1946 - 1950

Photo: A US Constabulary trooper and a German border guard on top of the Zugspitze, the highest patrol post of the US Zone.

(U) A US Constabulary trooper and a German border guard on top of the Zugspitze, the highest patrol post of the US Zone.

(U) Planning for the US Constabulary

(U) The long-range problems of conducting an extended occupation in Germany became a pressing planning problem in the summer of 1945 with the concurrent defeat of Japan in the Pacific and the start of substantial redeployment of European-based units to the United States. Although US Forces, European Theater (USFET) headquarters resisted the War Department's impulse to reduce the number of troops in the theater at too precipitous a pace, it understood that the occupation would have to be conducted by a much smaller force. There is no clear record of just where the idea of creating a "super military police" force for occupation duties originated, but it seems to have been pushed primarily by the War Department in its quest for a reduced force structure. Certain tactical units -- most notably the Frontier Command Troops of Fifteenth Army -- had already demonstrated that units trained specifically for police-type duty could in fact provide security with greatly reduced numbers if they had mobile reinforcements available and would be dealing with a largely cooperative populace. It was already evident in the early months of the occupation that the German populace would be much more cooperative and easy to police than had been anticipated, and that the chief threats to security would be subversive propaganda, pilferage, and border violations. From that point on most of the staff work revolved around determinations of how large the police-type force -- or constabulary -- would be, which combat units would be retained to make up the constabulary units, and which would be retained to provide the mobile tactical reserves that might be needed to put down insurrections. The reader should note that there was little or no thought given to providing troops for external security purposes. l

(U) The term "Constabulary" began to make its appearance in planning documents in September 1945 and an evolutionary process occurred during the next year which would see the Constabulary units organize, train, and assume their duties. Planning called for the units to be composed of in-theater, cavalry-type troops. The upper echelons of the organization would be established first, with the lower elements being transferred and trained just prior to assumption of their new mission. On 31 October 1945 the commanding generals of the Eastern and Western Military Districts, as well as the districts in Austria, Berlin, and the Bremen enclave, were directed to establish district constabularies, which would be directly subordinate to the military district commanders. Seventh Army designated the 15th Cavalry Group, to include the 15th and 17th Cavalry Reconnaissance

GSM 5-1-84


Squadrons, as the District Constabulary for the Western. Military District on 14 November 1945. Third Army organized the Eastern Military District Constabulary (sometimes referred to as the mobile security force) on 30 November 1945 from the 2d Cavalry Group Mechanized, which consisted of the 2d Reconnaissance 'Squadron, the 42d Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, and the 6981st Provisional Rifle Company; and from the 6th Cavalry Group Mechanized, which consisted of the 6th and 28th Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadrons. The District Constabularies in the other areas were organized almost concurrently with the Eastern Military District's.2

(U) It should be emphasized, however, that these were interim --or experimental -- organizations and did not have border security responsibilities, which remained with the tactical units as described in Chapter One. In general, it was, the function of the District Constabulary to support and reinforce, not replace or interfere with, other United States or German law enforcement agencies. These units dealt primarily with the German populace, conducted limited patrolling, and -- of special interest to this study -- checked the frontier control procedures of the tactical units. Their primary purpose was to serve as a testing ground for procedures on training and operating the upcoming US Constabulary units.

(U) The Zone Constabulary Planning Group, organized at Third Army headquarters in February 1946, prepared and issued on 12 March 1946 the "Directive and Policies Governing Formation and Operation of United States Constabulary." Among the missions listed in the directive was that the US Constabulary would maintain effective military control of the borders encompassing the US Zone. The units were to do this by controlling all authorized ports of entry at all zonal and international borders, provide patrols necessary to insure border security, and assist the German border police in carrying out their duties on the border. Since the new units were to be composed primarily of cavalry-type units, the mission was to be carried out as much as possible with mobile forces, with fixed stations and dispersion of forces to be held to a minimum. One interesting idea that was surfaced by the War Department during the planning phase was the possibility of using foreign nationals in the US Constabulary, and presumably on the border. However the idea was rejected because USFET felt this might create problems on the zonal border -- especially the Soviet zonal border -- and that it would run counter to the philosophy of having homogenous, tightly-organized units. Although elements of the US Constabulary headquarters had been operating at the Third Army headquarters since February, it was officially established on 1 May

GSM 5-1-84


Photo:  The primary vehicles used by the Constabulary. From left to right: M8 armored car; M24 light tank (Chaffee); Willys 1/4-ton jeep. Overhead flys an L-5 Sentinel Observation aircraft. 1946.

