Archive for September, 2017

“Here is Col. E. W. Starling of the White House secret service, which is charged with guarding the president, with a shot-gun which belonged to the late Calvin Coolidge, recently presented to him by Mrs. Coolidge.”

– from Toronto Star, September 30, 1933. Page 21.

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“Wish for Freedom Explanation Given For Boy’s Escape,” Toronto Globe. September 30, 1933. Page 11.

No Cause for Discontent at Mimico Industrial School, Is Report

An explanation of the esape of more than a score of boys from the Mimico Industrial School recently was given to the Board of the Industrial Schools Association when it met in City Hall yesterday. The explanation was provided in a written report by Superintendent W. G. Green.

‘In view of the recent newspaper publicity concerned escapes, a few words of explanation should be givem.’ said Mr. Green. ‘A careful examination of the returned boys revealed no general or specific cause for discontent beyond the usual psychological yearning for freedom which is natural to boys held under the necessary restraint.

‘Perhaps the new atmosphere tending more and more to the honor system is a contributory cause, especially in the case of boys whose outlook in life is as yet still in the wrong direction. The fact that discipline is being tightened in the striving toward self-discipline has led boys who have particularly suffered from lack of home discipline to break away.’

Superintendent Green’s report was accepted without comment by the board, after which it adjourned its meeting. The Superintendent reported that in thirty-eight recent committals to the Victoria Industrial School three boys were found to possess superior intelligence and twenty boys were classified as having normal intelligence. 

In her report on the Alexandra School for Girls, Miss K. W. Brooking, Superintendent, stated that eleven girls had been placed in employment and had been returned during the three-month period. Five girls did not measure up to requirements of employers, two had been returned because conditions were unsatisfactory, and four were forced back to the institution because the people had taken them could not pay wages.

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“ A number of youth groups were present at the CCF’s Regina Convention
in 1933, although they reflected the geographically skewed
character of the convention itself. Prairie groups were overrepresented;
very few came from east of Winnipeg. The Junior Section of the United
Farmers of Canada (Saskatchewan Section) and the Regina Young
People’s Socialist League represented the host province. Young labourist
groups came from Winnipeg and Edmonton. The Junior Section of
the United Farmers of Alberta attended, as did the Young Socialist
League of BC and, from Ontario, a short-lived entity called the ‘‘Junior
Canadian Commonwealth League.’’ According to Ontario Socialist
Party member A.H. Downs Jr, the last had been formed by ‘‘the most
reactionary elements’’ of the CCF Clubs (‘‘youths, mind you’’) and it
‘‘withered and died, very shortly after birth.’’

At the Regina Convention, this small coterie decided to build a pan-Canadian
organization despite, interestingly, the ‘‘heated opposition’’
of Laura Cotton. Cotton was the associate secretary of the Ontario
Association of CCF Clubs and very soon would become a member of
the Ontario CCF Council following the purge of the left-wing labour
socialists (and particularly Socialist Party of Canada members). There
is at least reason to suspect that her concern was rooted in a fear – not
entirely unfounded, as it would turn out – that the youth movement
might challenge the ‘‘adult’’ organization’s narrowing view of politics,
which was becoming increasingly focused on electoral success. In the
United States, the leadership of the Socialist Party of America often
expressed a ‘‘‘flimsily concealed’ antagonism’’ toward the YPSL, their
youth affiliate, viewing them as ‘‘potential hotheads.’’ Both European
and American socialist parties had seen a revolt of youth during
the First World War, as the ‘‘adult’’ parties mobilized inadequately
against the war. The Socialist International decried the ‘‘undisciplined

radicalism’’ of youth in several European sections, and despite the
American party’s anti-war stance, the majority of youth abandoned
the YPSL in favour of the new Communist movement.

For the most part, however, CCFers were keen to harness the energy
of youth and prevent them from falling into the grips of their political
opponents. Modern notions of child development saw such activities
as beneficial, not just for the movement, but for young people themselves.
Some were acutely aware of these ideas. The general secretary
of the CCF Clubs in Ontario, Donat LeBourdais, had spent much of the
previous decade as education director of the Canadian Committee on
Mental Hygiene, which focused on shaping the social development of
the nation’s children. Others, such as CCF National Secretary Norman
Priestley, noted the growing interest in youth organization generally,
and more particularly quasi-political groups like Protestant youth
groups, including the Student Christian Movement, and the upstart
New Canada Movement that quickly grouped tens of thousands of
young people in rural Ontario. Although non-partisan, many such
groups intersected politically with the CCF. The New Canada Movement,
for instance, was potentially open to CCF ideas, although, in
J.S. Woodsworth’s evaluation, ‘‘naive.’’ Priestley told the secretary of
the ‘‘Nyacs,’’ the National Youth Association of Canada, an early incarnation
of the CCYM in Toronto, that their work ‘‘would save the C.C.F.
from becoming a movement of elderly people.’’

Young farmers’ organizations affiliated to the new youth movement
although, outside of Saskatchewan and Alberta, the agrarian wings of
the CCF soon slipped away. In the latter province, despite the existence
of a Junior Labour Group in Edmonton, the larger youth organization
affiliated with the CCYM was the Junior United Farmers of Alberta (UFA).
The UFA’s relationship to the CCF was always tenuous and CCYM activists
perceived the Junior UFA as rivals even before the farmers’ organization

departed the CCF in 1938. Even less promising were universities, in
contrast to the relative successes of the YPSL and the Student League
for Industrial Democracy in the United States. Despite the presence
of some left-wing students who had been active in the Student Christian
Movement, and the role played by some university professors
in the League for Social Reconstruction and the CCF, only a limited
number of campus CCYM clubs were organized, and the national
movement was not closely associated with students. Perhaps only
in Quebec where the CCYM was, like the CCF, small, anglophone, and
confined to Montreal, was it closely associated with the academy. Its
connection with the League for Social Reconstruction in that province,
and its presumed role as a school for the adult organization, was
reflected in the fact that their main activity in the late 1930s seems to
have been the development of a leadership course under Professor
Leonard Marsh. Such training in ‘‘leadership’’ and organization
reflected the CCF’s increasingly electoral focus; generally the CCYM focused much less on such organizational matters, seeking to educate
itself in political theory and international events instead. 

Elsewhere, particularly in British Columbia and Ontario, the CCYM attracted considerable numbers of newly radicalizing youth. The dynamism
of the British Columbia organization generally was reflected
in its youth wing(s). Just as the BC movement was initially bifurcated
between its SPC and Club wings, two youth organizations emerged:
the Young Socialist League (YSL) and the Co-operative Commonwealth
Youth (CCY), although neither was formally affiliated to an ‘‘adult’’ organization,
apparently as a declaration of their own independence. Interestingly, the more left-wing SPC was either more wary about heavy-handed proselytizing among youth, or considered young people
as pre-political, prompting the YSL to assure the adult organization
that it was ‘‘non-political, being wholly for study and recreation.’’ Consequently, they attended the Vancouver Symphony, played tennis,
and, of course, educated themselves. Beginning in 1933 they held
weekly Sunday night public meetings at the Colonial Theatre, boasting
that no speaker was over twenty-five years of age. The CCY was
critical of this character of the YSL, declaring that ‘‘The only fault of
the Y.S.L. appears to be their aversion to action – well action is half
of the C.C.Y. program.’’ Nonetheless, the rivalry was mainly friendly,
and the increased activism and radicalization of both organizations
put the issue of their fusion on the table. 

They shared growing hopes for a revolutionary transformation of
society. As the CCY told the YSL’s January 1935 Convention, they were
interested in the creation of ‘‘class-conscious youth’’ in BC through a
combination of socialist study and action, and they hoped to work
with the YSL to build ‘‘a movement of revolutionary communist youth
as shall in the approaching crisis, be capable of losing our chains and
gaining a new world.’’ They each published a newspaper: the YSL’s
Spark preceded the CCY’s Amoeba. The boundaries between organizations
were vague. Members of both organizations regularly attended
SPC leader Wallis Lefeaux’s weekly lectures on Marx’s Capital and read
about the materialist conception of history in the Amoeba. There was
little sense that youth had a set of interests of their own; as the CCY banner proclaimed, ‘‘Abolish the Wage System. No Compromise.’’ The activism and non-sectarianism of the youth was reflected in their
choice for the editor of a combined Amoeba/Spark newspaper at the
end of 1935. Besides being the CCY provincial organizer, editor Lefty
(R.E.) Morgan was also a member of YSL and the Industrial Workers
of the World at the time of his brutal beating by police at Ballantyne
Pier during the 1935 longshoremen’s strike.

The Ontario CCYM was similar in its enthusiasm, talent, and, for
the most part, its Marxism. The core leadership came out of the earlier
‘‘Nyacs,’’ which Spencer Cheshire remembered as particularly engaged
and dynamic, compared to the broader and more diverse CCYM.  Despite a career that placed her at the forefront of some of the major
struggles in Canadian labour history, Eileen Tallman (later Sufrin) felt
that ‘‘the years in the Ontario CCYM were the most stimulating in my
life.’’ Its diversity spoke to the breadth of the new CCYM’s appeal.
Some, despite their age, had considerable experience. Twenty-one year-old
Felix Lazarus had been a socialist for six years, worked as
a YPSL organizer in the United States, participated in the important
Toledo Auto-Lite strike, and became active in Ontario Labour Party
circles. Irish-born Eamon Park had working-class roots and found
work in the meatpacking industry, while twenty-three-year-old Bill
Grant was a second-year law student at Toronto’s Osgoode Hall. 

The initial CCYM adopted some of the characteristics of earlier socialists,
particularly around the importance of political education. ‘‘Pretty
stiff ’’ classes and tests were developed; as the CCYM provincial executive
commented, ‘‘Only in the hands of a highly trained nuclei can be
placed the duty of building a mass organization of Socialist Youth in
Ontario.’’ Eileen Sufrin remembers that one of her first assignments
in the CCYM was a talk on the life of Lenin: ‘‘From the start, the study
of Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and the various European influences formed
a background which we felt impelled to explore and to use in measuring
the ideological worth of the new left-wing political movements in
Canada.’’ CCYMers compared themselves favourably in this regard to
the adult organization, which they considered ‘‘lax’’ in studying the
‘‘fundamentals of socialism.’’ The lack of confidence, in fact, went
both directions. Graham Spry expressly opined that ‘‘elders agreed’’
that youth were ‘‘inclined to be impatient and impulsive’’ and expressed
relief that the age limit of the CCYM was set at thirty-five, allowing for

sufficient ‘‘level-headedness … to keep the impetuosity of the younger
iconoclasts at an even keel.’’

Both this enthusiasm for knowledge and a measure of adult suspicion
were apparent in the Manitoba CCYM as well. Declaring, ‘‘Youth
today is in grave danger of moral corruption through the inherent
evils of our present state of society’’ and pointing to the difficulties of
even contemplating marriage under existing conditions, leading to ‘‘a
perversion of the fundamental laws of nature,’’ the CCYM put a leftist
spin on broader social panics about the condition of the nation’s
youth. The solution for the CCF youth was to ‘‘‘do our part’ to equip
ourselves mentally and physically to take an intelligent part in the
new co-operative society.’’

From the outset, then, CCYM activities revolved around education
and recreation. Annual summer schools emerged across the country,
combining study and healthy relaxation in equal measure. A week of
the well-established, decade-old summer school (originally in Summerland
but, under the auspices of the CCF since 1934, moved to Salt
Spring Island), was dedicated specifically for the youth. The Winnipeg
CCYM held their summer school just west of the city in Headingley;
the cost was seventy-five cents for the week. Although they appealed
to a youth increasingly familiar with summer camps, their experience
would not be a putative escape from modernism, but an indulgence in
the modernist pursuits of politics and organized sport. In Toronto,
the CCYM organized athletic and health clubs as well as bowling, and
played baseball and hockey. In Hamilton, as elsewhere, they produced
radical plays. The Edmonton CCYM orchestra was a staple at CCF rallies. In a few cases, as in North Toronto, CCYM branches sought to
build community centres ‘‘in which young people can make themselves
at home, have the use of a library, organize their own social
affairs, attend education and study classes conducted by persons
versed on various subjects of current importance [and] take part in
cultural activities such as Art and Dramatics.’’ A significant consequence
of the focus on education and recreation in the CCYM is,
perhaps, a less clearly demarcated gender division of labour. Within
the CCF itself, as Joan Sangster notes, these were areas of growing
women’s activity and, one might add, ones of declining importance as
the federation became more focused on electoral activity. But education
and related activities were the lifeblood of the CCYM and involved
all members, although we know little about the ways in which organizational
tasks may have, or may not have, been shared. 

