This is prompted by a question over at LawSE. In my attempt to answer, I've had to use Google Translate for this piece of legislation:

(1) Wer in die Wohnung, in die Geschäftsräume oder in das befriedete Besitztum eines anderen oder in abgeschlossene Räume, welche zum öffentlichen Dienst oder Verkehr bestimmt sind, widerrechtlich eindringt, oder wer, wenn er ohne Befugnis darin verweilt, auf die Aufforderung des Berechtigten sich nicht entfernt, wird mit Freiheitsstrafe bis zu einem Jahr oder mit Geldstrafe bestraft.

Google gave me this:

(1) Anyone who illegally intrudes into the apartment, business premises or pacified property of another or into locked rooms which are intended for public service or traffic, or who, if he lingers in them without authorization, at the request of the person entitled does not move away, is punished with imprisonment for up to one year or with a fine.

I'm unfamiliar with the concept of a pacified property. Is it anyone able to provide an English synonym or some context for me, please?

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    Not "pacified", use "enclosed".
    – RedSonja
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 6:27
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    Note that Google Translate does not understand text. Instead, it works very much like a search engine (no surprise there): it tries to find the same text fragments in multiple languages and then matches fragments between them. This works well for contexts where texts about the same subject are available in multiple languages, but German Criminal Law is apparently not one of those. Google Translate routinely fails where terms have a very specialized meaning in a very narrow context that deviates significantly from the common meaning. Legalese happens to be full of those. Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 6:50
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    I am a native speaker, and I am also not a computer, and yet I wouldn't have had the slightest idea what that word means without looking up the definition. Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 6:51
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    deepl.com often avoids pitfalls such as this that Google translate falls into
    – padd13ear
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 10:26
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    The best thing would be to look for professional translations in the first place before relying on DeepL etc., let alone Google Translate. The German Federal Ministry of Justice offers a list of non-authorative, but scientifically founded English translations of German federal laws. There we can also find a sound translation of § 123 StGB: "Whoever unlawfully enters the private premises, business premises or other enclosed property of another […]" Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 18:08

4 Answers 4


The google translation got it wrong, this is not about conquest. In this case "befriedet" = "under legal protection".


This is a slight case of officialese, meaning the property is legally owned by somebody and refers to their right of ownership and to execute some authority, e.g. deny access.

Edit: @guidot remarked that there are more shortcomings of the google translation, with which I agree.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Jonathan Herrera
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 17:07
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    The German Federal Ministry of Justice itself translates the term befriedetes Besitztum in § 123 StGB as enclosed property (i.e. factually enclosed, e.g. by a fence), not as property under legal protection (which would only be ideally and maybe even tautological). Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 18:25
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    @amadeusamadeus That BmJ translation is wrong. I can certainly ask people to leave my grounds if I have not raised a fence or put up "dont enter" signs. If they don't go, that's "Hausfriedensbruch". The correct translation for "enclosed" is "umfriedet".
    – Karl
    Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 14:19
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    Unfortunately, these comments cannot be moved again to chat by moderators - due to a consraint of Stackexchange. People, please discuss the legal stuff in chat. It is off-topic and I am inclined to delete all this comments here.
    – Jonathan Herrera
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 8:12
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    @jonathan.scholbach how is a discussion about the meaning of a legal term off topic if the question was what the term means. You cannot translate a legal term correctly if you don't know what it means. The discussion is very much on topic. It's a discussion whether the answer is correct or not. If I downvote the answer, stack exchange itself tells me to leave a comment.
    – DonQuiKong
    Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 19:21

„Befriedetes Besitztum“ has an additional special meaning in legalese. It is "a property or building that is secured against unauthorized entry in a recognizable manner by contiguous protective barriers by the authorized person." (Oberlandesgericht Frankfurt 2006) (...ein Grundstück bzw. Gebäude, „das von dem Berechtigten in äußerlich erkennbarer Weise durch zusammenhängende Schutzwehren gegen das beliebige Betreten gesichert ist“)

This means that a property must be fenced in ("umfriedet"). Putting up warning signs saying "private property" or the like is not enough to constitute "befriedetes Besitztum".

https://www.rv.hessenrecht.hessen.de/bshe/document/LARE190012602 (Grund 14)

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    @a_donda: Ich kannte es auch nur vom Schießen mit Pfeil und Bogen oder Luftgewehr. Das ist aus naheliegenden Gründen nämlich auch nur auf befriedetem Besitztum erlaubt.
    – HalvarF
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 12:48
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    Es gibt auch den Begriff "Einfriedung" - Das ist i.A. ganz profan ein Zaun oder eine Mauer drumrum. Ich finde allerdings "befriedet" hier im Gesetzestext ein bißchen befremdlich. Aber das ist wohl gemeint.
    – tofro
    Commented Jul 5, 2021 at 15:13
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    I would go for "enclosed", which is contains all the meanings of fenced, walled, etc.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 6:26
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    This BTW is why we have a Friedhof. Not because there's so much peace in there. Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 7:10
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    Nitpicking, but that's unclear. dwds.de/wb/Friedhof. Burial practice and places and their construction or the lack thereof change. 'Burgfried' (not 'Burgfriede') is a better example imo.
    – user41853
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 7:18

Is "befriedet" correctly translated to "pacified" here?

The word "befriedet" does not come from the word "Friede" but from the word "Einfriedung".

A "Einfriedung" is any kind of structure that marks the border of some area not allowing people to enter - for example a fence, a wall or a hedge.

So the expression "befriedetes Besitztum" in this sentence means: "An area which is surrounded by a structure like a fence or a wall."

  • 1
    … but “Einfriedung” in turn comes from the same word as “Frieden”. The homonym meaning of “befrieden” being “pacify” isn’t a coincidence. Commented Jul 8, 2021 at 13:21

Edit: I think the question is best answered by the semi-official English translation, offered by the Bundesministerium der Justiz (German Federal Ministry of Justice):

Section 123

(1) Whoever unlawfully enters the private premises, business premises or other enclosed property of another, or closed premises designated for public service or transportation, or whoever stays there without being authorised to do so and does not leave when requested to do so by the authorised person incurs a penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or a fine.


Given the debate regarding one definition, I would like to take the history of the law in question into account and give more linguistic and legislative sources.

The term befriedet has been in § 123 Abs. 1 StGB since the very first version of the StGB from 1872. In the DWB entry that was published in 1853 – only 19 years prior –, we read:

BEFRIEDEN, protegere […], wurde zumal auf das hegen und schirmen des landes und feldes gegen feinde und schädiger angewandt […]

In English:

BEFRIEDEN, protegere […], was especially applied to fostering and sheltering the ground and field against enemies and wrongdoers […]

Accordingly, befriedet in the sense of § 123 Abs. 1 StGB must be understood as an estate that is somehow delimited and protected from trespassing, that can be by a wall, by a fence etc. – maybe enclosed would be an appropriate English term.

At the time of legislation, befrieden was probably more an everyday language term than a terminus technicus/legal term. The more recent legal definitions, e.g. by the German Federal Court, that were cited by other answers and comments are a specification of that 'natural' meaning, but they didn't re-invent it. First of all, befrieden meant to protect a piece of land. In the context of the formation of the trespassing law in the German penal code of 1872, that must necessesarily mean by an enclosure.

§ 134 Abs. 1 of the penal code of the GDR used the term umschlossenes Grundstück (literally 'enclosed estate') instead which means the same.

  • This should be the accepted answer. Please upvote. Commented Jul 10, 2021 at 17:18

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