The drama The Man Who Put Hitler on Trial the other day was quietly and well done, both moving and frightening. But it was Hitler’s remark in the courtroom, taken from real transcripts, that was so interesting, fuming against why justice should be ‘blind‘. In fact, the statue of justice over the Old Bailey in London does not wear a blindfold at all, but the idea of blind justice has obvious reasons. Namely that justice must be some kind of abstract and absolute standard, wielding her sword both against high and low, without fear or favour. In fact, Hitler’s almost demonic desire to strip away the blindfold and root out the ‘illegal’ enemies of the state, reminds you of Sauron’s single eyed horror, some monstrous, all-controlling will, and of course led to real searchlights and real concentration camps. Hitler’s rise to power may have reflected some German zeitgeist, out of the state’s humiliation and economic collapse, the turmoil across Europe, but it was also an object lesson in political manipulation and simultaneous criminality and murder.
It was chilling how the drama showed the corruption of the independence of the German judiciary, and the absolute need for separation of Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. It is why here, in responding to recent riots, for instance, David Cameron may rightly give a clear political lead, but each case must be handled under the law, and through the intelligent independence of judges, trained in their profession. There may be guidelines to operate within, but they, no doubt with different modulations of compassion and sternness, of harshness and leniency, set the benchmark. Indeed, the process of the law itself can actually be a civilising thing.