Germany’s Michael Grosse-Brömer
Director of the Christian Democratic fraction in the Bundestag
speaking in the talkshow “Berlin Direkt” Sunday night, Dec 18
The following is from original research and translation by Egri Nok with much thanks:
The Law against treacherous attacks on State and Party and for the protection of Party Uniforms of December 20, 1934, better known as Heimtückegesetz, made the misuse of insignia and uniforms of the party a punishable offense. Furthermore, it restricted the right of freedom of speech and criminalized all critical commentary that allegedly severely harmed the wellbeing of the Reich, the reputation of the government of the Reich, and the NSDAP.
The law drew on nearly identical provisions of the “Ordinance of the President of the Reich for the Protection against Insulting Attacks against the Government of the National Uprising” of March 21, 1933 , but extended the range of sentences.
The punishability of value judgements (§ 2), however, which is decisive for the importance of the Treachery Law, is not yet found in the 1933 regulation which only was directed against factual claims.
“On the basis of article 48 (2) of the Constitution of the Reich, the following shall be enacted:
(1) Whoever deliberately makes or spreads an untruthful or grossly distorted assertion which is liable to cause serious damage to the welfare of the Reich or a state, or to the prestige of the government of the Reich, or a government of a state, or the parties and associations behind these governments, will be, unless the prospect of strict punishment is already held out in other regulations, punished with imprisonment of up to two years, and, if the assertion was made or spread in public, with imprisonment not under 3 months.
(2) If serious damage has been done to the Reich or a state by the deed, penitentiary can be adjudged.
(3) Whoever commits the deed grossly negligent, will be sentenced with jail up to three months, or a fine.
Law of 1934
On December 20, 1934, the act was reshaped into the “Law against treacherous attacks on Party and State and for the protection of Party uniforms”.
First, the order of the clauses was rearranged, whereby the paragraphs against the misuse of party uniforms and insignia moved to the back. The number of proceedings initiated because of this had shown insignificant with 5%.
The clause of the § 3 of the act was adopted almost word for word as § 1 of the law. Thereby, anyone was punishable, who “deliberately makes or spreads an untrue or grossly distorted assertion…”. Grossly negligent deeds were punishable too. The degree of penalty was set to up to two years of prison.
Newly added was a § 2, which could now be used to penalize, besides assertions, value judgements: “Who publicly makes spiteful, hateful or base-souled remarks about leading figures of the NSDAP, their directives, or institutions created by them…”, will be punished with prison at will. Remarks counted as “public” even when the perpetrator “must expect that the remark gets out.”
For persecution, the approval of the Deputy of the Führer – in fact his bureau Staff of the Deputy Führer – or by the Reich Ministry of Justice was needed. Thus, political control was possible.
Background and legal assessment
From 1943 on, many critical expressions of opinion were not persecuted under the Treachery Law anymore, but increasingly the Volksgerichtshof saw them as als Wehrkraftzersetzung and and punished by death penalty.
After the War
1. RGBl. 1934 I, S. 1269 f.
2. RGBl. 1933 I, S. 135 f.
3. Bernward Dörner: „Heimtücke:“ Das Gesetz als Waffe. Paderborn 1998, ISBN 3-506-77509-X, S. 18.
4. Verordnung des Reichspräsidenten zur Abwehr heimtückischer Angriffe gegen die Regierung der nationalen Erhebung vom 21. März 1933
5. Bernward Dörner: „Heimtücke“, S. 67
6. Bernward Dörner: „Heimtücke“, S. 21
7. Bernward Dörner: „Heimtücke“, S. 31
8. Thomas Mang: „gestapo-leitstelle Wien, mein Name ist Huber“, Lit Verlag, Berlin/Hamburg/Münster 2004, ISBN 3-825-87258-0, S. 49.
9. Bernward Dörner: „Heimtücke“, S. 9/10, weitere Angaben S. 324
10. Bernward Dörner: „Heimtücke“, S. 275
11. Meike Wöhlert: Der politische Witz in der NS-Zeit am Beispiel ausgesuchter SD-Berichte und Gestapo-Akten. Frankfurt a.M. 1997, ISBN 3-631-30779-9, S. 96.
12. Gunther Schmitz: Wider die „Miesmacher“, „Nörgler“ und „Kritikaster“. In: Justizbehörde Hamburg (Hrsg.): „Für Führer, Volk und Vaterland…“, Hamburg 1992, S. 294
13. Bernward Dörner: „Heimtücke“, S. 151 u. a.
14. Meldungen aus dem Reich hrsg. von Heinz Boberach, Bd. 2, Herrsching 1984, ISBN 3-88199-158-1, S. 912/913 (15. März 1940)
15. Ein Beispiel bei Dietrich Güstrow: Tödlicher Alltag. dtv 10308, München 1984, ISBN 3-423-10303-5, S. 116
16. Bernward Dörner: „Heimtücke“, S. 313
17. Hans Wüllenweber: Sondergerichte im Dritten Reich. Frankfurt a.M. 1990, ISBN 3-630-61909-6, S. 34
18. Bernward Dörner: „Heimtücke“, S. 327
19. Zitat aus einem Urteil von 1950 / Bernward Dörner: Heimtücke, 343.