Nr. 35 | gewalt - politik | Abstract

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Thomas Lindenberger

From the Saber Blow to the »Gentle Way«? Reading Physical Violence Between Citizens and Police Officers in 20th Century Germany

A Prussian constabulary chopping off the hand of a worker with a saber in 1906, a team of the Hamburg police branch twisting the foot of a journalist, thus rupturing his ligaments, in 1993: These two incidents of scandalous police violence against civilians serve to explore the ways in which violent interactions of bodies in public spaces were conditioned by politics and social culture in their respective historical contexts. The shift from violence inflicted through the antiquated saber to the application of a wrestling technique points to long-term changes in the norms of body conduct in society: Codes of a more »civilized« and careful treatment of the body become a feature of common sense in a democratic polity, implying, however, their own ways of physical violence and the risk of its excessive application by the executive.

Kurz-Bio: Thomas Lindenberger

Historiker, Projektleiter am Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam und Privatdozent für Neuere Geschichte an der Universität Potsdam

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