Bad news from the front and from above: bombing raids, military fatalities and the death penalty in Nazi Germany

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We examine how the decision-making of political elites respond to an imminent external threat to the existence of the state in times of war. To do so, we exploit exogeneous variation in exposure to battle deaths and bombing raids to estimate the effect of variation in the intensity of war on the probability that individuals charged with treason and/or high treason in Nazi Germany received the death sentence. A doubling of the number of military fatalities as well as bombing raids in the same week in which a defendant was sentenced increased the likelihood of receiving the death penalty by about 10 percentage points. (JEL K14, N44).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1450-1468
Number of pages19
JournalEconomic Inquiry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

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