(U) The primary vehicles used by the Constabulary. From left to right: M8 armored car; M24 light tank (Chaffee); Willys 1/4-ton jeep. Overhead flys an L-5 Sentinel Observation aircraft. 1946.


1946 at Bamberg, near the eastern frontier of the US Zone. In addition to the above mentioned planning, the months between February and July were devoted to recruiting and training the individuals and the units of the new US Constabulary force.3

(U) In June 1946 USFET headquarters concluded that border security was not satisfactory, specifically because US border guards were not familiar with directives pertaining to frontier control, were not being properly supervised, and because of frequent rotation of troops. The disarming of the Land border police was one of the primary causes for this deterioration of border security. The American troops had come to rely on the Germans to provide border control. Third Army was ordered-to solve these deficiencies. The solution -- the Constabulary -- was already in the final planning stage and being implemented when the USFET criticism was received.4

(U) Assumption, of Border Control by US Constabulary

(U) Officially, the US Constabulary became operational on 1 July 1946 and assumed general military and civilian security responsibilities throughout the US Zone, relieving the 1st, 3d, and 9th Infantry Divisions of these responsibilities (see Chapter 1, Structure and Stationing). Contemporary histories, however, claim that the US Constabulary actually had been made responsible for the border control portion of area security on 1 June. Since there had been talk of the Constabulary assuming this mission as early as 1 April, and most of the elements of the force were organized and in place by 1 June, it is a credible --- if not very important -- distinction. The elements of the District Constabularies were absorbed by the US Constabulary, and the districts ceased to function at this point. The tactical divisions were to be responsible for the internal security of the installations on which they were stationed and were to serve as a reserve in the event of large-scale insurrections by the populace. How unlikely this was considered is demonstrated by subsequent force reductions, with the 3d Infantry Division being greatly reduced and sent back to the United States by the end of 1946 and the 9th Infantry Division being reduced and finally inactivated on 31 December 1946. The 1st Infantry Division was used primarily to maintain security at prisoner of war and displaced persons installations, as well as to provide cadre for subsequent Third Army district reorganization.5

(U) Structure and Stationing

(U) With a strength of 30,000, the US Constabulary was organized in 3 brigades of 3 regiments each, in addition to special troops and

GSM 5-1-84


Map 3: Dispositon By Areas Of Constabulary & Tactical Forces As Of 1 Jul 1946


Source: United States Constabulary, 1947, Appendix V. OFIE Series. UNCLAS.


various small units manned largely by intelligence and counter intelligence personnel (see TABLE 1). Each regiment included 3 squadrons, a light tank company of 17 M24 tanks, and a horse platoon of 30 mounted men for patrolling difficult terrain. The regiments also had nine L-5 liaison-type aircraft assigned. The squadrons were normally assigned to cover one or more of the basic German political subdivisions known as the Kreise (county or borough). The operating organization of the Constabulary was the squadron, which consisted of a headquarters and headquarters troop along with three mechanized and two motorized troops. The mechanized troop, with its armored cars and 1/4-ton trucks, was used primarily for the area patrol type of operations that are usually identified with the Constabulary. The motorized troops used 1 1/2-ton trucks to position troopers in cities and along the border, where dismounted patrols and fixed posts were required.6

(U) Initially, the units responsible for the sensitive eastern boundary of the US Zone were the 1st, 3d, 6th, 11th, and 14th Constabulary Regiments. Other regiments assisted in this area by providing such assets as horse platoons on detached duty to aid in patrolling remote sections of the border and aircraft to aid in border surveillance. All three of the brigades had responsibilities on these borders, with the 2d and 3d Constabulary Brigades having the lion's share (see MAP 3).

