UCL Institute for Human Rights


IAS Book Launch: Lovable Crooks and Loathsome Jews

17 December 2018

IAS Book Launch: Lovable Crooks and Loathsome Jews: Antisemitism in German and Austrian Crime Writing Before the World Wars. Author: T.S. Kord, professor at University College London, the author of ten books and the recipient of six major awards for her writing.

In the years leading up to the World Wars, Germany and Austria saw an unprecedented increase in the study and depiction of the criminal. Criminology, journalism and crime fiction obsessed about delinquents while ignoring crime and its social causes. As criminologists measured "criminal" crania and debated biological predestination, court reporters and crime writers wrote side-splitting or heart-rending stories featuring one of the most popular characters ever created: the hilarious or piteous crook.

That crook, the object of adoration, compassion or mirth from the earliest crime stories until the present, is here seen, for the first time, in the context of antisemitic writing and notions of "Jewish" criminality. Kord's pursuit of the criminal in an antisemitic world considers a vast number of texts—from Nazi propaganda to court reporting and forgotten classics of crime fiction—and raises painful questions. Are there parallels between biological classifications of criminals and racial views of Jews? Can the lovable criminal ever be a Jew? Was he an accessory to the Nazi crime of mislabelling Jews as the world's "real" criminals? What does he tell us about ideas of German-ness, before and after the World Wars? And why do we still need him today?


  • Introduction by Michael Berkowitz, Professor of Modern Jewish History and author of The Crime of My Very Existence: Nazism and the Myth of Jewish Criminality
  • Lecture by the author followed by discussion
  • Book signing
  • Wine reception

All welcome. Please note that there may be photography and/or audio recording at some events and that admission is on a first come first served basis. Please follow this FAQ link for more information.

To book your place, please visit the event's website. Findout more about the book here.