Technische Nothilfe

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Standard of the TN during the Third Reich
Poster for Technische Nothilfe

Technische Nothilfe (abbreviated as TN, TeNo, TENO; literally: 'Technical Emergency Help') was a German organisation. It was established by members of Technische Abteilung (technical unit) of the paramilitary Freikorps Garde-Kavallerie-Schützen-Division.


The TN was founded on September 30, 1919 by Otto Lummitzsch with the stated purpose to protect and maintain vital & strategic facilities (e.g., gas works, water works, power stations, railways, post offices, agriculture concerns and food production activities). At the time (1919–1923), these vital infrastructure facilities were under threat from sabotage and attack during a period bordering on civil war, which was caused by the collapse of German economy following the end of World War I and exacerbated by a spate of politically motivated wildcat strikes, usually by Left-wing elements. In effect they were strike-breakers and "blacklegs" used by the proto-fascist right wing to undermine the workers' democratic right to strike.

The organization was formed from primarily post World War I Army engineering / technical unit members, and transitioned into a volunteer civilian organisation which was registered by the Department of the Interior. The change was required by the demilitarisation requirements of the Treaty of Versailles, in order that the TN would not be classified as a military organization. Based on the nature of its operations, the background of its personnel was mainly conservative middle class, but included a large number of students, especially those in technical studies. In the Weimar Republic period, the TN was seen as a threat by the working class and thus aroused the animosity of trade unionists, and more particularly the Communist Party of Germany. The TN intervened as a volunteer aide organization, when strikes could not be avoided, and when the public welfare was endangered as in strikes of electricity, food service, railroad workers.

As economic conditions improved (after about 1925) and strikes became less common and less aggressive, the TN was able to shift its activities into public welfare areas such as disaster relief (Katastrophedienst), with respect to floods, fires, industrial accidents, bridge and railway collapse; as well responding to motor vehicle accidents in the countryside. A mobile Bereitschaftdiest (BD) was set up, in order to be able to more readily respond. Clandestine air raid protection activities also began in the late 1920s – early 1930s as the Luftschutzdienst (LD). From 1931–1934, the TN also became involved in the Freiwilligen Arbeitsdienst (FAD; 'Volunteer Labour Service') and supervised training at over 12,000 locations. The FAD was later morphed into the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD).

Throughout the Third Reich the TN, within Germany, focused on civil defence — air raid rescue, general disaster response, and relief work. From 1936 the TN was gradually absorbed into Ordnungspolizei as an auxiliary police organization and it came under the ultimate control of Heinrich Himmler, as the head of the police, and ultimately the SS. From June 1, 1943, the TN members, serving outside of the Reich, wore the green uniform of the Police and were referred to as the TN-Police. In addition, to working within Germany, the TN was active in Nazi-occupied countries from September 1, 1939 as Einsatzgruppen, which followed the Wehrmacht and restored vital services and functions in Poland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Norway. Local TN branch organisations were formed in some occupied countries, notably as the Technische Noodhulp in the Netherlands and as the Teknisk Nødhjelp in Norway.

The TN Einsatzgruppen participated in the occupation of the Saar, Austria, Sudetenland, Poland and then in the Western Campaigns of 1940. Their purpose was to secure vital industries, prevent or repair sabotage, rebuild the infrastructure (bridges, power plants, drinking water facilities, wastewater facilities, etc.) TN units were taken into Luftwaffe (air force) service early on and other TN units into Heer (land army) service in mid 1941. Those in Army were named the Technische Truppen, which was commanded by Erich Hampe, the long term Stellv. Chef der TN [#2 TN man from 1919-1940]. Also, some TN units served in the Kriegsmarine (Navy), although it is poorly documented. Other TN units, under the control of the TN Headquarters (Reichsamt Technische Nothilfe), remained in service until the end of World War II.

In 1945 the victorious Allies dissolved the TN. Its functions were assumed again in 1950 when Otto Lummitzsch was requested by the West German government to form the Technisches Hilfswerk (literally: 'Technical Relief') which exists to the present day with civil defence responsibilities and also participates in worldwide disaster relief responses.


Member of the Technische Nothilfe with rank as Unterwachtmeister der TN.
1936-1943 [1] 1943-1945 [2] Equivalent rank in the Wehrmacht
TN-Anwärter Anwärter der TN Schütze
TN-Mann - Oberschütze
TN-Vormann Unterwachtmeister der TN Gefreiter
TN-Obervormann Rottwachtmeister der TN Obergefreiter
TN-Scharführer Wachtmeister der TN Unteroffizier
- Oberwachtmeister der TN Unterfeldwebel
TN-Oberscharführer Zugwachtmeister der TN Feldwebel
TN-Hauptscharführer Hauptwachtmeister der TN Oberfeldwebel
TN-Stabsscharführer Meister der TN Stabsfeldwebel
TN-Kameradschaftsführer Zugführer der TN Leutnant
TN-Gemeinschaftsführer Oberzugführer der TN Oberleutnant
TN-Gefolgschaftsführer Bereitschaftsführer der TN Hauptmann
TN-Bereitschaftsführer Abteilungsführer der TN Major
TN-Hauptbereitschaftsführer Oberabteilungsführer der TN Oberstleutnant
Landesführer der TN Oberst
Stellvertretender chef der TN - Generalmajor
Chef der TN Chef der TN = SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Polizei Generalleutnant


Further reading[edit]

  • Technische Nothilfe in der Weimar Republic - Dr. Andreas Linhardt
  • Defending the Reich - Bender / David Littlejohn
  • German Police, Vol. 2 - Bender / John Angolia and Hugh Page Taylor