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Fighting Groups of the Working Class 1949-1990 (East Germany)

Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse

Last modified: 2002-11-16 by santiago dotor
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[Fighting Groups of the Working Class (East Germany)] 2:3?
by Volker Moerbitz Keith

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This para-military organization was somewhat like a National Guard but under strict control of the ruling party. Each large factory hat its own armed fighting group troops to defend the property of the people. This was a voluntary service with the benefit that members of the task forces were not drafted for army reserve drills.

Volker Moerbitz Keith, 24 January 2001

Was this organization in anything similar to Civil Defence (at least in certain cases)? Or was there a separate organization equivalent to that.

Zeljko Heimer, 25 January 2001

No, there existed another organization for Civil Defence (Zivilverteidigung in German). These Groups were some kind of paramilitary forces, which in case of an emergency would join the regular military forces and the police. Such an emergency was not meant to be any weather condition...

Dirk Schönberger, 26 January 2001

The Kampfgruppen were a voluntarily organization with a clear military task, which was to defend home territory. The were organized like infantry units and incorporated in the strategic planing of the National Defense Committee. Their most visible appearance was on August 13, 1961, when they stood in first line, when the Berlin Wall was built.

As far as response to natural disasters is concerned, there were two other organizations. The main one was the Zivilverteidigung (Civil Defense, as Dirk Schönberger mentioned) which was trained to fight natural disasters as well as to protect the civilian population from the effects of nuclear or chemical weapons. And then there was the Bereitschaftspolizei, for which the only translation I found was 'Riot Police', which was certainly part of their task, but not the only one. These police units were also specially trained to handle disasters such as floods or even big car accidents. Both, Zivilverteidigung and Bereitschaftspolizei were part of the police (as were, for example, the fire fighters), distinguished from 'normal' police forces only by the different color of their epaulettes (purple for Zivilverteidigung and light green for Bereitschaftspolizei). As far as I remember, they used the same flag as the police did.

Volker Moerbitz Keith, 6 February 2001


A red flag with the Fighting Groups symbol in center. The symbol showed a hand, holding a rifle with a red flag attached to the barrel. The flag was shown at parades and in Fighting Groups camps. Source: German Democratic Republic propaganda website (image here).

Volker Moerbitz Keith, 24 January 2001

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