Militaria Spotlight: Third Reich Border Security cards

by Bruce Kipp

Grenzaufsichtsdienst Identification Card

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The obverse of this Grenzaufsichtsdienst, Dienstausweis indicates it was issued on 18 April 1939 by authority of the Chief of the Main Customs Office in Mies (Czech: Stribro) in the Protectorate of Bohemia (and Moravia), the German-occupied portion of the former Republic of Czechoslovakia. It was issued to 32-year-old Hans Herpich, a Zoll-assistent (Sergeant) of the Border Surveillance Service who resided in Kosolup (Czech: Kozolupy), a village 11 kilometers north of Mies. The document, which is about 10.5cm x 15cm, is composed of cream-colored, medium card stock covered by a pale green security pattern of interlocking lines in a wave pattern.

The Third Reich’s Customs Service (Zoll) had two major departments: The Customs Border Protection Service (Zollgrenzschutz) and Customs Service (Zolldienst). Both were part of the Reich Finance Administration (Reichsfinanzverwaltung) under the Reich Ministry of Finance (Reichsfinanzministerium).

In October 1944, the operational command of the Zollgrenzschutz was split with about half the force placed under the Reich Security Main Office Department IV (Gestapo). Their task was similar to that of the Border Police (Grenzpolizei), also under the Gestapo, which was controlling the transit of German land, sea, and air borders.

The Border Surveillance Service (Grenzaufsichtsdienst –  GAD), a branch of the Zollgrenzschutz, was a police-like armed force of customs officers responsible for preventing smuggling. Most customs service organizations operated on the border. The GAD, however, operated in “border control zones” 30-50km deep. They monitored secondary land crossing points and kept watch over waterways, coastal areas, and ports, as well as on landing strips and airfields in border control zones. The GAD also aided border police patrols outside of border crossing areas and helped in quelling disturbances.

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