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
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 even lazy
(remember, they're German
), but they are still gladly depicted as stuffy, pompous, uppity, ignorant
, 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 1936 to 1945, and 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. Then, as of 2015, Bavaria has apparently decided - for no explicable reason - to go Austrian
of all things (purchasing surplus white caps, dark blue overalls with yellow lettering and pale blue lampasses from the Austrian Police Force).
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. Police is usually portrayed sympathetically if "human" (i.e. almost none of them live Happily Married in domestic bliss)
- 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 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.