Across the country, debate and discussion rang through CCYM halls.
New members quickly fell into a world where the nature of the Soviet
Union, the threat of fascism in Canada, whether FDR’s New Deal posed
promises or dangers to workers, how to respond to events in Spain,
and many other issues were hotly contested. These were exciting and
challenging issues that required understanding from every activist.
Through the fall of 1935, the Ontario CCYM debated ‘‘the inevitability
of Socialism’’ in the pages of the New Commonwealth. The topic may
appear sophomoric and even contrived, but it was a means by which
CCYM leaders could raise the issue of the importance of organization
and socialist action. The debate reflected several characteristics of
the young CCYM. For instance, all of the contributors claimed Marxist
credentials, insisting that their ideas were materialist, and scientific.
Those on the ‘‘yes’’ side, including Lloyd Harrington and Eileen Tallman,
argued that wage slavery had served its historic purpose and
that not even fascism was capable of destroying accumulated human
knowledge. Those on the ‘‘no’’ side essentially agreed. Spencer Cheshire
pointed out that economic laws and increasing human control over the
natural environment made socialism possible. What was potentially

missing, as another contributor pointed out, were ‘‘agents of socialism.’’
The task, underlined by Murray Cotterill, was to build a mass movement.
Saving the last word for himself, the editor of the CCYM column
cited Marx: ‘‘The struggle between the two forces ends in a victory for
the new class, or they both tumble into chaos.’’ The debate reflected
features of 1930s Marxism that was shared by labour socialists in the
CCF and by Communists, particularly the belief in economic laws, the
power of the economic base to drive society and culture forward, and
historical materialist modes of argument. At the same time, there was
a tendency away from what could be perceived to be the scholasticism
of the pre–First World War socialist tradition. The key to socialist
success was not just education, but engagement with the masses.
The crisis of capitalism and rise of fascism had, in an important
sense, posed the question of action much more clearly than in the
past. What kind of action? This short debate did not lend itself to
specifics, but it is noteworthy that, despite the fact that this debate
took place during the 1935 federal election, none of the contributors
made note of that fact. While there was no specific critique of electoralism,
CCYM attentions were directed more widely. There would be
no singular fixation with the ballot box.”


– James Naylor, “Socialism for a New Generation: CCF Youth in the Popular Front

The Canadian Historical Review, Volume 94, Number 1, March 2013, pp. 60-67  

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“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying, and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear." 

– Antonio Gramsci, “STATE AND CIVIL SOCIETY,” Prison Notebooks. 1930.

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“The correctionalist-rehabilitative (C-R) period in Canada spanned about a thirty-year period, from the mid-thirties to the mid-sixties. Its official starting-point and subsequent zenith were the Archambault (1938) and Fateaux (1956) royal commission reports, which outlined and then reinforced the new correctional ideal of rehabilitation as opposed to punishment. Archambault catalogued the deficiencies of existing institutions. Fateaux went further in recommending the construction of specialized treatment facilities for different groups of offenders. In the interval between the two royal commissions, rehabilitation emerged as a major objective of corrections in  almost every province.

The emphasis on individual “cure” and  “reform” is noted in Topping’s praise of the “new penology” in  British Columbia in 1954: 

A third proposition concerns the application of science in the cure of crime. The training programme for both staff and inmates has been integrated with the Provincial University and the research programme for drug addicts has been centered in the Medical Faculty of the Provincial University. The Classification Clinic at the Provincial Prison Farm is also grounded in scientific principles, with a psychiatrist in charge and with a psychologist and social workers as full-time staff members . … the most probable direction in which this will move … . is the transfer of the reformable offender out of the artificial setting of the institution into the natural setting of the community at the earliest possible moment.

This bovine correctionalism extends through any number of articles in the early volumes of the Canadian Journal of Corrections in the 1960s – all speaking for or acclaiming implementation of recommendations laid down in the Archambault and Fateaux reports. Virtually all of this writing, much of it authored by professionals in legal, medical, and administrative departments, treats law and state as unproblematic through absence of their mention, is virtually unconscious of ideology, and glosses over class inequalities in sanctimonious terms. The aims of reformism are seldom discussed as a means of providing “rehabilitated” delinquents and criminals as a source of labour for the rapid industrialization of Canadian society, nor is the paramountcy of rehabilitation – in a system that had previously stressed punishment and vengeance-considered in relation to the changing needs of capitalist expansion. In sum, the criminology of this period is complacently humanitarian: individuals and their family milieus are at fault; the social system is infinitely adjustable; political economy is for heretics and those who will not board the train to progress; and institutional expansion is uncritically endorsed, as social control shows signs of being lucrative. 

The Archambault and Fateaux reports also called for a rapid expansion of the criminological enterprise in Canada, each stressing that universities should educate for career work in the correctional field. The same recommendation came negatively from T. Grygier, who found the task of compiling surveys of correctional and criminological work in Canada before 1960 simplified by the fact that almost nothing had been reported. Encouragement from various sources did lead to the establishment of four major criminology centres across Canada between 1960 and 1972. Although these departments, centres, and institutes of criminology initially served to integrate people from various fields,  the discipline eventually consolidated, with most faculties establishing a primary identification with criminology itself rather than with one of the basic disciplines.

Thus the discipline became academically autonomous and institutionally entrenched. Relationships cultivated with various social control agencies guaranteed an infusion of funds. By the late sixties, university-located criminologists had become an important element in the infrastructure of social control. Manifesting any one of several forms of liberal-progressivism (L-P), these criminologists have accommodated their academic/intellectual aspirations to the shifting dictates of Canadian liberal hegemony.”

– Robert S. Ratner, “Inside the Liberal Boot: The Criminological Enterprise in Canada.”  Studies in Political Economy, Vol. 13, 1984. pp. 45-46.

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“The place
of crime and delinquency in the lives of the adolescent boys who
served time in Coxsackie and similar reformatories has never been
given a full accounting. If the educational reformers were reasonably
clear eyed when it came to educational and work histories, they
generally missed the significance of criminal histories. That this
should be overlooked is not entirely surprising, after all, the chief
selling point for the state’s focus on the adolescent male offender
was the promise of early intervention – that confinement at the
first signs of serious criminality would interrupt the start of a
potentially serious criminal career. Through youthful offender laws
New York simultaneously suppressed and denied serious criminality
among teenage boys.

critical histories of the reformatory tend to share this notion of
the naive youthful offender, arguing that progressive reforms tended
to have a ‘new widening’ effect, as the state expanded its reach
over otherwise stable patterns of youthful behavior. New York’s
intensified focus on the adolescent offender did
widen the net of
surveillance and control, but
there is no reason to assume that underlying patterns of adolescent
behavior were static. The ability of young men to cause troubles has
a historical specificity that, combined with criminal justice system
behavior, produced the patterns of adolescent criminal careers.

case files reveal that most of Coxsackie’s prisoners had been
arrested prior to the arrest that sent them to the reformatory. In
the case file sample, more than four of every five prisoners arrived
with prior arrests – far more than the general population of
adolescent criminal defendants. The average number of prior arrests
per inmate was quite stable over time, as was the relative
distribution of the number of arrests. There may have been a slight
rise in the proportion of never-arrested inmates in the post-war
years, although this difference may well be accounted for by a
decline in ‘unknown’ cases that could generally have been cases
of no record of arrest.

prisoners had far more previous institutional experience than the
designers of the reformatory could have imagined. The case sample of
Coxsackie inmates shows 118 (31.8%) having some prior institutional
commitment, a number that does not count jail time that might have
accompanied previous arrests. Unlike prior arrest patterns, the
experience of institutional commitment clearly declines over time in
the sample The percentage of Coxsackie prisoners with no prior
commitments rises with each five-year group, capturing part of what
may have been an even longer historical decline – fully one-half
of new commitments to the House of Refuge in 1925 had already spent
time in another institution

decline has two plausible explanations. One possibility is that the
opening of the Elmira Reception Center in 1945 diverted prisoners
with institutional experience from Coxsackie. A second possibility,
made more likely  by the House of Refuge data, is that young men
after World War II were simply less likely than previous generations
to be committed to an institution before they turned 16 years old.
Certainly this is most plausible in the case of private institutional
confinement, as the numbers of children in foster care began to
surpass the numbers in institutional care. To the extent that these
developments may have also depressed public institutional
commitments, it may help explain the decline…

case file sample does suggest, however, that Coxsackie inmates with
institutional experience frequently found themseves in a kind of
revolving door of placements within the complex of public and private
institutions that governed New York’s adolescent boys. Willie .,
growing up in New Rochelle with his immigrant parents, first
encountered the legal system just after his thirteenth birthday, when
a juvenile court judge sentenced him to probation because of
persistent delinquency. Two months later, Willie made another
juvenile court appearance, again because of his refusal to attend
school regularly. Six months passed before the next court appearance:
this time, the judge sentenced Willie to the Children’s Village, a
private juvenile institution where he lasted only four months before
being returned to the courts as ‘ungovernable.’  Unwilling to
return the young man to his parents, the court adjudicated him a
neglected child and sent him to St. Benedict’s home for Colored
Children in Rye, New York. He lasted two months before the
administrators of St. Benedict’s returned him to the court, where
he was adjudicated delinquent again and sent his first ‘state’
institution, the New York Training School at Warwick. At Warwick,
Willie made three escape attempts before being released. Following
this, he was adjudicated delinquent yet again (at age 15) and sent to
Industry, where he was paroled in February 1940. His freedom lasted
just six weeks before an arrest for assault sent him to Coxsackie.”

– Joseph F. Spillane, Coxsackie: The Life and Death of Prison Reform. Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 2014. pp.81-84.

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“Souriants, les
mutins se rendent,” La Presse. September 27, 1979. Page 03.

par André CEDILOT

Solidement menottés
points et aux chevilles mais
trouvant toujours la force de
sourire , Michel Boudreau et
Serge Payeur ont franchi à 18h10, hier, l’enceinte de l’institut
Archambault, à Sainte-Annedes-Plaines,
pour monter à bordd un fourgon cellulaire et être
conduits, sous une bonne garde,
au centre de développement
correctionnel à Saint-Vincent-de-Paul.

Comme toile de fond à cette
sortie pour le moins théâtrale ,
après un suspense qui aura duré
près de 57 heures, on entendait
les applaud issements et les
chants des au tres détenus du
centre de détention à sécurité
maximale, confinés dans leurs
cellules depuis le début de cette

Un communiqué
Après des négociations qui s’étaient poursuivies jus qu’en début d ’après-midi, hier les deux mutins avaient accepté de libé­rer les quatre otages qu’ils détenaient encore, en échange  de la publication dans tous les media d ’un communiqué qu’ils ont rédi­gé  pour dénoncer les conditions de vie qu’ils disent «comme dans un  camp de concentration», à l’intérieur des murs de la prison.

Dans celle missive , Bou ­dreau et Payeur, qui purgent
respectivement quatre et dix
années d’emprisonnement pour
des crimes violents, ont notamment fait allusion à certaines
lacunes médicales et alimentaires,
ainsi qu’à la mauvaise climatisation de certains locaux.
Ils ont, aussi reproché aux autorités
les retards apportés à effectuer les réparations à des… téléviseurs!

A la fin. les deux jeunes detenus
expriment leurs regrets
pour les inconvénients occasionnes
aux otages et à leurs familles
«Nous espérons écrivent-ils.
qu’ ils se remettront de cette pénible

Les autorités s’interrogent

Pour leur part, les autorités du pénitencier, tout en soulignant
qu’ils étudieraient les revendications
des mutins n’ont pas manqué
de s’interroger sur la pertinence
de cette prise d’otages, la
quatrième à survenir à l’institution de Sainte-Anne-des Plaines,
depuis 1976.

