chapter  3
16 Pages

What's in a Name? Some Thoughts on the Vocabulary of Vigilantism and Related Forms of 'Informal Criminal Justice'

This chapter shows how discourses of violence and justice influenced the public, the criminal justice system, and the German political environment and were influenced by them in turn. It explains how the moral bases of informal justice in the Weimar Republic became the intellectual underpinnings for formal justice in the Nazi era. The best documented incidence of informal justice in Weimar Germany were the eight Feme murders and several additional assaults committed in 1923 by a death squad working within Germany's so-called Black Reichswehr. The more important consequence of the amnesty law of 1930, though, was the profound impact it had on the decay of legal norms in Germany. It provided a political solution to a dispute that had been festering through much of the Weimar era and had become acute during the second half of the 1920s, the period when the Feme trials were taking place.