main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Kickstarter Message
TV Tropes Needs Your Help
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
View Kickstarter Project
Useful Notes: The Thin Formerly Green Line
Priorities are everything.

Policeman: Fräulein, you can't swim in this lake. It's illegal.
Woman: Couldn't have told me that before I stripped naked?!

This page is about the Polizei, so law enforcement in The Berlin Republic, and West Germany before that.

It is, similarly to US law enforcement, not a single entity, but a multitude of police forces operating both on regional (well, state) and national level. It used to be different, both under Those Wacky Nazis and East Germany, both of whom once opted for highly centralised, paramilitary police forces (who are ideal for autocratic states) rather than the quirky and freedom-loving lawmen they are nowadays.

Every German Land has its own police force, and there additionally are federal entities like the Bundespolizei (who handle everything border-, customs- and transportation-related; so whenever you come to Germany, those would be the first and last guys you'd see; plus, they're also the umbrella organisation of the famed GSG-9), and the Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Crime Office, tasked with handling organised and cross-state crime - basically the German version of the FBI), who answer directly to the Ministry of the Interior instead of any state.

The Polizei doesn't necessarily share (or no longer shares) certain other countries' reputations of being overly violent or corrupt or even lazy (remember, they're German), but they are still gladly depicted as stuffy, pompous, uppity, ignorant and dictatorially bureaucratic, in combination with not being terribly smart.

As for the "Thin Green Line"... While several German states historically had their policemen, gendarmes and soldiers wear green uniforms (Bavaria in particular), green indeed was Germany's staunchly standardised police colour from the 1970s to the early 2000s (on both sides of the Iron Curtain, in fact - though they were darker and more blue-ish hues in the GDR), and consisted of the hilarious bright green blazers, mustard-yellow shirts (earning them the unfortunate nickname Senfmännchen - Mustard Men), brown trousers and black ties.

After a uniform reform in 2004, each state got to choose their own uniforms; most opted for boring blue (including the Bundespolizei), and some for black (like Hamburg), but Bavaria and Saarland decided to stay green (though they did get rid of the ridiculous green blazers in favour of snazzy black leather jackets). As for many police vehicles - they often still are all green and white because no one bothered to repaint them.

Ps: The Verfassungsschutz (Office for the Protection of the Constitution) doesn't count, because they already are supposed to be Germany's domestic intelligence service. Neither do the Feldjäger, who are proper Military Police and hence Not The Wehrmacht.

Portrayals in popular media:

  • Tatort is, naturally, all about the Polizei, and features investigative teams from State Polices all over Germany.
  • Alarm für Cobra 11: A show about the exciting and dramatic adventures of The Scrappy of Northrhine-Westphalia's police - the Autobahnpolizei.
  • Then there also is Fringe, which features the "Wissenschaft Prison" (whatever the hell that's supposed to mean) just outside of Frankfurt, a ridiculously high security prison (especially for German standards), which should technically be run by the Ministry of Justice, but instead comes off rather... uncomfortably militaristic. In any case, the guards there still wear green.
  • The Avengers features Loki blowing up a Stuttgart (Württembergian) police car (oddly enough one with orange light signals, which are reserved for infrastructural and load-bearing vehicles) as it rushes towards his position.
  • In Octopussy, James Bond gets in trouble with a slew of Bavarian cops when he steals a woman's car to break into a US base. Because GTA is Serious Business in Germany.
  • There still is that old National Stereotypes joke that still gives the German police (an not entirely undeserved) reputation for dracony:
    In heaven, all the policemen are British, all of the lovers are French, all of the chefs are Italian, all of the cars are German, and the whole thing is run by the Swiss.
    In hell, all of the policemen are German, all of the lovers are Swiss, all of the chefs are British, all of the cars are French, and the whole thing is run by the Italians.
Les Cops SportifUsefulNotes/Police ForcesSpell Our Name With A Po
We Are Not the WehrmachtUsefulNotes/GermanyHoly Roman Empire

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy