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The burning towers of the World Trade Center during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in various locations on the east coast of the United States

The Terror ( Lat. Terror "terror") is the systematic and often seemingly arbitrary spread of fear and terror exercised by or threatened violence to make people docile. According to UN Security Council Resolution 1566 , "acts of terrorism are those committed with the intent of killing or serious bodily harm, or for the purpose of being hostage-taking, and with the purpose of creating a state of terror, intimidating a population or forcing a government, for example relevant terrorism treaties are recorded ".

The use of terror to achieve political, economic or religious goals is called terrorism .

Concept history

Terror was originally a legitimate action attributed to the state among the ancient thought leaders of the Enlightenment . For Thomas Hobbes of "terror of legal punishment" (was terror of legal punishment ) is a necessary condition of a state, which on the other side "of the terror of power" ( the terror of some power ) corresponded.

On the eve of the French Revolution (1789), the scouts revolted and accused the monarchy of being a terrorist regime of terror ( par la terreur ). In 1769, Voltaire also referred to the state-staged public torture practice prior to wheeled executions and being torn to pieces as the “apparatus of terror” ( appareil de terreur ). However, it was the French revolutionaries themselves who, from 1793 with Robespierre, proclaimed terror as a state instrument of power and gave it ideological justification in the period known as the " reign of terror ".

In a “virtuous state” the people are to be guided by reason and the enemies of the people are to be ruled by “terreur” , Robespierre said before the convention on February 5, 1794: “Terror is nothing other than rapid, strict and indomitable justice. It is a revelation of virtue. Terror is not a special principle of democracy, but arises from its principles, which must be the most urgent concern of the fatherland's heart. ” The executive organ of this state terror , the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal , Robespierre finally fell victim to himself that same year.

Colloquial usage

The term terror can now be found in numerous word combinations (e.g. telephone terror , psychological terror ) also in everyday language, where it often stands for aggressive manners or extreme harassment such as stalking .


  • Peter Fischer (ed.): Speeches of the French Revolution . DTV, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-423-02959-5 .
  • Ernst Federn: An attempt at a psychology of terror. In: Roland Kaufhold (Ed.): Ernst Federn: Attempts for the psychology of terror. Psychosozial, Giessen 1999, pp. 35-75.
  • Roland Kaufhold: On the psychology of the extreme situation: The trauma of the persecuted (B. Bettelheim and E. Federn). In: ders .: Bettelheim, Ekstein Federn: Impulses for the psychoanalytic-pedagogical movement. Psychosozial, Giessen 2001, pp. 253-262.
  • Raúl Páramo-Ortega: Fundamentalists are always the other. Freud in the age of fundamentalism. Extended version 2008 (full text.)
  • Yana Milev: Emergency Empire: Transformation of the State of Emergency. Springer, Vienna 2008, ISBN 978-3-211-79811-9 .
  • Philipp H. Schulte: Terrorism and anti-terrorism legislation - a legal sociological analysis. Waxmann, Münster 2008, ISBN 978-3-8309-1982-7 .

Individual aspects

Web links

Wiktionary: Terror  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Terrorism  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. For example, Kai Ambos reported in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on October 2, 2014, page 11, under the title Who is a Terrorist?