German Life Saving Society

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German Life Saving Society
legal form registered association
founding October 19, 1913 in Leipzig
Seat Bad Nenndorf
motto "Every non-swimmer is a swimmer - every swimmer is a lifeguard."
main emphasis Swimming training, water rescue , reconnaissance , disaster control , rescue service
Chair Achim Haag (President),
Klaus Wilkens (Honorary President)
sales 23,852,000 euros (2018)
Employees 94 (2018)
Volunteers 45,000 (2018)
Members 565,826 (2018)

The German Life Saving Society e. V. ( DLRG ) is a non-profit and independent water rescue and emergency aid organization . In principle, she works on a voluntary basis with volunteers. With over 560,000 members in around 2,000 local formations, it is the largest voluntary water rescue organization in the world. She's in the Register of Berlin - Charlottenburg registered; The headquarters of the federal office is, however, Bad Nenndorf in Lower Saxony .

It was founded on October 19, 1913 in Leipzig as a consequence of a serious accident in Binz on Rügen, in which a pier collapsed and 16 people drowned, including two children. Since then, the main goal of the DLRG has been to prevent people from drowning by teaching as many people as possible to swim at an early stage and by educating them about safe behavior in and around the water.

Lifeguards from the DLRG guard the coasts of the North and Baltic Seas, bathing facilities in inland waters and rivers, swimming pools and events on, on and in the water every year. The DLRG is also active in disaster control in the federal states and, depending on federal state legislation, in the rescue service.

The eagle peering out over the water is the logo of the DLRG and as a trademark, as is the word mark "DLRG", under trademark law in commercial use.

The German Federal President is the patron of the DLRG .

Flag of the DLRG
DLRG house and vehicle in Remscheid, Kräwinklerbrücke (at the Wuppertalsperre)

Goal and tasks

Main tasks

The DLRG divides its goals and tasks into main tasks and additional tasks. She sees the fight against drowning as her main task. It wants to achieve this through early and continuous information about dangers and safety-conscious behavior in and around the water. She also trains people in self-rescue , swimming and lifeguarding in order to ensure a safe stay in the water. Another core task in the fight against drowning is the organization and implementation of a comprehensive water rescue service as part of the general security of federal, state and local authorities. For this purpose, the DLRG trains lifeguards who then work for the DLRG. Part of the teaching activity is also the training and further education of trainers. Youth work and the promotion of young talent is also seen as an important task.

Additional tasks

An additional task of the DLRG is the training of people in the field of first aid and medical services. This also includes the implementation of rescue sports exercises and competitions as well as the training and further education of voluntary employees, especially in the areas of leadership, organization and administration. The DLRG is also committed to developing and testing rescue equipment and rescue facilities, as well as scientific research in the field of water rescue , and to cooperate with domestic and foreign organizations as well as institutions and federal authorities and organizations.


Achim Haag Hans-Hubert Hatje Klaus Wilkens Joachim Pröhl Franz Breithaupt

From the foundation to the Second World War

Commemorative plaque in memory of the accident in Binz
Monument Die Woge - 100 years DLRG by Rainer Henze at Leipzig city harbor

The association was founded on October 19, 1913 in the hall of the Commercial Association in Leipzig . The occasion was an accident on July 28, 1912 in Binz on Rügen , when over 1,000 bathers and day trippers crowded the 560 meter long pier and awaited the arrival of the bathing steamer Crown Prince Wilhelm . Suddenly the jetty at the bridgehead collapsed like a funnel. Over 100 people fell in the Baltic Sea . Help came too late for 16 people, including two children. The soldier Richard Römer , who is said to have saved twelve people in the accident at the risk of his life, is referred to as the "father of the DLRG". "In general, it was felt to be shameful that of the countless people on the bridge and on the bathing ship, hardly anyone was ready or able to rescue or provide first aid and attempt resuscitation," says Edith Mayer-Springer, Hamburg 1913. At the time About 5,000 people lost their lives in the water each year, and only two to three percent of the population could swim.

Adolf Fiedler became the first chairman of the DLRG. No records have survived from the early years of the DLRG. All that is documented is that the first lifeguards were trained in 1913 and that the first DLRG office was based in Dresden. The first training courses offered by the DLRG were completed one after the other with the basic certificate, performance certificate and teaching certificate. The further development of the organization was severely hindered by the First World War and the difficult post-war period.

