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Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Germany. Ashgate , in sehepunkte 14 , Nr. From the early s onwards a 'crime wave' swept across the German speaking historiography. The vast output of monographs, volumes and journal articles that dealt with criminal behaviour and court records could even be described as a 'crime tsunami'! In its initial phase the new interest in the history of crime and criminal justice focused primarily on late medieval and early modern towns.

Issues of gender, marginalised groups and the lower echelons of society attracted particular interest. Hence, the monograph of Maria R. Boes could draw on rich research in the field. Her book is for the most part based on handwritten court records. The outline represents a somewhat classic disposition with introductory remarks on the socio-economic and religious background of Frankfurt am Main chap 1 , followed by remarks on the legal setting and the practices of Frankfurt's criminal court s chaps The guiding questions focus on the judicial treatment of women chaps and marginal groups, such as gypsies chap 4 , Jews chaps and soldiers chap 11 , before moving on to specific forms of deviance, such as infanticide chaps , sodomy chap 10 and suicide chap With regard to the diverse and highly differentiated judicial landscapes of the Holy Roman Empire, it is rather bold to give a book on Frankfurt am Main the title 'Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Germany'.

Moreover, the time span between and certainly cannot be taken to stand for the whole early modern period. The reason for the selection of this time frame is merely that Boes's key source, the Book of Punishments 'Strafenbuch' , purely by chance, starts in and ends in As regards the offences considered, there is no doubt that infanticide, suicide and sodomy were significant types of early modern delinquency in that their study reveals underlying ideas and perceptions of the time.

But the most numerous offences dealt with by Frankfurt's criminal courts are left out: In order to gain substantial information about both the practice and the judicial treatment of these offences, it would have been necessary to scrutinise a great number of the all-encompassing criminal dossiers 'Criminalia' in Frankfurt's city archive. Boes knows this source and makes use of it, albeit only in the later chapters of her book. The fact that she omits the 'Criminalia' in her analysis of the judicial practices of criminal courts chap 3 leads to some misunderstandings of early modern criminal justice in general.

While Boes rightly states that criminal justice was based mainly on crime reporting by the inhabitants of Frankfurt, she overemphasises the role of "general gossip" and "rumors" 55 and overlooks the fact that most communication in criminal courts was started by an accusation of an individual. The influence of the burghers on the outcome of the trial, in particular by means of pleas supplications , is underestimated. Due to the preference given to the 'Strafenbuch', rituals of capital, corporal and shaming punishment in public are exaggerated, while the less spectacular penalties regularly meted out by the courts, such as monetary fines, reprimands and banishments are not given due consideration.

Furthermore, the decision to omit cases of everyday interpersonal violence as recorded frequently in the 'Criminalia' leads to questionable interpretation. Thus, the sentence against two Jewish men after a quarrel with a soldier in , in which the latter was injured, is presented as an example showing "that Jews experienced increasingly unfair judicial treatments" Nevertheless, it remains to be investigated how each of the directives was adhered to, and whether the press independently contributed to the objectives set by the ministry.

In order to accomplish this I have consulted newspapers from the northwestern area of Germany. To begin with, it is necessary to trace the steering activity of the Ministry of Propaganda during the weeks after the pogrom, as well as the intensification of the persecution of Jews. Further, it must be asked what the intention was of each point discussed. Previous investigations have already shown that the Ministry of Propaganda was aware of the population's detachment from - and even its censure of - the pogrom.

It can be shown that the ministry responded by developing a coordinated political concept and intensifying its antisemitic policy. Constructed by the Ministry of Propaganda, this concept — which will be discussed in detail further on — placed the Jew in the context of German national history, and by the misuse and distorted interpretation of historical facts attempted to prove the validity of antisemitism.

The party's press service adopted this concept and consistently pursued it in the subsequent weeks. At the Reich press conference on 17 November , fundamental directives regarding the journalistic treatment of the "Jewish question" were issued. This date may have been deliberately chosen, being the day of vom Rath's funeral. The literary allusions later provided by Ziegler also referred to this period. One of the key phrases of the information campaign was the "subversive activity" of Jews, of which Ziegler spoke while drawing on antisemitic literature. Subversion had occurred both in the labor movement - he mentioned the names Marx, Engels and Singer - as well as in the liberal movement - he referred to Bamberger and Lasker.

