The extended finite element method (XFEM) offers an elegant tool to model material discontinuities and cracks within a regular mesh, so that the element edges do not necessarily coincide with the discontinuities. This allows the modeling of propagating cracks without the requirement to adapt the mesh incrementally. Using a regular mesh offers the advantage, that simple refinement strategies based on the quadtree data structure can be used to refine the mesh in regions, that require a high mesh density. An additional benefit of the XFEM is, that the transmission of cohesive forces through a crack can be modeled in a straightforward way without introducing additional interface elements. Finally different criteria for the determination of the crack propagation angle are investigated and applied to numerical tests of cracked concrete specimens, which are compared with experimental results.