Policing Western Europe: Politics, Professionalism, and Public Order, 1850-1940

By Clive Emsley; Barbara Weinberger | Go to book overview

Unreliable Neighbours: The Impact of Nazi Rule in Germany on Dutch Law Enforcement Agencies, 1933-1940

Bob Moore

The development of professional police forces in countries throughout western Europe during the early part of the twentieth century created a greater potential for international co-operation in the field of law enforcement. Perhaps the most important example of this was the formation of Interpol in 1923 to deal primarily with major crimes, international fraud, and political extremists. This type of co-operation effectively presupposed a degree of similarity in the penal codes of the countries involved. In other words, that conduct which was considered a crime in one country was likely to be similarly treated in another. Yet this form of international collaboration through Interpol was only the tip of a much larger iceberg. In order to facilitate economic, political, and administrative relations with neighbouring state, most western European countries had entered into bilateral or international treaties on matters of mutual interest to the police such as the pursuit of enquiries across frontiers and the policing of border areas. This was reinforced by contacts between specialist agencies to deal with customs and currency matters, immigration, and border security. Moreover, it was not unusual for local police officials in border areas to have some type of unofficial working relationship with counterparts on the other side of the frontier. As long as there was an approximate parity of interest between the law enforcement agencies of western Europe, this co-operation was likely to continue, at both national and local levels.

While it should not be assumed that this loose network of international co-operation was altogether uniform or free from disagreements, a major change undoubtedly occurred in the years during and after the Nazi takeover in Germany. From 1933 onwards, the governments and police forces of Europe were faced with a country where the established laws, practices, and norms gradually ceased to apply, thus making international co-operation increasingly difficult. While the infiltration of Nazism into all areas of German government is now well-known and documented, those faced with having to deal with

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