PDF Subscribe


Franziska A. Karpinski

Junior Fellow (02/2018–06/2018)


In Defence of ‘Honour’ and ‘Masculinity’. Social Pressure, Violence, and Punishment within the Nazi Elite 1933–1945


KARPINSKIThis project examines how the concepts of collective and individual honour and masculinity were defined, negotiated, and practised within the SS, as well as how these concepts fuelled violent peer interaction. Rooted in Holocaust perpetrator research, I explore perpetrator peer dynamics within the SS, based on a close reading of archival material such as SS directives, SS court documents, private letters, and internal correspondence amongst the SS leadership. This analysis will be embedded into a discussion of socio-political conditions of the Third Reich. Honour and masculinity became state-sanctioned entities, interwoven with the fabric of National Socialism, its judicial, social, and political institutions, as well as concepts used in daily interactions. Within this framework, specific ‘SS-worthy’, i.e. honourable behaviour and unconditional loyalty was especially demanded within the SS, which conceived of itself as an elite order of political soldiers in the service of Nazism. Particularly, I examine what was considered ‘SS-worthy’: What ‘virtues’ and ‘ideals’ did the SS leadership prescribe for SS members? How were masculinity and honour appropriated by the SS and woven into mandatory SS directives? Why, how, and with what consequences did this appropriation happen? What implementation mechanisms were to translate masculinity and honour into entities informing SS peer interaction? Mechanisms of implementation towards the dishonourable were punitive and shaming in nature and included SS court-ordered dismissals, expulsions, incarcerations, disciplinary measures, and social ostracism. I will also highlight how shame and shaming within the framework of the SS functioned as a tool of social control and punishment. An analysis of honour, masculinity, and emotional dynamics within the SS can help understand its processes of radicalisation and both its immensely violent and self-destructive nature.


Franziska A. Karpinski, B.A. in North American Studies at the Free University in Berlin (2011), M.A. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies (with Distinction) at the University of Amsterdam (2012), has been a Ph.D. candidate at Loughborough University since 2014. She has been the recipient of an EHRI Fellowship at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich and at the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen. Her latest publication is Sexual Violence in the Nazi Genocide – Law, Gender and Ideology, in: Uğur Ümit Üngör, Genocide. New Perspectives on its Causes, Courses and Consequences. Amsterdam 2016.

June 2024
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is funded by:


bmbwf en 179


wienkultur 179


 BKA Logo srgb