Gross, Hans

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Gross, Hans


Austrian professor and judge Hans Gross is often considered one of the founders of criminalistics for his research on the subject and the release of his 1891 book, Criminal Investigation. It was the first work of its kind to be published. Gross went on to publish other important research in the field of criminalistics. He also opened the first criminological institute in the world, at the University of Graz, Austria.

Gross was a driven young man, attending universities in Vienna and Graz, and earning his law degree in 1869. He worked as a magistrate for the criminal court at Czernovitz, Austria, and was also hired as a professor of criminal law at the University of Czernovitz. He later taught criminal law at both the German University at Prague and the University of Graz.

In 1891, Gross published his ground-breaking text Handbuch fur Untersuchungsricter als System Der Kriminalistik, with an English version entitled Criminal Investigation published in 1907. With this book Gross is credited for coining the term "criminalistics." The text provides the theoretical foundations for the science of criminology . He also founded and edited the Archive for Criminology, a journal that was continually published for more than one hundred years. In 1912, Gross opened the Imperial Criminological Institute at the University of Graz, the first of its kind. He considered it a major accomplishment in having criminology recognized as a serious academic discipline. The Hans Gross Criminological Museum, also part of the university, is still open today.

Gross is also known for a public conflict he had with his son, psychoanalyst Otto Gross. In 1913, Hans Gross ordered the arrest of Otto Gross because he considered him legally incompetent. Otto Gross was institutionalized then, and many times thereafter. One of Otto Gross's close friends was the writer Franz Kafka, who also was at one time a law student of Hans Gross. Kafka used information from Criminal Investigation in his notable novel The Trial. The book also makes references to Gross's arrest in the first chapter, and contains a character loosely modeled after Hans Gross.

see also Careers in forensic science; Literature, forensic science in.