Can people be kidnapped?

This is the best way to behave as a hostage

Avoid getting kidnapped in the first place!

They just wanted to withdraw money when suddenly a man with a mask over his head and a gun in his hand rushes in. He takes you and others hostage.

Sure, you couldn't have prevented that. But if you are important and wealthy, one thing should be clear to you: someone could kidnap you to extort money or political decisions.

Even if you are on a business trip or on vacation in a country like Afghanistan, Colombia or Lesotho, you should arm yourself against kidnappings: Do not walk through the streets alone. Get a car that is inconspicuous and drivable. Only travel long distances in a convoy. Business travelers should be careful not to always book the same flight or hotel.

And by the way: If the perpetrator or perpetrators take a person to an unknown location in order to achieve their goals, one speaks of extortionate kidnapping or kidnapping. When it is clear where the kidnapped person is, from a hostage situation.

Prepare for an emergency!

If you are traveling abroad, especially in areas where people are regularly kidnapped, sign up beforehand on the "Elefand" crisis prevention list from the Federal Foreign Office, including the travel route and contacts to confidants.

If you expect to be kidnapped, you should agree to a code word with relatives or colleagues: If the kidnappers come up and demand a ransom, the code word is proof that you are really a hostage - and that you are still alive.

It also doesn't hurt to leave a handwriting sample with your family. And you should consider whether insurance makes sense for you: This can, for example, reimburse the ransom and cover the costs of crisis advisors.

Perhaps you would also like to play through how a kidnapping can take place and how you can then best behave? For example, the Bundeswehr, together with an employers' liability insurance association, offers a multi-day seminar with role-playing games.

If you are kidnapped: do not fight back!

The attack is the most dangerous: the perpetrators planned everything, but not everything under control. If things get messy, take advantage of the situation before it's too late: flee if you can!

If that doesn't work, try to draw the attention of passers-by so that they can notice the kidnapping and report it to the police. If the kidnappers lock you in the trunk of a car, try removing the taillights from the inside - and waving through the opening.

If the perpetrators did not immediately take your cell phone from you, call the police unnoticed - or the Federal Foreign Office's crisis response center for emergencies abroad (+49 30 18170).

Also important: if the kidnappers want to stun you, let them do it! This is better than being knocked unconscious. Do not defend yourself if you are blindfolded, a sack is pulled over your head or your hands are gagged. Fighting for your life now is wasted strength and only provokes more violence.

Also, do not try to tear the mask off the perpetrator's head: If the perpetrator believes that he has been recognized, his plan will collapse - and that can end badly for you.

Instead: Try to calm down and take a closer look at the situation. If you are driven away in a car, for example, count in your mind and remember when the car turns where and what the road sounds like, for example "1, 2, 3, 4, left on expressway, 5, 6, 7, right on moguls ". All of this information can later be used to guide investigators on the kidnapper's trail.

Be passive, cooperative!

Expect the kidnappers to harass, intimidate and interrogate you. Follow all directions and still try to maintain your dignity. Don't be rebellious, don't play the hero! Because whoever is uncooperative or hostile, only provokes the kidnapper (s) - and thus risks being punished and tortured.

Be patient and attentive!

The longer the kidnapping lasts, the higher the chances of being rescued alive. It can take days, weeks, months, or years before someone comes to save them.

Try to count the days. If you don't see daylight, try to tell the difference between day and night using street noise. Listen, smell and watch as much as you can. Find out how many hostage-takers there are, who has which rank, who speaks which language and who has which weaknesses.

All of this information is useful in planning the escape attempt and catching the kidnappers. But don't just pay attention to your surroundings and the kidnappers - notice yourself too!

Ask for favors!

The kidnappers need you - alive. Don't forget that! Dead you are worthless to your kidnappers. The kidnappers will make sure that you stay alive and, for example, receive medication when you need it.

Ask for things like blankets or warm clothes - but not too often and too briskly. What not to do: negotiate your release! Leave that to the experts.

Eat What You Get!

You don't need to expect a five-star menu. But even if you have lost your appetite and the food tastes strange: Eat everything you get! You need the energy.

Do not speak directly to the hostage takers!

Do not treat your hostage takers with contempt or arrogance. Don't threaten. It is best not to speak to the perpetrators yourself. Only answer when asked. And don't reveal too much about yourself!

If you show respect, the kidnappers will be more likely to show you respect, too. So you better save the kidnappers! Avoid talking about sensitive things like politics or religion.

Remain neutral if that doesn't work. Try to focus the conversation on topics that are less intrusive, such as family or exercise. The kidnappers should see you as a person, not an object. Then it will be more difficult for them to harm you, torture you, abuse you or even kill you.

Keep fit!

Be careful not to break down too much. Keep your mind and body fit. Do situps or pushups; do the math in your head; recite poems; dream of your future in freedom; ask your hostage takers for books or pen and paper.

And if you are handcuffed, in a cell, or have no light, think of alternatives. All of this also helps against the boredom that can arise while being held hostage.

The hostage takers are not friends!

Again and again hostages take the side of the kidnappers. They even describe them as friendly. The victims identify with the perpetrators - psychologists call it Stockholm Syndrome. Realize that this can happen to you too! The kidnappers can brainwash you: they hardly speak to you or not at all for days and then turn back to you.

The kidnappers feed you and make small talk with you. Make it clear to yourself: these people were kind enough to kidnap you, hold you hostage or use you for blackmail.

The US series Homeland clearly shows: Terrorists hold the soldier Nicholas Brody prisoner. They torture him - and then turn to him again: They wash him, give him fresh clothes and talk to him. The goal behind it: You want to turn Brody around to send him back to the USA as a sleeper.

The Liberation Action: Don't Screw It Up!

A task force appears out of nowhere: your rescue! Stay out of the way so your hostage takers don't use you as a shield. Move slowly and don't run - in the hullabaloo, the liberators will mistake you for a kidnapper.

Let it go when the men on the task force search you roughly and handcuff you. The reaction force just wants to be on the safe side. After all, you could be one of the kidnappers - or one of the kidnappers poses as a hostage.

Instead of falling around the necks of your rescuers, follow the instructions - there will be time for that later.

Author: Franziska Badenschier