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39 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 298 (1948-1949)
War Crimes and Their Motivation: The Socio-Psychological Structure of the SS and the Criminalization of a Society

handle is hein.journals/jclc39 and id is 310 raw text is: WAR CRIMES AND THEIR MOTIVATION
The Socio-Psychological Structure of the SS and the
Criminalization of a Society
Leo Alexander
The author was consultant to the Secretary of War of the United States, on duty
with the Office of the Chief of Counsel for War Crimes in Nurnberg, U.S. Zone of
Germany, 1946-1947; Lieutenant Colonel, ORC, MC, USA; Associate Director of
Research, Boston State Hospital; Instructor in Psychiatry, Tufts College Medical
School, Boston, Massachusetts.
The following article was read in part at the 75th anniversary meeting of the
Nederlandsche Vereinigung voor Psychiatrie en Neurologie, in Amsterdam, The
Netherlands, on 12 June 1947, at the meeting of the Boston Society of Psychiatry
and Neurology on 16 October 1947, at the First American Medicolegal Congress, in
St. Louis, Missouri, on 20 January 1948, and at the meeting of the Massachusetts
Psychiatric Society, in Boston, on 29 January 1948.-EDIToR.
War Crimes are crimes committed with group approval. In
this way they are similar to gang crimes, and different from
crimes committed by single individuals in ordinary society. The
main approving and instigating group in Germany during the
Nazi regime was tile SS which was the most important political
organization in Nazi Germany.
SS stands for Schutz-Staffel, which, translated, means pro-
tective squadron. No totalitarian state can function without an
SS-like organization. It is therefore important for us to know
all we can about the SS, to understand its motivation and how it
worked, what its strength was and what its weaknesses were;
and it is the duty of sociologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists
to study these facts and to make them generally understood.
The Office of the Chief of Counsel for War Crimes in Nurn-
berg, founded by Justice Robert H. Jackson and continued and
developed further by General Telford Taylor, has provided
many new and challenging opportunities. Among these oppor-
tunities, unique in history, is the opportunity for a scientific
postmortem of the body politic of the defeated enemy. The
material is enormous. Documents abound in the archives, sig-
nificant books in the libraries. Vast numbers of the participants,
active and passive, in the life of this totalitarian state are avail-
able for examination in the prison, the witness house, and on
the streets, railroad trains and farms of Germany.
A number of studies concerning the leading participants,
especially the 22 men who stood trial before the International
Military Tribunal, have already appeared in print, notably the

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