informer' problem illustrates a fundamental difference of views about the
nature of law and its relationship with morality.
It is called the
“grudge informer” to cover events where one person reported another for
trivial crimes, which nevertheless carried the death penalty (for exampled
speaking against the Fuhrer or the government), to settle feuds or to get
revenge, but effectively using the state machinery to try to commit
Fuller records the following case:
After the War a
German woman was prosecuted for denouncing her husband to the authorities
in accordance with the anti-sedition laws of 1934 & 1938. He had
made derogatory remarks about Hitler, The husband was prosecuted and
convicted of slandering the Fuehrer, which carried the death penalty.
Although sentenced to death, the husband was not executed but was sent as
a soldier to the Eastern front. He survived the war and on his
return instituted proceedings against his wife.
She argued that she
had not in fact committed a crime because a court had sentenced her
husband in accordance with the law of the time.
She was convicted of
'illegally depriving another of his freedom' (rechtswidrige
Freiheitsberaubung), a crime under the Penal Code, 1871, which had
remained in force throughout the Nazi period. The Nazi laws were,
the court said, "contrary to the sound conscience and sense of justice of
all decent human beings," (1951).
There were other similar prosecutions.