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Statue of Hemiunu , highest official of the Pharaoh Cheops

The civil servants form a group of the administrative staff of a community . In many countries, the legal framework for the work of civil servants differs markedly from those of other employees : civil servants have a special duty of loyalty to their employer who, in return, as part of the duty of care during active service, in the event of illness and disability, and in retirement for a reasonable person Has to provide the official's livelihood ( alimentation principle ). Due to the special loyalty relationship between the employer and the civil servant, the employer is usually a lifelong civil servant - including in retirement.


The word civil servant , older civil servant , originated from an abbreviated noun formation for the verb civil servant 'to order in an office ' and is etymologically of Celtic origin (Celtic: amb (i) aktos - messenger, servant, literally: sent around). The female form is the official or the official .

Civil servants in private companies

Up until the Weimar Republic , the salaried employees entrusted with management and administrative functions were also referred to as "civil servants" ( AEG , Krupp) or "private officials" ( Siemens & Halske ) in individual companies in German industry . They had a special relationship of trust with the company and their rights and duties were aligned with those of state officials (see also under Bliersheim or Gröba settlement ). The term “ employee ” only caught on in the 1890s.

History of the civil service

Early history and antiquity

The origins of the civil service lie in the beginning of the development of the state . In ancient Egypt , the Eastern States, in India of antiquity , the Old China and the Roman Empire there were already officials. In return for their unconditional loyalty to her employer assumed the obligation to lifelong adequately entertained . An essential feature of the modern civil service was probably already in the 3rd millennium BC. Developed. Another characteristic feature is the hierarchical order of the civil service, which has largely been preserved to this day. The early officials were also committed to an absolute ruler . Only in Greece was the civil servants' widespread obligation to state and law already known.

middle Ages

Holy Roman Empire

Forerunner of today's officials in some Western European countries were courtier in the eastern kingdom of the late Middle Ages . In 1231 Friedrich II ordered a reorganization of the civil service. Thus the Franconian state was increasingly based on a secular administration, whose officials were subject to extensive controls and special obligations of obedience with good salaries and regular pension schemes (abolition of the Panis letter as alms ) . Before that, in feudalism, local clerics traditionally served as higher officials in the travel kingdom , which in the countries concerned has been preserved to this day in the titles of the highest officials in the state (chancellor, minister, ...).


Modern times

The Prussian soldier king Friedrich Wilhelm I formalized the training and is considered the "father of the civil service". It was then his enlightened, absolutist son Friedrich II (the great) who made the common good a primary goal and saw himself as the first servant of the state. He continued the expansion of the civil service. The officials were initially a small revolutionary force of the monarch. They replaced a often corrupt and incompetent landed gentry . For this purpose, they fought against the birth class privileges of the service nobility , in which, for example, the title "of" should replace the qualification. In place of aristocratic conceit, the officials put the bourgeois achievement principle .

But it was only since the beginning of the 19th century that European civil servants were obliged to the state and the law. The effects of the French Revolution were essential for the development of modern civil service . The “ General Land Law for the Prussian States (ALR) ”, issued in 1794, spoke for the first time in legal form of “servants of the state” - and no longer of the sovereign - and regulated employment and dismissal. The traditional principles of the professional civil service were also established here . The other German states immediately followed this development. In 1818, for example, the Grand Duchy of Baden added a “servants' edict” to its new constitution, which made the employment irrevocable and only permitted dismissal for a breach of duty on the basis of a judicial decision.

The word “civil servant” only gradually became common in the course of the 19th century. Because it initially only applied to the Prussian domain tenants, while the civil servants were called "royal servants". There was also talk of sovereign “servants” for a long time. The later civil service laws were preceded by servant edicts and personnel files were sometimes called "servant files" until the 20th century. Thus the term “servant” was very widespread for a long time, from which the term “state servant”, which is still commonly used today, resulted.

