By means of a finite element implementation of the "fictitious crack model" a fracture process zone is simulated in a concrete-like material. The closing forces in the process zone are then successively removed. In this way the influence of the process zone on the load bearing capacity of the specimen is determined. Results or the numerical simulation are compared with experimental findings obtained with wedge splitting mortar specimens. This method provides us with a new possiblity to obtain a realistic strain-softening diagram from the local behaviour.