Major reform of criminal law

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The Great Criminal Law Reform is the fundamental reorganization of the German penal code that was carried out in the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1950s and 1960s .


Laws that removed any traces of National Socialism from the Criminal Procedure Code or the Courts Constitution Act after 1949 , such as B. the law for the restoration of legal unity in the field of the court constitution, the civil administration of justice, the criminal procedure and the cost law of September 12, 1950. Also the new version of norms, which were repealed by the Allied Control Council, is not considered a criminal law reform in this sense understood, such as the 1953 addition of the rule on the robbery attack on motorists after the repeal of the old rule on the car trap by Control Council Act No. 55 in 1947.


Until World War II

A reform of the Reich Criminal Code (RStGB) of 1871 has been discussed since its entry into force. Reform work on criminal law - above all on the general part of the RStGB - was driven forward during the German Empire and the Weimar Republic and implemented through some changes in the law. Since the breakout of the so-called " school dispute" between the classic criminal law school , which is committed to the idea of ​​retaliation and the modern school of criminal law , which is committed to the prevention model , the main question has been whether the punishment should be used to improve the perpetrator and, as best, in the law Must be taken into account. In particular, it had also become questionable whether criminal law could be based on "free will " as the basis of the charge of guilt because of supposed advances in psychiatric and psychological science . The leading person in the debate was the Berlin professor of criminal law Franz von Liszt , who, together with the International Criminal Police Association (IKV) , which he co-founded , advocated preventive criminal law based on the effective protection of legal interests . A large number of draft reforms were drawn up by the Reich Justice Office during the German Empire , none of which were legally finalized. After 1918 drafts were drawn up, but these failed with the end of the Weimar Republic. Much was left to prison practice in the individual countries . The reform debate only came to a preliminary conclusion with the law against dangerous habitual criminals and measures for reform and security of November 24, 1933. This law concluded the reform work of the Weimar period, but was tightened by the Nazi regime and adapted to the National Socialist ideology. During this time, numerous changes to the RStGB were made in this sense, so that the RStGB as such continued to exist in the basic structure without further criminal law reform until 1945.

1950s to 1969

In 1953, Federal Justice Minister Thomas Dehler had expert opinions drawn up on the reform of German criminal law . His successor Fritz Neumayer convened a commission in 1954 to draw up a new penal code . This Grand Criminal Law Commission consisted of 24 members (including professors, judges and members of the Bundestag) and met from 1954 to 1959. The result were several draft laws, including the draft from 1962.

In 1966 the “Alternative Draft of a Criminal Code” (AE) was published by several German and Swiss professors (including Claus Roxin and Werner Maihofer ), which also had an impact on further legislation.

The reform was finally decided by the grand coalition . The Bundestag's special committee for criminal law reform drafted the first two criminal law reform laws, which were passed in 1969:

  • First law on the reform of criminal law (1st StrRG) of June 25, 1969, came into force on September 1, 1969 and April 1, 1970.
  • Second law reforming criminal law (2nd StrRG) of July 4, 1969, came into force in accordance with the law on the entry into force of the second law reforming criminal law of July 30, 1973 - with the exception of the regulations on placement in a social therapeutic Institution - January 1, 1975.

After 1969

In the following years, additional criminal law reform laws made changes in particular to the special section of the Criminal Code .

  • Third law for the reform of criminal law (3rd StrRG) of May 20, 1970, entered into force on May 22, 1970.
  • Fourth law on the reform of criminal law (4th StrRG) of November 23, 1973.
  • Fifth law on the reform of criminal law (5th StrRG) of June 18, 1974, entered into force on June 22, 1974.
  • Sixth law on the reform of criminal law (6th StrRG) of January 26, 1998, entered into force on April 1, 1998.


The 2nd StrRG redesigns the general part of the StGB. Due to the 1st StrRG, some important changes came into force beforehand. There were also changes to the special part . The most important changes in detail:

Punishment only in the event of a violation of legal interests

Acts should only be punished if they violate or endanger a legal interest . It is therefore no longer sufficient for an act to be immoral. As a result, the following facts, among others, were abolished, defused or tightened:

Form of imprisonment

The prison sentence was abolished. Instead of the various forms of imprisonment ( imprisonment , confinement , workhouse , prison and penitentiary ), imprisonment was introduced as a uniform punishment .

Alternatives to Imprisonment

Furthermore, the options have been expanded, only a fine be imposed or a penalty of probation suspend. As a rule, no prison sentences of less than six months should now be imposed ( Section 47 StGB).


  • Minutes of the meetings of the Grand Criminal Law Commission, Vol. 1–14. 1956-1960.
  • Tobias A. Beck: The Effects of the Great Criminal Law Reform on Legislation in Core Criminal Law since 1975: Continuation or Abandonment of the Reform Principles? 1st edition. Logos, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-8325-4315-0 .

Individual evidence

  1. Federal Law Gazette 1950, p. 455, PDF
  2. E 1962, BT-Drs. 4/650
  3. BGBl. I p. 645 , PDF
  4. Federal Law Gazette I p. 717 , PDF
  5. Federal Law Gazette I p. 909 , PDF
  6. Federal Law Gazette I p. 505 , PDF
  7. BGBl. I p. 1725 , PDF
  8. BGBl. I p. 1297 , PDF
  9. Federal Law Gazette I p. 164 , PDF