«On a peine à imaginer que
des détenus maintiennent un
siège de 57 heures, tout en met ­tant la vie de personnes en péril
pour dénoncer des conditions ded étention,
en sachant qu’ils peuvent écrire librement à tous
les media, sans qu’aucune censure
ne vienne amoindrir ce qu’ils
ont à dire,» a indiqué l’adjoint
au directeur du centre de détention,
M. Laval Marchand.

«De toute façon, a-t-il ajouté,
l ’im portant est que toute cette
affaire se soit terminée sans
trop de heurt, compte tenu qu’un
seul otage, M. Jacques Décompté, a été légèrement blessé au
cou, au tout début de cette prise

Puis, M. Marchand a insisté
pour louer le travail des négociateurs
de la prison. «C’est grâce à
leur habileté si tout s’est bien
passé», a -t-il dit, rappelant les
menaces de mort qu’avaient, à
l’origine, proférées les mutins,
par le biais de Denis «Poker»
Racine. Celui-ci, ainsi qu’un
comparse, Pierre Thibault, se
sont rendus mardi, en échange
de la promesse d’obtenir des
soins psychiatriques.

La même journée, deux des
six otages avaient également été
libérés. Il s’agit de Lise Roger et
Jacques Recompte. Quant aux
autres, Michel Paré, John Bronfman,
Serge Geoffroy et Martin
Chevarie, tous attachés à l’école
du centre de détention, ils ont
vécu le drame jusqu’à la dernière minute, hier.

Outre le travail des négociateurs, M. Marchand a aussi fait
mention que les familles des
mutins , par les appels pathétiques
qu’ils ont logés à ces derniers, ont aussi contribué à accélérer le règlement de celle prise
d’otages qui durait depuis lundi

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“Teaching at Archambault: Walking a hostage tightrope,” Montreal Gazette. August 27, 1979. Page 02.

Teachers at the Archambault Institute have been the targets of three hostage-taking incidents in just over a year – caught between desperate convicts and the prison administration.

It’s a situation that fits the role teachers play at the institute. For many convicts, teachers are a link to the outside world, a more human world than the prison that surrounded and confines them, one Archambault teacher who asked not to be identified, told The Gazette yesterday.

‘We work under a delicate balance between the understanding we have for the inmates and the knowledge that they are being punished – that they are in prison,’ she said.

‘We work to gain the trust of the inmates, and at the same time we are not fully trusted by them or the guards,’ the teacher said.

She said the classrooms where prisoners are taught a variety of subjects are not patrolled by armed guards, but are isolated from the rest of the institute by three armed guard posts.

‘I don’t feel unsafe because of the lack of guards though. In fact I would find it very hard to teach if a guard were there,’ she said.

The teacher has been involved in earlier hostage-taking incidents at Archambault, but she says was not really frightened by them.

‘After the last incident my students talked about hostage-taking with me,’ she said. ‘They talked very freely. They were critical of it, they said they knew it wouldn’t get anybody anywhere.’

But she can imagine what goes through a prisoner’s mind when he finally understands fully that he will be in prison for 20 years.

‘It must be an incredible sensation. They must really become desperate,’ she said.

The alleged ringleader of this week’s hostage-taking at Archambault is Denis Racine, a 22-year-old convicted murderer with no hope of parole for the next 23 years. He told the judge who sentenced him in Oct. 1977 to ‘hang or electrocute him’ rather than sentence him to spend a third of his life in prison.

‘I don’t think the students I taught would do something like this. Maybe it’s a naive of me though, maybe I’d feel different if I went through that kind of an experience.’

The four prisoners who took over the school Monday were not students. The 17 students in the classroom at the time were not involved in the hostage-taking and were released.

The teacher said she couldn’t help but get to know some of her students personally. The understanding leads to a strong sympathy for them, she says.

Caption: Manacled at waist and feet, jail hostage-takers Michel Boudreau and Serge Payeur surrender to authorities at Archambault yesterday. Gazette, John Mahone.                                                                                                                                                                 

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“It is not surprising to find that prisons would be instrumental
in the transition to an economy based increasingly on cheap

labour and fear. Critical criminologists tend to focus on the
human-rights consequences of such approaches, and on the
social damage generated by the rollback of more rehabilitative
approaches. But it may be more useful to look upon these as side effects
of an agenda larger than crime control. As Rusche
and Kirchheimer concluded pessimistically
some 65 years ago, ‘The futility of severe punishment and
cruel treatment may be proven a thousand times, but so long
as society is unable to solve its social problems, repression,
the easy way out, will always be accepted’.

According to these authors and many others, repression
is comforting because it hides ‘the symptoms of social disease’. This use of the word ‘repression’ is almost Freudian:
it implies a reflexive suppression of deeper, essentially
subconscious problems. Ultimately, this is not a stable situation—the
repressed will return, or produce new pathologies
indirectly. But its short-term effects give repression a timeless

So whether or not the ‘common sense’ approach actually
made sense as policy in corrections (or anywhere else it was
tried), from a strategic perspective its appeal is understandable.
Ratcheting up levels of fear among workers and
marginal populations would comfort those more securely
placed, and could always be justified in the language of

From this perspective, it is fortunate that there are still
limits to the potential ‘Americanisation’ of penal policy at
the provincial level in Canada. The most important of these
is that criminal law is a federal jurisdiction so that provinces,
unlike us states, have no recourse to the death penalty (for
example) as a tool of social control. However, the provinces
do have authority over the administration of courts, parole
eligibility and the incarceration of prisoners awaiting trial,
or those serving sentences of less than two years. All of these
provide opportunities for exemplary punishment. 

Ontario’s approach was to roll back anything resembling
a ‘privilege’ for prisoners, while railing at Ottawa’s alleged
coddling of major offenders in ‘Club Fed’ institutions.
Rehabilitative programmes, recreational facilities and ‘perks’
such as tvs, video games and smoking—and even time spent
outside the cell—were drastically curtailed in provincial institutions.
In scenes reminiscent of Southern chain gangs,
inmates were dressed in bright orange jumpsuits to pick up

trash from roadsides. Many of these measures affect those
remanded for trial—and still legally innocent—as much as
those who have actually been convicted. 

The campaign against ‘coddled’ prisoners clearly has
much in common with the one conducted against welfare
recipients. In both cases, conservatives are outraged at the
possibility that the lifestyles of these state dependants might
begin to approach those of the working poor, and have sought
to impose the principle of ‘lesser eligibility’ with more vigour.
Driving down the living standards of the ‘undeserving’
is justified in terms of tax savings; but it also helps to suppress
the expectations of the ‘deserving’ poor who work in the
low-wage, contingent workforce. Needless to say, other sorts
of state dependants—contracted consultants and corporate
ceos on loan to the state—are not expected to adopt similarly
Spartan lifestyles.

In the 1930s, Rusche and Kirchheimer saw lesser eligibility
as the means by which the labour market regulated
prison reform: the latter could not improve conditions inside
prisons beyond the state of the worst jobs outside them. This meant that there was more hope for reform
when labour markets were tight and workers had the leverage
to demand more. The logic of ‘common sense’ corrections
stands this process on its head. Where market trends are
pushing work conditions downward, lesser eligibility
demands that the state should degrade options outside waged
work still further.

The Ontario Tories were particularly ambitious in this
regard. Thousands of welfare recipients were forced into the
lower ends of the job market by disentitlement or obligatory
workfare. Life on the street was made even more unpleasant
by the Safe Streets Act, which unleashed the police on
squeegee kids and ‘aggressive panhandlers’. Truants and young offenders
were increasingly funneled into ‘strict discipline facilities’
in a last-ditch effort to make them suitable citizens/workers. And those desperate enough
to linger in jail rather than face the workday grind would
find those facilities even less hospitable than before. The
severity of each of these measures was trumpeted—not
hidden—by the government, so each and every one needs to

be seen as part of the deterrence-and-discipline campaign.
They were clearly meant to address a variety of audiences
for a variety of purposes (some quite partisan), but in combination
they signaled at least a symbolic turn to the penal
management of poverty. And inasmuch as jails (rather than
prisons) seem to touch the lives of so many of the poor, it
made sense to turn to them as the means of inscribing a new
discipline on the bodies in question.

The accumulation of petty indignities is potentially explosive
inside prison walls. Some Ontario facilities are fuelling a
dangerous mix of ‘boredom … triple bunking and vermin
infestations … and unassisted “cold turkey” withdrawal from
nicotine’. In the
USA, overcrowding and related Supreme Court rulings have
been the major justification for a massive prison-building spree,
and for the inclusion of private capital in order to help meet
the demand for prison spaces. 

In Canada, incarceration rates have risen since the 1970s,
but nowhere nearly as dramatically as in the usa. Ontario’s
growth in incarceration rates has been primarily among
remanded prisoners—whose numbers have risen even as the
number of sentenced prisoners fell. So the pressures of
overcrowding, while serious, do not approach those that have
sustained the us prison boom (Government of Canada, 2002:
55–56). Why, then, did the Conservatives find it necessary to
spend over $700 million in construction costs alone, in order
to support a corrections policy that was supposed to stress
‘no frills’ efficiency?”

–  Greg McElligott, “Negotiating a coercive turn: Work discipline and prison reform in Ontario.” Capital & Class, 2007, #91. pp. 42-44.

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“Convicts give up – Hostage drama ends at prison,” Montreal Gazette. September 27, 1979. Page 01 & 02.

of The Gazette

One of the most bizarre hostage-taking incidents in the 10-year history of the maximum security Archambault Institute ended last night when two inmates released four people they had held at knife-point since Monday morning.

In return for the safe release of guards Serge Geoffroy, 28, and Martin Chevarie, and teachers Michel Pare, 25, and John Brockman, the convicts were permitted to issue a five-page 14-point communique to the news media.

It took inmates Michel Boudreau and Serge Payeur five hours to write the communique that listed such complaints as bad food, improper medical facilities, workshops that were too hot, inadequate lighting in the gymnasium, and delays in repairing prison televisions.

In conclusion, the convicts wrote: ‘We, Michel Boudreau, and Serge Payeur, have taken this action (the hostage seizure) with the aim of improving conditions at the Archambault Institute.

‘We regret the inconvenience caused to the hostages and their families. We hope they will recover rapidly from this painful experience.’

The communique left prison officials like assistant warden Laval Marchand perplexed.

‘They didn’t have to take hostages to get something like this to the news media,’ said Marchand as he waved the communique.

‘Any inmate in Archambault has the right to write a letter like this to anyone he wants, even to the news media, without fear of having it censored,’ said Marchand.

‘I think they came out with the communique, to save face with the other inmates in the institution because they didn’t know what else to do after Denis Racine, their leader, gave up Tuesday night,’ said Marchand.

During the 57-hour drama all activities were cancelled at the penitentiary, 50 kilometres north of Montreal.

Payeur and Boudreau let their hostages go around 6 p.m. and surrendered to authorities minutes later.

They were led out of the penitentiary shackled to waist belts. The pair smiled at photographers and joked with reporters while being led to a van that transported them to the Correctional Development Centre in Laval.

This was the fifth hostage taking incident in the penitentiary’s history and the second within 14 months at the school.

It began Monday morning when tour inmates led by Racine, a 22-year-old convicted murderer, jumped a guard and clerk Jacques Lecompte at the door of the school.

The convicts were armed with home made ice picks and an iron bar. During a struggle, Lecompte was stabbed in the neck.

Once inside the school the convicts found they not only had six hostages but 17 inmate students who wanted nothing to do with the siege.

Racine called radio station CKVL crime reporter Claude Poirier and threatened that ‘heads will be collected in the corridor if they don’t give us our freedom.’

In return for food the 17 inmate students were released. Later they released Lecompte in exchange for an open telephone line so Racine could call his mother.

The following morning (Tuesday) inmate Pierre Thibault called it quits and left the group to surrender to authorities.

Shortly after noon, Lise Roger, the only woman to be held hostage, was released as a sign of good faith.

Eight hours later Racine surrendered to authorities in exchange for a transfer to the Pinel Institute, on Gound Blvd. East, where he will receive psychiatric treatment.

