As a Child, lnga Markovits dreamt of stealing and reading every letter contained in a mailbox at a busy intersection of her town in order to learn what life is all about. When, decades later, working as a legal historian, she tracked down the almost complete archive of a former East German trial court, she knew that she had finally found her mailbox. Combining her work in this extraordinary archive with interviews of former plaintiffs and defendants, judges and prosecutors, government and party functionaries, and Stasi collaborators, all in the little town she calls "Luritz," Markovits has written a remarkable grassroots history of a legal system that set out with the utopian hopes of a few and ended in the anger and disappointment of the many. This is a story of ordinary men and women who experienced Socialist law first-hand-people who applied and used the law, trusted and resented it, menipulated and broke it, and feared and opposed it, but who all dealt with it in ways that help us understand what it meant to be a citizen in a twentieth-century Socialist state, what "Socialist justice" aimed to do, and how, in the end, it failed. Brimming with human stories of obedience and resistance, endurance and cunning, and cruelty and grief, Justice in Luritz is ultimately a book about much more than the law, or Socialism, or East Germany.
"This is a marvelous book. It is beautifully written --- Markovits has a wonderful, elegant, moving style; and the whole enterprise is informed by a passion for understanding, a gift for generalization, and a deep knowledge of the society and its people. It is a delight to read. There is nothing quite like this book in the literature."--- Lawrence M. Friedman, Stanford Law School
"Justice in Luritz provides a fascinating perspective on everyday life in East Germany --- its petty squabbles, its dictatorial character, and its citizens' efforts to carve out a space for themselves. Engagingly written and discerning, this is a major accomplishment." ---Konrad H. Jarausch, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"A wonderful book." ---Uwe Wesel, Die Zeit
"Brilliant.... It's astonishing what [Markovits] unearthed.... The history of East German law will never be written in a more readable or deeply likeable way ... or with such freshness and proximity to the subject." ---Michael Stolleis, Frankfurter Allgemeine
Acknowledgments ixCHAPTER 1: The Files 1CHAPTER 2: The Beginning 8CHAPTER 3: People 16CHAPTER 4: Property 26CHAPTER 5: Work 42CHAPTER 6: Families 69CHAPTER 7: Punishments 92CHAPTER 8: The Party 141CHAPTER 9: Hopes and Lies 182CHAPTER 10: The End 219Notes 243