Back into the Unmasterable Past: Southwest Germany and the Judicial Odyssey of Mayor Reinhard Boos, 1947–1949

Document Type



Published by Springer Science and Business Media B.V. in Human Rights Review, volume 8 issue 3, 2007. Bryant users may access this article here.


pogroms, persecution of Jews, Nazis, violent crimes


Springer Science & Business Media B.V.

Publication Source

Human Rights Review


The article examines a series of trials involving the November 1938 destruction of the synagogue in Lörrach, Germany, held between 1947 and 1949. The alleged ringleader of the pogrom was acquitted, as were some of his codefendants. These acquittals, together with the probationary terms offered to several of the defendants, suggest that the South Baden authorities had found they could censure Nazi violence toward Jews through criminal indictment and conviction, while simultaneously reintegrating compromised individuals – some of them now burdened with a criminal record for crimes of violence against Jews – into the new West German polity. The article examines the case in light of Émil Durkheim’s normative-integrative theory of criminal law/criminal deviance, suggesting that the history of the trials requires qualification of Durkheim’s theory as applied to human rights abuses by agents of the nation-state.