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“«Poker» s’est rendu
• Deux mutins détienne
encore quatre otages,” La Presse. September 26, 1979. Page 22.

par Raymond GERVAIS

La nuit dernière, au moment
de mettre sous presse, deux mutins détenaient toujours quatre
employés de l’Institut Archambault de Sainte-Anne-des-Plainés en otage .

Le suspense a
commence vers 8h30 lundi matin et les négociations entre deux
représentants de l’institution
carcérale et les deux ravisseurs
se poursuivaient toujours, mais
à pas de tortue.

Hier soir, Denis «Poker» Racine,
âgé de 23 ans, que l’on croit
être l’instigateur de la prise d’otages,
s’est livré aux autorités
du pénitencier. Plus tôt dans la
journée, un autre mutin avait fait la même chose: il s’agit de 

Pierre Thibault, 19 ans; les deux
prisonniers ont été conduits sous
bonne garde au Centre de développement correctional situé à

Prise d’otages

C’est la quatrième prise d’otages à survenir à cette institution depuis 1976.

Le 4 mai 1976, Michel English
et Léopold Mercier s’étaient
emparés de deux gardes pendant
13 heures. L e 20 juillet 1978, Serge
Roberge et Maurice Paquette
ont pris quatre employés de l’école
en otage et cette prise d’otages dura 70 heures. Le 9 mai
dernier, Alain Fortin et Richard
Cusson se sont emparés de deux
gardes pendant huit
heures. Finalement, le 24 septembre, Denis «Poker» Racine, qui
purge une peine d’emprissonment à perpétuité pour le meurtre
d’un adolescent de 16 ans, survenu à Terre des Hommes, le 28 juin
1976, Pierre Thibault, 19 ans, condamné à 11 ans de prison pour vol
qualifié et tentative de meurtre, Michel Boudreau, 23 ans, incarcéré
pour vol qualifié et pour évasion, ainsi que Serge Payeur, âgé de
24 ans, qui purge une peine de dix ans d’emprisonnement pour
enlèvement et pour vol avec violence séquestrent six personnes à
l’intérieur de l’école du pénitencier.

Au cours d’une conversation téléphonique (enregistré par
les gardes) que le détenu Racine
a eue avec sa mère, lundi soir,
celui-ci lui a dit: «Je ne peux rester ici, je ne suis éligible à une
libération conditionnell que
dans 22 ans. Quand je sortirai de
prison, j’aurai 40 ans, c’est im possible, je dois sortir avant ça.»
A plusieurs reprises au cours
de la conversation téléphonique,
sa mère a tenté de lui faire entendre raison et qu’il n’obtiendrait rien en menaçant la vie des
gens innocents, mais «Poker» ne
voulait rien entendre.



Rappelons que Racine purge
présentementune peine d’emprisonnement à vie à la suite du
meurtre de Roger Arsenault qui
avit été poignardé au coeur,
pour un manteau de cuir.
Au moment du meurtre de l’adolescent,
Racine était accompné
des trois freres Johnston,
Gary, alors âgé de 21 ans, Murray, 19 ans ainsi que d’un adolescent.
La victime était accompagnée
d’un ami, Alain Tétreault,
16 ans, qui lui aussi a été poignardé
à deux reprises par l’assassin
de son ami.

Hier soir, les quatre personnes
toujours détenues en otage
par les deux mutins étaient Michel Paré, 35 ans, John Bronkman dont on ne connaît pas l’âge, deux professeurs, le gardien
Serge Geoffroy, 28 ans, ainsi
qu’un préposé à l’entretien, Martin Chevarie, 30 ans environ. 

Hier après-midi, Lise Roger,
âgée de 23 ans, professeur à l’Institut Archambault, a été libérée
par les détenus, pour prouver
leur bonne foi aux négociateurs
du pénitencier. Un autre otage,
Jacques Lecompte, 25 ans, avait été libéré lundi soir et a dû être
traité pour un choc nerveux et
des blessures mineures.


Hier matin, les ravisseurs
avaient demandé aux autorités
de leur fournir un autobus aux
vitres teintées, des cagoules, des
bottes, des vêtements pour passer
inaperçus parmi les otages
ainsi que la morphine. Ces demandes des prisonniers ainsi que toutes les autres ont d’ailleurs
été refusées parles autorités.

Les mutins ne pouvaient d’ailleurs
espérer obtenir quoi que ce
soit, la consigne des pénitenciers
fédéraux étant de ne laisser sortir
aucun prisonnier sous aucune

Tout ce que les détenus peuvent
espérer lors d’une prise d’otages,
c’est un transfert dans
une autre institution carcérale. 

Selon l’assistant-directeur du
pénitencier, M. Laval Marchand, «il est évident que les
mutins sont divisés puisqu’ils se
rendent un par un.»

Un psychologue qui travaillé
en milieu carcéral a précisé,
hier, que les prisonniers qui participent à des prises d’otages le
font souvent pour se revaloriser
aux yeux de leurs co-détenus.
«Lors qu’un prisonnier perd du
terrain vis-à-vis les autres, souvent il veut participerr à quelque
chose pour reprendre la «pôle»
qu’il a perdue. C’est la loi du milieu
qui veut ça.» 



a de plus déclaré que «lors qu’il y a des prises
d’otages et que les mutins se
rendent un à un, c’est fréquement par ce qu’ils ne sont
pas d’accord avec les autres,
que ce soit pour exiger quelque
chose de l’administration ou une
décision à l’égard des otages qui
pourra it en traîner une offensive
de la part des gardes.»    

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Racine Se Livre – Quatre otages toujours détenus,” La Presse. September 26, 1979. Page 01.

Denis «Poker» Racine, que l’on croit être l’instigateur de la prise d’otages au pénitencier de Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, s’est livré, hier soir, aux autorités vers 19h50. Racine avait les chaînes aux pieds et une ceinture de métal autour de la taille à laquelle il était menotté. Il a été immédiatement conduit sous bonne garde au Centre de développement correctionnel. Michél Boudreau et Serge Payeur, les deux autres mutins, détenaient toujours, hier soir, quatre otages. 

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“Ringleader quits but hostage drama goes on,” Montreal Gazette. September 26, 1979. Pages 01 & 02.

of The Gazette

STE ANNE-DES-PLAINES – Chewing on a piece of gum, Denis Racine, ring leader of Monday’s hostage taking incident at the Archambault Institute, last night surrendered to authorities.

But much to the surprise of prison officials and negotiators, the siege continued with four hostages still being held by two convicts.

‘Earlier in the day we were under the impression that if Racine surrendered the other inmates would follow,’ said Laval Marchand, the assistant warden at the maximum-security penitentiary, 50 kilometres north of Montreal.

Racine, wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, was the second of four convicts involved in the hostage taking to surrender.

Pierre Thibault, serving 11 years for attempted murder and armed robbery, turned himself in to authorities earlier in the day.

Both Thibault and Racine, who was serving a 25-year-term for the murder of a 16-year-old youth at La Ronde in 1976, were transferred to the Correctional Development Centre (CDC) in Laval, a special handling unit where hostage takers and escapers are kept.

Racine will be examined by a psychiatrist and transferred to the Pinel Institute for the criminally insane if doctors find him in need of psychiatric care, Marchand said.

Penitentiary officials identified the remaining captors as Michel Boudreault, serving four years for armed robbery and escape custody, and Serge Payeur, serving a 10-year sentence for robbery with violence and kidnapping.

They are holding guard Serge Geoffroy, 28, Martin Chevarie, and teachers Michel Pare, 35, and Jock Brockman,.

Around 2 p.m. to show good faith, the convict released a fifth hostage, Lise Roger, 23.

Shortly after her release, the convicts were notified by authorities that their demands for a van with painted windows, seven identical uniforms including boots and gloves and a quantity of morphine, had been refused.

After being informed of the refusal the convicts began negotiating for a transfer out of the Archambault Institute.

‘They realized their demands for freedom were unacceptable and immediately concentrated on transfers rather than threaten the hostages,’ Marchand said.

Meanwhile, it has been learned that a recommendation to build a catwalk over the school so guards can see inside was accepted last week.

Penitentiary sources said the construction of the catwalk was included in the 1980-81 construction budget for Quebec-based federal penitentiaries.

The recommendation was made following a 72-hour hostage drama 14 months ago in the school.

Last night Marchand told reporters the administration of the Archambault Institute will recommend a board of inquiry that the catwalk be constructed immediately after the latest hostage incident ends.

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Prosthetic Man: The Wounded or Disabled Veteran
a satirical article in Die
1920 looking at what he called the ‘prosthetic economy
Raoul Hausmann mimicked the celebratory rhetoric heard more and more
often extolling the great potential of prosthetic technologies for
the regeneration of the country. ‘The prosthetic-person

is therefore a better human being, raised thanks to the world war to,
so to speak, a higher class’. One such technology, the Brandenburg
artificial arm, is ‘the greatest wonder of technology and a great
mercy’, impervious to scalding heat or even to being shot, and able
to work a 25-hour day without becoming tired. Prostheses ensure
higher taxes for the Fatherland, and prosthetic men require less
food: ‘thank goodness there are still upstanding lads – and we
can remember this for the new big war – when in principle we will
have just two types of soldiers: those who will be shot dead right
away, and the second type, those who are presented with prostheses.
With these people we will manage Germany’s rebuilding – that’s
why every reasonable person demands a prosthetic economy instead of a
council dictatorship’.

as the hopes for a council republic were fading, Hausmann ironically
presents the prosthetic state as the capitalist response to communist
social transformation. Hausmann’s satire is telling precisely
because the language he uses and the themes he takes up were not
uncommon at the time. Medical and popular discourses of prosthetics
put forward techno-utopian visions of bodily regeneration and
transformation. More concretely, Hausmann’s satire shows the extent
to which ideas of rehabilitation were read through an economic lens;
the value of prostheses could only be measured in terms of labour,
extensions of Taylorist and Fordist strategies of efficiency
integrating workers with the machine. Hausmann’s own art developed
this satirical perspective through
the production of cyborg bodies whose various mechanical components
extend the body’s potentials in mysterious ways.

was deeply attuned to the ways in which capitalist practices
reengineered bodies and subjectivities. As his references to war
suggest, however, he had a more concrete phenomenon in mind, namely
the huge number of war veterans who had been wounded or disabled.
Even as many of them were being shunted to the streets or confined in
institutions, programmes were being implemented to integrate them
back into the workforce and, crucially, to lessen state obligations
towards them. Unlike the decontextualised presentation of bodily
injury we saw in Dix’s Two
his many canvases showing disabled veterans begging on the streets,
Hausmann’s satire is carefully attuned to the concrete politics at
play, suggesting that the politics of disability can only be
understood in relation to a broader project for the production of
labouring and fighting bodies.

broadly, however, in the culture of the period the figure of the ‘war
cripple’ or ‘war wounded’ (The
term ‘war cripple’ (Kriegskrüppel)
was commonly used,
sometimes by the artists
I will discuss here. As we shall see the term was sometimes rejected
for its stigmatising implications. Other common terms included ‘war
invalid’ (Kriegsinvalider)
or ‘war wounded’ (Kriegsbeschädigter
Here I will vary my use of the English equivalents to fit the context
– although, as with the term ‘sex worker’, I will use more
contemporary terminology in my discussion as well). One of the
underlying themes in this section
will be to highlight the implications of different ways of
conceptualising serious injury, impairment, and disability.
joined that of the prostitute as one of the most complex and
overdetermined symbols of the Weimar period, the two together
providing a gendered pair embedded deeply in practices of social
hygiene and eugenics.   At one level, the constant recurrence of
images of wounded and disabled veterans simply reflected the massive
bodily impact of the War. While exact numbers are difficult to come
by, Robert Whalen estimates that 4.3 million German soldiers were
wounded during the War. In 1920 the government officially recognised
over 1.5 million as officially disabled, making them eligible for a
pension. That number was reduced later in 1920 by giving those with a
disability defined as ten percent or less a lump-sum payment, and
again in 1923 for those with less than a 25 percent disability. The
percentages reflect the state’s attempts to manage social welfare
programmes by categorising disability; the numbers were tied directly
to work, with the percentage reflecting the presumed reduction in
ability to labour. Both in terms of state expenditures and labour,
the question of disability thus loomed large in Weimar economic and
political thinking, with the state trying to manage these issues
through the
twinned projects of welfare and prosthetics. Disabled veterans and
their dependents, along with other disabled people, often challenged
these state practices, however, meaning that the politics of
disability remained a major field of contestation throughout the
Weimar period. It was in this context that artistic representations
of war-related injuries and disabilities emerged, a perspective that,
in many cases, was shaped by artists’ own experiences in the War.

