Leo Lucassen, Zigeuner. Geschichte eines politischen Ordnungsbegriffes in Deutschland 1700-1945
Leo Lucassen, Zigeuner. Geschichte eines politischen Ordnungsbegriffes in Deutschland 1700-1945, Köln/Weimar/Wien, Böhlau Verlag, 1996, 276 p., ISBN 3-412-05996-X
1Today no one would challenge the statement that police history has become a well-established part of historiography proper, and not only its « crime and criminal » sub-department. The number of studies on the organization of the police, its personnel and its practices – primarily in Western European countries and Northern America – has grown considerably in recent years, indicating the new interest historians are taking in the subject. Although these studies have broadened our knowledge about the police, there are still a number of gaps which seem to have stimulated little inquiry. Among them are topics concerned with the influence and the determining effects that stereotypes and specific images have had on the police's perceptions of deviance, and the way the police have organized and structured their work.
2In his book – a German translation of the author's doctoral dissertation in Dutch – Leo Lucassen does not use the term « stereotype », but instead the term Ordnungsbegriff, which could be translated as « master concept », leaving the borderline between « stereotype » and Ordnungsbegriff relatively vague. Lucassen tries to follow the use over time of the Ordnungsbegriff Zigeuner by the police, as well as the impact this usage has had on police practices. He sees Zigeuner as a label that has allowed the police to subsume different types of deviance under one heading.
3The book has six chapters which divide more less into three main parts : In the first part (Chapters one – the introduction – through three), the author describes the old regime and the early-nineteenth-century development of the Ordnungsbegriff Zigeuner, the second part focuses on the nineteenth century (Chapter four and parts of Chapter five) ; while the remaining chapters cover the early twentieth century up to the Nazi period. Although the book's subtitle implies a study of the Nazi years, in fact Leo Lucassen merely touches on them.
4Lucassen sees a three-step development and use of the Ordnungsbegriff Zigeuner. Up to the 1830s, Zigeuner is – if one follows the author's arguments – a rather narrow concept that is reserved for ethnic gypsies. For the subsequent period, Leo Lucassen observes growing evidence for a widening of the concept and goes on to demonstrate what this widening meant : a growing incorporation of different categories of persons and groups beyond ethnic gypsies into the Ordnungsbegriff Zigeuner. This process occurred, according to the author, around the turn the nineteenth century and during the first three decades of that century. He relates it to state-building processes and changing poor laws and welfare policies in the German-speaking countries of this time. In the eyes of the police, this specific dangerous class included vast parts of the non-resident and/or vagrant population. Zigeuner served as convenient, ready-made label for identifying these categories as a danger to the new nation-state. Leo Lucassen demonstrates convincingly how the police used the notion of Zigeuner to distinguish between good people and bad people in the world around them.
5From the point of view of the police, the bad people became increasingly dangerous as the the German nation-state defined the boundaries between its members and its non-members after 1870/71, the date of its foundation. As a data base supporting his arguments, Leo Lucassen uses nineteenth-century police-handbooks and collections of arrest warrants deriving from the entire nineteenth century. The late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century police perceptions of Zigeuner are dealt with more summarily, which is slightly disappointing because it leaves the reader without the details provided in the first two parts. Nevertheless, the book remains recommendable reading for those interested in labeling and stereotyping practices as part of police development.
Pour citer cet article
Herbert Reinke, « Leo Lucassen, Zigeuner. Geschichte eines politischen Ordnungsbegriffes in Deutschland 1700-1945 », Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies, Vol. 4, n°1 | 2000, 137-138.
Herbert Reinke, « Leo Lucassen, Zigeuner. Geschichte eines politischen Ordnungsbegriffes in Deutschland 1700-1945 », Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies [En ligne], Vol. 4, n°1 | 2000, mis en ligne le 02 avril 2009, consulté le 29 avril 2017. URL : http://chs.revues.org/874Haut de page
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