(U) Border Control Operating Procedures

(U) It is with the assumption of border responsibilities by the US Constabulary that we have our first clear picture of the operating procedures for controlling the border by US Army soldiers. Basically, it was a system of control posts and dismounted patrols. Control posts were established at all authorized frontier crossing points and designated points of entry on the interzonal boundary to provide control of these points and to process personnel utilizing the crossings. On. the Soviet interzonal boundary, Czechoslovak border, and sensitive portions of the Austrian frontier, crossing points were manned by half sections, which meant that six or seven Constabulary troopers were on duty at each point. Reinforcements were available in the event of an emergency with the platoon reserve required to be at the scene of the problem within one-half hour and the troop reserve within two hours. Along these sensitive borders, the territory within one kilometer of the border was patrolled by Constabulary troopers and -- at that time -- unarmed Land border police. Along the less-sensitive French and British interzonal boundaries and portions of the German-Austrian

GSM 5-1-84




Original Designation Constabulary Designation
Hq & Hq Co, VI Corps Hq & Hq Troop, US Constabulary
Hq & Hq Co, 4th Armored Division Hq & Hq Troop, 1st Constabulary Brigade
Hq & Hq Co, Combat Command A, 4th Armored Division Hq & Hq Troop, 2d Constabulary Brigade
Hq & Hq Co, Combat Command B, 4th Armored Division Hq & Hq Troop, 3d Constabulary
Hq & Hq Co, 11th Armored Group Hq & Hq Troop, 1st Constabulary Regiment
11th Armored Infantry Battalion, 1st Armored Division 11th Constabulary Squadron
6th Armored Infantry Battalion, 1st Armored Division 12th Constabulary Squadron
91st Armored Field Artillery, 1st Armored Division 91st Constabulary Squadron
Hq & Hq Troop, 2d Cavalry Group (Mechanized) Hq & Hq Troop, 2d Constabulary Regiment
2d Mechanized Cavalry Squadron (Separate) 2d Constabulary Squadron
42d Mechanized Cavalry Squadron (Separate) 42d Constabulary Squadron
66th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 4th Armored Division 66th Constabulary Squadron
Hq & Hq Co, Combat Command A, 1st Armored Division Hq & Hq Troop, 3d Constabulary Regiment
37th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division 37th Constabulary Squadron
68th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 1st Armored Division 68th Constabulary Squadron
81st Cavalry ReConnaissance Squadron (Mechanized), 1st Armored Division 81st Constabulary Squadron

* Constabulary units in the American Zone as of 1 July 1946.


Original Designation
Constabulary Designation
Hq & Hq Co, 6th Tank Destroyer Group Hq & Hq Troop, 5th Constabulary Regiment
8th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division 8th Constabulary Squadron
35th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division 35th Constabulary Squadron
474th Anti Aircraft Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self Propelled) 74th Constabulary Squadron
Hq & Hq Troop, 6th Cavalry Group (Mechanized) Hq & Hq Troop, 6th Constabulary Regiment
6th Mechanized Cavalry Squadron (Separate)  6th Constabulary Squadron
53d Armored Infantry Battalion, 4th Armored Division 53d Constabulary Squadron
Hq & Hq Co, 10th Armored Group Hq & Hq Troop, 10th Constabulary Regiment
13th Tank Battalion, 1st Armored Division 13th Constabulary Squadron
4th Tank Battalion, 1st Armored Division 72d Constabulary Squadron
771st Tank Battalion 71st Constabulary Squadron


Hq& H Troop, 11th Cavalry Group (Mechanized) Hq & Hq Troop, 11th Constabulary Regiment 
25th Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, 4th Armored Division 25th Constabulary Squadron
94th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 4th Armored Division 94th Constabulary Squadron
51st Armored Infantry Battalion, 4th Armored Division 51st Constabulary Squadron
Hq & Hq Troop, 14th Cavalry Group (Mechanized)  Hq & Hq Troop, 14th Constabulary Regiment
10th Armored Infantry Battalion, 4th Armored Division 10th Constabulary Squadron


Original Designation
Constabulary Designation
22d Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 4th Armored Division 22d Constabulary Squadron
27th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 1st Armored Division 27th Constabulary Squadron
Hq & Hq Troop, 15th Cavalry Group (Mechanized) Hq & Hq Troop, 15th Constabulary Regiment
15th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Separate) 15th Constabulary Squadron
1st Tank Battalion, 1st Armored Division 1st Constabulary Squadron

14th Armored Infantry Battalion, 1st Armored Division

14th Constabulary Squadron
97th Signal Battalion 465th Anti Aircraft Automatic Weapons Battalion (Self Propelled) 97th Constabulary Signal Squadron Constabulary School Squadron

Source: Snyder, The Establishment and Operations of the US Constabulary, pp. 52-54. UNCLAS.


