Can a policeman arrest a uniformed soldier?


Carsten Dams

To person

Dr. phil., born 1969, research assistant at the documentation and research center for police and administrative history at the University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration North Rhine-Westphalia, Haidekamp 73, 45866 Gelsenkirchen,
Email: [email protected]

The article provides information on the fundamental development of the police in Germany from the end of World War II to the eve of the unification of the two German states.


With the fall of the Nazi state in May 1945, the phase of "forced reorientation" began in Germany. [1] This affected a wide variety of social and governmental areas: the police were no exception. Within this, the need for a new beginning was even particularly pronounced: Probably no other state institution was so closely linked to National Socialism. This found the most visible expression in the person of Heinrich Himmler: at the same time "Reichsf├╝hrer SS" and "Chief of the German Police", later also Reich Minister of the Interior.

The Gestapo, the synonym for the Nazi police state, was declared a criminal organization during the Nuremberg Trials. [2] The rest of the police were excluded from this, although the criminal police, like the uniformed police, had been involved in countless crimes and murdered hundreds of thousands of times. This was kept secret, covered up and played down: One could get the impression that the police of the Third Reich only pursued petty criminals or regulated traffic. In the immediate post-war period, this was generally not an issue; the everyday problems of a society that was in every way out of joint were in the foreground.

The four occupying powers had the task of building a new police force under the most difficult economic and social conditions, which on the one hand was to be functional as quickly as possible, on the other hand, it should break with the collapsed Nazi state. Depending on their political and ideological standpoint and their own police tradition, the Allies chose very different paths.