10 January 1946 31 December 1946
[Note: This manuscript was prepared in 1947 by historians assigned to the Army's Headquarters, European Command (later United States Army, Europe) as part of the official history of the post-World War II occupation of Germany. These volumes were submitted to the Office of the Chief of Military History (now US Army Center of Military History) for reference use. It is typical of the kinds of projects routinely carried out by uniformed and civilian historians in peacetime in various commands and agencies. The original is on file in the Historical Manuscripts Collection (HMC) under file number 8-3.1 CA 37, which should be cited in footnotes, along with the title. It is reproduced here with only those limited modifications required to adapt to the World Wide Web; spelling, punctuation, and slang usage have not been altered from the original. Where modern explanatory notes were required, they have been inserted as italicized text in square brackets.]
The concept of a police-type occupation of Germany arose from the consideration of plans for the most efficient employment of the relatively small forces available. The speed of redeployment in the fall of 1945, and the certainty that the occupational troop basis would have to be reduced speedily, dictated the utmost economy in the use of manpower. The basic principle of the police-type occupation—that the lack of strength in the forces of occupation must be made up by careful selection, rigid training, and high mobility—cannot be attributed to any single individual, or indeed to any single agency. Before any plans were worked out for the organization of the United States Constabulary, units of the United States Army assigned to occupational duties in Germany had experimented with the organization of parts of their forces into motorized patrols for guarding the borders and maintaining order in the large areas for which they were responsible. In September 1945, the G-2 Division of European Theater Headquarters put forward a plan, which Was carried into effect towards the end of the years for the organization of a special security force known as the District Constabulary. In October 1945, the War Department asked European Theater Headquarters to consider the feasibility of organizing the major portion of the occupational forces into an efficient military police force on the model of state police or constabulary in the United States.
Ideas crystallized rapidly. At the end of October 1945, General Eisenhower, then Theater Commander, announced to the proper authorities that the population of the United States Zone of Germany would ultimately be controlled by a super-police force or constabulary. In early November, the strength of the proposed constabulary was announced as 38,000. Planning was well advanced by the end of 1945, when the European Theater Headquarters notified the War Department that the constabulary would be organized as an elite force, composed of the highest caliber personnel obtainable under the voluntary re-enlistment program, and that it would be equipped with an efficient communications network, sufficient vehicles and liaison airplanes to make it highly mobile, and the most modern weapons. During the paper stage, the organization was known by a series of names. "State Police" was discarded for "State Constabulary." Then it wee thought that "State" would be confusing, although the main United States Zone of Germany had been divided, for purposes of civil administration, into three states, or Laender. Then the organization emerged from the planning stage, it as known as the "Zone Constabulary," but before it became operational it was christened "United States Constabulary."
On 10 January 1946, Major General Ernest N. Harmon, distinguished wartime commander of the 1st and 2d Armored Divisions, and the XXII Corps, was appointed Commanding General of the United States Constabulary. At the direction of Lieutenant General Lucian K. Truscott, Commanding General, Third United States Army, a small group was detailed to assist General Harmon in carrying forward the planning for the new force. The headquarters of this planning group was established at Bad Tolz. Theater Headquarters had already announced the principle that the Constabulary would be organized along geographical lines to coincide as nearly as possible with the major divisions of the German civil administration, in order to facilitate liaison with the German police and United States Offices of Military Government. Thus, Theater Headquarters had decided that there would be one Constabulary Headquarters for the entire United States Zone, a brigade headquarters at each of the capitals of the three German Laender, and group, squadron, and troop headquarters established at points selected for ease in performing the mission. Theater Headquarters had also directed that the tables of organization of the Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron would be used in planning the organization of the Constabulary.
The final decisions relating to the organization of the Constabulary reduced the authorized strength to 32,750 exclusive of the squadrons under the jurisdiction of Headquarters, Berlin District, and Headquarters, United States Forces, Austria. It was headed by a corps-type Headquarters, under which there were three brigade headquarters at the Laender capitals. Each brigade consisted of three regiments with headquarters established at or near Regierungsbezirke capitals. Each regiment included three squadrons, each of which was located so as to cover one or more of the basic political subdivisions, the Kreise. Each squadron comprised five troops. Thus, the United States Constabulary at the end of 1946 included three brigades, nine regiments, twenty-seven squadrons, and 135 troops, as well as headquarters and service units.
The primary unit of the Constabulary, the troop, was organized on the pattern of the mechanized cavalry troop used in the war. In view of its tasks of road and border patrolling and its police-type jobs, the Constabulary needed a greater number of hand weapons and light vehicles, such as jeeps and armored cars. Each troop is divided for patrolling purposes into sections or teams, each of which is equipped with three jeeps and one armored car serving as a command vehicle and as support in case of emergency. A mobile reserve of one company equipped with light tanks was established in each Constabulary regiment. Horses were provided for patrolling in difficult terrain along the borders and motor cycles for the control of traffic on the super-highways (Autobahnen). Static border control posts were established at the crossing points.
The uniform of the Constabulary trooper was designed both to make him easily recognizable and to distinguish him as a member of an elite force [ click on the image at left to view a larger version ]. The "Lightning Bolt" shoulder patch in yellow, blue, and red combined the colors of the cavalry, infantry, and artillery. To make the troops more distinctive they were given bright golden yellow scarves, combat boots with the smooth outer surface, and helmet liners bearing the Constabulary insignia and yellow and blue stripes.
One of the most difficult problems was the provision of troops to form the nucleus of this new organization. The intention wee to obtain the highest caliber personnel in the Theater, but redeployment made this extremely difficult. Practically all the forces in the Zone were engaged in static duties, particularly the care of displaced persons. Certain of the units designated for the Constabulary could not be reorganized and trained until released from their static commitments. The mechanized cavalry units assigned to the Constabulary were already operating as mobile patrols in certain trouble spots and could not be spared for proper training before their integration into the Constabulary. Practically none of the units were located exactly where they were wanted under the Constabulary plan which called for the blanketing of the entire United States Zone. Some of them were moved four or five times within a period of a few months before they finally settled in the area which they were to patrol. Barracks, many of which were being used by displaced persons, had to be obtained for the Constabulary units; new equipment had to be drawn from depots as far away as France and the Low Countries; and, most difficult of all, the personnel had to be selected and trained.
To create a high morale in the Constabulary as quickly as possible, elements of the famous 1st and 4th Armored Divisions and certain cavalry groups were assigned to form the basis for the new organization. The units converted into Constabulary squadrons and regiments included armored infantry, field artillery, tank, tank destroyer, and antiaircraft battalions; and cavalry squadrons.
The VI Corps Headquarters, which had engaged in three mayor amphibious operations Salerno, Anzio, and Southern France and 524 days of combat in Italy, France, Germany, and Austria, became the United States Constabulary Headquarters. The 1st Armored Division, activated at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in June 1940 and one of the first American divisions to fight on the other side of the Atlantic, supplied many tank and infantry units. It had become a veteran, hard-fighting unit during the first four months of operations after the invasion of North Africa.
The 4th Armored Division, which furnished the three brigade headquarters for the Constabulary, landed in France on 28 July 1944, and for the next two months spearheaded the drive of General Patton's Third Army across France, arriving in September at the German line along the Moselle River. Other highlights in the outstanding combat record of the 4th Armored Division were its link-up with the beleaguered airborne forces in Bastogne, the dash to the Rhine River early in 1945, and the rapid crossing of Germany in the period before V-E Day. It was one of the few divisions in the United States Army cited by the President of the United States for "extraordinary tactical accomplishments."
These veteran units, seriously depleted by redeployment, now approached a task quite different from that of waging war, but one demanding initiative and high standards in training and discipline. Some of the combat units assigned to the Constabulary were carried temporarily as mere paper organizations, redeployment haying taken all their officers and men. Other units had up to 75 percent of their allotted strength, but all the units taken together averaged only 25 percent of their authorized strength.
In February 1946, Constabulary Headquarters was established in Bamberg. During the period when tactical units, released from the Third and Seventh Armies, wore being redesignated as Constabulary units, the main tasks were training and reorganization. Continuous training as prescribed for the trooper so that he might attain an acceptable standard of discipline and all around efficiency in the use of weapons, vehicles, and communications equipment.
