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Rituals of Retribution: Capital Punishment in Germany, 1600-1987

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The ideals of the Enlightenment transformed execution from a "barbarous" public spectacle into a far more impersonal, "civilized" process. Yet moves towards the complete abolition of the death penalty ground to a halt in 1870, with the creation of Bismarck's Empire. The Weimar Republic virtually abolished capital punishment - and then gave way to the Nazi bloodbath. It was not until 1949 that executions were outlawed in West Germany; in the Communist East they continued into the 1980s. A history of capital punishment in Germany since the 17th century, this text is an exploration of German society as shown in attitudes to and use of the death penalty. A far more central issue here than in most states, it examines the development of capital punishment in Germany from early modern times to the Third Reich and its two successor states. Hide synopsis

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