Georg Friedrich Knapp characterized the training and nature of the civil service as follows in a speech on May 1, 1891: “There must be scholars who demonstrate to the heads of the state the historical connection between things, so that they, the civil servants, do not disregard popular opinions be overwhelmed. "" Our officials [...] will no longer let the reins be taken out of their hands, not even by parliamentary majorities, which we know how to handle masterfully. No rule is so easily endured, yes, felt so grateful, as the rule of high-minded and highly educated officials. The German state is an official state - let's hope that in this sense it remains an official state. "

Weimar Republic and National Socialism

At the beginning of the 20th century and also in the Weimar Republic , the German civil service had a predominantly conservative attitude. The state upheaval of November 1918 was viewed skeptically and as a fact - also in the textbooks for civil servants - but not internally accepted. The state apparatus acted as if something higher stood above democracy and parliamentarism , the state itself. Above all, they felt obliged to these higher beings, not to democratic society.

In the time of National Socialism, the loyalty of most officials to the state had the effect of maintaining the regime, since criminal measures, if they were only formally legally correct, were supported or at least tolerated by a large number of so-called desk criminals . Robert d'Harcourt , who investigated these processes on behalf of the Allies , stated: “The German civil service works with enviable efficiency , albeit in the wrong as in the right. It has learned nothing else than to simply turn like a gear train. "

As early as 1933, with the law for the restoration of the civil service, all Jewish civil servants who could not benefit from the military service privilege , as well as civil servants who were politically unpopular, were removed from their office. From now on, all persons with official status had to provide the so-called Aryan certificate , which was supposed to prove that the official had no ancestors of Jewish religious affiliation back to the grandparents.

post war period

After 1945 the civil service was abolished under Allied control. Many of the initially dismissed civil servants who had already served during the time of National Socialism were - as in many other professions - reinstated because otherwise the personnel requirements would not have been met and the more than 2000 laws and ordinances (plus administrative regulations ) had to be implemented, which the German Bundestag gradually resolved, in the constitutional sense in favor of the citizen could not have implemented. This procedure was brought into legal form by the law regulating the legal relationships of persons falling under Article 131 of the Basic Law from 1951.

In the Federal Republic of Germany previously in July 1950, Article 33 Paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Basic Law included the provision as a program sentence and at the same time directly applicable law that the "exercise of sovereign powers ... as a permanent task as a rule of members of the public service [...] to be transferred, who are in a public service and loyalty relationship. The law of the public service is to be regulated taking into account the traditional principles of the civil service ”, which reintroduced the civil service.

The Federal Constitutional Court emphasized at an early stage that the professional civil service has a neutral role that is not entangled in the “system of needs”. In addition to the sovereign activities mentioned in the Basic Law, a competent, neutral performance by professional civil servants or other public servants, whose professional competence , personal independence and neutrality is guaranteed to the same extent, is also appropriate for some other public tasks . What is needed is an institution "which, based on expertise, professional performance and the loyal fulfillment of duties ... is supposed to represent a balancing factor vis-à-vis the political forces that shape state life" (BVerfGE 7, 162).

This role description, which is intended to ensure the competent, neutral and reliable performance of public tasks, is incompatible with personal dependency, one-sided, for example partisan engagement and - according to a lately controversial view - also not with participation in labor disputes . Already through the extensive privatization of services of general interest , i. H. of the Deutsche Bundesbahn and Bundespost as well as of public transport companies and other supply companies and their employment relationships, the basic supply of the population has become more problematic according to previous experience. This experience is also the basis of the European citizens' initiative Right2Water from 2014, with which one wanted to defend itself against a possible privatization of the water and wastewater industry in the European Union.

In the Soviet Zone / GDR there was no civil servant status, but only state employees in a comparable position. However, some of the previous official titles continued to exist as honorary titles that were awarded for special merits, such as B. Medical Council , Academic Council or Senior Academic Council .

Recent developments

After privatization , no more civil servants can be hired at the respective successor companies (for example the Federal Agency for Air Traffic Control , the Deutsche Bundespost and the Deutsche Bundesbahn ). However, officials who worked for the authorities can remain there. Civil servants working there can also switch to salaried employment, in particular as part of what is known as self - leave .

There is also the option of assigning civil servants to work for a private employer under private law, either temporarily or permanently ( Section 29 Federal Civil Service Act (BBG), Section 20 Civil Service Status Act , Section 4 (4 ) Post Personnel Law ). In the past, however, there was no provision for the representation of these employees within the framework of the Works Constitution Act by a works council , as these persons did not have the right to vote there ( BAG decision of March 28, 2001 - 7 ABR 21/00).