Early in the planning stage the need for a Constabulary School became evident. The Constabulary trooper, it was seen, must know, not only the customary duties of a soldier, but also police methods, how to make arrests, and how to deal with a foreign population. A school was also needed to develop among the members of the Constabulary a spirit which would lift them towards the required high standards of person appearance, soldierly discipline, and unquestioned personal integrity.
The Constabulary School was established at Sonthofen, Germany, in a winter sports area at the foot of the Allgau Alps. This citadel had been formerly used as a Nazi school to train youthful candidates for positions of leadership in the Party. The curriculum for Constabulary officers and noncommissioned officers included instruction in the geography, history, and politics of Germany. The technical and specialist training for the trooper included the theory and practice of criminal investigation, police records, self-defense, and the apprehension of wanted persons. The trooper's indoctrination in the mission of the Constabulary gave him a knowledge of his responsibilities and the functions of the Constabulary. The Constabulary School has standards comparable to those of Army Service Schools in the United States. A graduate of Sonthofen is qualified, not only to perform his duties, but also to serve as an instructor in his unit.
No replacement center for the Constabulary was established since it was felt that, after the Constabulary had settled down to operations and overcome its personnel problems through the assignment of long-term enlistees, the school could operate as a combination replacement and school center. Since March 1946, the school capacity has been approximately 650 students per month. It is hoped that this number will be sufficient to replace the normal monthly attrition in the Constabulary. By the end of 1946, 5,700 officers and enlisted students had been graduated.
To assist in the training of the Constabulary, a Trooper's Handbook was written to cover the basic rules to be followed by him in the execution of his duties. To prepare this manuals the Constabulary was fortunate in obtaining the services of Colonel J. H. Harwood, formerly State Police Commissioner of Rhode Island. His expert advice and broad experience in police work were of great assistance in the development and early training of Constabulary troopers. Incorporated in the Handbook were many practical ideas which Colonel Harwood had gained in his police experience.
The training program, as originally planned, aimed at the progressive development of the Constabulary so as to attain a common standard of efficiency throughout the organization. 1 July 1946 was set as the date upon which the Constabulary would become operational and, in preparation for that day, the training program was divided into three phases. During the first phase, prior to 1 April, attention was concentrated on the training of cadre and on the establishment of regimental and squadron headquarters so that the Constabulary would be prepared to receive the approximately 20,000 men expected to fill the ranks. During this phase, the emphasis from the point of view of control by the main headquarters was shifted from the squadron to the regiment, since each of the latter directed three of the former. The second phase, between 1 April and 1 June, was a period of intensive training in the duties of both individuals and units. The final phase was planned as on-the-job training during June. The last phase, however, wee not completed because of delay in receiving reinforcements.
During June, the three brigade headquarters were formed, each of them taking over the direction of three regiments. The progressive development of the command organization upwards from the squadron level was necessitated by the lack of trained officers and enlisted men for staff and command positions. By mid-June the organization was complete and control was highly centralized.
The Constabulary became operational on 1 July 1946 as scheduled, despite the fact that its training program had not been completed. Changes in the redeployment rules caused the loss within a few weeks of 8000 troopers, 25 percent of the total strength. During the first two months of operations 14,000 men, or 42.7 percent of the total strength, were lost through redeployment. The replacement and training task at that time were staggering. To make matters worse, there was a critical shortage in the Constabulary of junior officers during the late summer of 1946. This delayed the Constabulary in attaining the desired standards in discipline and operations, and was the cause of many changes in operational techniques.
Despite all of these difficulties, the Constabulary attained its goal of selecting high caliber personnel. Physical and mental standards were maintained at a high level, and incompetence was kept out of the Constabulary insofar as possible. The main reason for seeking troopers of high caliber and for giving them higher ratings than are available in other military organizations was the realization that the Constabulary is only as good as the individual trooper. Small groups of two or three troopers operate far from their headquarters, and are empowered with unusual authority in matters of arrest, search, and seizure. In conducting their daily duties, they face many temptations, such as those offered by persons who are willing to pay almost any price for immunity after crossing the border or for illegal concessions in the black market. Level heads were needed. Maintaining high standards in the Constabulary was all the more difficult because of the fact that most of the combat veterans had gone home and had been replaced by men in the age group of 18 to 22 years.