Photo: Road block checkpoint located a short distance from the border were found to be more effective in detecting illegal border crossers than cordon-type patrols along the border. Members of the 28th Constabulary Squadron check the papers of Germans near the point where the Czechoslovak border met the Soviet and US interzonal boundaries. July 1946.

(U) Road block checkpoint located a short distance from the border were found to be more effective in detecting illegal border crossers than cordon-type patrols along the border. Members of the 28th Constabulary Squadron check the papers of Germans near the point where the Czechoslovak border met the Soviet and US interzonal boundaries. July 1946.


frontier, 2-man sentry posts were established at Constabulary crossing points to process Allied and US personnel. Land border police, under Constabulary supervision, handled the German border crossers. By July 1946, the Land, border police in these nonsensitive border areas were rearmed and patrolling the border, but they remained unarmed or off the border on the Soviet interzonal and Czechoslovak international borders. An effort was made to provide all border crossing points with interpreters in the language of the principal nationality using the crossing points, particularly along the Soviet zonal boundary and Czechoslovak frontier.7

(U) Initially, the Constabulary had attempted to patrol the border as a line without depth, but one month's experience convinced the units that in-depth patrolling behind the border was more effective in apprehending illegal border crossers. A 10-mile zone behind the border, established on 15 August 1946, was intensely patrolled by vehicle patrols that consisted of an M8 armored car and three 1/4-ton trucks (jeeps) manned by 13 enlisted men, to include a staff sergeant supervisor. These area patrols were supplemented by motorcycle and air patrols. Up on the border, Constabulary troopers conducted joint foot patrols with the Land border police. They traveled to the border in 1 1/2-ton trucks, dismounted, patrolled, and then were picked up at some other point. In remote areas they were supplemented by the famous Constabulary horse platoons. Although unauthorized roads and trails were blocked with permanent barriers, and all roads and areas were patrolled regularly, there were large gaps in the line at different periods, and refugees and illegal border crossers often found a way across the border. The eastern borders, with their generally mountainous and rugged terrain, were particularly difficult to patrol. With each squadron covering one or more Kreise and each regiment having only 1 horse platoon of approximately 30 mounted men and 9 aircraft -- which had to double as administrative or liaison aircraft -- it was impossible to cover the border in a comprehensive manner with American soldiers. (See FIGURE 1 for the border control plan layout.)8

(U) The Constabulary's horse platoons were a unique feature of the early border patrol operations and deserve special mention. The platoon was small and compact, consisting of 1 officer and 32 enlisted men. The horses were former SS and Wehrmacht mounts that were well trained for their mission. The German population had an unusual amount of respect for a policeman on a horse, and the horses were excellent for crowd and riot control. However, their biggest advantage was their ability to traverse rough terrain which was inaccess-

GSM 5-1-84


Figure 1: Border Patrol


Source: " The Establishment and Operations of the United States Constabulary, 3 Oct 45-30 Jun 47" Maj J.M. Snyder, 1947. p. 117. UNCLAS.


ible to the wheeled and tracked vehicles. In addition to patrolling the border, they were used in a variety of operations to include raids on remote border hotels and rounding up cattle stolen by modern day "cattle rustlers," which had been hidden in the woods to be picked up at a later date.

(U) They were deployed in several ways, when on border duty. One platoon that was responsible for a marshy, heavily forested portion of the border simply divided the border up into two sections, had four 2-man patrols start in the middle, utilized 2-man patrols along the way, and ended up at the outer reaches of their patrol area. These patrols, which were brought in and picked up by trucks, varied the times of their patrols to confuse the professional smugglers. Another popular method of patrolling consisted of splitting the horse platoons into small sections that filled inaccessible gaps that resulted in certain portions of the normal patrol routes of the Constabulary troops. There were instances where mounted patrols of the horse Constabulary platoons accumulated as much patrol mileage as a normal Constabulary troop with its jeeps, armored cars, and motorcycles.

