Academic journal article International Journal of Comparative Sociology

The Logic of Nazification: The Case of the International Criminal Police Commission ("Interpol") **

Academic journal article International Journal of Comparative Sociology

The Logic of Nazification: The Case of the International Criminal Police Commission ("Interpol") **

Article excerpt

Introduction

This article provides an analysis of the nazification of the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC), the organization today known as Interpol, against the background of the American participation in the Commission by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Although the sociology of nazism has made very important progress in recent years, especially with respect to the study of popular support for Nazism and the reception of the holocaust (Baldwin 1990; Brustein and Falter 1994; Brustein 1996), the nazification of the ICPC has not yet received due attention. Of all historical antecedents of international police cooperation today, Interpol may surely count among the most relevant and most discussed. However, several writings devoted to uncovering the past of the police organization offer very shaky interpretations and are more critical of Interpol than the presented evidence can support (e.g., Garrison 1976; Greilsamer 1986; Meldal-Johnsen and Young 1979; Schwitters 1978). Relatedly, there is consid erable disagreement in the literature about the course of the ICPC since the Nazis took control. Some commentators have suggested that the Commission no longer functioned after the "Anschluss" of Austria in March 1938 (Fooner 1989:40; Lee 1976:19), others argue that the Commission was effectively used to advance Nazi goals (Garrison 1976:79; Stiebler 1981:33).

Because of the possible influences of the gruesome Nazi regime in the International Criminal Police Commission and the many misconceptions about it, this analysis relies largely on original data, which was collected as part of a larger project on the history of international policing (Deflem 2000, forthcoming). Available evidence indicates that during the 1930s and early 1940s, German and U.S. police representatives in the ICPC were on a collision course in a quest for control under conditions of anticipated and actual warfare. Nazi police infiltrated the ICPC from 1935 onwards, and by 1941, finalization of the nazification of the international police organization was symbolized by the transfer of the Commission's headquarters to Berlin. The FBI was invited to become a member of the ICPC since the mid-1930s and formally joined the Commission in 1938 as the congressionally sanctioned representative of the United States. The motives of Nazi police and FBI to participate in the ICPC were, of course, highly anta gonistic and of a very different ideological character. In fact, by the time Nazi police had taken control of the international police organization, the FBI leadership decided to discontinue participation.

In order to rectify some of the misinterpretations that have been advanced on the Nazi take-over of the ICPC, this paper will provide an account of the various relevant factors that determined the course and outcome of the ICPC from the mid-1930s until the end of the Second World War. I will first describe how the FBI became a member of the ICPC at roughly the same time as when German participation in the Commission was affected more and more by the Nazi seizure of power. The next section discusses the confrontation between FBI and Nazi police as coexistent members of the ICPC and the implications thereof in terms of investigative work and international cooperation. Then a sociological model is presented which can account for the dynamics of the Nazi involvement in the ICPC. Taking my cues from recent sociological scholarship on the expansion of the Nazi movement, institutional nazification can be conceived of as either the manifestation of a preconceived, novel, and coherent Nazi ideology (Brustein 1996, 19 97) or as a more ad hoc and opportunistic process (Anheier 1997). I will argue that there were strategic shifts in a well-directed nazification of the ICPC. This process of nazification also depended on changing historical conditions, especially world-political and military developments before and during World War II, but nazification of the ICPC always remained in tune with the broader goals of Nazi rule, especially in matters of foreign policy. …

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