sheer lawless violence. The Nazi hierarchy could now more comfortably deal with the Jewish question without fear of armed resistance by the victims....

"One wonders what thoughts may have occurred to Alfred Flatow in 1942 when he was dying of starvation at the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Perhaps memories of the 1896 Olympics and of a better Germany flashed before his eyes. Did he have second thoughts, maybe repeated many times before, on whether he should have registered his revolver and two pocket pistols in 1932 as decreed by the Weimar Republic? Or whether he should have obediently surrendered them at a Berlin police station in 1938 as ordered by Nazi decree, only to be taken into Gestapo custody? We will never know, but it is difficult to imagine that he had no regrets."

"'Arms in the Hands of Jews Are a Danger to Public Safety': Nazism, Firearm Registration, and the Night of the Broken Glass," by Steven P. Halbrook (St. Thomas Law Review, 2009)

The Founders' Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, by Stephen P. Halbrook

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