When sabotage is defined as the deliberate disturbance of an economic or military process to achieve a certain (often political ) objective.

In everyday parlance, is often sabotage even the violent damage and destruction of equipment, machinery, infrastructure, etc. meant ( criminal damage to property). Sabotage can also make production processes, documentation and other specified procedures. People who do sabotage are referred to as saboteurs.


The exact origin of the term is not clear and in the literature one finds to different explanations. What is certain, however, is true that the term was discussed in its present importance in the late 19th century in the French labor movement as a means of class struggle and work and gained national and international notoriety in connection with the French railway strike of 1910. It is also certain that he ultimately from the French word sabot ( wooden shoe ) is derived. In addition, there are the following explanation variants:

  • French workers during the industrial revolution threw their wooden shoes into the mowing and threshing machines, to protest against the increasing mechanization of work.
  • French railway workers use sabots during the strike of 1910 to impede rail operations, which may also be referred brake shoes and parts of the rail bracket sabot here.
  • The word sabotage was at the beginning of the 19th century, initially for wooden shoe factory itself and the verb saboter meant, among other " trample with wooden shoes or runners", " rough occur behave unseemly ." From this original use of the term developed further and was then also used to refer to botch in technical applications or work ( " kludge ") and generally indicate a nuisance or unwanted behavior, until he then towards the end of the 19th century was eventually used in the modern sense.

Sabotage in the U.S.

Propagated in the United States and developed especially the Industrial Workers of the World sabotage as an important component in the arsenal of forms of struggle of the labor movement. William E. Trautmann (1912 ), Walker C. Smith (1913) and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1916 ) spread the idea of sabotage in much-read brochures. Flynn defines sabotage as " conscious withdrawal of industrial efficiency by the workers ", ie as a means in the labor and class struggle which, although violence against things such as equipment or products and thus, logically, also may include the violation of laws, but not the damage of has health or life goal or in your portfolio.

The American union organizer Big Bill Haywood is the term have brought back from a trip to Europe sabotage, where he had witnessed an impressive 1910 for him to strike the French railway workers (see above), in which the efficiency of this form of action was clear.