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Secrecy describes - more broadly - the ability and skill to maintain confidentiality ( secrecy ), for example, of spoken and written. In this sense, secrecy is colloquially used synonymously with the term discretion and is considered a positive behavior and character trait.

Secrecy is to be distinguished from a natural lack of words and "requires conscious self-control".

More narrowly, as a technical term, as a so-called duty of confidentiality (jur .: prohibition of the disclosure of private secrets, " duty of confidentiality") it is an obligation of certain professional groups. It is based on legal norms (in Germany in particular from Section 203 of the Criminal Code ), employment contracts and service instructions and, for civil servants, from Section 37 (3) Civil Service Status Act .


  • One of the most important virtues in social life and one that is becoming rarer every day is secrecy. Nowadays one is so extremely deceptive in promises, even in affirmations and oaths, that one unscrupulously spreads a secret that has been entrusted to us under the seal of silence. Other people who are less oblivious of their duties but who are most reckless cannot put a check on their talkativeness. They forget that they were asked to remain silent, and so, out of unforgivable carelessness, they tell their friends' most important secrets at public dinner tables. ...
    Adolph Freiherr von Knigge , About dealing with people (1788), 41) About secrecy
  • Secrecy is a virtue, secrecy can be, secrecy is not.
    Wolfdietrich Schnurre , The Shadow Photographer (1978)


  • Otto Friedrich Bollnow : Nature and Change of Virtues. Ullstein, Frankfurt 1958, p. 84 f. (as one of the three virtues of the Magic Flute, raised to the "Masonic virtue")

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Otto Friedrich Bollnow : Essence and Change of Virtues. Ullstein, Frankfurt 1958, p. 88