Study Questions on Evans, Tales from the German Underground, pp. 136-222

What is significant about how Franz Ernst (alias von Vietinghoff, Dr. Hoff, etc.) identified himself to Bremen police when first questioned in 1864?  Why did he depict himself as an aristocrat?  Why tell the elaborate story about adventures in America (etc.)?  Why portray himself as a political informer?  In other words, how was he using this identity?

What first really tipped the Bremen police off  that Ernst was lying?  Had his entire (initial) story to police been fabricated?  And why did he urge that the Bremen police contact the Berlin police chief?

On 16 July 1864, Ernst told police a new version of his life story--what was "new" in this version, and was it "true"?  Explain.

On 23 July, Ernst again changed his story.  How did his new (somewhat more accurate) version depict his place in German society? How do his "real" social origins help us understand his earlier fabrications?

What more evidence did Bremen police subsequently turn up on Ernst (after 23 July)?  And why did the Berlin police chief really think of him?

Was Ernst really and anti-Red political activist?  Explain.

What circumstances in the political environment of the 1850s and early 1860s created a climate in which Ernst could pull off his swindling?

Exactly what was Ernst's political con game?  And had he really attended the Brussels "Democrats Congress" of 1863? (And what was that congress about, anyway?)

Was Ernst unique in pulling off an elaborate con such as this in the mid-1800s?  Explain.  What in particular about the organization of Germany's police forces played into the hands of swindlers like Ernst?

How did the Germany police of the time spread information about criminals?  And how did police newsletters depict the world of criminals?  In particular, how did F.C.B. Ave-Lallement describe and explain the German criminal underworld (the 'villains' world)--who belonged to it and how was it organized?

What were Ave-Lallement's main criticisms of the German police?

In the 1850s-1860s, did crime experts think that criminals were easy to "spot"?  Why or why not?

What kinds of ID did Germans have to carry in this period and why, and was it hard for villains to get false IDs?

In the 1860s, how did police describe the social structure of the villains' world?  What does this tell us about their general attitudes towards changes that were taking place in German society?

According to police at the time, how could you spot a villain?

How did fears of crime relate to fears of political radicalism during this period?

OK--back to the story of Ernst!  Did he have any legitimate occupation?  Or was even his "legit" life tied into his confidence tricks?

Besides political scams, in what other kinds of swindles did Ernst specialize?  Explain.

How did Ernst manage to convince wealth women to marry him (or to give in to his advances)?  (Take another look at him--illustration 14!)  What does his success with wealthy single women tell us about social attitudes and gender roles among the German middle class in this period?

What probably ended up happening to Ernst?

For Evans, what does Ernst's story show us?


Chapter 4

Be ready to give a short summary of Thymian Gotteball's life.

Why would prostitutes avoid becoming licensed?

What was the social  importance of the publication of Gotteball's Diary?  What new issues for public debate did it raise and how did this fit into the moral system of Wilhelmian Germany? 

What is the point of Evans' discussion of the metaphors applied t tuberculosis in the late 1800s?

Did T.G.'s diary blame prostitution on poverty?  Explain.

Explain the "demand and supply" theory of prostitution as argued by a) contemporary marxists; b) feminist historian R. Schulte.  Does Evans agree with these interpretations?

How did non-marxist contemporaries explain the rise in prostitution in the late 1800s, and did they see it as connected to other forms of crime?

Based upon contemporary accounts, were there social hierarchies among prostitutes (as there were in society in general)?  Explain.

Does Evans see prostitution in this era as a simple matter of Bourgeois demand and Proletarian supply?  Explain.

How did the nature of brothels reflect social stratification?

If "customers" came from all walks of life, what about prostitutes?  What were their social origins?  Can we define any common patterns from statistics about prostitutes?

Can we determine any pattern from statistics on the previous employment of prostitutes, and can these help us understand why many women turned to prostitution?

What were some of the contemporary arguments to justify legal, regulated prostitution?  For instance, was it considered "normal" for men to desire sex?  Was it considered normal for women?  So according to some contemporaries, why were brothels socially useful institutions?

Did "polite society" consider prostitutes moral?

How (in what ways) and why did the "Morals Police" regulate prostitution (both in the case of brothels and of streetwalkers)?

How was regulation justified in terms of public health?  Public morality?  As a means of protecting the prostitutes themselves?  As a means of curbing other kinds of crimes?

How did "respectable citizens" imagine the connection between prostitution, crime, radicalism, and social disorder, particularly by the 1890s?

In what sense was the pimp a "folk devil," and what caused the "moral panic" of the early 1890s, which heightened the debate over regulated prostitution?

Does Evans seem to think that the regulation of prostitution in Imperial Germany had any real chance of succeeding?  Explain.  Why was it so difficult for police to regulate prostitution effectively?

How had German unification complicated the issue of police regulated prostitution?

Did local communities necessarily support the idea of having regulated brothels nearby?  Explain.

What were the major arguments against legal, regulated prostitution in the late 1800s?  How did "moral entrepreneurs" try to link the dangers of prostitution and crime to radical politics?

Did all feminist organizations agree on the issue of regulated prostitution?  What was the difference between the position taken by "moderates" (like the Federation of German Women's Organizations" and the more radical feminist groups (like the Abolitionists)?

How had the basic debate over prostitution changed by the eve of World War One?  How does Evans explain the rise of "neo-regulationism," and how was this linked to new assertions about the genetic/hereditary nature of crime?



 What is the main point that M. Foucault made about the changing nature of punishment and "deviance" in the 19th century, according to Evans?

What are Evans' main criticisms of Foucault?

Does Evans think that state supervision of individual behavior and the regulation of deviance were new in Imperial Germany, or that they were uncontested?

Does he think that the law and the judicial system were simply vehicles for repression and elite political control?

Does Evans, in fact, seem to agree with anyone's "big theories" about the history of crime and punishment?  Explain.  Does he see criminals as "social bandits" (Robin Hoods)?  

For Evans, how did changes in punishment reflect changes in Germany's social structure?

According to Evans, when supervision and regulation came into conflict with budget restrains, which won out?  What does this show us?

According to Evans, what new forces and pressures were creating new attitudes about crime and deviance in Germany in the early 1900s?  What might this foreshadow?

Does Evans see Germans in the 1800s as passive?  As obedient to authority?  Does he consider Germany to be some how "peculiar" compared to the rest of Western Europe--as if it had some special "deviant" path the pre-determined the rise of Nazism?  (In other words, do you get a sense of how Evans is fitting this book into bigger debates about German history?)