The mission of the United States Constabulary is to maintain general military and civil security, to assist in the accomplishment of the objectives of the United States government in Germany, and to control the borders of the United States Zone. To accomplish its mission, the Constabulary set up a system of patrols throughout the entire area and along the borders. The territory to be patrolled has an area of over 40,000 square miles and included nearly 1,400 miles of international and interzonal boundaries, extending from Austria in the South to the British Zone in the North, and from Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Zone in the East to the Rhine River and the French Zone in the West. Approximately Pennsylvania in size, the United States Zone of Occupation in Germany has similar contours, with flat lands, hills, mountains, and forests, criscrossed [sic] by many streams. More than sixteen million German people live in this area, and it includes many cities of considerable size. The entire Zone is covered by a network of narrow and winding roads, most of them black-surfaced and highcrowned in the center, while here and there are the Autobahnen—the four-lane express highways constructed by the Nazi regime on the best American models.
Besides the sixteen million Germans in this Zone, there were more than half a million displaced persons. Both of these groups presented problems to the police which had to be approached by vigorous action. A larger and more efficient German police force was required. All of its members had to be trained in their duties in the urban, rural, and border areas. They had to be certain that they were backed up by the Constabulary and the Military Government, and also that they had the support of their own people. The lawless elements among the displaced persons had to be segregated, policed insofar as possible by their own people, and controlled by the Constabulary and the German police. Constant study of the trends in criminal activity was required as an index to unrest in any area among the Germans or displaced persons. Such study indicated the necessity for intensified drives for the control of traffic. It further identified the areas in which a high incidence of crime required increased patrolling by the Constabulary.
At first the Constabulary tried to patrol everywhere in the Zone. Troopers traveled on country roads, through small villages, over narrow and rough mountainous roads. They moved up and down the streets of large cities like Munich and Stuttgart, and of the smaller ones like Fritzlar, Weiden, Hof, and Passau—names which have become as familiar to the Constabulary trooper as Pittsburg, Akron, Richmond, Clay Center, and Abilene. Wherever patrols operate, they are in constant communication by radio or telephone with their platoon or troop headquarters, which are in turn linked in a chain of communications reaching up to Constabulary Headquarters. The telephone lines used by the Constabulary are, for the most part, those of the German system, although some military lines and equipment are available. In addition to radio and telephone, the Constabulary is hooked up in a teletype system, which is the most comprehensive and effective communications network operated by the United States Army in Europe.
In the performance of their mission, Constabulary patrols visit periodically the German mayors (Buergermeister), German police stations, United States investigating agencies, and other military units in their areas. They are always prepared to assist any one or all of these. Like the State police units in the United States, Constabulary patrols work closely with the municipal, rural, and border police, even though the local German police are part of the administration of an occupied country. The Constabulary troopers become acquainted with the local policemen, receive reports from them of what occurred since the last visit, and work out with them methods of trapping criminals and of forestalling possible disturbances.
As they roam their beat in their yellow and blue striped jeep, each pair of Constabulary troopers is usually accompanied by a German policeman who rides in the back seat. The German policeman knows some English and the troopers were trained at the Constabulary school to understand a number of German phrases useful in police work. If the patrol investigates a disturbance in a German home, the troopers stand by while the German officer makes the arrest. If they apprehend suspected displaced persons outside their camp, the troopers again stand by while the German policeman handles the situation. If the offender is an American or Allied soldier or civilian, the troopers make the arrest. This procedure builds up the prestige of the new German police in the eyes of their own people. Constant association between Constabulary troopers and German policemen educates the latter in our democratic concept of upholding the law in a spirit of fair play and justice, and not in the brutal, arbitrary method of the German police before and during the war.
Border control was an important element in the security of the United States Zone. On 1 July 1946, the Constabulary replaced the troopers of the 1st, 3d, and 9th Infantry Divisions at the many static control posts along the borders. At these border posts, often in isolated locations, Allied soldiers meet and exchange greetings across the red and white barricades as they perform their duties of customs inspection, passport control, and law enforcement.
