Aschaffenburg, Gustav

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ASCHAFFENBURG, GUSTAV (1866–1944), criminologist and psychiatrist. In 1899 he converted to Protestantism. Aschaffenburg was born in Zweibruecken, Germany. After an internship in psychiatry under Krafft-Ebing and Mynert in Vienna and under Ball, Charcot, and Pierre Marie in Paris, he became assistant to Kraepelin in Heidelberg, who encouraged him to follow his interests in criminology. In 1904 Aschaffenburg started teaching psychiatry at the Academy of Medicine in Cologne. When the University of Cologne was reestablished in 1919 after World War i he was appointed professor and director of the university's psychiatric clinic. Aschaffenburg, early in his career, turned his attention to the care of prisoners and endeavored to discover the causes of crime and methods of treatment. In Das Verbrechen und seine Bekaempfung (1903; 3rd ed. 1923), he described socio-environmental as well as physical, psychological, and the psychiatric factors in crime. He suggested progressive methods of treatment for offenders and stressed, in particular, society's duty to develop preventive measures, making him one of the founders of modern forensic psychiatry in Germany. In 1904 Aschaffenburg founded the Monatsschrift fuer Kriminalpsychologie und Strafrechtsreform, which he edited and wrote for until 1935. He also edited Handbuch der Psychiatrie. When the Nazi regime came to power, Aschaffenburg was dismissed from his many posts, and in 1939 immigrated to the U.S., where he became a professor at the Catholic University in Washington and subsequently Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.


H. von Hentig, in: H. Mannheim (ed.), Pioneers in Criminology (1960), 327–34. add. bibliography: Biographisches Handbuch der deutschsprachigen Emigration, 2 (1983), 35–36.

[Zvi Hermon /

Marcus Pyka (2nd ed.)]