State prisons played an indispensable part in the terror of the Third Reich, incarcerating many hundreds of thousands of men and women: political opponents, 'racial aliens' and many other social outsiders. For most of the Nazi era, these prisons held more inmates than SS concentration camps. This important book illuminates the previously unknown world of Nazi prisons and their victims, and the judicial and penal officials who built and operated this system of legal terror. Nikolaus Wachsmann describes the operation and function of legal terror in the Third Reich and brings Nazi prisons to life through the harrowing stories of individual inmates. Drawing on a vast array of archival materials, he traces the series of changes in prison policies and practice that led to racial abuse, brutal violence, slave labour, starvation and mass killings. Wachsmann demonstrates that 'ordinary' legal officials were ready collaborators who helped to turn courts and prisons into key components in the Nazi web of terror. He concludes with a discussion of the whitewash of the Nazi legal system in post-war West Germany. 'One of the most important books to be published on Nazi Germany in many years', Richard J. Evans, University of Cambridge 'An outstanding piece of work - one of the best studies of the Third Reich to appear for a long time. No serious future work on the Nazi state will be able to bypass this book.' Sir Ian Kershaw Nikolaus Wachsmann is lecturer in modern history at the University of Sheffield. He was born in Munich and has also taught history at the University of London and at Cambridge University where he was a research fellow. In 2001 he was jointly awarded the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History for his research on German prisons.
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