Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig

New Extension

Gangsters, crooks and criminals
Leipzig’s most infamous criminal cases

17 October 2012 - 24 February 2013
Opening: 16th October 2012, 6:00 pm
Böttchergäßchen 3, 04109 Leipzig

Even today, right and wrong, crime and punishment are part of society; they create fear - and yet are also fascinating at the same time. In the course of its history, every society develops its own strategies for dealing with criminals. In this process, the respective social, economic and political conditions, as well as the cultural framework, play an important role.
This exhibition looks into the changes in society and the way in which society deals with crime and criminals using criminal cases in Leipzig from the 18th century until today.
On the basis of court files and documents 25 representative, and in some cases spectacular, cases are presented. Some of these cases have served as inspirations for literary works, such as the stage play “Woyzeck” by Georg Büchner. 
Ever since its foundation Leipzig was considered a centre of jurisdiction in Saxony – a tradition which continues to this day with the presence of the German Federal Administrative Court in the city. The judges were subject to the concepts of justice which prevailed during their lifetime. For this reason, the sentences imposed in the past may today appear harsh and brutal – however, they were widely approved of at the time.
Valuable loans illustrate the carrying out of physical and capital punishment in the context of the respective era.  
While there were only very limited possibilities for solving crimes in the past, forensic science has evolved at a rapid pace from the 19th century to the present day - as the exhibition shows. 

A supplementary studio exhibition displaying crime scene photographs demonstrates the importance of photography in documenting crimes. 

A book will be published to accompany the exhibition.

Poster of the exhibition