veterans occupied a distinct and conflicted position in relation to
broader discourses of disability. Not only were almost all of them
men, as soldiers they had, according to the rhetoric of war,
performed a peculiarly masculine bodily sacrifice. As politicians
frequently proclaimed, they were owed the ‘thanks of the
Fatherland’. At the same time, though, social hygienic discourses
had long read people with disabilities through narratives of
degeneration and the health of the Volkskörper.
Thus, disabled veterans were caught up in two potentially
contradictory modes of understanding, what we might call the heroic
and the social hygienic narratives. These competing discourses had
directly material implications, particularly in contestations over
pensions or other benefits. Disabled veterans drew on the heroic
narrative not only for their own identity formation, but also to
argue for state support. Indeed, soldiers had access to state support
that was denied other disabled people, as there was a network of
state and district welfare bureaus (Fürsorgestellen)
dealing with disabled veterans and war survivors that was separate
from other welfare and disability programmes. As Dix’s
configuration of the wounded veteran in Two
however, and as I will argue here, wounded and disabled veterans were
never entirely able to escape from the pull of narratives of social
hygiene, demonstrating in the process the centrality of a politics of
disability to the embodied logic of capitalist modernity more
generally, and Weimar society in particular.

the Weimar period support for disabled veterans and their dependents
made up a significant proportion of state spending. While the number
of disabled veterans receiving pensions had declined to 720,000 by
1924, that year also saw 365,000 widows, 962,000 half orphans, 65,000
full orphans, and 194,000 dependent parents receiving public support
through the military pension system, with the broader war-related
pension and welfare programmes taking up fully one-third of
government funds between 1920 and 1932. Other social groups – such
as Sozialrentner,
who lived on funds from disability, old-age, or accident insurance,
and the Kleinrentner,
who had seen their income from savings and investments wiped out by
inflation – likewise staked a claim to state support as victims of
war. These social programmes were deeply shaped by the broader social
welfare system in Germany on which… the SPD in particular sought to
ground its place in Weimar politics.

welfare had a long history in Germany, implemented originally by
Bismarck as part of his attempts to undercut the growing influence of
the left. As Andreas Killen puts it: ‘Germany’s social
legislation was conceived as the cornerstone of a policy aimed at
taming the revolutionary impulses of the working classes, which it
sought to redirect into what [Thomas] Mann called a revolution of the
body’. This revolution of the body was the point at which social
welfare and social hygiene intersected. Prior to the First World War,
welfare had been run primarily by confessional organisations, with
poverty configured through a paternalistic model that differentiated
deserving from undeserving poor. The pre-War SPD resisted these
stigmatising social welfare perspectives and argued for universal
state programmes. The war years saw welfare programmes move somewhat
in this direction. As we saw in the second chapter, existing social
programmes expanded and changed as the state and military attempted
to sustain the war effort. Young-Sun Hong argues that: ‘World War I
precipitated a contradiction in the conditions of social reproduction
in Germany because the social programs undertaken to mobilize the
home front and the increasingly industrialized war effort tended to
undermine those relations of political authority and social deference
which the war was being fought to preserve’. It was in this sense
that, as we saw, the state was increasingly delegitimised during the

the War, war-related disability had already been presented as a
distinct social welfare issue. In early 1915 the prominent
orthopaedic surgeon Konrad Biesalksi argued in the Reichstag that
state resources should be redirected to support disabled veterans on
the grounds that, ‘firm like the phalanx of our fighters on all the
borders, inside the country stands this social dam’. Biesalski’s
comments reflect the militarised logic of total war… with the
defence of both internal and external boundaries crucial to its
prosecution. This logic translated into the language of treatment as
well, with work the measure of success. Like the deserving poor who
could be helped up by welfare, ‘it was the will
to work
would propel the disabled veteran back into the self-esteem of social
productivity’. Medical treatment itself was frequently configured
as a battle of wills between doctor and patient. Some veterans’
organisations strategically took up this view as well, arguing that
the ‘will to work’ of disabled soldiers was more
than in the population at large. Underlying all of these claims was
the implication that some disabled people displayed an inadequate
will; as with the ‘work-shy’ unemployed, this was the point at
which discourses of degeneration took hold.

the aftermath of the War, under the influence of the SPD, the logic
of welfare shifted to an extent. The SPD’s desired universal,
secular social welfare system was never realised, with the Weimar
system remaining a hybrid of confessional and state-run programmes,
and the punitive and stigmatising model of poverty also retaining
much of its strength. But the SPD did work to reform and expand the
social welfare system, seeking to shift away from the paternalistic
Bismarckian model even while still conceiving of social welfare in
terms of the containment of the radical left. In relation to
disability, the most tangible result of these reforms was the passage
of the Law of the Severely Disabled (Schwerbeschädigtengesetz)
in 1920, which was sponsored by the SPD but garnered cross-party
support. The law was notable in that it covered not only disabled
veterans, but also other disabled people (in particular those
disabled in accidents). Veterans
with a disability categorised as 40 percent and over qualified for
state support, but non-veterans only at 50 percent. The
categorisation of disability in this way gave doctors and bureaucrats
broad discretion in determining qualification; this became evident in
the late 1920s and early 1930s when doctors began to loosen their
criteria, leading to a large jump in the number of those covered by
the law. It
mandated that employers of over 25 people hire at least one disabled
person, the numbers increasing with the size of the enterprise. The
impact of the law was significant, ensuring relatively high
employment rates for disabled people. It was a remarkable piece of
legislation in this respect, but it also demonstrates the centrality
of labour to social welfare initiatives and the politics of

law intersected with the desire to reassert a gendered division of
labour that, as we saw in previous chapters, was a primary concern
across the political spectrum in the aftermath of the War. Those
covered by the Law of the Severely Disabled were primarily men, and
it was implemented at precisely the time that women’s labour force
participation was being discouraged by demobilisation policies. The
law was thus geared not only towards rehabilitation in terms of
disability, but also the reconstitution of masculinity. For the USPD
– who argued for increased pensions rather than the imposition of
workforce quotas in the initial debates over the law in 1918 – it
was precisely the gendered order that was at stake. Thus, the USPD’s
Karl Ryssel suggested that inadequate pensions would force the wives
of disabled men to work, undermining families and undercutting men’s
wages. In this context, not only were women more likely than men to
lose their jobs to disabled veterans, but disabled women
almost entirely absent from the debate.

extensive rehabilitation industry that sprang up early in the War
likewise took the male working body as its object. The development of
this industry cemented the professional claim of the medical
establishment, supplemented in the case of prosthetics by engineers,
to treatment of the disabled body. As Mia Fineman puts it, in the
aftermath of defeat, the ‘rehabilitation industry briskly stepped
in … to replace the amputated will to victory with a prosthetic
will to work’. It is this tendency that was satirised so
effectively by Hausmann. Prosthetic technologies were developed as
part of a reconceptualisation of the body that drew heavily on
Taylorist principles of rationalised production, as well as the
specifically European field of psychotechnics. For many in the
industry, the development of prosthetic technologies was celebrated
as a new frontier for German technological achievement, an
integration of medicine and engineering that, as Fineman suggests,
could redeem the failure of the War. The focus of production shifted
from aesthetic prostheses (that is, prostheses designed to mimic the
appearance of the limbs they replaced) to functional prostheses
designed to perform specific tasks; the former were still produced,
but were intended for leisure time or for workers who did not require
use of those limbs at work. The capitalist division of work and
leisure was thus reflected in prosthetic design itself.

Peter Sloterdijk argues, this homo
affinities to the armoured soldier-male of the radical right’s
imagination, both in terms of the emphasis on technology and the
premium placed on will. However, his argument tends to ignore the
extent to which disability was also enmeshed in the more mundane
bourgeois and managerial practices of labour, social hygiene, and
social welfare. Or, to put it another way, radical right ideologies
were not discontinuous with those practices. Sloterdijk’s approach
entails a rejection of the instrumental rationality on which
rehabilitation was based, but we need to be careful in drawing out
the implications of this critique. As Carol Poore argues, while
rehabilitation and welfare provisions reflected a technocratic and
potentially repressive approach, in many ways they also proved
enabling for disabled people. Germany provided more extensive
pensions and care for disabled veterans than other countries, and
rehabilitation, she argues, enjoyed significant success. In a social
context in which labour was ideologically and materially central to
everyday life, such provisions were crucial in sustaining quality of
life, a point that disability rights activists themselves stressed.
Some, including the prominent activist Otto Perl, argued for the
importance of orthopaedics and medicine in improving conditions for
people with physical disabilities, although he was sceptical of the
impact of the 1920 legislative changes, and argued that the high
point in this respect had been reached before the War.

interesting expression of the narrative of progress surrounding
prostheses was the way in which they were covered in the media. They
were often fetishised as markers of technological progress,
celebrated through articles and photographs in popular science
magazines like Die
As with Taylorist time-motion studies more generally, photography and
film were deployed in the service of rehabilitation, enabling the
representation and analysis of movement in the service of this
progress. The doctor Waldemar Schweisheimer tied this directly to
strengthening the will of disabled veterans: ‘[n]othing encourages
the war wounded [Kriegsbeschädigten]
more quickly and strongly, nothing gives them more hope and therefore
makes them more driven and skillful, as when they can see their
hard-working exercises presented to them, either in person or, when
that isn’t possible, in the excellent substitute of film’.

confident claim notwithstanding, it is clear that not all disabled
veterans shared this positive view of rehabilitation, with many
rejecting the reductionism of its individualising and rationalising
approach. In response, many turned to collective action. As mentioned
in the second chapter, wounded and disabled veterans played a
prominent role in the wartime protests. Their demonstrations
escalated after the War. A host of organisations speaking for
disabled veterans and other ‘war victims’ sprang up, divided
primarily along political lines. There were seven such major
organisations with a total membership of nearly 1.4 million in 1921.
The SPD-oriented Reichsbund,
founded in 1917, was the largest, while the KPD-oriented
International Organisation of Victims of War and Labour, which formed
out of a split from the Reichsbund,
encompassed over 130,000 members by 1921. Crucially, as the name
suggests, the communist organisation broadened the scope of those
covered to include work-related disability. The Weimar political
landscape was profoundly shaped by the agitation of these different

formation of these groups helped to ensure that disability became a
prominent public issue in the aftermath of the War, and also led to
an increase in the participation of disabled people who were not
veterans. At the same time, the new organisations drew on the work of
disabled activists who had long been agitating for social change.
Organisations of blind and deaf Germans had formed before the War,
and after the War they sought alliances with veterans. In the case of
blindness, this mobilisation won the expansion of social welfare
coverage beyond those blinded in the War. The Selbsthilfebund
der Körperbehinderten
League of the Physically Disabled [SBK]), also named the Otto
its founder, formed after the War to support all physically disabled
people. Perl’s own history of disability, published in 1926, was
notable for its critical analysis of changing institutional practices
around disability, rejecting especially the persistent reading of
disability in relation to labour. He argued that Luther’s
contention that ‘[w]hoever doesn’t work also shouldn’t eat’,
had profoundly shaped the modern conception of disability, inscribing
it in discourses of ‘worthiness’ that were profoundly troubling.

male disability-rights activists hoped to undermine the depiction of
disabled people as unwilling or incapable of work by mobilising
military and masculinist discourses of heroism. Disabled veterans,
the Reichsbund
stressed, were not just heroes of the War, but ‘heroes of everyday
life’ for the way in which they had to fight through poverty,
suffering, and the impact of their disabilities. Disabled
non-veterans drew on these themes as well. Carl von Kugelgen, who had
lost an arm in civilian life, rejected the stigmatising term
‘cripple’ [Krüppel],
especially for its association with begging, and the conception of
people with disabilities as being of lesser worth. ‘Having once
lost my arm’, he argued, ‘I would not – out of my conscious,
free will – have it any other way, for what appeared to be a loss
which would make me weaker has actually made me richer and stronger,
has made me into what I am. I want my destiny, I love my destiny, I
am my destiny’. The title of his book, written during the War,
rendered this revaluation of disability experience through a military
metaphor of male overcoming: Not
Cripple – Victor!