In the labor movement, Ziegler said, the Jews were generally responsible for tendencies that were "negative, hostile to the state, oppositional," in liberalism, the Jews represented the "typical enemies of the Reich. The "politics of Judaism" became clearly discernible within the context of the escalating crisis during World War I: Everywhere radicalism breaks through and triumphs, there are Jews there as supporters of radicalism. It came as no surprise then that the shots fired by Herschel Grynszpan at vom Rath were denounced shortly after as typically Jewish. As Berndt had already implied, the information campaign was broadly structured and was meant to encompass all media.

It was the main focus of the propaganda activity of the winter. The ministry's press conference was dominated by the tendency to portray the Jews as a threat to the German state, economy and society. To this end, the entire cache of antisemitic prejudices and stereotypes was emptied. Interesting is that compared with political prejudice, the prejudice of subversive activity diminishes considerably in the areas of the economy and culture.

More important than this rather speculative evaluation is the campaign's intention to increasingly indoctrinate the German people and stir up antisemitic sentiment through the newspaper. The attempt to demonstrate the subversive activity of Jews relates to the period of contemporary history, as it was perceived from the perspective of the year , beginning with the founding of Bismarck's Reich, a decisive national occurrence at the time. The telex version of the press conference also included a general statement to the effect that more should be written about the Jews "of earlier times, of prewar times.

The emphasis on contemporary history was paralleled with a reduction of Jewish history in Germany to the years subsequent to the founding of the German Reich.

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Previous periods - that of the often ostracized and persecuted ethnic-religious minority in the Middle Ages and early modern times, and the dynamic process of Jewish emancipation and assimilation within the framework of German civil society — were not even mentioned. The antisemitic interpretation of contemporary history was intended to justify the pogrom of 9 November as well as the subsequent measures to exclude and repress the Jews.

Furthermore, this view of German history legitimized also the justification of the National Socialist take over in In the end, the press campaign was meant to leave readers with the belief that history proved the compelling necessity of policies aimed against the Jews.

German people, you have now been able to read how and where the Jews have harmed you! Thus, the historical line of reasoning and the urgent appeal to the German people immediately turned into an incitement for denunciation. Make a note of him: The intent to increase the weight of antisemitism as an ideology of integration is shown by the determination to impose an antisemitic interpretation of contemporary German history.

The campaign was consistently directed toward those who continued to evade this ideology. The Spiesser were those people who "again sympathized with the Jews" they must "be silenced In addition, the sceptics of Hitler's rule were referred to as those "who were frightened by the invasion of the Rhineland. However, it quickly became obvious to the organizers of the campaign that by the mere mention of opponents of antisemitism, they were taking a risk. It can be inferred from the campaign that, on the whole, antisemitism was regarded as insufficiently entrenched in the German population to have the desired integrating effect.

Contemporary reports reveal that the population particularly objected to what it considered "senseless" destruction, including the attack on private property. Yet another aim of the press directive of 17 November was to increase the population's support of the government's antisemitic policies.

The Ministry of Propaganda wanted the information campaign on the role of Jews in contemporary German history to be embedded in a complex of news that turned attention towards the treatment of Jews in other countries. On the subject of concentration camps, Berndt cited the British policy during the Boer War, when twenty thousand women and children starved to death: Thus antisemitism was depicted as the underlying trend of world politics.

We do not stand alone in our antisemitism. Here, too, the central message was that "defense movements" against Jews existed in all countries. The Ministry of Propaganda's argument to placate the German population had a realistic core: In January , the Foreign Office informed all diplomatic representatives of the Reich that in the Scandinavian countries, Holland and France, to where many German Jews had immigrated, "a significant increase of antisemitism could be noted. It generated the idea that in the future, an "international solution to the Jewish question" would be possible, which could begin from the mutual understanding among all peoples that the Jews pose a threat.

In this regard, the work of the Ministry of Propaganda appears to have been meshed with foreign policy; in other words, domestic antisemitic activism would give German diplomacy a leading role in world policy. However, the press conference of 17 November was dominated by ambivalence. A deliberate concession to the German population's hierarchy of values was made, thus recognizing that antisemitism might have to assume a subordinate position in situations where values associated with property and order had been deviated from.

The National Socialists did not waiver from the basic idea that liberation from "Jewish rule" represented one of the central tasks of German politics, which was to be pursued on an equal level with the other main objectives of Germany's struggle for a hegemonic position within Europe. However, since this also required that the population's hierarchy of values be acknowledged, the use of violence - as in the pogrom of 9 November - was expressly ruled out.

