I recently watched a german crime series and there was the following situation:

  • Kidnapper kidnaps several hostages
  • Hostage A wants to break free
  • Hostage B joins them (voluntarily)
  • Near the exit they are confronted by the kidnapper
  • Hostage A pushes hostage B towards the kidnapper to gain time
  • Kidnapper immediately shoots hostage B
  • Hostage A can escape

In the show there was no "conclusion" for that part and I also would not have expected any that would be according to any real world laws but I was wondering, what would happen to hostage A? They used hostage B as some kind of a human shield or at least distraction to escape and in that course hostage B died. Is this self defence?


In German law, Notwehr is the (minimum required) defense against a present unlawful attack. B did not attack A, so A could not use Notwehr as a justification for shoving B.

  • Does A need to justify shoving B? – Yanick Salzmann Feb 4 at 20:37
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    The real problem is: B is dead. Is A guilty of shoving him, or somehow responsible for B's death, when B was killed by the kidnapper? – gnasher729 Feb 4 at 22:29
  • @YanickSalzmann, shoving is an attack. It is not justified by self-defense. – o.m. Feb 5 at 5:35
  • @gnasher729, the kidnapper is a murderer. I doubt that anyone would try A as accessory to the murder, but that does not make the shoving attack go away. Imagine two men floating in the ocean, with one lifebuoy between them. One of the survivors hits the other to get the lifebuoy first. That might not be prosecuted, but that doesn't make it right. – o.m. Feb 5 at 5:43

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