SBK thus argued for the deinstitutionalisation of disability and the
provision of support for work and independent living. This point was
made in Marie Gruhl’s presentation on behalf of the SBK at the 38th
conference on welfare in March 1924. Arguing that self-help groups
were the third pillar of social welfare alongside state and private
agencies, Gruhl argued that the place of disabled people was ‘not
in the infirmary, they belong in free living and work communities’.
Significantly, though, Gruhl (like the SBK more generally) focused on
physical disability; she stressed that she ‘is not speaking of the
mentally ill’. Mobilising this distinction between forms of
disability was part of the SBK’s strategic positioning by which it
sought to expand access to programmes and benefits for physical
disabilities to all disabled people, not only veterans. By
hierarchising forms of disability, however, this approach ran the
risk of reinforcing some dimensions of discourses of degeneration and
social hygiene.

of degeneration were founded on a close connection between bodies and
psyches, rendering the distinctions Gruhl and the SBK sought to
maintain extremely unstable. Interestingly, artists and writers
tended to reverse the stigmatising of types of disability, with
physical disability often presented through the lens of the
grotesque, and cognitive difference (madness) valorised as
potentially emancipatory and creative. In such artistic productions,
the prosthetic body itself tended to serve as an ambivalent symbol
for the fragmented state of modern
life. In this sense, the cultural politics of disability was closely
linked with ideas of fragmentation and totality outlined in the last
chapter. As with the prostitute body, representations of disabled
bodies tended to abstract them from the lived experiences and
material concerns outlined above, reading them instead through
fetishised or stigmatised tropes of bodily difference. Notable as
well is the fact that, despite the prominence of the various social
movements that I have touched on here, most artists tended to efface
the social constitution of disability.

of the most famous works using disability as a symbol for modern life
was Leonard Frank’s book Der
Mensch ist Gut
is Good
written during the later years of the War. Frank’s own career
followed the familiar trajectory from Expressionism to neue
He was associated with the Activist movement around Kurt Hiller whose
work was rejected by many left critics and artists for its espousal
of vague humanist and artist-led notions of transformation. For his
defenders, Frank’s work ‘had the effect of the unyielding
sobriety (Nüchternheit)
of photography’ associated with reportage. Man
is Good
made up of a series of loosely connected stories written in an
Expressionist vein, with the culminating part of the book focusing on
‘the war cripple’. This latter story begins in an operating
theatre behind the front, amputated body parts strewn about, with
both the doctor and patients trying desperately to sustain a sense of
coherence in the midst of this bloody fragmentation. Through this
bodily violence they find a shared humanity that transcends the
antagonisms of war, a theme familiar from Toller’s Transformation.
The mad, the blind, the cripples of all sides in the War are now
linked, thinks one soldier: ‘[t]hey wounded us, we wounded them.
And fundamentally we are all comrades’.

scene shifts to a troop train full of wounded soldiers returning to
the home front. Frank details the injuries, including a car full of
‘mad’ veterans, a man with severe facial injuries, and a man who
has lost all of his limbs. Upon arrival in a city the men disembark
and, in a typically Expressionist conclusion, lead a parade through
the town, the man with no limbs seated on a kind of throne leading
the way in this vaguely carnivaleque procession. The parade thus
serves as an integrative and redemptive spectacle. Only Jesus had a
bigger impact than the wounded veterans, the narrator says. Their
presence overwhelms the residents, who all gradually emerge out of
their homes and workplaces, shutting the city down. This event gives
rise to a new human, and a new humanity.

account participates in a number of very ambivalent conceptions of
disability. The Expressionist evocation of a social transformation
mediated by the intervention of these wounded and disabled veterans
is powerful in that it foregrounds the immense bodily impact of war
and configures the wounded and disabled body as a source of social
regeneration. In one sense the novel’s excessively visible
rendering of the bodies of disabled veterans can be read as an
implicit critique of the institutional practice of keeping veterans
with severe facial or other highly visible injuries confined in
secretive military hospitals away from the public view. However, as
Elizabeth Hamilton argues: ‘[d]epicting disability as a product of
damage, Frank upholds the notion that disability is derived from able
bodiedness and is not to be considered an experience in its own
right. When able bodiedness is validated in this manner, it is
impossible to speak of disability as anything but a problem or a flaw
whose solution lies in its prevention or cure’. In this sense
Frank’s work deploys disability as what David Mitchell and Sharon
Snyder have called a ‘narrative prosthesis’. They argue that
disability is anything but hidden in literature: ‘disabled peoples’
social invisibility has occurred in the wake of their perpetual
circulation throughout print history’. In this context, ‘disability
has been used throughout history as a crutch upon which literary
narratives lean for their representational power, disruptive
potentiality, and analytical insight. Bodies show up in stories as
dynamic entities that resist or refuse the cultural scripts assigned
to them’.

trope of disability is thus paradoxical, undermining but ultimately
guaranteeing normative forms of bodily and narrative coherence. The
problem, evident to a significant degree in Frank’s story and much
of the cultural production
of the period, is that disabled bodies tend to appear not in relation
to historical and material contexts of disability experience, but as
figures  enabling other narrative ends, in this case a
quasi-Expressionist transformation. As with prostitute bodies,
disabled bodies here work very much as a crutch supporting artistic
renderings of transgression and transformation. For critics like
Heinz Kindermann, writing in 1933, this represented an inadmissible
utopianism for which the ‘radical
of writers like
Brecht offered a necessary antidote.

constant return in this period to representations of non-normative
bodies foregrounded the very difficult problem of the grotesque
which… was central to avant-garde aesthetics. This problem of the
grotesque was itself part of the experience of disability and
impairment. As Robert Whalen argues in his history of the bodily
impact of the First World War in Germany, veterans’ experiences
by the grotesque. ‘Touched by grotesque death, they discovered to
their horror that they had become grotesque’. This was most notably
the case for veterans with severe facial injuries who, as indicated
earlier, were generally segregated from other patients and the
public. A
rather horrifying instance of the instrumentalisation of wounded
veterans came at the Versailles conference after the War. When the
German delegation came to the Hall of Mirrors at the palace to sign
the final document they were met by five French veterans, all with
severe facial injuries, who had been brought from their isolated
hospitals for the occasion. Clemenceau tearfully shook each of their
hands, a piece of political theatre in which the disabled veterans
were reduced to props in a spectacle designed to further humiliate
the Germans. By
appropriating this experience as a narrative prosthesis, though,
Frank largely loses a sense of this materiality of the grotesque.
Rather, as with so many of the prostitute bodies we saw previously,
the grotesque body becomes merely a vehicle for the production of a
utopian, and often masculine, wholeness.

Friedrich’s pacifist polemic War
Against War!
a sharp political work that highlights the problem of representation
evident here. War
Against War!
a photo-book produced as part of the anti-war events of 1924,
confronts the reader with page after page of photographs of the
bodily impact of war, with facial trauma especially prominent. ‘At
last’, he has an imagined reader say, ‘at last the mask has been
torn away from this “field of honour,” from this lie of an
“heroic death,” and from all the other beautiful phrases, from
all this international swindle the mask has at last, yea, at last,
been torn away!!’ The ‘true’ face of war is revealed.

today, War
Against War!
a powerful and challenging indictment of war, its visceral impact
driven by the images of destroyed bodies. Aesthetically, Friedrich’s
deployment of the grotesque body was rooted firmly in a critical
documentary practice similar to that of Dix, but deployed now true
and faithful to nature, has been photographically recorded for all
time’. Notably, many of the photographs came from the growing
medical and
rehabilitation literature. Friedrich radically repurposed these
images, wrenching them out of their medical context and using them to
challenge the interlinked discourses of militarism and pathology. It
was especially his use of these images that sparked massive protest
from the right, who denounced his book as a sacrilege against
veterans, the military, and the nation. Unlike Dix’s appropriations
of these images, Friedrich’s work was arguably more complex in the
sense that, in his documentary insistence on the materiality of those
bodies, he went beyond a merely instrumental aestheticisation,
challenging instead the production of the grotesque body in war

all of the examples I have touched on here it is clear that the
grotesque body, as Mary Russo argues, cannot be understood outside of
its gendered implications. The degree to which such bodies served as
a vehicle for the expression of a crisis of masculine
was especially evident in Dix’s work. As I have argued, his Two
an asymmetrical relationship between the figures of the prostitute
and the war wounded that revolves around anxieties over a damaged
masculinity. Friedrich makes a similar connection in depicting a
group of sex workers in front of a brothel behind the front, although
in War
Against War!
don’t find the same antagonistic relationship set up with soldiers.
Dix, however, returned obsessively to the theme of the grotesque as a
crisis of masculinity. One of his most famous works, Prague
depicts a disabled veteran begging on Dresden’s elegant main
commercial street. His three prosthetic limbs and his distorted
posture link discourses of disability directly with avant-garde
concerns with the fragmented modern body. In one sense the work
offers a simple message, presenting ‘the viewer with a contrast
between the plight of the war cripple and the callousness of the
public’. This humanist pity is by no means the dominant frame,
however. What is striking in Prague
not the contrast between disabled bodies and the implied able-bodied
public of the humanist narrative, but rather the fact that none
the bodies in the image are in fact rendered as whole. The man in the
foreground has no legs, while the other people on the street are
represented solely as body fragments: an arm and a hand on the left,
and the leg and buttocks of a woman on the right. The dog and cat are
likewise only parts, while the one ‘whole’ figure, the child at
the shop window, is presented with her legs askew.

of the key dimensions of Prague
the association of this bodily fragmentation with commerce and
commodities. The beggar eking out a living from the coins thrown by
shoppers contrasts sharply with the opulent displays of commodities
in the stores. The shop windows also display dismembered bodies, this
time of female mannequins. They are distanced from the beggar by
their gender and their association with luxury and consumption, but
they also reinforce the notion of bodily fragmentation. Where the
gendered distinction is cemented is through the voluptuous woman
moving out of the frame. Her buttocks loom over the man, the bright
colours of her dress and her fleshy body contrasting strongly with
the emaciated figure beneath. Her tall boots enhance her
sexualisation, with the suggestion being that she is a sex worker.
Once again we find the pairing of the disabled veteran and the
prostitute, with the image again reading masculinity in terms of the
grotesque body threatened by an excessive femininity.

implications for a politics of disability are especially clear in
Dix’s 1920 War
which was exhibited in the first International Dada Fair in Berlin.
Dix’s work had alternate titles, notably 45%
Fit for Employment
– which threw an ironic light on state categorisations of
disability for welfare claims – and subtitles, including ‘a
selfportrait’ and ‘four of these still don’t add up to a whole
person’. War
similar devices to Prague
again juxtaposing the broken men with the various fragments of bodies
behind them: a boot, an arm, a head. Wearing their uniforms and
medals proudly, the men march down the street in a parody of a
military parade. Various common injuries and disabilities are
represented here. The first man displays Dix’s fascination with
facial injuries, while the second’s shaking outline suggests shell
shock, a physical manifestation of the psychological impact of war
that, as I will discuss later, gained great prominence in the First
World War. What the image suggests, however, is the absurdity of the
bodies. They embody a parodic militarism (and indeed the image can be
read as a commentary on the participation of some disabled veterans
in nationalist and militarist organisations), and their grotesque
bodies take on an almost comic air. This grotesqueness is
reappropriated for Dada; the montaged face of the last figure implies
a direct link between Dadaist aesthetics and facial injuries.

critique of militarism here is at best oblique. As Dora Apel argues,
Dix separates militarism from masculinity, his work stressing the
‘desperate fight by the individual soldier-male against death and
disfigurement’, a potentially anti-war theme, but offering a
regenerated masculinity marked by struggle and overcoming as his
response. In this sense the violence enacted on the bodies of the
soldiers, like the graphic violence against women in many of his
works, was in the service of a nostalgic recuperation
of a coherent and whole male body and subjectivity.

