University of Limerick
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Policing 'wayward' youth: law, society and youth criminality in Berlin, 1939-1953

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posted on 2022-10-07, 09:22 authored by David Meeres
The thesis is at once a legal, social, and everyday history of youth crime in Germany between 1939 and 1953. Its overarching tenet is that the so-­‐called Zero Hour of 8 May 1945 as a starting or ending point is obstructive in any historical appreciation of deviance in twentieth Century German history. Whilst the dis/continuities in modern German history have been widely researched by scholars, little has been written on the importance of juvenile criminal discourse in wartime and post-­‐war Germany, and almost nothing exists in the English language. This thesis aims to fill these lacunae. It argues that there was remarkable continuity in the policing of ‘wayward’ youth between the last years of the Third Reich and the period of Reconstruction. In order to prove this, the thesis has at its centre a case study of over three hundred juvenile Strafakten (criminal court case files) held at the Landesarchiv processed by Berlin local courts between 1941 and 1948. This is framed by a wide-­‐ranging analysis of legal, sociological and pedagogical debate surrounding an ever-­‐present juvenile criminal discourse, including archival material of the Reich Justice Ministry from the holdings of Berlin’s Bundesarchiv and Foreign Office reports found at the Public Record Office in London. The choice of Berlin as the heart of the thesis’ investigation is obvious, given its position as the Reichshauptstadt and the centre of Allied administrative control after 1945, as well as the city boasting the largest population in Germany. In both the wartime and post-­‐war periods, it was the laboratory for dealing with ‘criminal’ youth.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

McElligott, Anthony



Other Funding information

The German Historical Institute, London.



Department or School

  • History

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