Weimar Sourcebook

The various articles, written by a number of Weimar intellectuals provide us with a snapshot into the cultural life of inter-war Germany. The final article on the death penalty written by E.M. Mungenast, is a pointed criticism of the death penalty that existed in most “civilized” European countries and in the United States. Mungenast calls the death penalty “a remnant of past times.” He argues against the death penalty not from a religious or even a humane standpoint; Mungenast states that the death penalty “contradicts all principles… of a modern civilized state.” He goes on to theorize that the death penalty not only unfairly takes the life of a citizen of the state, but it costs the state any of the “reparations for his misdeed” this inmate would have to preform which might help the state.

Mungenast is a clear example of the growing secularism and liberalism that Germany and the World went through during the inter-war years. He uses the end of his article to critique America and its handling of the Sacco and Vanzetti case, he realizes that the populous is largely disgusted with the breach of justice that was served to these two men. The death penalty does not keep a population in line it scares and angers a them, Mungenast considers it a break of trust by the government to kill these men. These were all interesting points put forth by Mungenast, that were very different from ones put up by groups such as the Nazi party was espousing. Although Mungensat had rather forward and interesting ideas they were not really put to practice in Germany before the Nazi’s came to power.

Is it a brach of limits and civil freedom if a liberal democratic government decides to kill one of its citizens?