(U) When the primary responsibility for patrolling the border was turned over to the Land border police on 15 March 1947 (see below), the horse platoons retained some of their back-up patrolling functions -- as did all of the Constabulary units -- but essentially engaged in unit training or were used in ceremonial roles at the various headquarters. Even as late as 1948 the Constabulary's Deputy Chief of Operations stated that "as long as the US Constabulary retains its police functions in Germany, horse soldiers will be necessary to perform missions in terrain unsuitable to motorized and mechanized units."9

(U) Border Incidents

(U) Initially, border incidents were considered outlaw behavior by individuals or groups that could be brought under control by effective command intervention. This was probably true of most of the early incidents, those committed both by Soviet soldiers and by US soldiers. The atmosphere became more tense in 1947 as Soviet soldiers continued to fire over the border at US Constabulary troopers and Land border police. They also occasionally came over the sometimes unclearly-marked border to arrest "frontaliers" -- individuals who lived on or near the border and frequently had reasons to cross back and forth -- and to search and loot their personal property. They questioned the frontaliers about American troop strength and disposi-

GSM 5-1-84


Photo: One of the famous Constabulary horse patrols mounts up. 1946.

(U) One of the famous Constabulary horse patrols mounts up. 1946.


tions, and tried to determine which side they would be on in the event hostilities broke out. In addition, the Soviets infiltrated low-level espionage agents and actively encouraged a steady flow of black-market goods into the American Zone.

(U) The first significant border incident involving US aircraft occurred in June 1947. American aircraft in Austria performing aerial surveillance photo missions were not turning soon enough and violated eastern borders. The Yugoslav Government protested, and the US response set a pattern for subsequent problems of this nature; the pilot was court-martialed and aerial photo missions adjacent to borders were cancelled until all pilots could be briefed on how not to inadvertently cross the sensitive borders in the east.10

(U)Transfer of Border Control to the Land Border Police

With a highly-professional occupation force in place, there was a tendency after 1 July 1946 to return to the German authorities as much responsibility for administration of the occupation zone as was feasible under existing conditions. One result was that on 15 March 1947 OMGUS assumed responsibility for border control from the Constabulary and turned most of it over to the recently rearmed Land border police services (see Chapter 1, Land Border Police). Approximately 655 soldiers of the Constabulary did continue to man 14 border crossing points for members of the occupation forces not subject to German jurisdiction. The border police's authority was extended in the fall of 1947 to allow it to halt all vehicles crossing the border in order to conduct identity checks; and, in the first quarter of 1948, it was authorized to detain all illegal border crossers or individuals conducting illegal acts -- to include Allied and neutral personnel. If either of these two categories of personnel were detained, the Land border police were required to notify the nearest Constabulary unit of the arrest. Beginning on 15 June 1948, the border police were authorized to check the documents of all personnel traveling on international trains, except on the sensitive borders, where the Constabulary continued to conduct checks of personnel not subject to German jurisdiction. On 10 August 1948, the Constabulary was authorized to withdraw all its troops from established border control points on the sensitive borders. Finally, by 1950, the Constabulary's role at border crossing points, as well as at international rail crossings, airfields, and waterways, was reduced to being "Allied Immigration Inspectors" who insured the Land border police carried out directives of the Combined Travel Board.

GSM 5-1-84


Photo: The Constabulary patrolled remote parts of the border on horseback.

(U) The Constabulary patrolled remote parts of the border on horseback.


The Constabulary had already greatly reduced its patrolling along the borders prior to the assumption of border control responsibilities by the Land border police. Beginning in January 1947, vehicular patrols had been cut almost in half and motorcycle patrols were eliminated altogether near the border; and although foot and horse patrols were still being conducted daily, the mileage covered was reduced dramatically. After 15 March, the Constabulary patrolled even less as their units were increasingly concentrated in Kasernes and tended to conduct "show of force" marches rather than straight patrols. The Constabulary did periodically set up road blocks and checkpoints along the border to control illegal contraband shipments by personnel not subject to German police ,jurisdiction. As the borders between the French and British Zones were open to free travel by Germans by 1948, and the Constabulary no longer had the authority to check them unless -a definite security danger was suspected, patrols near those borders had become useless. Some patrolling was still needed behind the Soviet zonal and Czechoslovak boundaries to give visible evidence of continued support for the Land border police on these sensitive borders, but it was the opinion of the Constabulary commander that continued patrolling on the other borders was of little or no value.

