Research Interests: History of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, 19th-20th centuries; History of international criminal law; History of crime, punishment, and police
Prof. Lewis is interested in the cultural, legal, and social history of Southeastern and Central Europe, especially comparisons between regions and across traditionally defined political eras. Currently he is researching the history of the political police in Austria and Serbia during World War One, aiming to show the continuities and discontinuities in these institutions before and after the war. He has also studied the development of international criminal law from a transnational perspective, concentrating on the role of non-governmental organizations as the main producers of new ideas.
His book The Birth of the New Justice: The Internationalization of Crime and Punishment, 1919-1950 (Oxford University Press, 2014, paperback 2016), explains attempts to establish international criminal courts and build the field of international criminal law from the end of World War One to the beginning of the Cold War. The manuscript won the Wiener Library’s Fraenkel Prize in 2013 and the inaugural Bronisław Geremek Prize in 2015 for “for an outstanding academic book in the field of European civilization and history.”
He is also the co-author of Himmler’s Jewish Tailor: The Story of Jacob Frank, Holocaust Survivor from Lublin (Syracuse University Press, 2000). This is an oral history of a Polish Jewish tailor who was the head of a clothing factory at the Lipowa Street labor camp, run by the SS in Lublin. Frank, one of the few survivors of the Lublin ghetto, describes ghetto life, the Nazi production system, and the liquidation of the ghetto in 1942. He also explains his time in the camps of Natzweiler and Dachau. He served as a witness in West German war crimes trials in Frankfurt in the 1970s, including the trial of Lipowa commandant Wolfgang Mohwinkel.
Recent Activities and Publications
“Ruhe, Ordnung, und Sicherheit: Transformations in the Vienna Police, 1914-45.” Paper presented at the Institute for History, University of Bern, Switzerland, May 3, 2017.
“Private Lives and Public Actions: Viennese Policemen During the Holocaust Era.” Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, February 22, 2017.
“The History of the International Association of Penal Law, 1924–1950: Liberal, Conservative, or Neither?” In Historical Origins of International Criminal Law, vol. 4, ed. Morten Bergsmo, Cheah Wui Ling, and Yi Ping (Brussels: Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher, 2015), 599-660. https://www.legal-tools.org/en/doc/740a53/
The Birth of the New Justice: The Internationalization of Crime and Punishment, 1919-1950. (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014 [hardback]; 2016 [revised paperback).
“The Failure of the Austrian and Yugoslav Police to Repress the Croatian Ustaša in Austria: 1929-1934.” Austrian History Yearbook 45 (2014): 188-212.