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Strafgesetzbuch (German pronunciation: [ˈʃtʁaːfɡəˌzɛtsbuːx] ), abbreviated to StGB, is the German penal code.



Strafgesetzbuch (1914) Strafgesetzbuch fur das Deutsche Reich von 1914.jpg
Strafgesetzbuch (1914)

In Germany the Strafgesetzbuch goes back to the Penal Code of the German Empire passed in the year 1871 on May 15 in Reichstag which was largely identical to the Penal Code of the North German Confederation. It came into effect on January 1, 1872.

German Empire empire in Central Europe between 1871–1918

The German Empire, also known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.

North German Confederation Federal state in Northern Germany in 1867–1870

The North German Confederation was the German federal state which existed from July 1867 to December 1870. It was said to be led by Prussia. Some historians also use the name for the alliance of 22 German states formed on 18 August 1866. In 1870–1871, the south German states of Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, Württemberg and Bavaria joined the country. On 1 January 1871, the country adopted a new constitution, which was written under the title of a new "German Confederation" but already gave it the name "German Empire" in the preamble and article 11.

This Reichsstrafgesetzbuch (Imperial Criminal Law) was changed many times in the following decades in response not only to changing moral concepts and constitutional provision granted by the Grundgesetz , but also to scientific and technical reforms. Examples of such new crimes are money laundering or computer sabotage.

Crime unlawful act forbidden and punishable by criminal law

In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term "crime" does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition, though statutory definitions have been provided for certain purposes. The most popular view is that crime is a category created by law; in other words, something is a crime if declared as such by the relevant and applicable law. One proposed definition is that a crime or offence is an act harmful not only to some individual but also to a community, society or the state. Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law.

Money laundering is the process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by passing it through a complex sequence of banking transfers or commercial transactions.

A computer is a machine that can be instructed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically via computer programming. Modern computers have the ability to follow generalized sets of operations, called programs. These programs enable computers to perform an extremely wide range of tasks. A "complete" computer including the hardware, the operating system, and peripheral equipment required and used for "full" operation can be referred to as a computer system. This term may as well be used for a group of computers that are connected and work together, in particular a computer network or computer cluster.

The Penal Code is a codification of criminal law and the pivotal legal text, while supplementary laws contain provisions affecting criminal law, such as definitions of new types of crime and law enforcement action. The StGB constitutes the legal basis of criminal law in Germany.

In law, codification is the process of collecting and restating the law of a jurisdiction in certain areas, usually by subject, forming a legal code, i.e. a codex (book) of law.

In the wake of the Third Reich a number of prohibiting provisions were included in the Strafgesetzbuch:

Volksverhetzung, in English "incitement of the masses", "instigation of the people", is a concept in German criminal law that refers to incitement to hatred against segments of the population and refers to calls for violent or arbitrary measures against them, including assaults against the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously maligning, or defaming segments of the population.

In 2002 German public prosecutors were empowered to prosecute crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide internationally under the Völkerstrafgesetzbuch ("Code of Crimes against international Law"). Another special penal code is the Wehrstrafgesetz to prosecute special crimes within military service such as insubordination (§20 WStG) and desertion (§16 WStG).


The German Penal Code is divided into two main parts:

General Part (Allgemeiner Teil): in which general issues are arranged, for example:

Special Part (Besonderer Teil): in which the different criminal offences and their definitions and punishments are listed, for example:

Notable sections

These sections differ significantly from the criminal codes in other countries, and/or are relevant for topics discussed in other articles.

§ 86a: Use of symbols of unconstitutional organisations

Outlaws the distribution or public use of symbols of unconstitutional groups, in particular, flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans and forms of greeting. The laws ban most Nazi insignia from any usage for propagating the ideology outside artistic, scientific, research, or opposition uses (swastikas, SS sig runes, Totenkopf, Othala rune, the neo-Nazi version of the Celtic Cross, the swastikas versions of the Iron Cross and Reichsadler, Wolfsangel, the party and Reichkriegsflagge Nazi flags, the Sturmabteilung emblem, the Nazi salute and the greetings "Heil Hitler" or "Sieg Heil", are outlawed under the law) it also extends to bans on symbols of the Communist Party of Germany (Hammer and sickle, red star and red flag are under it), ISIS Black Standard, and Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) pennant. [1]

This section has been the basis for the confiscation of video games like Wolfenstein 3D or Mortyr and the ban of Nazi symbolism in World War II-related games until August 2018.

§ 103: Insulting of organs and representatives of foreign states (repealed)

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself made a complaint 2016 against German satirist Jan Böhmermann as a private person because of the alleged insulting. [2] The Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Numan Kurtulmuş, called the poem a "serious crime against humanity". [3]

On 1 June 2017 the German Bundestag decided by a unanimous vote to repeal this section. This decision went into effect on 1 January 2018. [4]

§ 130: Sedition

Section 3 outlaws denying the genocide committed under the rule of National Socialism (1933–1945). Section 4 prohibits glorifying or approving the reign of the Nazis.