It was believed that by making this concession, the status of antisemitism could be secured against the possible reordering of the hierarchy of values. Aside from the swaying of the press by the Ministry of Propaganda, a close look at the press activity of the NSDAP, which was conducted by the Reich news office of the NSDAP and its press service NSK , reveals some coordination between the two institutions, at least regarding the dates of publication of certain news items.

Everywhere the Jews were presented as enemies of the Reich and of humanity.

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They were typical assassins, criminals and murderers; the henchmen of foreign powers who "stab in the back" Dolchstoss ; the covert rulers of the economy, culture and science; "separatists"; the architects of economic boycotts, the malicious agitators in German emigrant circles; black marketers, controllers of the press, destroyers of the German soul through modern literature. Individual social groups, for instance farmers, were portrayed as being suppressed by Jewish financial backers. The press service of the NSDAP was better at managing the routine and detailed press coverage of antisemitic topics.

In comparison with the press conference of the Ministry of Propaganda, the articles of the party's press service reflect a somewhat different character, as seen in the openness with which they pronounced a more intense persecution of Jews for the future. In this regard, the special issue published by the NSK adopted an opposite standpoint, one that was knowingly meant to deviate from the Ministry of Propaganda's placating gesture.

Under the headline "What did not work with kindness must work with harshness: The NSK spoke openly about what had been avoided at the press conference.

sehepunkte 14 (2014), Nr. 6

To assess how the antisemitic campaign was conducted in the provinces and states after 9 November, one would have to analyze an extensive collection of material, including film and radio, and not least, the speeches at political assemblies. A complete investigation of the reactions to the press directives of 17 November would require extensive analytical work which cannot be accomplished within the framework of this article.

However, several important tendencies are discernible. The ministry soon realized that some regional and local newspapers were not able to carry out an information campaign in the form of a series of articles. By making reference to local society and history, the anti-Jewish campaign in the regional organs of the press took on a special character. Unlike the Ministry of Propaganda, regional newspapers did not restrict their anti-Jewish campaign to contemporary history.

The Helmstedter Kreisblatt, for example, printed excerpts from medieval city chronicles indicating a separation of Jews from non-Jews, and further, the repeated acts of violence against Jews. In general, in the decentralized press campaign, reports written from a local historical perspective gained special importance. The Stader Tageblatt , for example, reprinted an ordinance passed in by the State Bailiff of Stade, which dealt with permitting Jews to marry and their right of residence.

The wording of the ordinance was preceded by a short introductory remark that placed the stereotype of the "cunning Jew," who understood how to squeeze himself through the loopholes of the law, into a current context. Many newspapers in the northwestern area of Germany cited the robbery of the Golden Plaque, a particularly precious altar ornament that had been stolen by a band of thieves from Saint Michael's church in Luneburg, in and offered for sale in Hamburg by Jewish fences.

Continuing to look at the course of the news campaign in the northwestern area of Germany, the important role of a series of articles published at the end of by the Niedersaechsische Tageszeitung, the main organ of the NSDAP in Hanover, particularly stands out. This history had always been affixed the antisemitic interpretation that the German forefathers had no choice but to treat the Jews harshly, as they could not have otherwise held their ground against the Jewish claims to power.

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Mauersberg attributed this sequence of events to the resistance of the local population against Jews who were beginning to gain control over "Lower Saxony's economy. They were kept away from commercial life and gradually also from trade by means of ordinances implemented by the community of guilds.

Mauersberg did recognize the general social movement that gave rise to this development; however, he stresses that within the framework of this movement the Jews had "worked for themselves. Mauersberg summed up his series of articles by stating that "the up and down" of Jewish rule in Lower Saxony must be considered a warning for the future. He closed with the firm injunction that after their expulsion by means of "persecution" and the enactment of "state laws," the return of the Jews "to power" must be prevented.

Based on antisemitism, Mauersberg's articles provided a comprehensive interpretation of the regional history of German-Jewish relations. In this historical interpretation, the persecution of Jews in the late Middle Ages became a focal point and was made to serve as a benchmark for current policy making. The pogroms of the Middle Ages became models for contemporary National Socialist politics and represented a treasure chest of experience worth digging up. The repeated references to past pogroms served to validate the politics of the present.