nostalgic desire was expressed explicitly in Dix’s Self-Portrait
with My Son Jan
1930. As Maria Tatar argues, the painting serves as a powerful
counterpoint to the rest of Dix’s work, an anchor guaranteeing in
the last instance the viability of the stable male artist-subject.
Dix’s interest in classical painting is evident here, the
dramatically different aesthetics of the work underpinning the
presentation of the recuperated male subject. ‘In an act of
artistic triumph, Dix erases the link between sexuality and creation,
negates human mortality, and recreates himself as the artist who
stands as the source of life and immortality. Here, the sensual woman
who threatens to overwhelm and crush the creative artist is effaced
to make room for the autogenous artist who has appropriated the
procreative powers of women and gone them one better by producing a
work of transcendent spiritual purity’. Not only does the erasure
of women here enable the work of the autogenous male artist… but,
when the classically whole bodies here are read in the context of the
fragmented bodies of the rest of his work, it also produces a
powerful reconstitution of normative male bodies untouched by
disability or the grotesque.

insistent association of disability with injured masculinity blocked
anycritical engagement with the politics of disability in the period,
and especially with its implication in practices of labour. His
approach represents an extreme version of the perspective that
animated the work of much of the avant-garde, but there were
alternative perspectives. Sella Hasse’s 1919 Blind
War-Cripple at the Machine
Kriegskrüppel an der Maschine
for example, is a woodcut of a worker operating a machine with a
flesh and a prosthetic arm, his seeing-eye dog at his side. Although
bodily exceptionalism is clearly the theme of the work, it is
presented in a matter-of-fact rather than grotesque fashion, although
tinged with a melancholia reminiscent of Hasse’s teacher, Kathe
Kollwitz. Yet this is not simply the normalised or integrated worker
that, as we saw earlier, was promoted by the rehabilitation industry.
Hasse’s worker may be ‘rehabilitated’, but the dark, enclosed
factory and the worker’s own expression suggests not a heroic
overcoming, but an extension of conditions of alienated labour.
Magnus Zeller’s 1919 Demonstrators
alternately entitled Demonstration
of the War Wounded
der Kriegsbeschädigten
likewise eschews the grotesque depictions of Frank and Dix.
Crutches and canes are in evidence, but it is the men’s haunted
eyes and drawn faces rather than their disabilities that suggest the
damaging impact of war. Like Hasse, Zeller, who had participated as a
delegate in the Berlin
Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council, foregrounds the social rather
than the bodily conditions of the veterans. It is the protest itself
that holds out the promise of transformation, not a dream of bodily

Hoerle’s work offers an even more striking contrast with that of
Dix. Part of a loosely organised group of artists in Cologne calling
themselves the ‘group of progressive artists’, Hoerle produced a
series of works throughout the Weimar period that took up themes of
disability. His 1923 The
for instance, presented this generic figure as a stylised man
stepping purposely forward on his prosthetic leg, a prosthetic arm
swinging ahead of him. As this image suggests, Hoerle saw the
disabled body as the archetypical modern body but, unlike with Dix,
he invested his portrayals with a much more complex set of
implications. Indeed, the ‘group of progressive artists’ in
Cologne – which included Franz Wilhelm Seiwert and Gerd Arntz along
with Hoerle – rejected the neue
general as well as the Verist stream of which Dix was the key figure.
Hoerle had significant connections with Dada, but looked more to
older forms of craft production for artistic inspiration, an
aesthetic orientation that he and his colleagues combined with a
commitment to a council communism. They sought, as Arntz put it, to
produce an art combining the ‘politically revolutionary’ with the
‘formally revolutionary’.

shared the Dadaist conception of the contemporary body as irrevocably
fragmented and alienated, but his figures tended to be more formal
and geometrical than the ragged and proliferating bodies of Dada.
Prostheses were especially prominent in Hoerle’s work. Already in
1918–19 he produced a Cripple
deployed disabled bodies as markers of difference, but over time his
work shifted, the prosthetic body becoming indistinguishable from
other contemporary bodies, especially labouring bodies. Hoerle
frequently depicted workers with hybrid bodies, but the prosthesis in
his work was neither simply a symbol of technological modernism nor a
marker of lack; rather, it marked the body as productive in a more
complex sense. Hoerle’s workers embodied neither heroic
proletarianism nor absolute subjugation to the machine. He thus
arguably captured the ambivalence of capitalist labour as both
productive and repressive, enabling and disabling, but did not read
bodily difference itself as the locus of that disability.

1930 Monument
to the Unknown Prosthesis
der unbekannten Prothesen
is the most famous example of this tendency in his work. Rather than
the unknown soldier, it is the prosthetic that emerges as the hero of
war. The work thus satirises the technological nationalism of the
rehabilitation industry. But the two foregrounded figures in the
painting are not themselves the source of satire. They are doubled,
the black interior head of the man on the left evoking the severe
facial injuries that Dix and Friedrich used to very different effect,
while the impossible prosthetic head of the man on the right gestures
perhaps to the psychological impacts of war. Both interior heads are
inscribed in a ‘whole’ head, the interplay between the two
elements of each head destabilising not only normative ideas of
embodiment, but also the relationship between inside and outside.
Like x-ray images that show the ‘true’ bodily structure beneath
the skin, the interior, non-normative heads of the two men appear
here as an inner truth of contemporary subjectivity….

work thus destabilises the nostalgic desire for the whole body.
Prostheses mark the body as modern, but not as grotesque or as
lacking. Hoerle’s gender politics is interesting, if ambivalent, in
this respect. In Two
Cripples and Woman
Krüppel und Frau
1931) the two male ‘cripples’ are similar to those in Monument,
but in this case paired with a woman’s figure represented as whole,
her voluptuous curves contrasting with the linear bodies of the
disabled men. The moment of nostalgic wholeness is thus gendered
feminine, while the modern, the age of the prosthesis, is masculine.
Earlier, however, in his series Women
1919–21, Hoerle produced what was a very rare depiction of disabled
women. In part his series evoked the mannequins that, as we saw with
Dix, were a familiar medium through which the modern female body was
represented, but this was not the case in Figure
with Corset
im Korsett
c. 1921). Here an armless and hairless woman is depicted marching
resolutely, one leg clad in a fashionable high-heeled boot, the other
a prosthesis.

last work is exceptional in shifting the representational terms of
disability, both in terms of the sheer fact of this being a female
figure, and in depicting her as one of the prosthetic figures who
embody modern subjectivity. More generally in the period, from
debates over welfare programmes to the plethora of images produced,
it was male disability that was the focus. In this sense, then, the
work of Dix, Frank, and others simply reflected the broader
discursive context. The almost complete absence of disabled women
from public discourse was in part due to the sheer number of disabled
men in the aftermath of the War, but also reflected the profoundly
masculine conceptions of labour that structured Weimar politics.

themes were evident in Ernst Toller’s play Hinkemann,
which was staged initially in 1923, then rewritten and mounted again
in 1924 to great scandal. In this play Toller treated disability not
as a figure for a universal crisis of modern subjectivity, but rather
as a concrete instance of a crisis of masculinity. Unlike with Dix’s
work, though, it is not the degenerative influence of the feminine
that drives this crisis, nor does Toller present us with a nostalgic
masculine wholeness as resolution. The play instead reads this crisis
more concretely in terms of militarist ideologies, but also through
the lens of class, a perspective different from his Transformation.
Yet the play continued to reflect Toller’s ambivalence about the
communist left and his sympathy for Expressionist ideas of social
transformation. As with his earlier work, the body emerges as the
site of social contestation, with the limitations of the left read in
terms of the inadequacy of their politics of embodiment. Thus, as
with Transformation,
in Hinkemann
is deeply attuned to the embodied dimensions of a radical politics.

play revolves around the character Eugene Hinkemann (‘hinken’ in
German means to limp, as well as to be inappropriate), a war veteran
who in outward appearance is large, strong, and masculine, but who
has returned castrated, one of those Hirschfeld called the ‘eunuchs
of war’. Hinkemann’s relationships with his wife, Margaret, and
with his working-class and leftist milieu are profoundly shaped by
his injuries. Margaret has an affair with Paul Grosshahn, a virile
and masculine worker, to whom she reveals Hinkemann’s secret.
Grosshahn responds to this news by claiming that it would be a sin
for her to stay with Hinkemann, he ‘who isn’t a man – a sin
against nature’. Hinkemann’s castration thus marks the bodily
site of the crisis of masculine subjectivity.

crisis is bound up with Hinkemann’s inability to find work. He
eventually finds a job in a circus freak show – but ironically as a
strong man who drinks the blood of rats and mice. The conflict
between his hidden unmanning and his public performance of an
extraordinary vampiric masculinity highlights the disjunctures of
gendered identity formation. His work in the carnival, a central
venue for the display of the grotesque, enables him to perform a
masculinity that, according to essentialist notions of genital
masculinity, should be inaccessible to him; this awareness only
augments his humiliation. For Toller, this embodied crisis is both
aesthetic and political, a point he makes explicit in the brief
appearance of the tattooed woman Monachia who ‘wears the greatest
works of art of the old masters in front and the most modern,
expressionist, futurist, dadaist confections behind’. Her name is a
feminine variant of Monachium, the Latin name for Munich, her body
thus displaying the aesthetic duality that, at the time of the
revolutionary upheavals in which Toller played such a central role,
split the city. Monachia’s literal embodiment of this ‘high’
art in the context of the circus, a most crass form of mass culture,
performs a carnivalesque reversal that takes the female body as its
ground. The old masters are of course on the front of her body, the
side of the classical nude, while the avant-garde occupies the rear,
their artistic experiments associated – as it was so often in the
avant-garde’s own practices – with the lower bodily strata.

herself is torn by the situation, returning to Hinkemann after seeing
him while on a visit to the circus with Grosshahn. But she is
ultimately unable to reconcile herself to Hinkemann’s condition,
later committing suicide. Hinkemann too reaches the point of
contemplating suicide, although the play leaves his fate open. Before
we reach this point in the narrative, however, Toller outlines the
political implications of Hinkemann’s disability. Hinkemann sits in
a pub debating politics with a group familiar from the concluding
scenes of Transformation:
a scientific socialist, a Christian, and a utopian-socialist or
anarchist. From the scientific socialist – with his belief in the
inevitability of revolution – Hinkemann demands to know what would
happen in the new state to those who are wounded or mad. They will be
humanely cared for, the socialist responds. Hinkemann suggests that
there are more complex injuries, hinting at his own. The socialist

are no such people. People with healthy bodies have healthy souls.
Common sense will tell you that. And people who are not right in
their heads belong in an asylum.

rejects this socialist eugenics and presses the issue. He asks about
eunuchs, giving the example of his ‘friend’ who, he says, was
injured in such a way. The scientific socialist has no answer. At
this point Grosshahn comes in and starts to reveal Hinkemann’s
secret; Hinkemann pre-empts him, confessing his condition and
addressing his interlocutors:

You don’t know what it feels like – torture. What a change
there’d have to be before you could build a better world …
Words are all very fine for people in good health. But you don’t
see the places you can’t reach. There are people you can’t
happy with all your states and society and family and community. Our
sufferings begin where your cures end.

people in the bar are moved by his speech, but Hinkemann leaves and
begins to descend into madness, hallucinatory sequences interspersed
with snatches of ‘reality’. He is visited by visions of the
denizens of the post-War city, wounded soldiers and prostitutes
prominent among them. Hinkemann, who has bought a phallic statue of
Priapus, a fetish object connecting individual masculinity with
social power, laments the inevitability of fate. The original version
had Hinkemann preparing a noose for himself; the 1924 version,
rewritten after left critics found the original too pessimistic,
leaves him in this liminal state.

refuses the Expressionist narrative of overcoming so central to
but also rejects the alternative of a left social hygiene experiences
of disabled veterans more broadly, who felt increasingly abandoned in
the post-War years. In part this was due to a cultural tendency to
repress the experience of the War, a point made in the play by the
circus boss who tells Hinkemann

the war’s a back number now. Peepshow ‘the horrors of war’
won’t earn sixpence.  Nowadays Progress is the world. Hundred
percent profit in it. War held no interest to the commercial
entertainment industry.

