GERMAN MILITARY POLICE


 

THE THIRD REICH - 1939 TO 1945

Army Feldgendarmerie
"The Feldgendarmerie have fulfilled the psychological purpose. Their actions have rapidly gained them a reputation... their help and support were much sought after."
"General der Flieger Speidel, 1945."

Arm EagleThe roots of military police in the German armed forces can be traced back to the "Proffoss"of the 16th Century, and the creation of the Feldjagerkorps zu Pferd (shortly changed to Reitendes Feldjagerkorps) by Friedrich II in 1740. The primary duties of the Reitendes Feldjagerkorps were to control traffic, to carry important messages, and to protect members of the royal family. Springing from this band was the Feldjagerkorps zu Fuss (1741) which served both in the Napoleonic Wars and the Franco-Prussian War.

At the beginning or W.W.I the German Army had 33 companies of Feldgendarmerie, made up of about 60 men and NCOs each. Before the war ended this was expanded to 115 units, but they were all disbanded at the end of the war.

After World War I all military police units were disbanded and no police units existed in the post-war Reichswehr. Only garrison areas were patrolled by regular soldiers which was a function normally carried out by military police. The start of W.W.II opened the floodgates for numerous police formations to form and characterised the sometimes chaotic hierarchy of the German armed forces. Civilian police units would form the basis for the Fallschirmtruppen as well as a number of Waffen SS divisions too with at least two well known commanders Sepp Dietrich and Kurt Meyer of the 12th SS serving as policemen prior to joining the military.

Within the German Army of the Third Reich, the "Feldgendarmerie" (also known as "Kettenhunde" or "Chain Dogs") was a military organisation that had received full infantry training and yet had extensive police powers. These military police units were employed with army divisions and higher formations. "Feldgendarmerie" establishments provided various different detachments which were self-contained units under the command of an army division. They worked in close cooperation with the Secret Field Police ("Geheime Feldpolizei") and with district commanders and town majors.

In Potsdam there was a military police school set up for the purpose of training military police and the subjects taught in these schools were as follows: Criminal code, general and special police powers, forestry, fishery and waterway codes, traffic codes, industrial codes, reporting duties, passport and identification duties, folk culture, first aid, weapons drill and insturction, shooting, defence techniques, criminal police methodology, identification service and general correspondance training. As well as all this there were also lessons in air defence, animal protection and typewriter and stenography courses.

After the first term of examinations, a provisional spell at a police station followed. All courses lasted one year and after completion many of the candidates who failed to make the grade were dropped. It was no mean feat passing out of these schools and becoming police officers-for example of one batch of trainess numbering 219 only 89 remained to take the final exam.

German Feldgendarmerie served right from the outbreak of war and after the occupation of Czechoslovakia and Poland training schools were set up in Prague and Litzmannstadt-Görnau as well as a Technical Police School in Berlin. After the war, it was at these schools that most prospective police candidates received their instruction. They served on every front in the war and towards the end were more often employed as regular troops on the front-line and were involved in many desperate counter attacks and defences. Many were decorated for bravery. During the last days of the war all Feldgendarmerie caught by the Soviets (who had offered a bounty for their capture) could expect to be shot on the spot and many were issued with a second Soldbuch (paybook) and matching ID dog tags. In an area where it was fairly likely that prisoners would be taken the Feldgendarm would hand their real paybook into the Felgendarmerie redirection Centre and would receive the false book and tags, which would state the soldiers status as a regular soldier. After the hostilities their real paybook and tags would be returned to them.
The organisation of the Feldgendarmerie began at the German High Command O.K.H (Oberkommando Des Heeres). Here a Feldgendarmerie officer of the rank of General Major was directly sub-ordinated to the Quartermaster General. He held ultimate jurisdiction over the Feldgendarmerie units in the Wehrmacht, and was responsible for postings and personal administration, monitoring the performance of the police, allocation of tasks, laying down traffic regulations as well as devising training procedures. His immediate subordinates were the staff officers of each Oberkommando Army who was in charge of the Feldgendarmerie Battalion, one or more of which would be attached to each Army. The staff officer was responsible for maintaining order and discipline, traffic control during large scale troop movements and maintaining traffic routes.

