Between Protection and Control: Policing Europe in the 20th Century
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
19 September 2023
Requisites for this module
This module explores police activities between state protection and social control in 20th century-Europe. We will examine the multi-layered relations between the state, the police and the public tracing continuities and differences in policing dictatorships and democracies.
Themes covered will range from policing during war time (WWI &WWII) and the popular fascination with crime stories over the tasks of police forces in the interwar period to the involvement of policemen in the Holocaust and the policing of protests in liberal democracies.
The aims of this module are:
- To understand the difficult triangle state/ police/ citizens.
- To critically assess differences/continuities in policing dictatorships and democracies.
- To evaluate the police’s role in implementing societal norms & creating outsiders.
- To think about the police as an essential agent in any state and the dangers that this position can bring.
- To critically examine the relationship between citizens and the police.
By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:
- Understand the central role of the police force and its influence on state and society.
- Critically comment on the police’s function of protecting and controlling societies.
- Understand the social, political and cultural dimensions of policing activities.
- Enhance critical reading, writing and research skills by preparing for seminar discussions and completing the required written coursework.
Tasks of the police involved protecting states of 'unruly' citizens, expressed in working-class uprisings or strikes, as well as implementing societal norms of order when policing women, youngsters or alleged 'outsiders.' In addition to social control, police forces had to react to the ever-increasing complaints on rising crime rates and police failures. This suggests that police forces could not only act as organisations implementing state demands but also had to respond to issues articulated by citizens. We will also think about gender and race within policing and in police forces.
Several key questions run throughout the module: Who was protected by the police and who was regarded as a criminal? Whose interests did police forces serve? What did police officers do in dictatorships? Were police forces primarily agents of state control or protectors of the population? How did police activities in dictatorships differ from those in democracies? What was the changing relationship between the police and the citizens?
By seeking responses to these questions, we will find how policing fundamentally shaped and still shapes European societies.
- The Black Cop (2022), 24 minutes: A Bafta winning short film on the memories of a former Met police officer:
- The Open University has created online material (including primary sources) on the Met, the police in wartime, women police and the relations between the police and the public. We will use some of the primary sources presented here. It is worth looking through what is available on this webpage. http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/history-from-police-archives/welcome.html
- A ground-breaking book on policemen and their role in the Holocaust: Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men. Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (London, 2001) available as inexpensive paperback.
This module will be delievered via:
- One 1-hour lecture per week
- One 1-hour seminar per week
Oram, G. (2003a) Conflict and legality: policing mid-twentieth century Europe. London: Francis Boutle.
Englander, D. (1991) ‘Police and Public Order in Britain 1914-1918’, in C. Emsley and B. Weinberger (eds) Policing Western Europe: Politics, Professionalization and Public Order, 1850-1940.
Emsley, C. (1993) ‘“Mother, what did policemen do when there weren’t any motors?” The law, the police and the regulation of motor traffic in England, 1900–1939’, The Historical Journal
, 36(02). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0018246X00019270
Fijnaut, C. (1997) ‘The International Criminal Police Commission and the Fight against Communism 1923-45’, in The policing of politics in the twentieth century: historical perspectives. Providence, RI: Berghahn Books, pp. 107–128.
Jonathan Dunnage (2006) ‘Policing Right-Wing Dictatorships: Some preliminary comparisons of Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Franco’s Spain’, Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies
, 10(1), pp. 93–122. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42708645
Mallmann, K.-M. and Gerhard, P. (1994) ‘Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent? Gestapo, Society and Resistance’, in Nazism and German society, 1933-1945
. London: Routledge, pp. 166–196. Available at: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780203131596-7/omniscient-omnipotent-omnipresent-klaus-michael-mallmann-gerhard-paul?context=ubx&refId=2602975e-2845-4ce1-b2c0-cce6ff245a58
Emsley, C., Johnson, E. and Spierenburg, P. (2004c) Social control in Europe
. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press. Available at: https://muse.jhu.edu/book/28322
Browning, C.R. (1995) The path to genocide: essays on launching the final solution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Reinke, H. (2004) ‘The Reconstruction of the Police in Post-1945 Germany’, in The impact of World War II on policing in north-west Europe. Leuven: Leuven University Press, pp. 133–150.
Bessel, R., Emsley, C. and European Centre for the Study of Policing (2000b) Patterns of provocation: police and public disorder
. Oxford: Berghahn Books. Available at: https://app.kortext.com/Shibboleth.sso/Login?entityID=https://idp0.essex.ac.uk/shibboleth&target=https://app.kortext.com/borrow/821736
James Whitfield (2003) ‘The Metropolitan Police: alienation, culture, and relations with London’s Caribbean Community 1950-1970’, Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies
, 7(2), pp. 23–39. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42708537
The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list
Assessment items, weightings and deadlines
|Coursework / exam
||Primary source analysis (1000 words)
||Essay (2000 words)
Exam format definitions
- Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
- In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
- In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
- In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary,
for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.
Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Nadine Rossol, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
History UG Administrators: email@example.com
No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.
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