Translated Nazi slogans in court/Nazi-Parolen in der Übersetzung nicht immer strafbar

It’s been widely reported today that the Federal Court of Justice has overturned the conviction of a man for possessing T-shirts with the words ‘Blood and Honour’ on them. However, the full decision is not online yet.

At all events, the case is being sent back for retrial, so possibly or even probably there will be a conviction.

Blut und Ehre is a slogan of the Hitler Youth. Blood and Honour is the literal English translation, and also the name of a skinhead/National Front organization whose German arm is banned.

The Gera Landgericht (Regional Court) convicted the defendant on the basis of § 86 a of the Criminal Code. Here is the original (from the press release) and Michael Bohlander’s translation (available online and in book form).

StGB § 86 a Verwenden von Kennzeichen verfassungswidriger Organisationen
(1) Mit Freiheitsstrafe bis zu drei Jahren oder mit Geldstrafe wird bestraft, wer
1. im Inland Kennzeichen einer der in § 86 Abs. 1 Nr. 1, 2 und 4 bezeichneten Parteien oder Vereinigungen verbreitet oder öffentlich, in einer Versammlung oder in von ihm verbreiteten Schriften…verwendet oder
2. Gegenstände, die derartige Kennzeichen darstellen oder enthalten, zur Verbreitung oder Verwendung im Inland oder Ausland in der in Nummer 1 bezeichneten Art und Weise herstellt, vorrätig hält, einführt oder ausführt.
(2) Kennzeichen im Sinne des Absatzes 1 sind namentlich Fahnen, Abzeichen, Uniformstücke, Parolen und Grußformen. Den in Satz 1 genannten Kennzeichen stehen solche gleich, die ihnen zum Verwechseln ähnlich sind.
(3) ….

Section 86a
Using symbols of unconstitutional organisations
(1) Whosoever
domestically distributes or publicly uses, in a meeting or in written materials (section 11 (3)) disseminated by him, symbols of one of the parties or organisations indicated in section 86 (1) Nos 1, 2 and 4; or
produces, stocks, imports or exports objects which depict or contain such symbols for distribution or use in Germany or abroad in a manner indicated in No 1,
shall be liable to imprisonment of not more than three years or a fine.
(2) Symbols within the meaning of subsection (1) above shall be in particular flags,insignia, uniforms and their parts, slogans and forms of greeting. Symbols which are so similar as to be mistaken for those named in the 1st sentence shall be equivalent to them.

(3) Section 86 (3) and (4) shall apply mutatis mutandis.

Aufgrund dieses Sachverhalts verurteilte das Landgericht Gera den Angeklagten wegen Verwendens von Kennzeichen verfassungswidriger Organisationen (§ 86 a StGB) zu einer Geldstrafe von 4200 Euro. Der u.a. für Staatsschutzstrafsachen zuständige 3. Strafsenat des Bundesgerichtshofs hat dieses Urteil aufgehoben und die Sache an das Landgericht zurückverwiesen.

It appears that the defendant is guilty of something, but the court thinks the wrong section was relied on: the translation of a slogan is something different from the slogan itself.

Press release of the court (German)

Blood and Honour (Wikipedia)

7 thoughts on “Translated Nazi slogans in court/Nazi-Parolen in der Übersetzung nicht immer strafbar

    • Well, I suppose Hector has been dead for more than 70 years since he wrote that play? But then, as you see, someone was convicted for the wrong reason. So I suppose someone going to Germany always runs a risk.

  1. On a vaguely related note, has a decision been made in the ‘Nazi’ gnome case? See [url=][/url]

    • Apparently the public prosecutor’s office decided not to prosecute, because the aim of the design was art, and the intention to ridicule the Nazis. But they said there was a risk of the gnomes being misused.
      [url=]Die Welt[/url]

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