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Benjamin Mendelsohn, Founder of Victimology

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Benjamin Mendelsohn, Founder of Victimology

Posted: 24 Oct 2006 5:09PM GMT
Classification: Obituary
Surnames: Mendelsohn
On Sunday, January 25th 1998, Benjamin Mendelsohn died in Jerusalem, Irael. Benjamin Mendelsohn was born on April 23rd 1900 in Bucharest, Rumania, where he obtained his law degree. Mendelsohn was a penal lawyer and his inital interest in the victim originated in his intention to point out to the court the contribution of the victim to the criminal act. In 1937, he published his own system of dealing with penal defence, based on the analysis of the criminal act. During the years 1937 - 1947, Mendelsohn continued to develop his system which he had invented for the defence of criminals and in 1947 he introduced Victimology - the science of the victim - in a lecture he gave to members of The Rumanian Psychiatric Society. His first version of Victimology consisted mainly of victims' categorization according to their contribution to the occurrence of the crime. However, in later years Mendelsohn abandoned this position. In 1969 Mendelsohn presented an extended Victimology, dealing with victims of many types of occurrences including work accidents and victims of genocide. This extended version of victimology was further extended by Mendelsohn and in 1975 it became a "General Victimology" emphasizing the fact that Victimology was more than penal victimology, it included the study of all kinds of victims. Even victims of events beyond human control such as natural disasters were included in his General Victimology. Many credit Hans Von Hentig with the foundation of victimology. However Von Hentig never used the term Victimology. Von Hentig laid the basis for academic research concerning the victim of crime. But Mendelsohn was the first to deal scientifically with the personality of the victim. Mendelsohn was the one who introduced the term "Victimology" and presented it as a new discipline. He took an active part in the meeting in Münster, in 1977, which marked the founding of the WSV. Victimologists today continue to struggle with many of the same issues which were first raised by Mendelsohn. For several years research on the role of victims of crime was considered taboo. Recently however, the debate on the role of the victim has been reopened. At the 10th International Symposium on Victimology held in Amsterdam in August 1997, several papers focussed on victim assistance and crime prevention. Spurred by the research on repeat victimization, victimologists are once again looking at the role of the victim in the criminal event and using this information to help avoid future victimization. The WSV is indebted to him will strive to keep the memory of his contribution alive. Notes: The above synopsis of Mendelsohn's work is based on: Hoffman, Hanoch, What did Mendelsohn Really say? In: International Faces of Criminology. Sarah Ben David and Gerd Ferdinand Kirchhoff (eds.), WSV Publishing, 1992, Monchengladbach. Suggested Reading: Mendelsohn, B. Methode a Utliser par la Defenseur pour les Recherches Concertant la Personalite du Criminal. In: Revue de Droit Penal et de Criminologie et Archives Internationales de Mdicine Legale, 1937, 877-891. Mendelsohn, B. Une Novelle Branche de la Science Bio-Psycho-Sociale: La Victimologie. In: Reveue Internationale de Criminoligie et de Police Technique, 1956, 2. Mendelsohn, B. Les Infractions Commises sous le Regime Nasi Sont-Eiles des Crimes ou sons Du Droit Commun? In: Revue De Droit Internationale De Sciences Diplomatiques et Politiques, 1965, 4. Mendelsohn, B. Le Rapport Entre La Victimoligie et le Problem du Genocide (Schema d'un Code du Genocide). In: Etudes De Psycho-Sociologie Criminelle, 1969, 16 and 17. Mendelsohn, B. Victimology and the Needs of Contemporary Society. In: The Israeli Annals of Psychiatry and Related Disciplines, 1973 (11), 3. Mendelsohn, B. Victimology and Contemporary Society's Trends. In: Victimology - An International Journal, 1976 (1) 8-28.

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