Militarization and Democracy in West Germany’s Border Police, 1951-2005
Title Details

342 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

14 b/w illus.

Series: German History in Context

Series Vol. Number: 9

Imprint: Camden House

Militarization and Democracy in West Germany's Border Police, 1951-2005

by David M. Livingstone

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
A social history of West Germany's Bundesgrenzschutz (BGS, Federal Border Police) that complicates the telling of the country's history as a straightforward success story.

The 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers shows that police violence is still a problem in Western democracies. Floyd's murder prompted some critics to hail the German police as a model of democratic policing that should be emulated. After 1945, Germany's police forces had supposedly shed the militarization and authoritarian impulses still prevalent in other nations' forces. These uncritical appraisals, however, deserve closer analysis.

This book is a social history of West Germany's Bundesgrenzschutz (BGS), a federal border guard established in 1951 that became re-unified Germany's first national police force. It argues that the BGS revived authoritarian traditions of militarized policing and kept them alive long into the postwar era even though the country was supposedly consigning these problematic legacies to its past. The BGS was staffed and led by Wehrmacht and SS veterans until the late 1970s, and while West Germany was democratizing, BGS commanders were still planning to fight wars and were teaching its officers "street fighting" tactics. While the end outcome was positive, the study contributes to the growing body of recent research that complicates the writing of the Federal Republic's history as a "success story."

Dealing explicitly with post-fascist West Germany's struggle to establish a democratic police force, the book enters a conversation with studies concerned with democratization, security, and Germany's effort to overcome its Nazi past.
Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
Introduction
Part I: Origins and Early Development, 1949-1956
1. The Shadow of Weimar Political Violence in the Making of West Germany's BGS
2. Men of the First Hour: Veteran Soldiers and the Police Organization They Made
3. Who Wants to be a Soldier? The BGS and West Germany's New Army
Part II: Organizational Culture, 1956-1980
4. Recruitment and Rebuilding the BGS
5. Militarization and Training for War
6. Professional Ethics and Moral Training
7. The Debate Over Combatant Status and Its Consequences
Part III: Modernization: Becoming a Federal Police Agency, 1968-2005
8. Bonn's "Problem Child": The Struggle to Modernize the BGS
9. From Munich to Mogadishu: Fighting Terrorism at Home and Abroad
10. More than Guarding Borders: From BGS to Bundespolizei
Conclusion: Germany's Police: A Model for Democratic Policing?
Bibliography
Index

DAVID M. LIVINGSTONE holds a PhD in History from the University of California-San Diego. He is retired as Chief of Police of Simi Valley, California and is an adjunct professor at California Lutheran University.

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9781640141513

March 2024

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9781805432524

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Title Details

342 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

14 b/w illus.

Series: German History in Context

Series Vol. Number: 9

Imprint: Camden House