Martial law

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In military law, martial law refers to the situation in which the jurisdiction exercised by public law authorities is transferred to the highest military commander who is assisted by a court martial , the so-called court martial .

The introduction of martial law is based on the assumption that due legal proceedings cannot be carried out due to lack of time or opportunity and that punishment of the perpetrator in the form of a “ short trial ” because of the importance of the act - or as a deterrent example for others - is unavoidable.

Throughout history numerous death sentences have been passed or enforced by standing courts . The execution was often carried out by shooting (“shooting by law”) or by hanging (“by hanging ”).



The German Imperium

The most important point was not only the transfer of jurisdiction to the commanding military commander in the army corps districts of the German Army , but the application of military criminal law to all persons staying in the command district. Only according to this law or a special law for the state of siege could “justice” be given (in the German Empire the Prussian Siege Act in the version of June 4, 1851). After the declaration of Emperor Wilhelm II on July 31, 1914, the state of siege was proclaimed nationwide and the state of siege or intensified state of siege came into force. Here the commanding military commander had the right to override important constitutional articles and to recognize the death penalty or to confirm death sentences by court martial.

National Socialism

1943: Proclamation of the police standing in the Netherlands

The concept of martial law was only rarely used during the Nazi dictatorship . Instead, it was usually declared that a certain region was an “area of ​​operation”, at times the jurisdiction of military courts . In this context, between the summer of 1940 and the summer of 1944, regimental stand courts of the Wehrmacht were commissioned to judge acts of resistance by residents of occupied areas of Western and Northern Europe. In Poland, the term stand trial was also adopted by the security police, who tried to hide numerous murders of civilians behind this term by portraying arbitrary killings as the legitimate execution of sentences.

All judgments by court courts in the time of National Socialism were set aside in Germany by the NS Unjust Judgments Repeal Act in 1998, the last version of which came into force on September 30, 2009.


On May 1, 1943, the National Socialist occupiers in the Netherlands introduced the police standing right; Gathering together, refusal to work, possession of weapons, anti-German publications and other resistance could then be punished with death on the spot. Attempts to instigate or passively participate in these activities could also be punished with a collective execution.


1933 to 1938

See also


  • Wilhelm Deist : Military and domestic politics in World War 1914–1918. IA of the Commission for the History of Parliamentarism and Political Parties and the Military History Research Office by Matthias, Erich / Meier-Welcker, Hans [ed.]. First part, Vol. 1 / I, Düsseldorf, 1970.
  • Ernst Rudolf Huber : Law on the state of siege, i. d. F. dated June 4, 1851. In: Preußische Gesetzsammlung 1851, documents on German constitutional history, Vol. I, Stuttgart, as of February 19, 2001, pp. 451–452.
  • Martial law u. State of siege; d. Advice d. Constituent Prussia. National Assembly on d. Request d. Deputy Adolf Hoffmann u. Comrades on repeal d. Standing rights and state of siege; Negotiations from 14./15./17. u. March 19, 1919 (shorthand report); Anh .: The program d. Prussia. Government statement d. Prime Minister Hirsch on March 25, 1919, Prussia: Library Stein-Berlin. Buchh. Vorwärts, microfiche edition, 1919, ISBN 3628004195 .
  • Ordinance on the introduction of Prussian military laws throughout the federal territory, i. d. F. of November 7, 1867, Federal = Law Gazette of the North German Confederation 1867, pp. 125–130.
  • Ordinance on the introduction of the Prussian military criminal law in the entire federal territory, i. d. F. dated December 29, 1867, Federal = Law Gazette of the North German Federal 1867, p. 185.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Peter Lutz Kalmbach, "The new law enables energetic action", in: Deutsche Richterzeitung 2016, p. 26 ff.
  2. Gerd Weckbecker: Between acquittal and death penalty. The case law of the National Socialist special courts Frankfurt / Main and Bromberg , Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-Baden 1998, ISBN 3-7890-5145-4 .