Fortress imprisonment

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Principles for the execution of fortress custody from August 9, 1932 (German Reich)

The fortress detention (in the early 19th century in Prussia also fortress arrest , in Austria from about 1880 until the interwar period called state prison ) was a special form of imprisonment . Fortress prisoners were accorded an honorable disposition . The fortress detention was therefore also called honorary detention . It was a custodia honesta ( Latin for "honorable custody") without any work obligation . As a prison sentence, she stood next to a penitentiary and prisonand was mainly imposed on members of the higher class, in the case of political crimes or against duelists . The Switzerland never knew this form of punishment.

The place of imprisonment was usually a fortress , but this form of detention could also be served in other places.

In the penal code of the Federal Republic of Germany, “fortress custody” was replaced by “ confinement ” in 1953 , which in turn gave way to the imprisonment sentence that was now introduced in 1969 as part of the major criminal law reform . In Austria, the 1930 draft for a new penal code no longer provided for this type of penalty. However, due to the political developments that followed, it never came into force. When the current Austrian criminal law was republished in 1945 (StG 1945), numerous articles of the penal code of 1852 that were considered obsolete or that had been formally repealed by the interim legislation were omitted, including the provisions on fortress detention.

Imprisonment in Prussia

In 19th century Prussia, fortress detention was to be distinguished from fortress punishment. Only non-commissioned officers and men were sentenced to fortress punishment. Until 1872 they served this sentence under lockdown and guard and had to do military work. In 1872 this sentence was replaced by a pure prison sentence.

In contrast, fortress detention was considered an honorable punishment. It could be imposed on officers and members of the higher, educated classes. From the 1870s at the latest, the places for fortress detention were called fortress house prisoners institutions . One of these institutions was located on the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress from 1878 to 1909, where fortress prisoners are documented as early as the 1830s. After the dissolution of this institution there were still the following places to serve the fortress detention in Prussia: the fortresses Weichselmünde near Danzig and Magdeburg for NCOs, men and lower military officers, the fortress Glatz for officers of the Guard Corps and the I. to VI. and the XVII. Army Corps and finally the Wesel Fortress for officers of the other Army Corps.

The fortress prisoners in Prussia were under supervision of their life and under guard, but were allowed tobacco and liquors enjoy and receive visitors. Daily exercise in the open air was permitted. Around 1900 it was even possible to get leave from the fortress commanders in the city and from the public prosecutor's office, but this was not counted as part of the prison term.

Duelists were usually sentenced to imprisonment because the duel was officially forbidden but actually tolerated. As a rule, duelists also received an early pardon from the king. Political prisoners, e.g. As in pre-March have also been sentenced to imprisonment as Catholic clergymen in the culture war z. B. violated the " pulpit paragraph ". Anyone who was sentenced to imprisonment instead of imprisonment for a crime was given a special grace.

In accordance with Section 17 of the Reich Criminal Code of 1871, imprisonment was for life or temporary. The early imprisonment could be imposed from one day to 15 years.

Well-known fortress prisoners - a selection


  • Manfred Böckling: Workers' department, arrest and fortress house prisoner institution. The Prussian fortress Ehrenbreitstein as a place of execution. In: New research on the fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein, Volume 3, ed. by General Directorate for Cultural Heritage Rhineland-Palatinate and the German Society for Fortress Research, Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner 2012, pp. 63–97. ISBN 978-3-7954-2475-6
  • Klaus Jordan: fortress arrest, fortress detention, fortress punishment. In: Festungsjournal, magazine of the German Society for Fortress Research e. V., 40 (2011), p. 53.
  • Jürgen W. Schmidt : "Construction and fortress prisoners on the Silesian fortress Glatz: Three unusual fates from the years 1825, 1832 and 1896" In: "Schlesische Geschichtsblätter" 2012 (39th year) issue 2 pp. 48–71

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. cf. the text on wikisource