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Preventive Detention (December 4, 1916)

Of the many measures to counter opposition to the war on the home front, preventive detention served the military leadership especially well. It removed dissidents and other potential critics from the general population. For the first two years of the conflict, these measures were effective. But the accumulating burdens of war in the later years of fighting succeeded where agitation had failed: the potential for mass unrest grew as privations continued.

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Supreme Headquarters, December 4, 1916

We Wilhelm, by the Grace of God German Emperor, King of Prussia, etc., decree in the name of the Empire, with the consent of the Federal Council and of the Reichstag, the following:

§ 1

An order of arrest or residency restriction against a German citizen is permissible under executive powers granted by Law of the State of War and Siege only when it is necessary to avert a danger to national security.

§ 2

The arrest order is to be in writing and is to be shown to the person being arrested during the arrest or, should this not be possible, immediately after the arrest. Upon demanding it, he is to be given a copy of the written order. The facts on which the arrest is based are to be listed in the arrest order.

§ 3

The arrested person has at all times the right of appeal to the National Military Court. When the arrest order is served, the person being arrested is to be informed of his right to appeal. In reaching its decision, the Military Count shall comprise four legal and three military members.

The Military Court can order oral proceedings, and indeed must do so should the arrested person call for it. The court can interrogate the arrested person through a judge whom it has commissioned or otherwise requested.

§ 4

No later than the day of his arrest, the arrested person must be examined by a judge as to the objections, if any, he has to register against his arrest.

§ 5

The arrest order is to be rescinded should the reason or purpose of the arrest have become invalid, or if the state of war or state of siege has been lifted, or if three months have passed since the day of the arrest.

The continuation of the arrest for more than three months can only be ordered on the basis of a new examination of the facts and a new arrest order. Furthermore, even if no appeal has been submitted, the continuation of the arrest requires a decision of the National Military Court (§3).

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