Below the Battalion were platoons ("Truppen") which were attached to each Division or Corps. Fg Groups ("Gruppe") were assigned to a field or local command, and separate units or sections could be assigned temporarily to specific duties for support. A typical "Feldgendarmerie" "trupp" attached to an Infantry or Panzer Division would probably comprise:
  • 3 officers.
  • 41 NCO's.
  • 20 men.
  • 17 Kubelwagen.
  • 4 trucks.
  • 6 solo MC.
  • 4 MC combinations.
These battalions were equipped with motorcycles and motorcycle combinations which were armed with MG34 machine guns, Kubelwagens, Field cars such as the Horch 4x4 and 3 ton Opel Blitz lorries and a small number of armoured vehicles as a means of transport. Besides this the Battalion also had a support group consisting of cooks, clerks, a cobbler and armourer. Personal weapons consisted of small arms such as the excellent Walther PP which was designed as a civilian police pistol (PP-Police Pistole) or the Walther PPK which was favoured by officers whereas the Luger PO8 and Walther P38 were used by other ranks. Automatic machine pistols were carried by NCOs and the Kar 98 rifle was issued but was not widely used. The MG34 and 42 were used as vehicle mounted armament for defending road blocks etc.

The rank and file Feldgendarme's tasks would be as follows:
  • Traffic Control.
  • Maintaining order and discipline.
  • Disarming, searching, collection and escort of POWs and stragglers.
  • Supervision of civilian population in occupied areas.
  • Checking papers of soldiers on leave and in transit.
  • Apprehending deserters.
  • Prevention of the distribution of air-dropped enemy propaganda leaflets.
  • Carrying out street patrols in occupied areas.
  • Control of evacuees and refugees during retreats.
  • Border control and anti-partisan duties.
They also had the authority to pass through road blocks, check points, and secured areas and were allowed to conduct body and property searches and obtain the assistance of any other military or civilian personnel. They also had seniority over every other soldier up to their own rank whatever their branch of service.

Within the occupied areas, the "Feldgendarmerie" had the following functions:
  • Traffic control.
  • Control duties at ports and airfields.
  • Administrative control of aliens and cattle diseases.
  • Hunting, fishing, business, agricutural and forestry police duties.
  • Police patrol duties.
When their parent divisions were advancing the "Feldgendarmerie" followed the combat troops closely and:
  • Acted as and established temporary town majors and army straggler's posts.
  • Rounded up enemy stragglers and guerilla's.
  • Collecteding refugees and prisoners of war (POW).
  • Guarded captured booty.
  • Ensured that civilian weapons were surrendered.
  • Were responsible for the organisation of civilian labour
  • Erected military and civil signs
In the home areas of the German Reich they were responsible for:
  • Discipline amongst troops
  • The rounding up of deserters
  • Military traffic control
  • Marshaling refugees
  • The evacuation of prisoners
At the war's end many Feldgendarmerie, specifically those who had not fallen into Soviet hands, found themselves assigned to police roles by the Allies. This happened on a few occasions and an officer of the 101st Airborne Division recalls assigning Feldgendarmerie to guard German officers who had been ordered to take charge of German prisoners of war. Another account goes one further and recalls the British 8th Corps based in Schleswig-Holstein forming an entire regiment of Feldgendarmerie to maintain discipline and order in the Demobilisation Centre at Meldorf. Four battalions and a regimental staff battalion, this Feldgendarmerie-Regiement Krps contained all volunteers, some of whom were ex-police personnel. They wore an armband as identification which bore the legend "Wehrmactordnungstruppe" (Armed Forces Order Troop) and below this read "Military Police". They were all armed and payment for their services came in the form of increased rations.