From March 1947 on, the Constabulary's border operations had taken a significant change in perspective. Prior to this, the Constabulary had been conducting all of the normal border control operations --processing travelers, apprehending illegal border crossers, stopping contraband shipments, and conducting extensive patrolling for security purposes -- but henceforth, the units would be more interested in supervising overall border security and primarily conducting surveillance of the border. With the Land border police assuming almost all of the normal border control functions, the Constabulary's role was mostly a matter of conducting liaison with these border police services (they were specifically forbidden by OMGUS from exercising any jurisdiction over the German border police agencies), manning a limited number of border control points and setting up road blocks to enforce border regulations on Allied personnel, and carrying out a limited number of patrols. (One source claimed that patrols were eliminated altogether, but others indicated that a small number were continued.) The reduction of the Constabulary's border missions was the result of force structure changes (see below), international relations (also covered below), and the above mentioned policy of transferring to the German authorities more of the day-to-day administration of their country.11

GSM 5-1-84


Photo: The Constabulary used motorcycle to patrol the highways, including those next to the border. Motorcycles and horses were soon phased out of operational patrols, but some horses were retained for ceremonial purposes.

(U) The Constabulary used motorcycle to patrol the highways, including those next to the border. Motorcycles and horses were soon phased out of operational patrols, but some horses were retained for ceremonial purposes.


(U) Constabulary Reorganization

(U) Originally, the Constabulary forces had been widely dispersed in order to provide a broad coverage of the occupation zone, but it soon became evident that this dispersion resulted in a loss of control and lack of discipline due to the large numbers of inexperienced junior officers and NCOs that led the small detachments. In addition to this desire to reestablish a more centralized control, a constant push to economize occupation costs led to a series of consolidations throughout the latter part of 1946 and the first half of 1947. By 5 May 1947 the Constabulary units had been consolidated into troop- and platoon-size units and, on 21 May, the units began to be consolidated on Kasernes in squadron configurations.12

(U) At the beginning of 1947, USFET directed a theater reorganization that led to Third Army's functions being transferred to the Constabulary on 15 February 1947 and Third Army being inactivated on 15 March. On the same day USFET became the European Command (EUCOM). Having moved into Third Army's headquarters in Heidelberg, the US Constabulary headquarters began planning for a greatly reduced organization of 18,000 soldiers that would be composed of a US Constabulary headquarters, two Constabulary brigade headquarters, and five Constabulary regiments, and would result in the elimination of several units that provided dedicated support to the Constabulary. These latter functions would be performed by other EUCOM units -- the most significant from a border operations perspective being intelligence support.13

The Constabulary reorganization, most of which went into effect on 20 September 1947, resulted in the inactivation of the 3d Constabulary Brigade and the 1st, 3d, 5th, and 10th Constabulary Regiments. The remaining Constabulary units were the 1st Constabulary Brigade, which was responsible for Laender Greater Hesse and Wuerttemberg-Baden; the 2d Constabulary Brigade, which was responsible for Land Bavaria; and the 2d, 6th, 11th, 14th, and 15th Constabulary Regiments. The reorganization was more a matter of increasing area responsibilities for the remaining units than an extensive restationing action, although some of that was ongoing -- as was common in the early post-war years.

From a high of over 30,000 soldiers in July 1946, authorized strength for the remaining Constabulary units in September 1947 was 22,000, with their strength being further reduced in early 1948 to approximately 20,000. Assigned strength was substantially below auth-

GSM 5-1-84


orized strength throughout 1947 as the United States continued to demobilize. With the German populace remaining docile and a growing unease about relations with the Soviet Union, increasing emphasis was placed on reconstituting a tactical force in place of the police force (see below, International Relations). While some of the units identified for inactivation were redesignated and retained in a tactical role, most were completely inactivated and the soldiers sent home to the United States.14

(U) Special Border Operations

(U) After this reorganization, the 22d and 53d Constabulary Squadrons were given responsibility for border operations on the Soviet-American interzonal border and the Czechoslovak-German frontier. Although they had been on border duty since 1946, it is not before December 1948 that clear documentary evidence gives the squadrons the distinction of conducting "special border operations . . . on the US-USSR zone and US-Czechoslovak boundaries."15 The 53d Constabulary Squadron had been located at Schwabach since its activation in 1946, while the 22d Constabulary Squadron -- first activated in 1946 and then inactivated on 7 Jul 1947 -- was activated again on 20 September 1947 at "Hersfeld" (contemporary histories referred to Bad Hersfeld as "Hersfeld"). The 22d Constabulary Squadron's parent unit was the 14th Constabulary Regiment, which was assigned to the 1st Constabulary Brigade, while the 53d Constabulary Squadron's parent unit, the 6th Constabulary Regiment, was assigned to the 2d Constabulary Brigade. The 22d Constabulary Squadron was responsible for the northern portion of the eastern border and the 53d patrolled the southern part. There are indications in other Constabulary unit histories that they sent detachments to the border to aid these two units, but the primary responsibility for "special" border operations remained with the 22d and 53d.16

