In his new book Empire of Law: Nazi Germany, Exile Scholars, and the Battle for the Future of Europe (Cambridge UP, 2020), Kaius Tuori examines the inherent unity of European legal traditions that extend to ancient Rome. This book explores the invention of this tradition, tracing it to a group of legal scholars divided by the onslaught of Nazi terror and totalitarianism in Europe. As exiles in Britain and the US, its formulators worked to build bridges between the Continental and the Atlantic legal traditions, incorporating ideas such as rule of law, liberty, and equality to the European heritage. Others joined the Nazi revolution, which promoted its own idea of European unity. At the end of World War Two, natural law and human rights were incorporated into the European project. The resulting narrative of Europe, one that outlined human rights, rule of law, and equality, became consequently a unifying factor during the Cold War as the self-definition against the challenge of communism.
Kaius Tuori is Professor of European Intellectual History at the Centre for European Studies at the University of Helsinki.
Craig Sorvillo is a PhD candidate in modern European history at the University of Florida. He specializes in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @craig_sorvillo.