I am writing a paper about mortality during the last years of Weimar Republic, namely 1928-1933. Presenting the data in Berlin, scholars wondered about the reason why the figures about people dead by murder and manslaughter (Mord und Totschlag in German) were that high. During the period 1927-1937, homicide rate has its peak at 1.9 every 100,000 people in 1932, which reported to Germany entire population of that year is around 1249 murders in a year.

I made a Google search about crime in Weimar Republic and I actually found out that high level of crimes were mostly perceived rather than actual. Indeed, there has been three serial killers during that period and a bunch of political murders but nobody consider the numbers particularly astonishing. References: "Rethinking the Weimar Republic: Authority and Authoritarianism, 1916-1936" by Anthony McElligott and "A short History of the Weimar Republic", Colin Storer

EDIT: I found this graph from Pinker (2011), which actually shows that Germany, even murder rate is low in absolute has the second highest value after Italy in 1920s-1930s

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Still wandering why anyway.

Is anybody aware of the reason why murder rates were that high in Germany in that period? Or does anybody know sources, which may give an explanation?

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    1.9 is supposed to be high? Here in the US the rate today is 5.35. The average rate in this entire hemisphere is freaking 16.3. The average rate in Europe is 3.0. Sure the rate is lower in Germany today, but that seems more like a case of Germany's rate today being super low.
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 14, 2018 at 18:01
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    You might look at the unnatural death rate vs. the conviction rate. A dead body only becomes a murder victim if a suspect is convicted of murder.
    – o.m.
    Jun 14, 2018 at 18:43
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    Well formed question - could you cite the article about perceived vs actual crime? Or the serial killers?
    – MCW
    Jun 14, 2018 at 18:43
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    @MarkC.Wallace It's from a couple of books "Rethinking the Weimar Republic: Authority and Authoritarianism, 1916-1936" by Anthony McElligott pp.117-119 and "A short History of the Weimar Republic", Colin Storer
    – PhDing
    Jun 15, 2018 at 7:43
  • Your understanding is unclear to me: do you want primary sources on the data, primary sources on the contemporary interpretation of Mord and Totschlag rates or a historical analysis with current perspective? Please also clarify (& perhaps quote) "scholars were struck". The quotes you named in response to Mark's comment are better served in the question itself with an edit. Jun 16, 2018 at 12:05

1 Answer 1


During the Weimar Republic the society in Germany was extremly divided. So there were also quite a lot of political murders and actual firefights between right and left wingers. I think this should also be taken in account.

In German, an article about political murders mainly in Bavaria, where quit a few politians got murdered. Then there was for example the case, when 21 members of some church group were murdered by some right winger, probably mistaken for members of some left wing organisation. In a society where usually not that much people get murdered, those political crimes can actually push the numbers quite a bit.

At the end you'll find additional sources

There's a prezi with some of the murders of known politicians (also some additional sources)

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    Your links might or might not answer the question. However it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. Please edit your answer to improve its quality. Thanks! Jun 29, 2018 at 20:28

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