(U) Although the Constabulary headquarters was of the opinion that border operations were ". . . of little or no use . ." along the French and British interzonal boundaries, it did think they served a useful function on the eastern boundary where they gave ". . . visible evidence of continuing support to German police agencies by patrolling in rear of [the] Russian Zone border and the Czechoslovakian border."17 The units conducted 2-vehicle patrols, composed of M8 armored vehicles and/or 1/4-ton trucks, with six armed soldiers These daily patrols were varied in such a manner as to make their appearance at any point on their allotted routes unpredictable.

GSM 5-1-84


By varying the time spent at listening posts and observation posts,* they made it even more difficult to determine their time table. As border incidents became more common, the Constabulary headquarters became very concerned about ambushes along the patrol routes. The soldiers on patrol were instructed to have one round in their chambers, but machine guns would not be loaded until it was decided they would he fired. A "fire support element" would be available to assist patrols that had been ambushed, and would consist of an M8 and one or two 1/4-ton trucks fully manned and armed. Other duties of the patrol included maintaining border warning signs on all primary and secondary roads leading to these sensitive borders and sending any Soviet military or civilian personnel seeking asylum to the 7827/31 Military Intelligence (MI) Section at Bad Kissingen. Unfortunately, more specific information on patrolling  procedures and rules of engagement are not available for this period.18

(U) On 27 April 1949 EUCOM directed the US Constabulary headquarters to inactivate the 22d and 53d Constabulary Squadrons and replace them with the 15th and 24th Constabulary Squadrons. On 20 May 1949 the 15th replaced the 53d Constabulary Squadron, which had moved from Schwabach to Weiden, and was still assigned to the 6th Armored Cavalry "Regiment and 2d Constabulary Brigade, while the 24th replaced the 22d Constabulary Squadron at Hersfeld, with assignment to the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 1st Constabulary Brigade. Both the 6th and 14th Constabulary Regiments had been reorganized and redesignated as armored cavalry regiments in the latter part of 1948 as part of the ongoing transition of the Constabulary from a police force into a tactical force. Although the squadrons were attached to their regiments for administrative purposes and would revert to their control during wartime, both were directly supervised by their respective brigades in their border operations responsibilities. The 2d Constabulary Brigade took it one step further when it directly attached the 15th Constabulary Squadron to itself on 15 October 1949.19

(U) International Relations

(U) By 1946 it was obvious that the joint occupation of Germany by the former Allies was not going to be conducted in a peaceful and fraternal manner. However, everyone still pretended that it would be

* (U) Observation posts were normally used in the daytime, while listening posts were for nighttime operations.

GSM 5-1-84


and that all outstanding problems could be resolved through liaison or negotiation. Although there had been initial difficulties in 1945 along the US-British interzonal boundary because of unwanted refugees being pushed or allowed to travel into the US Zone, in general, liaison with respect to border control was very good with the British and French authorities. In the early aftermath of the war, the United States continued to push for the economic reunification of Germany as agreed to by the Allies at the Potsdam Conference. When the US Secretary of State, James F. Byrnes, proposed in July 1946 that the US Zone be administered as an economic unit with one or more of the other zones, the British accepted and the two zones were joined as an economic unit on 1 January 1947. This, coupled with the April 1946 agreement lifting restrictions on Germans traveling between the two zones, tended to make the British-American interzonal boundary largely an administrative designation rather than a real border or boundary. Although the French tended to be a little less forthcoming in these matters, by 1948 Germans were passing freely between the three zones.