Experience gained in a month's operation showed that our single line of static border posts was ineffective. Black marketeers, criminals, and others seeking a better life in the United States Zone evaded our sentries. Many of these illegal crossers were apprehended by our patrols farther from the border. Consequently, a new plan for border control was put into effect. Troopers and German inspectors were posted at authorized crossing points, with German policemen at various other points along the border, and a system of intensive patrolling was inaugurated adjacent to the borders. Constant vigil in a ten-mile belt along the borders was kept by vehicular, horse, foot, and air patrols. This System proved to be much more effective.
During the second half of 1946, 120 border posts employing 2,800 Constabulary troopers turned back from the border over 26,000 undocumented tranaiento. An additional 22,000 illegal crossers were apprehended by patrols within the ten-mile border zone and turned over to military government. As the patrols of the Constabulary increased, illegal crossings showed a downward trend because travelers became aware of the regulations and the effectiveness of the Constabulary in their enforcement.
As a result of continuous study of crime statistics, emphasizing the location and time of commission, the patrolling of the interior areas of our Zone was modified so as to provide for more frequent visits to disorderly areas than to the relatively quiet localities. The potential sources of trouble were judged to be, not in rural areas where peasants gazed in wonder at Constabulary patrols, but in areas where large urban populations scrambled among ruins for food and for jerry-built shelter. Here the patrols, passing every two hours, found that they were missing the real disturbances. Night reports of holidays and week ends told of assaults, robbery, and other serious crimes being perpetrated, but too often the Constabulary was not on the spot to act. Again, operating procedures were changed to provide for concentration on the high-incident areas at critical times. In large cities, tanks, armored cars, and jeeps of the Constabulary paraded in the streets in considerable numbers to show the Germans that the Americans meant business, and were properly trained and equipped to meet emergencies.
As the Constabulary trooper became accustomed to his duties, he gained more confidence and self-assurance. He possessed a thorough knowledge of police functions; he learned not to abuse his authority. No situation seemed insoluble. Consequently, two or three men could answer a call for assistance where formerly a section or more had gone out.
Troopers are not required to remain on the border or in isolated areas indefinitely. Periodically, each troop is relieved in order to return to its permanent barracks (Kaserne) for a period of rest and recuperation. During the stay at the home station, equipment is overhauled and instruction is given in new technical developments and operational procedures. This system of rotation was designed to prevent deterioration in discipline and efficiency. At first the trooper was in the Kaserne for two weeks and then in operational localities for almost four. Later, the program was changed to allow four weeks in the Kaserne and approximately six weeks in operational areas. With more experience on the part of the troopers it is anticipated that the period of duty in the field will be increased in length.
In the Kaserne the trooper has the recreational facilities and contorts which constitute his home life in Germany—Service Men's Clubs with their snack bars and entertainments, motion pictures, American Red Cross facilities, and trans-Atlantic telephone service. The trooper whose family lives in a military community finds living and recreation within his means. All members of the Constabulary and their families have the possibility of interesting and enjoyable travel in Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and Italy.
During the first six months of its activities the Constabulary made 168,000 patrols in jeeps, tanks, and armored cars, and on horseback and on foot. Its troopers traveled on these patrols more than five million miles, mostly in jeeps. The mileage covered by the vehicles of the United States Constabulary was equivalent to nine vehicles circling the earth every twenty-four hours. The mileage covered by foot patrols was equivalent to circling the globe once each week. The liaison airplanes of the Constabulary flew more than 14,000 hours on 11,000 missions during the first six months' period.
In 1946, the Constabulary made many swoop raids, known officially as "check and search operations," against displaced persons' and refugees' camps and the German population. No raids were made unless requested by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, military commanders, military government, or investigative agencies which had reason to suspect black-market or subversive activities. The trooper operating in the municipalities was a deterrent to the individuals and groups who are the mainstay of the black market. In six months, 2,681 black-market transactions and 173 subversive acts were uncovered in Constabulary operations.
The German people have mixed feelings about the Constabulary. There is a desire on the part of the thinking class of people that the Constabulary remain until a recreated German government can successfully cope with the problems now necessarily handled by the occupational forces. Other German display apathy towards the Constabulary, and a few are amused, but all respect it.
