Are cops seen as paramilitary

The story of the police: the friend and helper who still wears armor


Problematic violence by police officers, insufficient scrutiny of police actions by the judiciary - criticism is loud again and again. A journey through time from the "Blutmai" on on the occasion of the International Day against Police Brutality.

In 1927, Berlin Police President Karl Zörgiebel (SPD, 1878–1961) reported to his colleagues in Paris about the equipment of his office with pride in the capital, which was then extraordinarily progressive by German standards: 14,000 uniformed police officers only paid for it on October 1, 1920 of the surrounding communities expanded to a multiple of its previous size, with just under four million inhabitants.

In addition, there were 2,500 officers from the criminal police and 300 from the state security, 250 vehicles ensured a modern level of mobility, the telephone system of the police headquarters at Alexanderplatz was also incredibly advanced. Every officer in the security police had a baton and a pistol, every third man had a carbine, and every unit of the riot police had five submachine guns.

As a reminder of this epoch in police history, the "Blutmai" in particular has been preserved: Between May 1 and May 3, 1929, 33 people were killed and numerous injured in an attempt to stop unauthorized communist demonstrations. Not least the KPD and later SED propaganda turned it into a beacon for the police leadership of the Weimar Republic, who were actually responsible for the social democrats and open-minded liberals. National Socialist propaganda also polemicized nostalgically against the rubber truncheon of the Berlin police officer as a symbol of the republican "system time" - it toyed with the idea of ​​making the saber, sorely missed by militarily trained police officers, the weapon of choice again.

In the Nazi state, however, the saber remained a prop. The police were now significantly involved in the state terror - late, but since the publications of the American historian Christopher Browning (1944–) from the 1990s on the Hamburg Reserve Police Battalion 101, the involvement of the German police in the Holocaust and war crimes has also been one of them known to the wider public.

There are always new historical finds that do little to build trust. At the Fürstenfeldbruck Police School, for example, Hans Hösl (1896–1987), a suspected war criminal and civil servant involved in the deportation of the Jewish citizens of Athens to Auschwitz after the war, served as a lecturer in criminal law to the offspring of the police.

1950s to 1970s: liberal Germany wants a new police force

From a socio-historical point of view, there are good reasons to declare this part of history over by a generational change. But this would inadmissibly shorten the matter - because the reaction of the liberal society of the young Federal Republic and the will to reform, which was once alive in Germany, would then be forgotten even more than they are anyway.

The history of the Lüth judgment of January 15, 1958, which is fundamental to the development of German law, included, for example, not only the narrower legal question of whether and how Erich Lüth (1902–1989) was protected by fundamental rights when he responded to the boycott of Veit Harlan's post-war works ( 1899–1964), who was burdened by Nazi propaganda films such as "Jud Süss".

The Harlan case also plays a role in police history. In Freiburg / Br. had protested in 1952 against the premiere of the new Harlan film "Hanna Amon". A road blockade was violently broken up by the police on January 16, 1952. The fact that the protesting students were insulted by the moviegoers as "Jewish mercenaries", however, was not worth the police intervention.

The Baden-Württemberg state parliament took on the matter. The responsible police director Bieser lost his position in March 1952 after it became known that he had met Harlan in good company on the day of the cinema event and invited the cinema-goers to vote on his actions against the demonstrators.

It is a little oppressive that the efforts of mostly young and open police executives to establish a new self-image and new behavior in the face of such unreasonable demands of an authoritarian and still pre-democratic police force have hardly found their way into the public perception of the police.

Under the title "The social changes and the police training", for example, from March 24 to 26, 1971, responsible police officers met in the premises of the Hiltrup Police Institute, today's German Police University, on the question of how their authorities are acting modern society.

Self-confident police in a democratic constitutional state?

The Nuremberg Police President, for example, reported that the German police had to react to the inevitable conflicts that could be observed worldwide with strategies that guaranteed their "non-violent process" - also in order to avoid the hatred of the police that their colleagues in the USA or France had struck back. It was the time of the Algeria and Vietnam War.

Instead of loudly complaining about their exposed position in social conflicts, the police officers have to perceive themselves confidently: "Since the police experience social changes up close, they almost have the privilege of knowing."

A detective director from Düsseldorf declared the previous youth protection concept, which had aimed to offer children and young people "protection from stimuli and sources of pleasure" and to restore "old, merely disturbed" patriarchal orders, to be obsolete.

The police president of Hanover welcomed the "unmilitary" tone of the German police and recommended to the mass media, in which "sensitivity and subliminal antipathy" could still be observed, "calm self-confidence and a calm distance. Violations of norms should not be considered an attack by police officers be felt against oneself. "

In order to work appropriately, one should also carefully use futurology, which provides, for example, important figures on the changing and thus conflict-prone labor market: "In a time of rapid change, every static image of society or an idyll without an ongoing one must be wrong The fact that society is tense and conflict-ridden and needs to be built on in a democratic and constitutional way has to be the basis of political education "- the political education of police officers, mind you.

Away from the more military police training

The participants at this conference will have been aware of how progressive their ideas were - not only because the generation of war criminals and genocide had just retired.

It was also clear that the training of police officers in the technical college was a fundamental break with the past. When Zörgiebel submitted the proud report about his Berlin authority in 1927, the self-image and training of the police officers were still deeply military - the result of decades of practice in which exiled - often only moderately literate and exclusively military-trained - soldiers with "civil service certificates" were allowed into the police service take.

From the point of view of 1971, the paramilitary police officer should take the place of the paramilitary police officer, who would not only know how to interpret the futurological findings on the potential dangers of future labor market developments, but could also, for example, be a sought-after advisor in municipal planning law - as in all others established at the time - social planning processes.

Findings, as presented by Tobias Singelnstein - in an interim report in 2019 - on the perception of police violence, in this climate of self-critical police work might have become the subject of own empirical efforts, which might not have harmed them.

Why instead today heavily armed police officers who have been made unrecognizable by uniform and often by masking, martially wrapped in Kevlar textiles like the Michelin men, are considered normal in the street scene, is not difficult to understand.

Half a year after the Hiltrup conference, the above-cited, silvery modern police president of Nuremberg, Horst Herold (1923–2018), who holds a doctorate in law, was to be appointed President of the Federal Criminal Police Office - an authority that is now in charge of the "fight" against terrorism the "Red Army Fraction" took over, which - at the same time as the hopeful Hiltrup conference - openly committed to the concept of a so-called "urban guerrilla".

This not only had an impact on the paramilitary equipment of police departments or the incessant need to adapt material criminal law and the code of criminal procedure to so-called police needs. Members of a very broad academic milieu wanted to recognize nothing more than the attempt to transform the Federal Republic into a police dictatorship in the police's interest in modern social science - elaborates such as: "Psychologists of 'Internal Security' 'or' Help the police - give an example. beat yourself up! '"

When lawyers meet police officers

In freshman StGB lectures, today's lawyers may still encounter the question of whether it is wise to discuss the relevant legal issues with police officers during a traffic control, for example. Much more than the haughty self-understanding that budding top surgeons didn’t talk to butcher shop sellers about how they cut the meat, doesn’t come out - the otherwise typical professional "obligation to dissent" often falls silent in front of Kevlar costumers.

One can see this as life-wise professorial advice to potentially rhetorically stupid law students. 50 years after the bright, self-critical moment of the German police, however, he is also surprisingly unworthy and non-bourgeois.