§ 130: Incitement to hatred

Section 130 makes it a crime to:

§ 131: Representation of violence

Outlaws the dissemination or public display of media "which describe cruel or otherwise inhuman acts of violence against human or humanoid beings in a manner which expresses a glorification or rendering harmless of such acts of violence or which represents the cruel or inhuman aspects of the event in a manner which injures human dignity". [5]

This section was used as the legal basis for confiscating all horror movies and a few video games such as Mortal Kombat , Manhunt , and Condemned .

§ 140: Rewarding and approving crimes

Outlaws rewarding or approving of crimes "publicly, in a meeting or through dissemination of writings […], and in a manner that is capable of disturbing the public peace". [6] This only applies to crimes where failure to report is an offense (§ 138), among them preparation of a war of aggression (§ 80), murder, robbery, treason, and counterfeiting money.

This section formed the grounds for the lawsuit against Holger Voss.

§ 175: Homosexual acts between men (repealed)

This section, which was in force in some form or other from 1871 to 1994, criminalized sexual acts between males under circumstances that varied as the law was modified over the years. Acts between consenting adults, if not done in the context of prostitution, were excluded from prosecution in 1969. Until 1969 the section also criminalized sexual acts between humans and animals. No corresponding legislation against lesbian sex acts existed.

§ 202c: Preparation of data espionage or data interception

Highly controversial, it outlaws the preparation of an act of data espionage (§ 202a) or data interception (§ 202b) by making, obtaining, selling, distributing (or otherwise committing or making accessible to others)

  1. passwords or security codes to access data, or
  2. computer programs whose purpose is to commit such an act.

As the definition of a "program with the purpose of committing data espionage or data interception" is quite vague, there is a lot of debate how this new prohibition is to be handled in court, since software essential to system or network security might be seen to fall under this act as well. Too extensive an interpretation will surely[ original research? ] collide with the freedom of exercise of occupation as well as the right to property (Articles 12 and 14 of the Basic Law).

§ 211: Murder (under aggravating circumstances)

In German: Mord. The intentional, successful killing of another person, with at least one of the aggravating circumstances mentioned in § 211 sec.2 fulfilled. Those circumstances concern base motives, criminal aims or cruel ways of committing the crime. An intentional killing that does not qualify for Mord is called Totschlag (§ 212). § 211 is the only crime within the Strafgesetzbuch that carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment (a sentence of life without parole is not expressly provided for in German law, but it is possible certain convicts of murder can spend the rest of their lives in prison).

§ 218: Abortion

Demonstration against an earlier version of SS 218 in Gottingen, 1988 Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F079098-0013, Gottingen, Demonstration gegen SS 218.jpg
Demonstration against an earlier version of § 218 in Göttingen, 1988

Regulating abortion, in combination with §218a. Revised several times, with an early 1970s liberalization declared unconstitutional by the courts, and historically very controversial. After a multi-partisan compromise was reached during the early 1990s, it permits abortion during the first trimester, upon condition of mandatory counseling and a waiting period, and in rare exceptional cases afterwards. After this compromise was found, there has been relatively little further controversy about the section.

§ 323c: Duty to Rescue

This section requires everybody to "render assistance during accidents or a common danger or emergency" if necessary, as far as can be expected ("under the circumstances, particularly if it is possible without substantial danger to himself and without violation of other important duties"). Refusing to assist can be punished with up to one year of imprisonment. As a consequence, should an attempt at first aid prove unsuccessful or actually harmful, it will not be prosecuted (Good Samaritan law). Note that while the duty, in itself, only exists so far as one is actually capable of providing aid, having passed a course in first aid is required for a driving license, and thus on this level is expected from all motorised traffic participants.

Related Research Articles

Hate speech is a statement intended to demean and brutalize another. It is the use of cruel and derogatory language, gestures or vandalism often directed towards an individual or group. Hate speech is speech that attacks a person or a group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The laws of some countries describe hate speech as speech, gestures, conduct, writing, or displays that incite violence or prejudicial actions against a group or individuals on the basis of their membership in the group, or disparages or intimidates a group, or individuals on the basis of their membership in the group. The law may identify a group based on certain characteristics. In some countries, hate speech is not a legal term. Additionally in some countries, including the United States, hate speech is constitutionally protected.

Treason Crime against ones sovereign or nation

In law, treason is criminal disloyalty to the state. It is a crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's nation or sovereign. This usually includes things such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state. A person who commits treason is known in law as a traitor.

A crime against peace, in international law, is "planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of wars of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing". This definition of crimes against peace was first incorporated into the Nuremberg Principles and later included in the United Nations Charter. This definition would play a part in defining aggression as a crime against peace. It can also refer to the core international crimes set out in Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which adopted crimes negotiated previously in the Draft code of crimes against the peace and security of mankind.

Flag desecration

Flag desecration is a term that is applied to the desecration of flags, violation of flag protocol, or a various set of acts that intentionally destroy, damage, or mutilate a flag in public. In the case of a national flag, such action is often intended to make a political point against a country or its policies. Some countries have laws forbidding methods of destruction or forbidding particular uses ; such laws may distinguish between desecration of the country's own national flag and flags of other countries.