Was the law of 29 July 2009 § 5 para 1 WCA extended by a set of three, as amended following has. "Civil servants, soldiers and workers of further considered as employees civil service including their training employees in companies under private law organized Companies operate. "

For civil servants in the federal states and municipalities, the reform of federalism (amendment to the Basic Law in 2006) resulted in a change in their legal relationships that was only gradually becoming apparent. By the constitution change the hitherto been in the legislative capacity lying areas of the Federal law of the grade , the official supply and officials raceways for the stated officials in the countries given jurisdiction. A few years earlier, the responsibility for special payments ( Christmas bonus , vacation bonus ) had been removed from the nationwide regulation. In the meantime, 10 years later, all federal states have created their own salary, pension and career rules.

In terms of pay, in particular, the 17 regulations (16 state regulations and the federal regulation for federal civil servants) are so far apart that there is a difference of up to one grade. In a financially well-off federal state like Bavaria, for example, a civil servant is paid in grade A 10 as in a poorly placed federal state such as Berlin in a civil servant in A 11. This means that the standardization in civil service law that was only achieved at the beginning of the 1970s has been abolished. There are also differences in working hours, between 40 and 42 hours per week.

See also


  • Ulrich Becker : The old-age insurance of civil servants and their reforms in a legal comparison . Nomos, Baden-Baden 2010, ISBN 978-3-8329-5628-8 .
  • Karl Megner: Official metropolis Vienna 1500–1938. Building blocks for a social history of civil servants mainly in modern Vienna . Verlag Österreich, Vienna 2010, ISBN 978-3-7046-5525-7 .
  • Sabine Mecking: 'Always loyal'. Municipal officials between the German Empire and the Federal Republic (= Villa ten Hompel writings. Volume 4). Klartext, Essen 2003, ISBN 3-89861-161-2 .
  • Astrid Hagenah: The duty of civil servants to be restrained in political activity and public statements: A comparative law study . Lang, Frankfurt am Main / Berlin / Bern / Vienna 2002, ISBN 3-631-39465-9 .
  • Sun Uk Kim: The basic principles of civil servant salaries and pensions in German and Korean law . Hartung-Gorre, Konstanz 1988, ISBN 3-89191-203-X .
  • Malgorzata Perzanowska: The responsibility of the civil servant: A comparative law study on the tension in the performance of tasks in the public service in Poland and Germany . wvb, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-86573-051-5 .
  • Kurt Nischk: The Prussian municipal official . Roßbergsche Verlagbuchhandlung, Leipzig 1926.
  • IN THE. Peters, WP Blockmans, F. Autrand, K. Schnith, N. Kamp, G. Chittolini, Lj. Maksimović, C. Cahen: Officials . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 1, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1980, ISBN 3-7608-8901-8 , Sp. 1720-1738.
  • Stefan Werres: Civil Service Constitutional Law . Rehm, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-8073-0267-6 .
  • On the development of the civil service in Germany: Reinhold Zippelius : Small German constitutional history. From the early Middle Ages to the present. 7th edition, CH Beck, Munich 2006, chap. 15 II; 20 I 1, 3, II; 29 III 3. ISBN 3-406-47638-4 .
  • Peter D. Forgács: The extradited officer. About the nature of state administration. Böhlau Verlag, 2016, ISBN 978-3-205-20099-4 .

Individual evidence

  1. Duden : Official
  2. ^ Officials. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 1 : A - Beer whey - (I). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1854, Sp. 1206 ( ).
  3. a b Office. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . (= Wolfgang Pfeifer: Etymological Dictionary of German . )
  4. ^ For example, in Kurt Nischk's textbook: Der Prussische Kommunalbeamte. Roßbergsche Verlagshandlung, Leipzig 1926, p. 54 ff.
  5. Reinhold Zippelius : Allgemeine Staatslehre. 16th edition, 2010.
  6. ^ U. di Fabio: The civil service strike ban. 2012.
  7. Reinhold Zippelius: Allgemeine Staatslehre. 16th edition, 2010, § 35 III, IV 5.