The war has ended - Feldgendarmerie in Schleswig-Holstein


Members of the "Feldgendarmerie" wore the standard German Army uniform with unique distinctive insignia that served to differentiate the "police" from the "soldiers".
Other Ranks collar patch

Other Ranks collar patch
"Waffenfarbe". Every arm-of-service/corps of the German Army was allocated a specific colour as an indication of their arm-of-service/corps. In German this was called "Waffengattungsfarben", usually abbreviated to "Waffenfarbe" (Arm colour). Waffenfarbe were utilised on the collar patches worn on tunics and also as an inverted "V" on the field caps. Officers collar patch

Officers quality collar patch

Police Eagle. On the left upper arm of the Field Service Tunic, the standard police style Eagle-and-Swastika emblem surrounded by an oval oakleaf wreath was worn. This badge was worn by all ranks of the "Feldgendarmerie" up to the rank of Lieutenant (Leutnant). The arm badge of an officer was identical in design to that of the other ranks but was worked in fine silver wire on a field-grey cloth background. That of the other ranks was embroidered in orange thread with the swastika worked in black thread.
GorgetGorget. When performing police duties the "Feldgendarmerie" wore a metal gorget ("Ringkragen") on a chain around their necks. Because of their unpopularity amongst the German rank and file, the "Feldgendarmerie" were often known as "kettenhunde" ("chained dogs") in reference to their duty "ringkragen". Ringkragen were worn as a distinguishing mark, indicating to an observer that the wearer held a special position within the military framework of his particular unit. The shield and chain was of a dull matt silver finish, the bosses and eagle and swastika emblem had a luminous paint finish, and the scroll was coloured a dark field-grey with lettering picked out in luminous paint. The Feldgendarmerie Ringkragen was intended for wear with Service Dress, Field Service dress, Uniform Tunic, Winter Tunic, Tropical Uniform, Greatcoat as well as the Motorcycle Coat.

The Army Feldgendarmerie duty gorget was also worn by the Feldgendarmerie of the Waffen-SS.
Feldgendarmerie cuff title

Cuff Titles. On the cuff of the left sleeve all ranks of the "Feldgendarmerie" wore a 30mm wide brown cuff-title with grey cotton edging and inscribed with the word "FELDGENDARMERIE" in silver-grey machine-woven gothic lettering. Officers quality cuff-titles also existed with hand embroidered silver-aluminium thread on a chocolate brown cloth band.

Other web pages for Feldgendarmerie uniforms, weapons, traffic wands and gear
can be found at these links to Historical Re-enactment Pages

There were even cuff-titles made for the Secret Field Police ("Geheime Feldpolizei") for wear on the left arm but these were rarely if ever seen.

Geheime Feldpolizei cuff title
Auxiliary FeldgendarmerieBrassards. Brassards were also worn by German military personnel. When worn with the military uniform they indicated that the wearer held a temporary appointment or position or was fulfilling a particular task. When worn with civilian clothing they indicated that the wearer was officially employed or engaged in a military or ancillary role. In the German Army brassards were not the property of the individual wearer, but were issued as necessary and returned to the unit stores when no longer required. In some cases brassards were methodically marked with the ink-stamp of the issuing unit. The Feldgendarmerie brassard was orange Latin lettering on an emerald (police) green band and was worn by military troops performing as temporary Field Police.


Waffen SS Feldgendarmerie

SS-Feldgendarmerie
The Feldgendarmerie of the Waffen-SS had a more sinister nickname - "Kopf Jäger" or "Head Hunters". The name was an obvious referral to the SS "Totenkopf" (Death's Head) skull emblem embroidered on the front of their caps. But its deeper meaning lay in its reference to their severe reputation as efficient military policeman and strict enforcers of military law.

The SS Feldgendarmerie wore the same dress items as their Army counterparts, but they didn't wear the Feldgendarmerie sleeve eagle. From 1942 until 1944 the sleeve eagle was to be replaced with the type used by the Army. But almost all pictures show that the SS did whatever they wanted too and didn't adhered to that law. They would normally would just wear the standard sleeve eagle and use a different cuff title. Until 1 August 1942 Waffen SS Feldgendarmerie wore the Army grey-on-brown Feldgendarmerie cuff title, but on 1 August 1942 the silver-grey and black SS-Feldgendarmerie cuff-title was introduced on for wear by all ranks in the SS-Feldgendarmerie. Military policeman often wore "SS-Feldgendarmerie" cuff titles below those of the regiment or division to which they were attached. The wearing of more than one cuff title in this fashion was however forbidden in August 1943.

On their head gear and shoulder boards, the SS- Feldgendarmerie wore the Waffenfarbe orange-red. From 1944 onwards, former members of the Ordnungspolizei serving with the Waffen SS ( and many would be SS-Feldgendarmerie) could wear as a special distinction a small diamond shaped patch on the lower left sleeve depicting the Polizei-style eagle and swastika in silver grey thread.

This cuff title was abolished on 15 November 1944 after which date all members of the SS-Feldgendarmerie reverted to wearing the cuff-title of their division. At the same time the police sleeve arm eagle (in orange) was replaced by the Waffen SS eagle.




Army Patrol Service and Railway Police

During the war the Army Patrol Service ("Heeresstreifendienst") also existed. This branch of military police were tasked with maintaining order and discipline and occasional traffic duties. As well as these their duties entailed checking garrison troops ID papers and they had the authority to report any offenders to their commanding officer for punishment. The Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine also had their own garrison police force but they were all merged in 1943 to became the Wehrmactstreifendienst.

This consisted of two units, the Bahnofswache and the Zugwache. The Bahnofswache were soldiers responsible for patrolling large rail centers and their duties included checking soldiers ID and leave passes, checking for deserters, screening civilian passengers and helping in the smooth running of the centre. The Zugwache were Army troops who were used to police military trains and rail centres where large bodies of troops passed through. Their duties were similar to the Bahnofswache but they also guarded trains passing through enemy territory and with increasing partisan acts of sabotage their job was an unenviable one.


Feldjager
Feldjager of Waffen-SS

Photo showing "Feldjager" member of Waffen-SS Division "Liebstandarte SS Adolf Hitler" wearing armband on left lower cuff

Click to enlarge.
Feldjager gorget
On 30 June 1933 the "Feldjagerkorps als Ordnungspolizei" of the Nazi SA (Sturmabteilungen) was formed. This organisation existed until 1936 when the rising power of the SA was smashed during the "Night of the Long Knives". Members of the "Feldjagerkorps" were then transferred to the police.

By late summer 1943 events along the Eastern Front turned in favour of the advancing Red Army. Resistance was crumbling; drastic measures were deemed necessary by "Oberkommando der Wehrmacht" (OKW) and on 9 January 1944 "Feldjager" units were established with a total of three Feldjager regiments each comprising five detachments.

The "Feldjager" answered only to OKW and were tasked to hunt down deserters, arrest insubordinate soldiers, looters and malingerers, and search rear areas for any soldiers who were capable of front line service. The "Feldjager", were manned with battle experienced officers, NCO's and soldiers, and were given the power to arrest anyone who could not provide a satisfactory explanation for their absence from active duty. Through the use of fear backed up by the authority of the High Command of the German Armed Forces (ie "OKW") it was hoped that the "Feldjager" would provide the incentive for the German solider to stand and fight to the death.

The commanders of "Feldjager" even had the authority to hold a drum-head court martial and execute the defendants on the spot!! The power of the Feldjager units most definitely came from the gun barrel

Members of Feldjager units wore two items, a special "Feldjager" duty gorget and a red armband which distinguished them from ordinary Army or Waffen-SS troops. The gorget was worn in the same manner as the "Feldgendarmerie" gorget, whilst the armband was worn on the lower left cuff.



 

Bundeswehr "Feldjager"

Feldjager vehicle plate
Plate attached to Bundeswehr Feldjager vehicles

The former West German army has come a long way since November 1955, when the first volunteer soldiers of the "Bundeswehr" began cadre training at Andernach am Rhein. They were the nucleus of the first experimental training battalion, which was to provide the basis for the military training schools of the various service arms. This group included one company of military police ("Militarpolizei"). This term was however novel within the German Army and drew criticism.

At the beginning of 1956 the term "Militarpolizei" was changed to that of "Feldjagertruppe". This title perpetuated the tradition that had been initiated by Frederick the Great in his "Allerhochste Kabinett-Ordre" of 24 November 1740 when the "Feldjagerkorps zu Pferde" (Mounted Feldjager Corps) was formed.
The Feldjager are the Military Police of the German Federal Armed Forces and are responsible for all three services - Army, Air Force and Navy. The Feldjager have nine battalions in peacetime of which eight are under command and control of Divisions and Military District Commands, and one is under command of the Ministry of Defence. In times of defense, one additional battalion of reservists will be activated for each division or military district.

Military Police duties are, in peacetime, performed by 34 Military Police stations (MP Companies) employed in area covering operations that cover the entire Germany. Each company is assigned an area approximately 120km x 120km on average. The peacetime strength of an MP station totals 81 soldiers. These MP stations operate around the clock in the same way as the civilian police.

Feldjager forces which are earmarked to support "Crisis Reaction Forces" ("KRK") during exercises or actual employment are pre-determined for a certain period of time. One MP Company is assigned to each "KRK" Brigade. Since there are no additional MP forces available, the remaining forces must compensate for the missing personnel by increasing and covering larger operational units than usual.

Mission of the Feldjager

1.Military Law and Order Operations with the aim to supervise, maintain and restore military law and order by performing
  • MP patrols
  • train and railway patrols
  • AWOL operations
  • escort, guiding and piloting duties
  • support at military courts
  • support of legal authorities
  • recording and investigating traffic accidents
  • employment during military ceremonies
  • supporting straggler operations
  • supporting POW operations
2.Military Traffic Control with the aim of controlling military movements in accordance with the order and intention of the tactical commander and to avoid any kind of dangers by performing
  • traffic surveillance
  • traffic control
  • route reconnaissance
  • traffic and speed checks
  • support during river crossing operations
  • recording of traffic accidents
3.Assuming Security Missions with the aim to prevent criminal offences and interference with official duties of the Federal Armed Forces by performing
  • security missions
  • securing military ceremonies and exercises of the Federal Armed Forces
  • protection of money transport
  • protection of transports of weapons and classified material
  • employment during catastrophes and accidents
  • personal protection of VIP's of the Federal Armed Forces
  • object security
1955 Feldjager collar badgeThe new uniforms that were adopted in 1955 had nothing in common with that of the traditional German military uniforms of previous armies. Grey service and walking-out uniforms were worn by all ranks. Fatigue uniforms were olive-green and camouflage battledress was also worn. At that time metal collar badges were worn and the Feldjager wore the badge shown at left.

1957 Feldjager collar badgeIn January 1957 variations of the traditional German collar patches replaced the metal collar badges, and as was the case with the Feldgendarmerie of the Third Reich, orange was utilised as the "waffenfarbe" of the Feldjager.

Orange was also used as the piping of the rank shoulder straps.

Feldjager Beret Badge
The Feldjager were initially characterised by the use of a white-topped peaked cap with the standard Army cap badge, but on 17 November 1978 the Federal Minister of Defence authorised the use of a coral-red beret and a new beret badge for use by the Feldjager. When regulating traffic a member of the Feldjager is allowed to wear either the peaked cap or the new beret.