Paragraph 175 was a provision of the German Criminal Code from 15 May 1871 to 10 March 1994. It made homosexual acts between males a crime, and in early revisions the provision also criminalized bestiality as well as forms of prostitution and underage sexual abuse. All in all, around 140,000 men were convicted under the law.

Disorderly conduct is a crime in most jurisdictions in the United States, China, and Taiwan. Typically, "disorderly conduct" makes it a crime to be drunk in public, to "disturb the peace", or to loiter in certain areas. Many types of unruly conduct may fit the definition of disorderly conduct, as such statutes are often used as "catch-all" crimes. Police may use a disorderly conduct charge to keep the peace when people are behaving in a disruptive manner to themselves or others, but otherwise present no danger.

The Model Penal Code (MPC) is a text designed to stimulate and assist U.S. state legislatures to update and standardize the penal law of the United States of America. The MPC was a project of the American Law Institute (ALI), and was published in 1962 after a ten-year drafting period. The chief reporter on the project was Herbert Wechsler, and contributors included Sanford Kadish and numerous other noted criminal law scholars, prosecutors, and defense lawyers.

The Federal Republic of Germany guarantees freedom of speech, expression, and opinion to its citizens as per Article 5 of the constitution. Despite this, censorship of various materials has taken place since the Allied occupation after World War II and continues to take place in Germany in various forms due to a limiting provision in Article 5, Paragraph 2 of the constitution. In 2014 the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index ranked Germany as 14th in the world in terms of press freedom. During the Allied occupation of Germany, the media was controlled by the occupying forces. The policy rationales differed among the occupying powers, but there was resentment in literary and journalistic circles in many parts of the country. Undesired publishing efforts were unilaterally blocked by the occupying forces.

Criminal law of Singapore Laws of Singapore

Although the legal system of Singapore is a common law system, the criminal law of Singapore is largely statutory in nature. The general principles of criminal law, as well as the elements and penalties of common criminal offences such as homicide, theft and cheating, are set out in the Penal Code. Other important offences are created by statutes such as the Arms Offences Act, Kidnapping Act, Misuse of Drugs Act and Vandalism Act.

Revised Penal Code of the Philippines

The Revised Penal Code contains the general penal laws of the Philippines. First enacted in 1930, it remains in effect today, despite several amendments thereto. It does not comprise a comprehensive compendium of all Philippine penal laws. The Revised Penal Code itself was enacted as Act No. 3815, and some Philippine criminal laws have been enacted outside of the Revised Penal Code as separate Republic Acts.

The Völkerstrafgesetzbuch, abbreviated VStGB, is a German law that regulates crimes against (public) international law. It was created to bring the German criminal law into accordance with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It was announced on 26 June 2002 and became law 30 June 2002. It covers the following offenses:

Laws against Holocaust denial Worldwide laws

Holocaust denial, the denial of the systematic genocidal killing of approximately six million Jews in Europe by Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, is illegal in 16 European countries and Israel. Many countries also have broader laws that criminalize genocide denial. Of the countries that ban Holocaust denial, some, such as Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Romania, were among the perpetrators of the Holocaust, and many of these also ban other elements associated with Nazism, such as the expression of Nazi symbols.

Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352 (1983), is a United States Supreme Court case concerning the constitutionality of vague laws that allow police to demand that "loiterers" and "wanderers" provide identification.

Philippine Criminal Laws is the body of law and defining the penalties thereof in the Philippines.

<i>Strafgesetzbuch</i> section 86a portion of the document which generally bans insignias of banned organizations

The German Strafgesetzbuch in section § 86a outlaws "use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations" outside the contexts of "art or science, research or teaching". The law does not name the individual symbols to be outlawed, and there is no official exhaustive list. However the law has primarily been used to outlaw Nazi and Communist symbols. The law was adopted during the Cold War and notably affected the Communist Party of Germany, which was banned as unconstitutional in 1956, and several tiny far-right parties.

Incitement to Mutiny Act 1797

The Incitement to Mutiny Act 1797 was an Act passed by the Parliament of Great Britain. The Act was passed in the aftermath of the Spithead and Nore mutinies and aimed to prevent the seduction of sailors and soldiers to commit mutiny.

Under the German penal code, Strafgesetzbuch, there are two sections relating to murder:

Swiss Criminal Code criminal code

The Swiss Criminal Code is the criminal code in Swiss law. The original version was created on 21 December 1937. It entered into force on 1 January 1942. Previously, criminal law had been a cantonal competency.


Wehrkraftzersetzung or Zersetzung der Wehrkraft was a sedition offence in German military law during the Nazi Germany era from 1938 to 1945.


  2. Wegen Beleidigung: Erdogan stellt Strafantrag gegen Böhmermann, Der Spiegel, in German
  3. Palmer macht sich für Auslieferung Böhmermanns stark, Die Welt, in German
  4. "Paragraf 103 StGB gestrichen: Majestätsbeleidigung ist in Deutschland Geschichte". Spiegel Online. 2018-01-01. Retrieved 2018-01-02.
  5. StGB §131
  6. StGB §140

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