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Complicity (Latin: cum plectere = closely intertwined) means complicity and is defined in criminal law as the three-step process of making a decision, planning and carrying out a criminal act . If a group goes through these three steps together, it will be found guilty of complicity, which is a relatively high penalty. Complicity can be legally differentiated from helping, inciting or sideline offenders, because in all three forms the intensity of cooperation is looser.

The Great Train Robbery (1963), the Zurich bank robbery (1997) or the great diamond robbery in Antwerp (2003) are rated as real classic cases of accomplice . In all three cases the perpetrators were convicted, but part of the booty has been lost to this day. In the media, the films Bonnie & Clyde by Arthur Penn (1967), accomplices by Margit Czenki (1987) or the novel The accomplices by Georges Simenon (1956) are considered classics of complicity.

The term has a negative connotation in the German language and is used almost exclusively in a criminal context . The cultural theorist Gesa Ziemer has reinterpreted the concept of complicity as a productive form of work that is used in new working environments, in everyday life and in relation to new forms of artistic authorship. In their sense, complicity is a collective practice through which a small group legally - mostly in creative environments - pursues and enforces a goal, controlled by interests and temporarily . Complicity different organizational theory from other collectivization forms such as teamwork , alliance , network or mafia structures .


  • Andreas Donatsch; Jörg Rehberg (2001): Criminal Law I. Criminal Law , Zurich.
  • Gesa Ziemer (2013): Complicity. New perspectives on collectivity , Bielefeld.


  • Gesa Ziemer; Barbara Weber (2007): Complicity , Zurich. (Film 30 min.)

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Wiktionary: Complicity  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations