FEUERSCHUTZPOLIZEI (FSchP): German Third Reich. 1934-1945. On 12 January 1934 the Feuerschutzpolizei were established under the control of the German Interior Ministry.  This action provided the framework for a national firefighting service capable of mobilization and response across Germany to meet air raid needs.  On 28 November 1938 the passage of a law regarding firefighting gave the Ministry of the Interior authority needed to direct establishment of 65 Fire Police units in selected cities, and to identify which existing paid fire departments should be transferred to the Fire Police.

In the aftermath of the bombing of Warsaw, senior Fire Police officers from Section F at Order Police headquarters traveled to Poland to interview Polish fire officers and to inspect their firefighting system.  In November 1939, based on lessons learned from Polish experiences, Fire Police Regiments were established, apparently based on French practice, to fight fires resulting from combat and to protect important facilities.  These 6 Regiments served into 1943, eventually being disestablished, with their battalions serving as mobile reserves in areas of Germany targeted for heavy aerial bombardment.

By 1941 Fire Police commands had been established in 86 cities in Germany, Austria, and occupied Poland, including:

By 1943 staffing shortages led to increased recruitment of non-German nationals to serve in the Fire Police.  Fire Police battalions were authorized a fourth company, staffed by Ukrainians, Poles, and ethnic Germans.

The Fire Police served to the end of World War II, increasingly drafted into combat roles as infantrymen to defend their cities and fire stations.  The commander of the Berlin Fire Police, Major General Walter Goldbach, had planned for the preservation of Berlin's firefighting forces, and had accumulated an emergency store of fuel for that purpose.  On 22 April 1945 as Berlin was being encircled, Fire Police units assigned to Groups North and South evacuated to Kellinghausen and Itzehoe, and Group East units evacuated to Pinneberg.  All surrendered with their equipment to the advancing British Army.  On 26 April German police shot Major General Goldbach while arresting him for treason; the severely injured General was then taken to the Police Hospital and executed.  Berlin's main fire station was captured by the Soviet Army on 30 April 1945, and the city surrendered on 2 May.

Sources: Foedrowitz, Michael, German Firefighting Vehicles in World War II, Atglen, Pennsylvania, United States of America, Schiffer Military History, 1997.

Entry 03110 - posted 5 October 2003