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German Armed Forces Research 1918-1945

Sicherheits und Hilfdienst

The Sicherheits und Hilfdienst, or Security and Assistance Service was formed in 1935 as a mobile civil defense organization to augment the most vulnerable cities and towns in Germany. It differed from other civil air raid protection services in that it was mobile and was responsible for the heavy rescue work unlike the functions of the Reichsluftschutzbund which was not able to take part in actual heavy rescue operations. The men of the Sicherheits und Hilfdienst were housed in barracks but were allowed to sleep at home on alternate nights. Men in this organization were exempt from the military for the duration of their service in the Sicherheits und Hilfdienst, and they also were not allowed to take part in any other occupation while a member.

The Sicherheits und Hilfdienst was organized into five main groups consisting of decontamination squads, firefighting units, repair work units, veterinary service units, and medical units. In 1940, a number of Sicherheits und Hilfdienst Abteilungen were formed to serve as a mobile reserve for those cities most heavily hit by Allied air raids. Each location across Germany that housed Sicherheits und Hilfdienst units were required to form a rapidly mobile cadre of men for these Abteilungen, which in turn were formed up and transferred to those locations in most dire need of their assistance following an Allied attack.

In 1942, following a series of tremendously devastating air attacks on Lubeck and Rostock in the north of Germany in which the Sicherheits und Hilfdienst units proved to be totally unable to cope, the entire system of German civil air defense and rescue was reorganized. This was done on June 1st, 1942 by creating a brand new organization, the Luftschutzpolizei, or Air Defense Police. The Luftschutzpolizei came under the full control of the German Order Police (the Orpo), and thus its history is explained in detail in the section on German Police formations.

When the Luftschutzpolizei was formed the existing Sicherheits und Hilfdienst Abteilungen were transferred directly into the Luftwaffe where they became Luftschutz-Abteilungen, or motorized air protection battalions. Fifty-five such units are known to have been formed, numbered as Luftschutz-Abteilung 11 through 60, and Luftschutz-Abteilungen VI, XI, XII, XIII, and XVII. These fifty-five Luftschutz-Abteilgungen were controlled by eight Luftschutz-Regimentsstäben. They continued to operate exclusively in firefighting, rescue work and debris clearing operations when they were transferred to the Luftwaffe.