By Michael Berkowitz
The Crime of My Very lifestyles investigates a not often thought of but serious measurement of anti-Semitism that used to be instrumental within the perception and perpetration of the Holocaust: the organization of Jews with criminal activity. Drawing from a wealthy physique of documentary proof, together with memoirs and little-studied photos, Michael Berkowitz strains the myths and realities pertinent to the discourse on "Jewish criminality" from the eighteenth century in the course of the Weimar Republic, into the advanced Nazi attack at the Jews, and lengthening into postwar Europe.
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Additional info for The Crime of My Very Existence: Nazism and the Myth of Jewish Criminality
48 The debate cast Kriminalstatistik in at least three roles: first, as a supposedly neutral means of compiling data about crimes—a notion that is almost entirely a myth, as the compilations were rarely if ever separated from cultural predispositions; second, as an expression of societal obsessions with crime, usually an extraneous alien element; and third, as a subspecies of the second, a practice that mainly equated Jews with criminals. Historian Eric Johnson has shown that some of the contributions to this “debate” emerged not from anti-Semitism, or as a defense against anti-Semitism per se, but from an attempt to assert that Catholics constituted an unusually large number of criminals.
Several of these incidents were fodder for long-running, highly publicized, and politicized scandals. 16 4 above suspicion? ” But not all the commentary on Jews and crime was of a crude antiSemitic variety. 17 Indeed, the identification of Jews with crime has a long and complex history that is not often recalled, in large part because many scholars would not think to ask. 19 These expressions departed from earlier polemics because their authors tended to present themselves as largely detached from religious motives.
Sanders has written. “These thieves benefited from both activities that mutually reinforced each other. Salesmen on the roads seem to have found ample opportunities to steal, and theft augmented some traders’ meager income. Such Jews were frequently recent immigrants from Eastern Europe who had not yet secured the right to live in a German city. As a result, they attempted to earn a living on the road by trading, begging, and sometimes stealing. ”23 It enabled them to gain a permit to engage in lawful business.