Member of Germany’s Technical Emergency Service
by Bruce Kipp
The Technical Emergency Service (Technische Nothilfe, or TeNo) was a voluntary organization of engineers, technicians, and skilled specialists founded by Otto Lummitzsch on 30 September 1919. The group’s purpose wasto maintain vital public utilities (gas works, waterworks, power stations), the railroads, postal service, fire departments, food production facilities, and other continuance-of-public-health-and-safety functions.
At that time, the Weimar Republic was wracked by civil unrest in the aftermath of Germany’s defeat in WWI followed by a severe economic depression and massive unemployment. This generated a rash of politically motivated sabotage and strikes.
In 1934, a year after the Hitler regime came to power, the TeNo was integrated as a formation of the Nazi Party. SS-Brigadeführer Hans Weinrich replaced Luuitzch as the group’s leader when the Partyexpanded and transformed TeNo into a paramilitary labor organization. Under Winrich’s direction, TeNorefocused its efforts on disaster relief, civil defense, air raid rescue and relief work.
Two years later, in 1936, TeNo became a technical auxiliary police formation of the Order Police (Ordnungspolizei). From 1939, until the end of WWII, TeNo was active within Germany, in Nazi-occupied countries, in conquered and subjugated territories, and in collaborationist countries. In October 1943, SS-Brigadeführer Willy Schmelcher took over command of the TeNo, a position he held until Germany surrendered to the Allies in May 1945.
The Technical Emergency Service had a vertical, territorial structure. The highest territorial command was a Province Group (Landesgruppe) which had the same boundaries as an Army Military District (Wehrkreis). Each Landesgruppe had the same numerical designation as its corresponding Wehrkreis. Next was the County Group (Bezirksgruppe), below which was the basic TeNo Local Unit (Ortsgruppe). In addition, some localities had small TeNo elements such as Branches (Zweigstellen) and Local Sub-Units (Untergruppen).
TeNo’s service branches (Dienste), however, were horizontally organized. Every Ortsgruppe had four Dienste; Technical Service (Technischer Dienst), Air Raid Protection Service (Luftschutzdienst), Emergency Services (Bereitschaftsdienst), and General Service (Allgemeiner Dienst).
The Dienste were organized into administrative entities as follows:
Schar: 8-15 men
Kameradschaft (2-4 Scharen): 25-50 men
Gemeinschaft (2-4 Kameradschaften): 50-100 men
Gefolgschaft (2-4 Gemeinschaften): 100-200 men
Bereitschaft (2-4 Gefolgschaften): 200-400 men
Hauptbereitschaft (Several Bereitschaften): 400-1,000 men
On operational duty the Dienste were divided into Züge (Platoons) and Trupps (Sections).
This identification card for the Technische Nothilfe was composed of blue-green, medium card stock folded to form a front and rear cover and two inner pages. It measures about 10.5cm x 7.5cm when closed. The example featured in this article was issued to 57-year old Hermann Kleen, a master blacksmith, who resided in Blocherfelde, a suburb of Oldenburg in the Province of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen).