a mercenary is a person, who participates in an armed conflict from props after personal profit. The mercenary is characterised by the fact that he fights only for his pay and can by that to be hired, which offers to him at most. Mercenaries do not fight thereforeon loyalty, Patriotismus, political motives or moral principles. In addition there, particularly in antique history, are examples, in those the individual mercenary loyal to its country and/or. Serves gentleman, but the troop as a whole “rented” will could. A legal definition of the mercenaryis in kind. 47 of the supplementary protocols of 12. August 1949 over the protection of the victims of international armed conflicts to that Geneva conventions. Mercenary is a more modern word for the former land farmhands with identical meaning.

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excerpt from that Geneva conventions

The definition from kind. 47 paragraph 2 I. Supplementary protocol developed, from the people customary law defines the mercenary as follows:

As a mercenary is considered

to fight A) who inland or foreign country to the special purpose is enlisted, in an armed conflict

b) who actually directlyin hostilities, C

participates) who participates in hostilities particularly from props after personal profit and who took part a party from or in the name of one in the conflict actually the promise of a material remuneration received, those is substantially higher than those the Kombattanten of the armed forces of theseA party in comparable rank and with similar tasks assured or payment,

D) who took part neither citizens of one in the conflict a party is still in one of one in the conflict a party taken part controlled area resides,

e) who took part not members of the armed forces of one in the conflictA party is and

f) who was sent not of not a state in official order, taken part in the conflict, as a member of its armed forces.

In article 1 paragraph 1 of the convention for the elimination of the mercenary nature in Africa is an almost identical definition. This convention hasbut only regional meaning.

Apart from this legal definition in the vernacular all persons as mercenaries designates their main motivation for the participation in an armed conflict striving for personal profit is independent, of their actual legal status.


  1. mercenary are enlisted andcarry out military service, D. h. they carry a kind uniform or marking.
  2. There is a contract, which promises pay or content to them.
  3. They are part of a military contingent for defense or to the attack, it must a military arrangement be recognizable.
  4. It must a rankingavailable its, they give themselves a Kodex and define rules among themselves.
  5. They train it “handicraft”, and are trained further.
  6. They always occur for a respective client.
  7. Money is a crucial reason to the order acceptance.
  8. Secrecy.


mercenaries, whose English designation is Mercenary,call themselves as “Soldiers OF Fortune”. Of regular soldiers it however usually devaluing as “Dogs OF was designated” or as “Huren of the war”.

mercenaries in European history

Swiss rice runner already cross the alps (Luzerner Schilling

) in that Antique ones were used mercenary troops. Thus Greek Hopliten fought regularly in services of the Achämeniden and often formed the core of Persian armies.

Professional armies emerged in the late Middle Ages, when it proved that disciplined mercenaries were superior in the battle to the knights, although the latters in the doubt more courageouslyfought. Became particularly obvious in the battle of Crecy.

The introduction of professional armies placed the medieval person federation state before large challenges. The king was now forced to raise taxes in order to pay its army.

Swiss mercenary, so-called rice runners, applied up to in 16. Century as particularly effective combat capabilities, until their formations became vulnerable by artillery, which was developed in this time.

The German land farmhands began Swiss after the battle with Marignano, when in many areas of Switzerland the Reisläuferei was made more difficult or forbidden,to konkurrenzieren, and became an in demand troop late 15. and 16. Century. They were hired by all powers of Europe and changed - like before times Swiss - frequently the sides.

mercenaries in Africa

in 20. Century were main mercenaries inthe conflicts on the African continent merged. Frequently men from Europe and America were enlisted, who looked for “adventures”, and into fights skillfully, it was clear with which that they would not survive and therefore also did not need to be paid.

Besides there were many formerForeign Legionnaires, whom it struck after its service for France to Africa, and who a new employer looked for each other there. Many the adventurer in Africa, which were called mercenaries, were motivated actually ideological, supported certain governments and not for the “Höchstbieter” would have fought. Likewise it gavein Africa mercenary, who worked as military awake people for large gold and diamond mines or fought in the apartheid conflicts.

A most well-known mercenary active in Africa is the Frenchman Bob Denard, which was complicated for the sixties in numerous civil wars and Putschversuche.

Mercenaries were sincethe fights, which broke 1960 off in consequence of the independence the Congo, in a set of civil wars in Africa in the employment. Frenchmen, the British and citizens from other European countries fought to Angola in Biafra (Nigeria), and on Seychelles. The mercenaries fought for those, at mostpaid, and proved in anyway already the bloody and often embitters led civil wars as particularly cruel. Some stated, it led a crusade against that from Cuba and the Soviet Union support communism in Africa; other hired itself, because they loved the Nervenkitzel, again different one, becausethey otherwise no occupation found.

The most famous mercenary in Angola was a man from Cyprus named Kostas Georgiou. It had 1 in that. British paratroop regiment served and became because of an attack on a post office in Northern Ireland dishonorably to dismiss. Georgiou, admits as “Colonel Callan”, becameof the FNLA (people liberation front in Angola under the guidance of Holden Roberto, which was supported also by the US secret service CIA over Zaire) together with a troop British, American and Dutch mercenary of the CIA recruits. Allegedly it killed feeler gauges and deserters personally and terrorized thoseMen under its command, who proceeded even unhindered with force and torture against soldiers and civilians. In the process of a suicide command against a substantially stronger Cuban brigade it was wounded and taken later imprisoned. The communist MPLA (communist people liberation movement for Angola) wanted the crimes of the mercenariesand brought the ten British and three Americans make public in Luanda before court. They were accused of to be paid assassins. Kostas Georgiou alias Callan and three others became to 10. July 1976 by a Exekutionskommando killed. The process in of Angola capital and the brutalities, thoseto the language came, drew the attention of the media on itself and caused a general indignation about mercenaries and all those, who were active in this business.

ended to mercenary operations

today as the Viet Nam war, closed many former American veterans to privateSafety enterprise together. They smuggled and sold weapons and drugs from the Far East and began the battlegrounds of the world, frequently under the cover of the CIA to regard as lucrative source of income.

To the more well-known mercenary organizations the companies sand LINE international, a British paramilitärische unit belong to the today's time,and Executive Outcomes, a private enterprise, which anheuerte former members of the South African army. Both safety enterprises, how such organizations call themselves, were finally dissolved, because their members are too often located in the center of determinations and their employments come into the cross fire of the criticism.

Throughthe dissolution of the two enterprises developed gap was closed immediately by new multinational mercenary companies. They call themselves MPRI or DynCorp and are on the battlegrounds of the whole world to be found. Also Blackwater the USA or Eriny's international are well-known mercenary organizations, which accomplishes operations in the Iraq. InThe 15,000 mercenaries from 80 private safety enterprises place Iraq the second largest armed force in the country to the USA, still far before Great Britain.

It is well-known that into the Balkans - conflicts of the 1990er years mercenaries were hired directly after their arrival at the station by Sarajevo. Many ofthem were soldiers from the countries of the former Eastern Bloc, which had not found a work after the decay of the Soviet Union and the political circulations in Eastern Europe. Besides also soldiers from other European states fought in the Balkans wars. Many right-wing extremists, unemployed persons ex soldier and adventurer fought upboth sides as mercenaries.
“In the homeland we were unemployed, here we as heroes are regarded.” (Orginalzitat of a Balkans mercenary).

“I tell you times somewhat over friendships in the mercenary business. There are very nice chaps, with whom one can go through thickly and thinly, really nice young.If you under large pressure sets it, I mean really very large pressure, which would have to die her to on the extreme loaded, so that they mean, her on the next day, then you must observe times, how its character changes. You will see that from thesegenuine chaps correct devil to become to be able, who are quite each means. “(Quotation: Karl Penta, English mercenary 1991 in the Balkans, from the WDR documentation Warheads).

See also: Mercenary organization

mercenary and the martial law

mercenary are not regarded after the martial law as Kombattanten and to have thereforenot the requirement on the status of the prisoner of war (see. Kind Abs.1 I. Supplementary protocol). Caught mercenaries are to be treated according to the martial law therefore as usual civilians, who participated illegally in a bewaffnetenen conflict. They can for the participation in the armed conflict after national right oftenheavily to be punished.

In many countries, like e.g. Austria, is forbidden it for citizens after the law carrying out for another country war service. Even the service in the Fremdenlegion represents a criminal offence for Austrians after the law. Many Austrians, those after their mercenary serviceon the Balkans again into the homeland came, appeared before the criminal court and to detentions of many years were partly condemned.

In the BR Germany it is punishable to enlist German citizens “in favor of a foreign power” “to the military service in a military or military-similar mechanism”.

Under AmericanQuite (Neutrality act) an American citizen, who makes itself available in a strange country to the military service, risks the loss of the American nationality. Israeli-American citizens with double nationality, who serve in the Israeli military, form an exception. Many countries have similar laws, thereforerisks a mercenary usually the loss of his mother country citizenry and can a stateless person person become.

The legal status of civilian workers, particularly logistics forces and technicians, who serve with military units, is unclear. A point of view is that they are functionally mercenaries, there it with military operationshelp, although they do not fire weapons on the enemy. This is not a hypothetical problem. For example States Navy on each aircraft carrier between 50 and 100 civilians, those is there as a technician, representative of the manufacturers etc. in the United. work.

mercenaries into the mercenary

a call of adventure, Mystik and danger adheres to public consciousness like the Piraten. A good example are the book and the film the dogs of the war, in which it goes around a fictitious mercenary operation in the Africa of the 1970er years.

Work on []


  • of Merck, Fred (1982): On the road of death. Military publishing house of the GDR. ISBN 3-327-00429-3
  • Azzellini, Dario; Kanzleiter, Boris (2003): The enterprise war. Paramilitärs, being lord and private armies as participants of the new Kreigsordnung. Association A. ISBN 3-935936-17-6
  • Thomson, Janice E. (1994): Mercenaries, Pirates, andSovereigns: State Building and extra-territorially Violence in Early decaying Europe. Princeton: Princeton University press. ISBN 0691086583
  • Shearer, David (1998): Private armies and military intervention. Oxford [among other things]: Oxford University press. ISBN 0198294409
  • Balor, Paul (1988): Manual OF the Mercenary Soldier: A Guide ton of Mercenary was,Money and Adventure. Dell Pub CO press. ISBN 0440200148
  • lieutenant colonel Tim mirror-image cerium (1999): On unorthodoxly Soldier: Peace and was and the sand LINE Affair. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 184018180X
  • Singer, P.W. (2003): Corporate Warriors. The giant OF the Privatized Military Industry. Cornell University press. ISBN of 0801489156


  • 1977: The game geese come “, feature
  • 1993: „Warheads - mercenaries in the Balkans “, Doku IMDb
  • 1999: „Releasing it Africa “, Doku IMDb
  • 2005: „The new mercenaries “, Doku Arte
  • 2005: „Mercenaries - an occupation with future “, Doku Arte

acquaintance mercenary

see also

Web on the left of

Wiktionary: Mercenary - word origin, synonyms and translations

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