- Category : 1902-births
- Type : GE
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Split - Large
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Explanation 4
German criminal who, along with his brother Max, formed the duo Gebrüder Götze (Brothers Götze). They carried out a series of thefts and murders of vehicle occupants in Berlin in the 1930s. Their criminal case resulted in the new law "against street robbery by means of car traps" (Reichsautofallengesetz) of 22 June 1938 passed by the National Socialists (Nazis) in a departure from the rule of law, retrospectively issued as harsher punishment for the perpetrators. The law entered jurisprudence and criminal history as Lex Götze (or lex Goetze).
The streets in the Little Star in Berlin's Grunewald forest district were a popular nightly gathering for lovers in their cars at the beginning of the 1930s. On the night of 1-2 November 1934, two masked men attacked several parked cars and robbed the occupants at gunpoint. Further robberies of this kind took place in the spring of 1935. After the number of robberies had increased rapidly in June 1935 with injured parties reporting to the police almost daily, Reich Propaganda Minister Goebbels banned the media from reporting on the robberies, because it might discredit Berlin in the year before its hosting of the Olympic Games.
When injuries were sustained from gunshots in some of the attacks, the police formed the "Grunewald" special commission, unsuccessfully using "decoys" but all that was found were cartridge cases from the gun of the perpetrator. The perpetrators then changed territories and looked for their victims at the other end of the city. The first attack in the forest near Grünau took place in July 1935. More lovers were robbed around Müggelsee and in the forest between Grünau and Schmöckwitz. In the meantime, the perpetrators were no longer satisfied with robbing cash and valuables from the lovers, they raided gas stations and robbed the coffers of the Grunewald S-Bahn stations, Hirschgarten and Rahnsdorf.
A little later in the south-eastern outskirts of the capital, the brothers started using tree branches on the road to trap delivery vehicles then rob the occupants. On 2 November 1935, such an attack on a night bus to Köpenick failed. In order to prevent their intended victims from escaping, the traps were later built from tensioned wire ropes and ultimately from felled trees.
On 23 December 1936, an SS senior leader was robbed on the Berlin-Küstrin road. On 12 January 1937, a convoy drove on the road between Hangelsberg and Neu Hartmannsdorf, several vehicles with armed Nazi officials were caught in a tree trap. While the first car managed to escape, the following cars got stuck in the obstacle. The occupants, including an SS leader, a Gauamt leader, an NSDAP district leader and a regimental commander from Fürstenwalde / Spreewere were robbed without resistance.
On the evening of 24 March 1937, the body of chief sergeant of the police Artur Herrmann (1903–1937) was found in the forest between Grünau and Schmöckwitz, where he had been on a bicycle patrol. The murder commission's investigation under Ernst Gennat revealed that Herrmann had stopped a pedestrian and was immediately fatally injured by a shot in the left half of his chest. Before he died, Herrmann had followed the fleeing perpetrator into the forest about 30 metres and fired a shot from his service weapon.
With the help of several reports on the deadly projectile, Gennat recognized that it came from the same weapon that was used in the car trap attacks. A little later, another murder occurred in the Grunewald; 20-year-old bricklayer Bruno Lis was shot on 29 March 1937, when he defended himself and his girlfriend in a robbery. Since the murder weapon turned out to be the same as that used when the police officer Herrmann was murdered, the connection between the two series of crimes was recognized. Previously the crimes had been assigned to different groups of perpetrators. In addition, the police had known since spring 1937 that one of the perpetrators had a defaced finger.
The police received identification of the perpetrators on 5 March 1938 from an innkeeper from Schöneweide. He revealed that the unemployed transport worker Walter Götze and his brother the bricklayer Max Götze, who had previously been suspected of robbing the S-Bahn station in Hirschgarten, were handling large amounts of money.
Walter was arrested on 18 March 1938 and identified as one of the perpetrators by his finger. During interrogation, Walter Götze made a comprehensive confession and his brother Max was then arrested as an accomplice.
After admitting to the two murders, Walter Götze faced the death penalty and Max Götze a long-term prison sentence. The proceedings against the Götze brothers began on 13 June 1938 at Special Court II of the Berlin Regional Court. The prosecution charged them with 157 cases of robbery with a total loot of 13,000 Reichsmarks, 16 cases of serious bodily harm and two murders.
For the Nazis, however, there was no question that Max Götze also had to be executed. After the prosecutor indicated that there was no case for the death penalty for Max Götze, the Nazis on 22 June 1938 fast-tracked a law against street robbery by car traps (Reichsautobahnen case law) that overturned the rule of law (retroactivity) and was put into effect retrospectively as of 1 January 1936. It consisted of a paragraph with the wording "Anyone who sets a car trap with predatory intent is to be punished with death."
During the trial it turned out that Max Götze could have been sentenced to death without the Lex Götze. In a robbery at the Hirschgarten train station, he shot a uniformed railway official while he was doing his "official job" and thereby violated the law.
On 24 June 1938, Walter Götze was found guilty of two counts of murder, coincidental with robbery, as well as violation of the law against street robbery by car trapping, and was sentenced to the death penalty on eight counts and for robbery and extortion eleven times. In addition, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for eight more cases of robbery, attempted murder and serious bodily harm. Max Götze was sentenced to a nine-fold death sentence and a 15-year prison sentence on the same day.
The two brothers were executed by guillotine on 30 June 1938 in Plötzensee prison, Berlin. The case formed the basis for Erich Engels' 1939 crime film Im Namen des Volkes (In the Name of the People).
The Nazi law against street robbery using car traps was repealed on 30 January 1946. In a modified form, the offence was incorporated into the German Criminal Code on 19 December 1952 as Section 316a of the Criminal Code.