Mauersberg thus set a standard for the news campaign of the winter of An article on the local history of the Jews published in the Celler Beobachter , a supplement to the Niedersaechsische Tageszeitung for the town of Celle, showed that this standard had lent antisemitic journalism a new quality, which was quite in line with the radicalization of the press after 9 November. Despite the fact that it was also printed in a supplement to the main organ of the Hanover NSDAP, the version of the article printed in the Celler Beobachter did not include any mention of the takeover of power by the Jews or their subsequent expulsion.

Nonetheless, references to antisemitic stereotypes are obvious. The expulsion of "begging Polish Jews" in the year was also mentioned. In a preliminary remark, they made reference to the restrictive regulations in the town of Celle emphasized by von Boehn, and added that. Three hundred years ago, our ancestors kept the Jews extraordinarily short, and they will have well known why. What we are experiencing now is the reaction to this. The Ministry of Propaganda's press conference had placed emphasis on actions against Jews in other countries; by referring to medieval and early modern history, these actions would be viewed as being in accord with the past.

This placed new demands on articles meant to serve the purposes of antisemitic indoctrination. Although the reader might approve of the restrictions against the Jews as enumerated in a traditionally antisemitic text like the one written by von Boehn, there was, however, another step that Mauersberg clearly espoused in his article - persecution and expulsion. After 9 November, readers were expected to identify with this next step, which could be associated with both violence and legal measures.

Lessons of the past were to be applied to the present. The press conference of 17 November had already aspired to this. This resulted in combining the strength of both the local and regional worlds and the lives of the people therein, which had always contained elements of history and which expressed itself as local or regional history - Heimatgeschichte.

The planners of the press campaign in the Ministry of Propaganda had obviously overlooked this aspect of history. It did not lie directly in their field of vision, as their conception of the campaign, including instructions to the press, encompassed the entire Reich. However, the turn towards regional history was eagerly taken up by the provincial press, which had always represented an area of journalism in which antisemitic attitudes and stereotypes were common. With a certain amount of autonomy, the local and regional press took advantage of particularly favorable opportunities for propagating antisemitic positions.

The powerful effect this had is attested to by notes on a conversation held at the time between the technician Karl Duerkefaelden and his father. Duerkefaelden's father, who ran a small farm east of Hanover, had read the article written by Mauersberg in the Niedersaechsische Tageszeitung. When, at the beginning of January , he was asked by his son if Jewish shops had also been destroyed in Peine during the pogrom, he evaded the question with the reply: After 9 November, the press service of the NSDAP went its own way in the antisemitic manipulation of national history.

It was also confronted with the thorny question: Finally, a close connection between Germans and National Socialist ideology was derived from the historical enmity towards Jews, based on a "fundamental" antisemitic "philosophy. Or, in the words of the NSK: The author follows this up with the politically unambiguous comment:. Despite all of the good and right approaches, the removal of the Jews from the life of the people failed. The people did not have a leader whom they sustained with their spirit, they did not have a united Reich necessary for uniformly and effectively carrying out all measures.

The foundation for the successful solution of the Jewish issue in the Third Reich lies in the existence of these prerequisites. The author does not fail to make the point that in the Middle Ages, intellectuals also joined the barricades against the Jews. He places particular emphasis on Martin Luther. For the German principalities of the early modern era, the court Jew is portrayed as the determining social element. Noted too are the efforts made by the line of princesses and princes from Maria Theresa to Frederick the Great to limit the influence of Jews; however, the argument is somewhat weakened by the author's acknowledgement of the usefulness, time and again of the court Jews to the princes.

Nevertheless, the author seeks recourse in the politically explicit rule that the bad or good treatment of the Jews was dependent on the strength or weakness of a prince. Then the article states, the Enlightenment came "to the aid" of the Jews. Prussia modeled its Emancipation Edict of on France's granting the Jews citizenship with equal rights following the Revolution. The wars of liberation required their effort. Again, the names of the main authorities opposed to emancipation are mentioned - Otto von Bismarck, Heinrich von Treitschke and Richard Wagner.

The antisemitic "people's movement" at the close of the nineteenth century was also doomed to failure. National Socialism paid complete tribute to the public feeling for the first time in that it made racial knowledge the foundation of its Jewish legislation and carried through with the separation of blood. Thus the struggle that the German people had led against the foreign intruders for centuries had finally come to an effective close.

