from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Consequences of an arson: Fire in the north tower of Göttingen's St. Johanniskirche on January 23, 2005

Under arson is defined as the intentional or negligent and unauthorized setting fire to a non-specific to tangible goods. An arsonist is also known colloquially as a fire devil. Arson is to be distinguished from arson .

Motives and causal relationships for arson

Criminal act

The majority of the arson investigations are used for insurance fraud or to cover up other criminal offenses (e.g. burglary, embezzlement). However, around 50% of the arson attacks remain unsolved.

Warm demolition

The term warm demolition refers to the willful burning of a property by the owner under the pretense of a normal fire in order to defraud insurance or to circumvent monument protection regulations , which may prevent legal building demolition.

Insurance fraud in particularly serious cases often occurs in a warm demolition, in Germany for example when the perpetrator fakes the insured event after he or someone else has set fire to something of significant value for this purpose or by setting fire to it in whole or in partially destroyed; this is threatened with imprisonment from 6 months to 10 years (Section 263 (3) sentence 2 no. 5 StGB).

Conduct disorder

This includes all cases in which the behavior of the arsonists deviates from the usual norms of human coexistence, and in some cases even shows pathological traits (vengeance, pathological envy, hatred, pathological jealousy, pyromania , craving for recognition, destructiveness). There is often a close relationship between the perpetrator and the owner or owner of the damaged property. The perpetrators are often self-insecure, shy and inhibited personalities and live unmarried in a family group.

Politically motivated act of violence

These include the arson cases in which the perpetrator tries to exert pressure on the public in order to change the existing situation in the broadest sense. These can be political, social, ethnic or even religious motives (economic sabotage, public opinion, labor disputes, intimidation, blackmail, terror). In the case of politically motivated violence, one speaks of an arson attack .

Fire set by fire fighters

There was a research project on this topic at the Chair for Criminology, Criminal Policy and Police Science at the Law Faculty of the Ruhr University Bochum. In the report on this project, the author Frank D. Stolt assumed that it was a problem that was steadily increasing in absolute terms, that it caused damage of an economically relevant size and that the media coverage had made it almost an everyday phenomenon.

Stolt estimates the number of arsonists in the volunteer fire brigades at around 3,000. With 1.3 million active members in Germany's volunteer fire brigades, the proportion of firefighters who set fire to it would be 0.23 percent. According to the German Association of Fire Departments DFV only about 0.03 percent of all arsons on firefighters are traceable.

As a rule, arson by fire fighters is not a politically motivated act of violence. Rather, the motives lie in the realm of the psyche. The achievement of a kick during operations as well as the need for sensation and the “urge for social recognition” can trigger such arson attacks. As with general arson, the bulk of arsonists are found here among the male population up to 25 years of age.

Specific to criminal law

Difficulties and relief

Arson can be negligent or willful. Further difficulties are, for example, serious arson for consequences of people.


Metaphorical use

"Arson" and "arsonists" are negative connotations political tags "intellectual arson" / "spiritual arsonist" or "verbal arson" / "verbal arsonist" in the compositions metaphorically used. A so designated person / group of persons or according to a statement / behavior is assumed to set a social or political “fire”. An early use can be found in 1849 in Deutsche Fahrt: During the revolution : "... and since, according to the judgment of the enemy, they were intellectual arsonists, they had Campe pillaged on the spot so much that ..."


Orders under Palatine Count Karl IV and other building regulations from 1772 also served to prevent a fire in connection with domestic fireplaces. In this context, the punishment of arson is regulated: "According to Emperor Charles V's embarrassing court order , the author of an intentional arson should be brought to death by fire."


Web links

Commons : Arson  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: Arson  - In The News

Individual evidence

  1. Police crime statistics 2017. Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Home Affairs, April 2018, accessed on March 20, 2020 .
  2. Volker Faust : Pathological arson. Mental health 148. Psychiatric and neurological information offered by the Liebenau Foundation. With the collaboration of Walter Fröscher and Günter Hole. Liebenau Foundation, Mensch - Medizin - Wirtschaft, Meckenbeuren-Liebenau, 2019. (Experiments in childhood, act of revenge, removal of traces of a criminal act, sabotage or terrorist act).
  3. ( Page no longer available , search in web archives: Detection and prevention of arson offenses by members of the volunteer fire brigade ), November 9, 2009.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  4. a b “It will only be deleted when there is a fire ”, interview with criminologist and fire investigator Frank D. Stolt, , July 20, 2010.
  5. Technical recommendation “Firefighters are not arsonists” ( Memento from August 25, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 53 kB), German Fire Brigade Association, 2004.
  6. Fireman as Arsonist , PET Blog , accessed February 10, 2012.
  7. ^ Franz Schuselka: German trips: During the revolution . Jasper, Hügel & Manz, 1849, p. 16.
  8. ^ Franz-Josef Sehr : The fire extinguishing system in Obertiefenbach from earlier times . In: Yearbook for the Limburg-Weilburg district 1994 . The district committee of the Limburg-Weilburg district, Limburg-Weilburg 1993, p. 151-153 .