Hamburg kettle

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A controversial, illegal police operation on June 8, 1986 in Hamburg became known nationwide under the name Hamburger Kessel . At that time, a crowd of people gathered on the Heiligengeistfeld to hold a political demonstration . The people were from the police encircled . 861 people were held in chains by the police for up to 13 hours.


On June 7, 1986, a train from Hamburg demonstrators to the Brokdorf nuclear power plant in Kleve in Schleswig-Holstein was stopped. The police hunted down the demonstrators and attacked their cars. As a result, an unregistered spontaneous demonstration for “a right to demonstrate” and “against police arbitrariness” was held on June 8 in response to the police's behavior the day before.

The encircling of the demonstrators began shortly after 12 noon and did not end until long after midnight, when the last people had been removed and distributed to police stations all over Hamburg. During the encirclement, for example, those trapped were denied access to the toilet until 5 p.m. In the further course of the day there were serious clashes between sympathizers of the encircled and the police around the Heiligengeistfeld . Interior Senator Rolf Lange described those trapped as “violent criminals”, “ RAF sympathizers known to the police ”, “people from Hafenstrasse and so-called autonomous people ”. According to other representations, it was a completely indiscriminate cross-section of the political landscape, predominantly from the “moderate spectrum”. The police report named a total of 838 detentions and 22 arrests, but only 15 initiated investigations , seven of them for violating the Assembly Act .

In the evenings, when hundreds of people were still trapped in the cauldron, taxi drivers decided to stand aside for those who were surrounded and offered a free ride home. After 20 minutes the police attacked 30 to 40 honking and flashing taxis and a few private cars with rubber truncheons and occasionally destroyed their windows.


Four days later, on June 12, 1986, around 50,000 people led by around 100 taxis demonstrated against arbitrariness by the police in Hamburg.

Legal consequences

The Hamburg Administrative Court later declared the operation illegal. The ruling states that even a political assembly that has not yet met is covered by the fundamental right to freedom of assembly . The operative part of the judgment particularly emphasizes:

  • The prevention of a meeting, unless use is made of the instruments provided for in the Assembly Act, is not provided for in the Assembly Act and is therefore not permitted.
  • Likewise, it is not covered by the Assembly Act and is therefore unlawful if the police surrounds a gathering of people that has not caused any disturbance up to this point, prevents the individual participants from leaving the square and then takes them into custody.

The four responsible police officers were warned by the Hamburg district court for 861 deprivation of liberty. The fine was reserved. The district court of Hamburg awarded the encircled 200 DM damages per person.


The Hamburg cauldron was the trigger for the establishment of the "Hamburger Signal", an association of Hamburg police officers who spoke out publicly against this police operation. The Federal Working Group of Critical Police Officers emerged from the Hamburg Signal .

See also


  • Joachim Blau, Klaus Dammann: The Hamburg Kettle. In: Democracy and Law . 1986, pp. 365-371.
  • Joachim Blau: On the administrative and civil court processing of the "Hamburg cauldron". In: Democracy and Law. 1987, pp. 332-333.
  • Jochen Hofmann: On the question of the illegality of police measures - “Hamburger Kessel”. In: New journal for administrative law . 1987, pp. 769-771.
  • Hans W. Alberts: The police firmness of the freedom of assembly. In: Verwaltungsrundschau . 1987, pp. 298-301.
  • Hans W. Alberts: Again - the "Hamburger Kessel". In: New journal for administrative law. 1988, pp. 224-225.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Katja Iken : "As if we were serious criminals". In: Der Spiegel . June 8, 2016, Retrieved June 8, 2016 .
  2. VG Hamburg of October 30, 1986, Az. 12 VG 2442/86.
  3. ^ LG Hamburg, judgment of October 23, 1991, Az. 830 Js 182/86.