the same time, the ‘progress’ promised by the scientific
socialist, on the other hand, offered little more hope than this
sanitised capitalist vision. Toller’s anti- capitalism thus linked
a critique of progress with a deep suspicion of the masculinist
ableism of the left. In its original version, the play was framed
more explicitly as a critique of nationalism as well, the 1923 title
being The
German Hinkemann
Toller himself wanted to promote a more universalist meaning,
dropping the ‘German’. The right certainly continued to read it
as an affront to the nation, however, mobilising against the play and
disrupting its performances.

is notable in the play is that Toller does not dwell on the
metaphorical dimensions of Hinkemann’s genital injuries, but has
Hinkemann stressing their materiality. In this sense Toller was
drawing on broader debates amongst doctors, psychiatrists, and other
researchers on the ‘eunuchs of war’. As Sabine Kienitz argues,
genital injuries proved challenging to biological conceptions of
gender, with both cultural and scientific responses seeking to
reinscribe normative models of genital masculinity. Toller drew on
these anxieties to provoke a critical confrontation between the
militarised masculinity of the nation, the proletarian masculinity of
the scientific socialist, and the complex politics of the grotesque
body. His challenge, however, gave rise to its own problems. Toller’s
account relied on stereotypes of working-class gender roles evident
in Margaret’s passive femininity and Grosshahn’s crudely
misogynist masculinity. As Richard McCormick argues of Hinkemann:
‘[a]ggressive proletarian masculinity and passive proletarian
femininity are critiqued from the standpoint of a castrated hero who
embodies the virtues of a somewhat androgynous and enlightened (male)
intelligentsia’ For all his attention to the material body,
Toller’s vanguard figure is thus again marked by an Expressionist
desire for the transcendence of that body and its base sexual

desire for a reconstituted masculinity returns us to the
rehabilitative politics of the period that sought to overcome the
sense of bodily lack or loss so evident in Hinkemann.
Where Hinkemann came up against the limits posed by the stigmatising
and marginalising constitution of disability as a social
rehabilitation offered the promise of an individualised
of the body. Thus, in rehabilitation practices, ‘the maimed body of
the disabled veteran was bolstered by an incipient quasi-scientific
identity politics centering on the concept of the Krüppelseele
soul)’. The concept of the Krüppelseele
in some ways represent a new understanding of disability,
incorporating a sense of bodily difference not wholly subsumed to the
logic of degeneration. This perspective was articulated by the
prominent orthopaedic surgeon Konrad Biesalski: ‘[j]ust as the
amputation stump is not just a severed piece of arm or leg, but
rather a new organ with its own biological laws, the cripple is not
merely the distorted image of a healthy person; rather, through the
interaction of the remaining powers a new, differently constituted
yet self-contained unity of body and soul arises – a special
biological person, whose own laws and capabilities must be studied
before attempting to interfere with them’. Or, as Biesalski argued
in a rather utopian speech to the Reichstag in January 1915 on the
medical and rehabilitative possibilities now available to deal with
war injuries and disabilities, ‘there really is no condition of
disability [Krüppeltum]
any more’. For the psychiatrist David Katz, writing in 1921, the
prosthetic should thus not be experienced as a foreign element, but
rather as part of an integrated body, which he argued involved
‘giving the prosthesis a soul’.

progressive, this conception of disability was profoundly ambivalent,
in particular by effacing any sense of the material implications of
different forms of disabled embodiment. Biesalski’s understanding
of disability rooted it firmly in the technocratic and rationalising
logic of the prosthetic and rehabilitation industry touched on
earlier, an approach committed to the therapeutic value of work. He
worked hard to promote this conception of disability, lobbying the
state but also engaging in popular education, including the
production of an educational film entitled Krüppelnot
und Krüppelhilfe
The technocratic and state-oriented nature of this approach was
evident in Biesalski’s stated goal of creating ‘taxpayers rather
than charity recipients!’ He looked towards a future where the
‘numerous war cripples should merge into the masses of the people
as if nothing had happened to them’. Unburdening the state of
responsibility for care lurked behind these arguments, a budgetary
imperative also underlying the diagnosis of Rentenpsychose
psychosis) that… proposed that reliance on state support was itself
the source of disability.

challenges the rationalising impulse of the rehabilitation industry.
Here the Expressionist desire for transcendence becomes more
concrete, grounded on the one hand in the intractable materiality of
bodily difference, and on the other in a rejection of a purely
instrumental conception of bodies. Toller demands a revolutionary
transformation of a social order that produces both bodily violence
and the subsequent stigmatisation of its effects. This is a challenge
he poses both to capitalist society as a whole, and to the left. What
he proposes is an alternative understanding of the body that stands
in opposition to ideas of degeneration. In tracing out a radical
Toller suggests that disabling social practices are simultaneously
psychological and bodily, signalling the need for a dramatic
reconceptualisation of subjectivity as part of a radical political
project. The impasse at the play’s end remained insufficiently
‘optimistic’ to some of its socialist critics, but it was
precisely here that Toller’s challenge to the left was posed. This
psychological dimension… was central to the complex debates over
aesthetic and political radicalism that shaped the culture of the

Robert Heynen, Degeneration
and Revolution:
Radical Cultural Politics and the Body in Weimar Germany.
Materialism series. Leiden: Brill, 2005. pp. 292-322

Art is, from top to bottom: 1)  page from Ernst Friedrich, Krieg dem Kriege; 2) Photo from Illustrierten Jahrbuch des Berliner Tageblattes, 1915; 3) Otto Dix, Prague Street; 4)  Heinrich Hoerle, Monument
to the Unknown Prosthesis
der unbekannten Prothesen
); 5) Otto Dix, War
or 45%
Fit for Employment
, 1920; 6) Photo of two war wounded from Deutsche Kriegsversehrte im 20. Jahrhundert website

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“Using sixty-seven
categories of information available to the parole board, criminologist
Sam B.
Warner in 1923 compared 300 inmates who had been successful on parole from
the Massachusetts Reformatory with 300
who  had failed on parole.  He concluded that the only difference between
the two groups that was large enough to provide useful guidance to the
board  was the subjective classification
of  the
inmate by the board’s advisory physician (then called an
“alienist”) as an accidental, recidivist, or feeble-minded offender. Shortly
thereafter,  however, sociologist Hornell Hart asserted “that  the percentage of violations  of paroles
among men paroled from the Massachusetts
Reformatory could be reduced
one-half through scientific
utilization of data already being
collected …  is the conclusion which  should have been reached .  .
. in a recent study. This
conclusion, however, is quite at variance with
those  found by Professor  Warner.”
Hart calculated that thirty-five of the differences found by Warner
probably could not be explained by chance and that fifteen were significant at
the .01 level. He suggested that these items be given a weighting based on  "the intercorrelations between the various items.
..  as well as
their correlations with parole
violation" and added, “On the
basis of  such scores it
would be possible to make reports
to the  Board in a form somewhat like the following: Jim Jones has a prognostic
score of  93 points. In the past
experience of the Board among men with prognostic scores in the neighborhood
of 93 points, only 19 percent
have violated parole…Will
Smith has a prognostic score of 21 points.  In the experience of the
Board among men with diagnostic scores
close to 21 points, 80 percent have violated their paroles.”

The first development of such a weighting system was
reported in 1928 by Professor Ernest  W.
Burgess of the University of Chicago. He compiled statistics from the records
of the last 1,000 men paroled from each of the state’s  three prisons before  a date
two-and-a-half years earlier.  The
records revealed that, in  the period
since  their  release, 25.7 percent of these 3,000
releasees  had been declared parole
violators. He also  classified  these
men  on  various
items  of  information that  were recorded
in their prison files before  their  release
and  found  that twenty-one of these items  had categories with violation  rates significantly above or below the  25.7 percent overall  rate.
Thus violation rates  were
markedly lower  for first  offenders than for recidivists, for  murderers
or sex offenders  than  for burglars or forgers, for those  with regular work records  than for
those with no or irregular work records, for  those with no disciplinary  punishments in prison than for  those
with many or serious punishments, and
for  those  with average than for those  with very low or very high intelligence-test
scores. Burgess took twenty-one such differentiating factors and gave each
parolee one point for every one of these factors on which he was classified
in  a category with a violation rate
below 25.7.  Of those who by this system had sixteen to
twenty-one  points, only 1.5 percent had violated parole, but
of those with four or fewer points, 76 percent had

These findings seemed to exceed  even Hart’s optimistic  expectations. Burgess proposed that
prediction methods be adopted to guide all types of social work, observing that

the practical value of an expectancy rate should be as
useful in parole administration  as
similar rates  have proved to be in insurance….
Not only will these  rates  be valuable
to  the  Parole Board, but they will  be equally valuable in organizing the  work of supervision. For if  the probabilities of  violation are
even it does not necessarily mean that the prisoner would  be confined to  the penitentiary until his  maximum was served, but that unusual
precautions would be taken in placing him and in supervising his
conduct.  Less of the attention of the parole officers need in  the future be directed toward those  who will succeed without attention and more
may be given to  those in need of assistance.

During the same period, but quite independently, Harvard
criminal law professor Sheldon Glueck and his wife, Eleanor, were completing the first of their
series of follow-up studies  at five-year
intervals of a group of inmates paroled from
the  Massachusetts Reformatory whose
paroles expired in 1921-23.
In this and in studies with other samples later they not only relied on official
records  but located, investigated, and
interviewed most of the subjects in the community. Their
post-parole criterion of reformation was whether, by their standards,  the
ex-prisoner was pursuing a constructive and law-abiding life. Although
only 20 percent had been declared parole violators by the state, they deemed 80
percent to have been failures.

The Gluecks, in 1930, found
that seven preparole factors
sharply differentiated between  successes
and failures as they defined these
contrasting outcomes. They then gave each individual a “failure score,” which was the sum  of the percentage of failures  in his categories on each of the seven factors (e.g., 60 on the factor “mental abnormality”
if “none”  but 87 if
“psychotic”), so that the lowest
total  failure score that anyone
could have from the seven factors
was 274 and the highest  499. In the prediction table that they
developed, failure rates by their standards varied from 95 percent for those
with the highest failure scores to  29 percent
for those with the
lowest  scores.

By 1946, Glueck, who
raised  what  then
seemed  like  immense
funds from private foundations to support over  three
decades of  extensive research,
was an ebullient  salesman.  On the prospects for application of his failure
scores he proclaimed,

Suppose . ..that a judge had before him separate  prognostic tables based on fines,  on imprisonment in a penitentiary, on
imprisonment in a reformatory, on probation, or even more discriminately on
results obtained by different probation officers. And suppose that the judge,
on consultation of  the prognostic tables, found
that Prisoner X according to past experience with other prisoners
who  in
certain pertinent particulars resembled X, had say nine out of ten
chances of continuing in crime if  sent
to a prison, seven out of ten if sent
to  a reformatory, five out of ten
if placed on probation, and only two out of ten if placed on probation under
Supervisor Y. Clearly, the judge … using objectified and organized experience
…  based on hundreds of similar cases …
would greatly improve his exercise of
discretion in imposing sentence.

Despite Glueck’s eloquence, his rhetoric had no immediate
impact on government practice.  In
Illinois, however, the
board  of parole created  the position of sociologist-actuary at
each  of the state’s prisons. These
appointees applied the Burgess point system to every prisoner on the board’s docket
for parole consideration, producing a report that indicated  the individual  inmate’s
favorable  or unfavorable
classification on each  of the twenty-one
factors  as well as a conclusion  in the following form. This individual has a
total of x factors favorable to success
on parole and y factors
unfavorable.  In past experience,
prisoners with these totals had a parole violation rate of z percent, of whom w
percent had major violations and (z- w)
percent minor violations.

A variety of analogous parole or probation prediction
studies were made in various states and
some  other nations during the next
thirty years,  gradually  becoming more sophisticated  methodologically. Illinois, however, was the only
state that routinely applied its tables to every prospective parolee. Yet it
was doubtful if these tables greatly influenced decisions even in this
state. Their failure to become panaceas – as Hart, Burgess, and the
Gluecks expected – results from methodological problems in all prediction and from
the context  in which the  tables were applied.”

– Daniel Glaser, “Classification for Risk.” Crime and Justice, Vol. 9, special issue on Prediction and Classification: Criminal Justice Decision Making (1987), pp. 256-259.  

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