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Change Of View: The Ritual Side Of Serial Killings And The Conditions For Fortunate Failure

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Chapter Summary

More than three homicides in a row are normally called a 'serial killing'. But this has not always been the case. At least in Germany, from the 1920s to the 1950s, the term commonly used was Lustmord, i.e. a killing for lust. In the 19th century the phenomenon was referred to as a 'ritual murder' and often was used to justify pogroms against the Jewish population. Scientific progress in medicine and psychology evoked a semiscientific explanation for these murder cases in terms of the sexual drive. Calling the phenomenon Lustmord was thus a modern development. All these terms 'ritual murder', Lustmord and 'serial killing' indicate the same phenomenon, albeit, each in a different historical context. In the author opinion, there are good reasons to study the phenomenon from the perspective of 'Ritual Studies', taking the concept of 'ritual' in its widest sense, as has become common since the 1970s.

Keywords: Germany; Jewish population; Lustmord; ritual murder



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