The Constabulary assisted military government in the reorganization and development of the German police force. The Constabulary realized that its task would be greatly simplified with an increase in the strength and efficiency of the German police, a rise in the self confidence of German police officers, and a gain in their prestige in the eyes of the civilian population. The ties between the two law-enforcement agencies have steadily become stronger. The Constabulary is leaving the less important matters in the hands of the German police and is concentrating more and more on the apprehension of major criminals and black marketeers. Eventually, the United States Constabulary will play mainly the role of adviser and supporter, ready to assist the German police on call.
The Constabulary has exerted itself in the effort to develop a just and firm control and to eliminate all activities prejudicial to established occupational policies. It assists in rebuilding German civilian control, and while doing so, it presents the American interpretation of democratic institutions. American police do not make the law, but uphold it; American schools teach students, not to believe implicitly and follow blindly, but to think for themselves; American youth groups serve, not as means for political indoctrination, but to introduce their members to the democratic way of life.
A large proportion of the Constabulary troopers have devoted much of their spare time to leadership of German youth activities, such as Kinderfeste, Sportsfeste, Boy and Girl scouts, handicrafts, and cultural programs. The Constabulary has been unstinting in its efforts to cultivate the roots from which can grow a sound and wholesome youth movement. Although a full evaluation of the sponsorship of the German Youth Movement by the United States Army can be made only after the passage of more time, the Constabulary trooper is accepting his responsibility for the furtherance of the present program.
From the beginning, the Constabulary set high standards for itself. The troopers were to be selected from the best soldiers available, and it was desired that all of them be volunteers. They were to be trained as soldiers and policemen. They were to operate in an efficient, alert manner calculated to inspire confidence and respect in all persons they met, whether Germans, Allies, or Americans. Next to its need for well-qualified men, the Constabulary depended most, for success in its mission, upon its system of communications and upon vehicles suited to the needs of the job and to the condition of the German roads. Better radio equipment was being furnished at the end of 1946, though it was not yet of the standard of that used by our State Police units at home. The German telephone system, hampered by a lack of spare parts, was not in good condition. The jeep, while excellent for combat, has not proved to be the best vehicle for Constabulary patrol work. There were far too many accidents and some of them were undoubtedly due to defects in the design of the jeep with reference to the road conditions encountered. The jeep's best points are that it has the power and the sturdiness to travel German roads, now in a bad state of repair. If the roads were better maintained, the sedan would be a more satisfactory patrol vehicle.
To maintain its mobility, the Constabulary has waged a constant struggle to overcome deficiencies in its transportation facilities. The vehicles originally issued to the Constabulary, numbering approximately 10,000 were taken from the large concentrations of combat motor vehicles left behind by units returning to the United States for demobilization. Many of these vehicles were already worn out in the campaign and many others had deteriorated in disuse. The original condition of the vehicles placed a severe test upon the Constabulary which, at the time it was inaugurated, had no service elements.
It was necessary to develop for each regiment a combination second and third echelon motor maintenance shop, staffed mainly by German mechanics under the supervision of a small number of Americans.
The Constabulary, new in concept, has already made its imprint in the occupation of Germany. Military government has been able to feel that it can turn to the Constabulary for support at any time and know that the needed assistance will be furnished quickly and efficiently. The German people and its police have reason to see in the Constabulary a safeguard as long as they are law-abiding and refrain from subversive and black-market activities. The displaced persons at the end of 1946 were more than ever convinced that the Constabulary was acting in their best interests in tracking down the lawless fringe among them. The military and civilian members of the forces of occupation and their dependents could rest more secure in the knowledge that an efficient Constabulary was covering the United States Zone of Germany, in bad weather and in good, every hour of the day.
The ideals of the Constabulary are summed in its motto—MOBILITY, VIGILANCE, JUSTICE. Its daily operations and contacts with military government and other agencies require constant, effective mobility. Unrelenting vigilance by Constabulary leaders and by the troopers in the field is one of the best methods to uncover subversive and other detrimental activities and to forestall them in the formative stage. A keynote in Constabulary operations has been justice in order to spread the democratic principles for which our country stands and to impress upon the Germans that this force is not an American counterpart of the SS, the now defunct black-uniformed Nazi guard, but a straightforward product of American democracy. The Constabulary is proud of its achievements, and each individual from the clerk in Constabulary Headquarters to the trooper at a lonely outpost, takes pride in wearing the distinctive uniform and the "Lightning Bolt" shoulder patch.