(U) The interzonal boundary between the Soviet and the other zones, however, began to take on all the overtones of an international frontier rather than a temporary administrative division. Cooperation, with the Russians had been an entirely different situation from they start. Agreements were difficult to reach and once an agreement was reached, implementation on the part of the Soviet authorities was often delayed for long periods due apparently to administrative friction in Soviet channels of communication. In the early days of the occupation, the Soviets had actively encouraged unwanted Germans to emigrate to the western zones and thus rid the Soviets of the burden of providing for their needs. Later they were just content not to interfere with illegal emigrants. This reached a peak in late August 1947, when over 5,000 illegal border crossers were apprehended by the Constabulary in one week.

(U) The Soviets began to apply strict border control procedures in September 1947, however, because many of the illegal border crossers were then escapees from Soviet labor or military registration and were needed to rebuild the German client state they were constructing. Prior to this the Soviets did not have any clear general border policy, but from this point on they began to assign more troops for border patrolling, unilaterally applied new restrictions to interzonal travel, and blocked unauthorized border crossing points with ditches and log barriers. This supplementation of the East German border guards with more Soviet soldiers and the increasingly stringent document checks and inspections of those few persons allowed to cross

GSM 5-1-84


the boundary appeared to violate the spirit of previous Allied agreements on interzonal travel. As these restrictions were applied, Soviet propaganda began to warn of an expected influx of Germans from the west into the Soviet Zone. These alleged "bandits, spies, and black-marketeers" were portrayed as a threat to the food supply. Soviet propaganda went on to deny that the new restrictions were significant or contrary to existing agreements. By the spring of 1948, border crossings from the Soviet Zone had greatly decreased as these new procedures and the beefed-up security forces began to take hold.

(U) The Czechoslovak border, though sensitive and difficult to cross, had never been as closely guarded or restrictive as the Soviet interzonal boundary. This changed in the spring of 1948 with the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia. Prior to the February coup there had been a steady flow of Sudeten Germans and Czechs from Czechoslovakia -- averaging approximately 5,000 per week. This was the result of lack of interest on the Czechoslovak side and the inability of the American soldiers and Land border police to put up an effective net to stop the flow. Although there had been a great reduction of this influx in the fall of 1947 when the Czechoslovak authorities began tightening their travel procedures, the Communist coup led to a sudden upsurge in illegal crossings that continued unabated into the latter part of 1948, when the Czechoslovak border police began to successfully stop most of the crossings. In 1949 and 1950 Czechoslovak soldiers and civilian labor brigades dismantled buildings along the border, erected barricades of logs and earth to block paths and wagon trails, and dug ditches across likely border approaches to halt wheeled traffic. There were even unconfirmed reports that they were laying mines along the border. By the end of 1950 only a trickle of illegal border crossers were getting across the frontier.

(U) Increasing Soviet obstruction in Germany had led to the first tripartite conference on Germany between representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, and France in London during March 1948. The Russians retaliated by pulling out of the Allied Control Council, calling the tripartite conference a violation of the Potsdam Agreement and, on 1 April 1948, initiated the Berlin Blockade. In addition, they began requiring anyone who wished to visit the Soviet Zone to obtain a residence permit. The Allies, in turn, proposed that a national assembly be set up to draft a constitution for the western zones and began planning for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

GSM 5-1-84


(U) The Tripartite Agreement on the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) was signed on 8 April 1949, with the first parliament opening its sessions on 7 September and the Federal Republic being officially established on 21 September. (Technically, it had been created on 23 May 1949 with the proclamation of the "Basic Law" -- the FRG constitution.) In spite of the Soviet lifting of the Berlin Blockade on 12 May 1949, the Western Allies thought the Soviet threat was sufficient to go ahead with the NATO concept, and the treaty became effective on 24 August. Concurrently with the establishment of the Federal Republic on 21 September, OMGUS was replaced by the Office of the US High Commission for Germany (HICOG) thus emphasizing that Germany would be a major voice in all future discussions about the eastern frontiers and boundaries. In addition, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was established in the Soviet Zone on 7 October 1949, adding one more voice in future discussions. From this point on there was not much talk about mutual cooperation with the Soviets on the interzonal border or the Czechoslovak frontier. Rather than controlling a former enemy, the occupation forces began to be viewed as a bulwark against the expansion of Communism. The focus of border operations shifted from that of border control to that of providing security and surveillance on these two sensitive boundaries.20

GSM 5-1-84



Previous Chapter     Next Chapter

page created 23 July 2002

Return to the Table of Contents

Return to CMH Online