I have a question about a Gemeindeverordnung. My German is good enough to read what is written here, but I'm not sure how I should interpret it. It's ambiguous to me.

First paragraph is important here

Figure: First article is important here

So should I interpret this as: You may not place any camping gear at places generally accessible from public roads, except at a camping site.

Or should I interpret this as: You may never place camping gear, except at camping places (with a permit, i.e. camping-organisation) accessible from public roads.


if you reason a contrario, you could say that, with the first interpretation, that you may place camping gear at places not generally accessible from public roads. I.e. wilderness. Is this a valid argument I could make?

closed as off-topic by Thomas, user259412, Hubert Schölnast, Philipp, Dreikäsehoch Jan 29 '18 at 7:44

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  • 1
    What is the difference between your two interpretations? I did not see it? – IQV Jan 25 '18 at 11:27
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    Within the city limits of Wengen, tents, trailers. mobile homes etc. must not be set up for the purpose of sleeping over night in publicly accessible places. This does not apply to licensed camp sites. – Ingmar Jan 25 '18 at 11:29
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    @user3351731 It does not say anything about places accessible from public roads. It only refers to places accessible by the public. Basically: No camping outside official camping sites. – Roland Jan 25 '18 at 11:38
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    @user3351731 Can you please improve your question according to the first comment of IQV. It is really hard to understand you are aiming to the relation of camping places and public roads. – Thomas Jan 25 '18 at 12:23
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    I think a big misunderstanding comes from the idea öffentlich means accessible from public roads. That's an anglo-saxon definition. In Germany and Austria, öffentlich means there is no obstacle to overcome. A non-fenced field or meadow is öffentlich even if it isn't public property. You may even pass it freely if you don't damage the crops or startle cattle. It becomes nicht-öffentlich as soon there is a fence. You may never pass fences or gates (even open gates) without permission of the owner. Though the permission may be implicit, e.g. a sign at a gate, telling you Hütte, 3km. – Janka Jan 25 '18 at 12:53

First of all, this regulation has nothing to do with accessibility of areas by a public or private road.

This regulation basically forbids camping in all places but official camping sites. And the term allgemein zugängliche Orte is the decisive term which defines what counts as public (öffentlich) because e.g. forests are often owned by private persons or companies (and not by the municipality or state) however they are not fenced and everyone can enter them without restrictions. Still you are not allowed to put up your tent in such forests according to this regulation.

A term you may often come across in this context is Wildcampen.


You are right, you can actually interpret some ambiguity into the sentence:

... an im Freien gelegenen öffentlichen Orten ...

could grammatically belong to the camp sites

Campingplätze, die an im Freien gelegenen öffentlichen Orten liegen

or it could stand alone as a refinement of the predicate:

Wohnwagen dürfen nicht an im Freien gelegenen öffentlichen Orten aufgestellt werden.

From the context, however, it is quite clear that the first interpretation doesn't make a lot of sense (Why should it be interdicted to put tents and caravans onto camping sites? That's what they're good for, after all.)

  • 2
    I can't see any ambiguity in Außerhalb von Campingplatzen an im Freien gelegenen Orten. It is all outdoor places outside of a camp site. – Takkat Jan 25 '18 at 12:02

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