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The Champion

January/February 2006 , Page 48 

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A Brawl At A Village Inn : The Murnau Prosecution

By Douglas G. Morris

Read more Informal Opinion columns.

The forces that set the trajectory of a case of political justice work like air currents on a balloon: they may seem invisible except for their effect on the balloon’s tosses and turns and ultimate direction; they are unpredictable from moment to moment, although patterns may appear with time. The forces include the historical moment and the facts of the case, as well as the impersonal standards of liberal law and the worldview of the judges.

The historical moment of a fight between Nazis and Social Democrats at an SPD [the Social Democratic Party] meeting in Murnau, outside Munich, was February 1, 1931. Since the fall of 1929, the Nazis had been stirring up more and more violence at their opponents’ political rallies and in the streets. Then, close on the heels of his electoral breakthrough of September 14, 1930, Hitler asked Ernst Rohm (who had just returned from a half decade of exile in Bolivia) to revitalize the SA [the Storm Troopers], and Rohm took command in early January 1931.

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