Horst Herold

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Horst Herold (born October 21, 1923 in Sonneberg , Thuringia ; † December 14, 2018 in Nuremberg ) was a German lawyer and President of the Federal Criminal Police Office from 1971 to 1981 . In this capacity he became a symbol of the fight against terrorism in the Federal Republic of the 1970s, particularly in connection with the attacks by the Red Army Faction (RAF). The raster search was developed under his leadership .


Herold grew up in Pößneck until his family moved to Nuremberg in 1930. During the Second World War he was seriously wounded as a lieutenant in the Wehrmacht in 1943 and was taken prisoner of war by the Soviets on May 9, 1945 in Northern Bohemia , from which he was able to escape.

After studying law from 1945 to 1951 at the University of Erlangen , Horst Herold received his doctorate in the field of international law ; the subject of his dissertation from 1951 was the faulty legal state act in international law .

Herold was originally left-wing . For him, dialectical materialism was the real part of Marxism . As a child he took part in the communist youth movement. During his studies he was a member of the Socialist German Student Union (SDS) and was active in the extra-parliamentary movement against German rearmament . He was a member of the SPD .


In 1952 Horst Herold became a court assessor at the public prosecutor's office at the Nuremberg-Fürth district court . In 1953 he was appointed public prosecutor . His superior was Hans Sachs . From 1964 he became head of the Nuremberg criminal police . Only three years later he took the position of the Nuremberg Police President. From 1969 to 1971 Herold was a member of a reform commission for the work of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA).

On September 1, 1971, he was appointed President of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). In his work until 1981 he subjected the BKA to a reform process that was to make the BKA the figurehead of the German police worldwide. In particular, he was able to successfully advance the expansion of the technical and personnel equipment. At the same time, contrary to what the historical legislature thought, the centralization of the criminal police in the elements of forensic technology, its own criminological research and the development of new criminal approaches.

In January 1977 Herold was honored with the Icelandic Order of the Hawks in the form of commander with a star , after he had given the Icelandic police a retired BKA officer who should help to clear up the case of Guðmundur and Geirfinnur . In this case, five men were convicted of murder who had been brought to confessions under torture-like conditions. In September 2018, 44 years after the alleged crime, all of the defendants were acquitted by the Icelandic Supreme Court .

Under the direction of Horst Herold, in the course of the domestic political fight against terror of the RAF, the computer search was introduced. Horst Herold explained the procedure in 1986 as follows:

“In 1979 the RAF maintained one or more conspiratorial apartments rented under false names in Frankfurt am Main , the police just didn't know where. Since the terrorists could not pay the electricity bill from account to account, it was to be assumed that their nicknames would have to be among those who pay their electricity bills in cash. That was around 18,000 at the time. How can one find out the terrorists' false names from such a crowd? The answer is simple: by deleting all legal bearers of names from the crowd of cash-paying electricity customers until only those bearers of false names can be left. As a result, all persons whose names had been established as legal names were deleted from the judicially confiscated magnetic tape of all cash-paying electricity customers: the registered residents, the car owners, the pensioners, the Bafög recipients, the owners recorded in the land register, the fire insured, the statutory health insurance and so on - any file with legal names can act as an 'eraser'. Only when it can be assumed that all legal data could have been deleted is the remainder of the magnetic tape printed out. In the case of Frankfurt, at the end of the procedure, which was also supported manually, only two false names were found: that of a drug dealer and that of the wanted terrorist Heissler , who was arrested shortly afterwards in his conspiratorial apartment that was identified. "


After violent disagreements with Federal Interior Minister Gerhart Baum ( FDP ), who had been in office since June 8, 1978 , Herold applied for early retirement in September 1980 after a heart attack. Horst Herold was given early retirement on March 31, 1981 at the age of 57.

His plan to write a book about the manhunt for the RAF failed because Baum denied him access to the files. Because the police authorities were unable to adequately protect Herold, he then had to move his residence from his own home in Nuremberg to the site of what was then a BGS barracks in Rosenheim , where a prefabricated house was built for him. He had to bear the costs himself. There he also lived as a pensioner. In this context, the quote "I am the last prisoner of the RAF" is ascribed to him. After the death of his wife, he returned to Nuremberg in 2017. Herold died in December 2018 after a brief serious illness at the age of 95.


Film adaptations

Trivial culture

His announcement, “We'll get them all” , coined for the terrorists at the time of the RAF and the 2nd June Movement, was artistically processed several times, including on the “ Waste Your Youth ” sampler (“Horst Herold - We'll get you all”) , on the “Gang nach Canossa II” sampler (“D.Werk - We get them all”) and as an endless groove on the LP Amok Koma by the group Abwärts .


  • Federal Criminal Police Office (Hrsg.): Festschrift for Horst Herold on his 75th birthday - The Federal Criminal Police Office at the end of the 20th century. Wiesbaden 1998.
  • Dieter Schenk : The boss. Goldmann Verlag, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-442-12970-2 .
  • Dorothea Hauser: Baader and Herold. Description of a fight. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1998 / Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek 2007, ISBN 3-499-62279-3 .
  • Birgit Seiderer, Horst Herold and the Nuremberg model (1966–1971). A case study on the pioneering days of police IT use in the reform era of the Federal Republic. in: Communications of the Association for the History of the City of Nuremberg 91/2004, pp. 317-350.
  • Imanuel Baumann, Andrej Stephan: "Commissioner Computer": Dr. Horst Herold (* 1923) and the spirits he called. In: Shadows of the Past. The BKA and its founding generation in the early Federal Republic. By Imanuel Baumann, Herbert Reinke, Andrej Stephan, Patrick Wagner , Cologne 2011, pp. 79–86.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Former BKA boss Horst Herold is dead. Süddeutsche Zeitung , December 14, 2018 .;
  2. The history of the RAF ( Memento of the original from December 3, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Part 4/6, ZDFinfo from August 2, 2015, ( alternatively on Youtube )  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.zdf.de
  3. ^ Entry in the catalog of the German National Library: http://d-nb.info/480837171
  4. Dorothea Hauser: Baader and Herold. Description of a fight. Berlin 1997, p. 23. Based on conversations with Herold.
  5. Dorothea Hauser: Baader and Herold. Description of a fight. Berlin 1997, pp. 28 ff., 66, 78. On the basis of conversations with Herold.
  6. a b Michael Jürgs: Trapped in the Past - A Visit to Horst Herold. In: Der Tagesspiegel , September 22, 2007.
  7. Database query on the Icelandic President's website , accessed on June 13, 2020.
  8. ^ All found innocent in Guðmundur and Geirfinns case, 44 years after the supposed crimes were committed. In: icelandmonitor.mbl.is. September 27, 2018, accessed June 11, 2020 .
  9. The position of the RAF has improved . In: Der Spiegel . No. 37 , 1986, pp. 38–61 ( online - September 8, 1986 , former BKA boss Horst Herold on terrorists and computer searches).
  10. BKA-CHEF: Ans Schienbein , Der Spiegel 49/1980 of December 1, 1980.
  11. a b Heribert Prantl : The last RAF prisoner fled. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , September 3, 2017.
  12. Heribert Prantl: On the death of Horst Herold Staatsdiener and Staatsdenker In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , December 14, 2018