The beret badge incorporates the German flag, an eight-pointed star and the motto "SUUM CUIQUE". The star is a common emblem on the battalion insignia of many Feldjager battalions.
Dress.

1984 MP Walking-out Dress The 1955 grey jackets were double-breasted with two rows of buttons and an open collar, showing the shirt and tie underneath. A longer walking-out jacket was worn by officers and sergeants. Other ranks had to make do with one jacket that had to serve as both walking-out jacket and service dress jacket. The walking-out uniform comprised a peaked cap, jacket, trousers and shoes. Officers wore a white shirt and tie and the other ranks wore a grey shirt and tie.

In 1957 a new jacket for all ranks was introduced and is still worn today. This jacket is single-breasted with an open collar and has four patch pockets. At the same time the camouflage battle dress was replaced by an olive-green battledress issued in both winter and summer variants. Over the years various new insignia were adopted.

The Bundeswehr MP illustrated at right (circa 1984) is wearing the coral-red beret approved in 1978 together with the Feldjager beret badge. The jacket is light grey and collar patches silver on orange ("Waffenfarbe"), the shoulder straps are edged orange, and on the right breast pocket an eight-rayed silver star of the Military Police is worn. Other pocket badges worn by Feldjager include those shown below.



610 Feldjager Battalion
610 Feldjager Bn

701 Feldjager Battalion
701 Feldjager Bn

New 701 Feldjager Battalion
701 Feldjager Bn (New)

720 Feldjager Battalion
720 Feldjager Bn

720 Feldjager Battalion (Version 2)
720 Feldjager Bn (Version2)

730 Feldjager Battalion
730 Feldjager Bn

730 Feldjager Battalion Arm Badge
730 Feldjager Bn Arm Badge

New 730 Feldjager Battalion Arm Badge
730 Feldjager Bn (New)

731 Feldjager Battalion
731 Feldjager Bn

733 Feldjager Battalion
733 Feldjager Bn

740 Feldjager Battalion
740 Feldjager Bn

741 Feldjager Battalion
741 Feldjager Bn

750 Feldjager Battalion
750 Feldjager Bn

760 Feldjager Battalion
760 Feldjager Bn

762 Feldjager Battalion
762 Feldjager Bn

800 Feldjager Battalion
800 Feldjager Bn

Alternative 801 Feldjager Battalion
801 Feldjager Bn (Alternative)

New 801 Feldjager Battalion
801 Feldjager Bn (New)

900 Feldjager Battalion
900 Feldjager Bn

900 Feldjager Battalion
900 Feldjager Bn (Alternative)

Cloth arm badges are worn by all ranks of the Bundeswehr on the left upper sleeve of the grey jacket.

Personnel that work at the "Feldjagerschule" in Sonthofen wear crossed swords with a small flaming grenade beneath. The same badge with an "L" beneath it is worn by demonstration units at the school whilst the badge with an "S" under it is worn by training staff, instructors and NCO students. In line with the Feldjager waffenfarbe, the border of the badge is coloured orange.





When in battledress the Feldjager also wear a brassard to indicate their duty status. There are two different versions of this brassard which is worn on the left arm.
With the recent deployment of Feldjager into the NATO mission area of former Yugoslavia, a new brassard, with variations, has been seen to be in use. Note also the white band around the helmet, together with the goggles, the H&K MP5 being carried by the searcher.
   
   
Sources

"Chained Dogs" Re-enactment Site
FG Trupp 82 Re-enactment Site
Feldgendarmerie Home Page
Elite Forces of the Third Reich
FG Trupp b (mot) 419 Re-enactment Site
Photosammler - Feldgendarmerie photos
Feldjäger-Abteilungen



Davis, Brian L.; "German Army Uniforms & Insignia 1933-45"; Arms & Armour Press; 1971.
Davis, Brian L.; "Badges & Insignia of the Third Reich 1933-1945"; Blandford Press; 1983.