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11 - The Prerogatives of Confinement in Germany, 1933-1945

“Protective Custody” and Other Police Strategies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2013

Norbert Finzsch
Affiliation:
Universität Hamburg
Robert Jütte
Affiliation:
Universität Hamburg
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Summary

Western theories and practices of confinement in carceral and penal institutions in the modern era did not lead inexorably to the excesses committed in National Socialist (NS) concentration camps. Nevertheless, a shadow of suspicion and sense of unease is associated with the topic of confinement in part because of what happened in these camps between 1933 and 1945. While I shall make some mention of what took place in the camps, particularly the expanding circle of people who ended up in them, the focus of this essay is primarily external; that is, I analyze the prerogatives to confine of the two main police forces of the NS regime, the Gestapo (Secret State Police), and the Kripo (Criminal Police).

Although certain forms of confinement which came into prominence under the NS dictatorship had been used, to a limited extent, in various German states as early as the mid-nineteenth century, I argue that beginning in 1933 there were important changes and discontinuities in terms of the uses made of custody and detention, as well as in the powers and options available to law enforcement agencies. The NS police certainly continued to pursue “traditional” crime, in fact from the outset stepped up efforts as never before, and for a time repressed at least some varieties of it. But there was a great deal that was novel in the police and confinement sphere in this era. Police tasks expanded radically in both qualitative and quantitative terms. Part of the reason for this was that the police endeavored to move beyond reactive tasks, in order to take on preventive and proactive missions as well.

Type
Chapter
Information
Institutions of Confinement
Hospitals, Asylums, and Prisons in Western Europe and North America, 1500–1950
, pp. 191 - 212
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1997

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