“Niedrige Beweggründe”

Low motivations, base motives.

Germany’s new justice minister (and consumer protection minister, since that office was moved to the justice department under the new coalition) is Heiko Maas (S.P.D.). In January 2014 he refused to legalize dragnet surveillance in Germany as written into the new government’s coalition agreement, saying he wanted to wait until the European Court of Justice’s upcoming decision. Surprisingly, this worked, thus pivoting or at least pausing one aspect of the grosse Koalition’s “respectlessness” toward data protection, as writer and activist Julie Zeh called it.

Now Mr. Maas has announced he wants to redefine murder and manslaughter in Germany’s penal code, saying the current laws include Nazi-era language such as “low motivations” that was intended to describe not an act but an actor, a murderer as imagined by Hitler’s jurists, furthermore using “morally loaded attitude attributes” [moralisch aufgeladene Gesinnungsmerkmale]. Among other problems, defining crimes by the person instead of the deed is out of step with the system now used in Germany’s criminal laws.

In 1941, he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Nazis changed the country’s definition of murder to include the following:

[W]hoever, because of a lust for murder, to satisfy sexual urges or otherwise because of low motivations, dastardly or cruelly (…) kills a person

[“wer aus Mordlust, zur Befriedigung des Geschlechtstriebs, aus Habgier oder sonst aus niedrigen Beweggründen, heimtückisch oder grausam (…) einen Menschen tötet“]

Mr. Maas said the courts did Germany a service by even figuring out how to apply such a bad law. He announced that a group of experts will set to work to provide a good foundation for the upcoming discussion in parliament, “whose job it is now to give the courts better laws.”

(NEE driggah   bev EGG grin dah.)

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