The series of articles on the "antisemitic people" was part of the effort to persuade the German population to adopt the attitude towards Jews that was desired and hoped for by the party. The interpretation of national history as one governed by a fundamental philosophy of hatred towards Jews - a history also dominated by antisemitism, pogroms and expulsion - was supported by a historical construction that assessed Jews in terms of a continual division between the elite and the people, and ultimately it was the people who always knew how to correctly assess them.

Only now and then did the leading figures, one or another prince comprehend the people's real attitude towards the Jews.

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The National Socialists cleverly point this angle in - that it was the "national longing" voelkische Sensucht of Germans to attain their "ultimate separation" from the Jews. With its appeal to "antisemitic people," the press campaign had reached a certain climax; the one-sidedness and simplifications of the campaign achieved a high degree of credibility through its official pronouncement by the party. It combined important points of criticism - for example the church's position on baptism of Jews - with praise of a strong nation, which implied praise for the National Socialist state.

The antisemitic manipulation of German history was nothing new. It had a long tradition. Even in the articles published by Mauersberg and the NSK and their foundation in regional and national history, respectively, was no exception. It is noteworthy that both series of articles started out from different concepts. Mauersberg kept with tradition by using the stereotype of the Jewish quest for power, which focuses on the subordination of the non-Jewish environment.

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For this reason it can be said that he endeavored to provide a comprehensive interpretation of German-Jewish history from the Middle Ages to the modern era. This stands in contrast to the NSK 's concept, which worked more intensely with the social construct of "the people" and attributed them with special knowledge about, and experience with, Jews. The NSK could support this concept by drawing on the change that occurred in German historiography at the time, that is, viewing history from a national point of view. Both concepts existed simultaneously and did not contradict each other; they merely complemented historical material in different ways.

Convincing newspaper readers of the correctness of Nationalist Socialist policies towards Jews was not the sole aim of steering the press. Above and beyond this, its task was to deal with the problem of how the central German ideology of integration — nationalism - stood in relation to the central element of National Socialist ideology — antisemitism. From a propagandistic point of view, it was now simply a matter of amalgamating both ideologies, a task for which history lent itself. An investigation of the sources shows that this issue was acknowledged and realized by the Ministry of Propaganda, as well as by the party's press service.

At the Ministry of Propaganda's press conference, the predominance of both ideologies in the creation of integration can be clearly demonstrated by referring to the character of the " Spiesser. In contrast to the suggestions made by the Ministry of Propaganda, the party's press service was quite clear on the question of competing ideologies. Like the ministry, the NSK deliberated as to how it should handle those who eluded the anti-Jewish campaign after 9 November - namely, those whom Berndt had called the " Spiesser. You cast your ballot just like Gustav Stresemann.

Was gehen Dich die andern an, Du waehlst wie Gustav Stresemann. Without question, a part of the social elite referred to here, profited from National Socialism, yet did not help - or only partially helped - to support the persecution of Jews. The NSK wanted both to defame opponents of the persecution of Jews as a minority outside of the national community and to arouse hostility against intellectuals and educated people, indeed against the old elite in its entirety.

At the same time, it was claimed that National Socialist policies were supported by the wide majority of the people. However, in addition, it was necessary that the people develop an understanding of "the political process" which reinforced the exclusion of Jews from German society.


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The competition between the two ideologies of integration, which was criticized by the authorities responsible for steering the press, may be the point of departure for a critique of the view held by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen of the dominance of an eliminatory antisemitism.

In any case, it is doubtful whether one can speak of an "acceptance" of this ideology in the political consciousness of the people. In my opinion, doubts about whether this ideology was accepted are indeed valid, because while insisting that the anti-Jewish policy be accepted - one could also say, while courting the self-image of the Germans as an "antisemitic people" - only the liberal and national conservative elite were being addressed.

Or, to put it in the words of the NSK: Other social groups, above all the working class, were not mentioned at all, although in this circle, too, only limited approval of an eliminatory antisemitism could be expected. After 9 November, however, the policy pursued regarding German Jews was certainly intended to be eliminationist. The press campaign in the winter of coincided with the redirecting of propaganda efforts towards the immediate preparation for war after the Munich conference, which would have suggested to the leaders of the NSDAP that antisemitic activities be intensified.