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An outline chronicle of civil protection in the Federal Republic of Germany

1946 to 1965

When the Allied Control Council dissolved the air raid protection organisations and facilities in 1946, considerable gaps emerged in the protection of the population from hazards and incidents. Despite all efforts to close these gaps, only the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949 provided an opportunity to take the appropriate measures.

Under Gustav Heinemann, Federal Minister of the Interior from 1949 to 1950 and later Federal President, the construction of the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (providing technical assistance) began from 1950 onwards, creating a federal civil protection organisation which bore a certain resemblance to the Technische Nothilfe (technical emergency relief), which had been dissolved in 1945.

At the same time, scientists came together in a “Commission for the Protection of the Civilian Population against Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Attacks”, the administration of which lay firstly with the German Research Foundation. Today, this body is called the “Protection Commission at the Federal Ministry of the Interior” and is administrated by the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance.

After the Western allies had given their permission to implement civilian air raid protection measures, the Federal Cabinet transferred management of the establishment of air raid protection to the Federal Minister of the Interior. This led in 1952 to the formation of a sub-directorate general for civilian air raid protection and, by order of the Federal Cabinet, to the establishment in 1953 of a Federal Institute of Civil Air Raid Protection.

An amendment to the Basic Law in 1956 permitted the Federation to establish the Federal Armed Forces and enabled it to pass laws regulating the protection of the civilian population. This set the stage for finally establishing civil defence in the Federal Republic of Germany.

1957 to 2001

The Federal Agency for Civil Protection was established by decree in Bad Godesberg in 1957, a predecessor of the Federal Office for Civil Defence. On 9th October 1957, the “First Act on Measures to Protect the Civilian Population” (Erstes Gesetz über Maßnahmen zum Schutz der Zivilbevölkerung – 1. ZBG) came into force, followed by a draft Bill of the Federal Government to Establish a Federal Office of Civil Protection.
This Act in turn came into force on 5th December 1958. When the Act was revised on 10th July 1974, the Office was given the new name “Federal Office of Civil Defence” (BZS).

On entry into force of the Budget Restructuring Act (Haushaltssanierungsgesetz – HsanG) of 28th December 1999, the “Federal Office of Civil Defence” was dissolved and all its tasks transferred to the Federal Office of Administration. From 1st January 2001, the civil defence tasks of the Federation were now carried out by the Central Agency for Civil Defence at the Federal Office of Administration.

2001 to 2004

The Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) was established on 1st May 2004 as a response to new threats, such as those of 9/11 and of the floods of 2002 in the east of Germany.
With the creation of this Office, the Federal Republic of Germany now has a central organizational element to ensure the security of its population.

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