After the work of the DLRG came to an almost complete standstill between 1923 and 1925, it attempted a fresh start in 1925, for which the main office was relocated from Dresden to Berlin . Two years earlier, the official organ of the association "Der Lebensretter" appeared for the first time, but further editions initially failed for financial reasons (today this magazine continues to exist under the name "Lebensretter - We in the DLRG"). In 1933 the DLRG was incorporated into the Fachamt V (swimming) of the German Reich Association for physical exercises and the associated subordination to the Reich Sports Leader . Between 1925 and 1935 a total of 258,761 people had taken a DLRG exam. In 1938, the DLRG was renamed the German Life-Saving Association (D. L. R. G.) in line with the National Socialist ideology . During this time, the number of accepted exams rose sharply. In 1942 the number of drowning deaths had dropped to a third compared to 1913, and the DLRG had trained almost a million lifeguards.

From the end of the Second World War to the fall of the Berlin Wall

Postage stamp from 1970

After the Second World War, the organization, like all others, was banned by the Allied military administration, but soon received permission from the occupying powers in the three western zones to continue its work. In the Soviet occupation zone and the resulting German Democratic Republic (GDR), however, the DLRG was not allowed to continue its work. There a newly formed water rescue service of the German Red Cross, today's water rescue service, took over the tasks of the DLRG. At its first general meeting (1947) after the Second World War, the D. L. R. G. renamed itself again to the Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft (DLRG). Three years later the DLRG already had 28,000 members again and consisted of 13 regional associations. In the same year the German Youth Swimming Pass for children and young people was introduced by the DLRG . In 1951 the DLRG joined the Fédération Internationale de Sauvetage aquatique (FIS), today's International Lifesaving Federation (ILS). Eight years later she organized the FIS international rescue competitions for the first time. Since 1955, the DLRG has also been operating water rescue services on the coasts of the North and Baltic Seas , after having previously limited the water rescue service to inland waters. In May 1957, the previously independent Saarländische Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft (SLRG) was incorporated into the DLRG as the 14th regional association. The 1960s and 1970s were very successful times for the DLRG. The number of members rose to more than 474,000, since in those years between the public sector, many free- and indoor swimming pools were built.

This also increased the number of swimming badge tests to almost 1.5 million. In 1962, the DLRG had to prove itself in the storm surge disaster on the North Sea coast. Shortly afterwards, the DLRG founded its own independent youth organization, the DLRG-Jugend . In the mid-1970s, the federal government determined the general suitability of the DLRG for participation in general disaster control. Since then, especially in recent history, she has done many corresponding assignments. In 1978 the examination regulations of the DLRG "Swimming-Rescue-Diving" were recognized by the permanent conference of the ministers of education. As a result, the swimming badges and tests were standardized for the whole of Germany. In 1983, Karl Carstens, the German Federal President, became the patron of the DLRG for the first time , and this tradition continues to this day with Frank-Walter Steinmeier .

From the fall of the wall until today

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification with the GDR, new local groups were founded in East Germany. Towards the end of 1990 the regional associations of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony were founded, and East Berlin was incorporated into the existing regional association of Berlin. An important event was the hosting of the world championship in lifeguard rescue in 1990 in Lübeck and Travemünde , where the starters of the DLRG won six world championship titles. In 1991 the regional associations of Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt were the last to be founded. The DLRG now covered the entire area of ​​the Federal Republic of Germany with 19 regional associations. In 1995 the DLRG moved into its current federal headquarters in Bad Nenndorf, Lower Saxony. The DLRG had to cope with the first major operation in recent history in 1997 with the Oder flood in Brandenburg.

DLRG flag in front of the new corporate design (until 2001)

In 2001 the number of members reached a new high with almost 568,000 members. The 2001 Bundestag meeting resolved a new corporate design in connection with a restructuring process for the association . Since then, all DLRG structures and levels have had a uniform appearance in all areas (see combat clothing). In addition, the Bundestag decided the goal of halving the number of drownings by 2020. With the floods in Bavaria in 2002 and the Elbe floods in 2002 and four years later with the Elbe floods in 2006 in Lower Saxony, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, the DLRG had to survive further large-scale operations. The DLRG was also involved in the 2004 tsunami disaster . On January 1, 2007, the state associations of Lower Saxony and Braunschweig merged, and since then the DLRG has only consisted of 18 state associations. From July 20th to 29th, 2008 the rescue took place again in Germany. They were organized in Berlin (indoor swimming pool disciplines) and Warnemünde (open water disciplines). Since its inception, annual drownings have fallen by 90 percent and the number of swimmers in the population has risen to 80 percent. In 2013, the 100th anniversary of the DLRG, Hans-Hubert Hatje took over the post of President. After Hatje's death in February 2017, Achim Haag was elected President in October 2017.

History information

Classified as a Cultural History Museum of the city of Stralsund belonging Marine Museum on the Dänholm also offers information about the history of the DLRG in his exhibition.


In order to fulfill their tasks, the DLRG trains members and the population in the following areas:

Getting used to the water and learning to swim

The educational and educational work begins with babies and children. Many local groups offer water familiarization courses, toddler swimming and swimming courses for them. Since many adults cannot swim either, some local groups offer adult swimming courses. The first qualification that can be taken is the "seahorse" or, for people over 18 years of age, the "swimming certificate for adults". Since the DLRG is a member of the Federal Association for the Promotion of Swimming Training, these swimming badges are approved according to official guidelines and are uniform throughout Germany. From 1950 to 2015, she performed over 22 million swimming tests and well over four and a half million lifeguard tests.

Swimming and lifeguarding

Lifeguard badge in gold

After the “ sea ​​horse ”, children, young people and adults can acquire the German swimming badges in bronze, silver and gold. With the swimming badges they learn different types of swimming, to cover longer distances in the water and to move safely in the water. They also acquire knowledge of how to behave in emergencies in and around the water.

Number of swimming and lifeguard badges removed
year Swimming
instructor Volunteer
2000 31,774 206.407 49,552 20,472 2,000,000
2001 33,870 218,592 51,481 23,348 2,089,097
2002 30,461 198,782 52,566 22.205 1,955,882
2003 64,348 187.326 46,424 not comparable
2004 56,450 181,750 54,473 25,656 1,316,585
2005 55,538 173.452 51,457 22,684 1,391,469
2006 57,954 158,758 50,919 27.173 1,450,513
2007 59,586 162,648 56,156 33,403 1,529,559
2008 57.902 178,378 58,213 26,931 1,720,608
2009 54.901 151,804 56,805 26,572 1,608,402
2010 12,297 139.507 52,635 23,451 1,366,971
2011 115,868 52,842 24,868 1,443,950
2012 41,438 129,764 55,354 1,034,256
2013 50,310 65,319 2,635,239
2014 45,864 126.005 64.991 33,386 1,949,397
2015 60,747 139.107 67,255 35,000 2,183,935
2016 49,343 136.344 82,915 39,125 2,200,000
2017 47,250 135.173 79,813
since 1950 22.120.432 4,677,332

There is a junior rescuer for aspiring lifeguards . This requires graduates to have advanced knowledge of self-rescue, simple rescue by others and basic knowledge of first aid . The junior rescue training prepares children for the lifeguard badge. From the age of twelve, children and young people can acquire the lifeguard badge . In these courses, they are trained to become lifeguards by imparting knowledge on how to provide safe assistance in and around the water.

In addition to these training courses, numerous local groups also offer activities in the water, such as aqua aerobics courses, aqua jogging courses, simple sports training and senior swimming.


As an introduction to diving , the German Snorkel Diving Badge (DSTA) is offered to children from the age of twelve. Afterwards, members can complete their training in recreational diving and then further qualify as operational diver at levels 1 and 2. Operational divers are needed to search for or rescue casualties when lifeguards and motor lifeboats alone are no longer enough. In addition, training to become a signalman is offered. The world's only "wet" depth noise simulation system is operated by the DLRG Berlin on the Scharfen Lanke in the Berlin district of Spandau . The DLRG Berlin can simulate depths of up to 100 meters with its diving tower at the Federal Teaching and Research Center (BLFS). Operational, professional and recreational divers can experience the dangers of deep intoxication here under - compared to open water - safe conditions. Diving accidents can also be treated here.

Water rescue service and civil protection

ELW1 of the LEZ West of the DLRG Lower Saxony

The DLRG is integrated into the disaster control of the federal states and carries out the water rescue service . In addition to the swimming and life-saving badges, members can further qualify as water rescuers with the specialist training in water rescue service. Adult lifeguards also have the opportunity to be trained as guard ladders . Members can also be trained to become boatmen for inland and coastal waters and also acquire further qualifications there, such as a course in surf rescue with inflatable boats. The DLRG also trains members to become disaster relief workers, including training helpers to become group leaders and train drivers . In addition, radio operators and BOS radio operators are trained.

Since March 2006, the DLRG has been offering advanced training courses for water rescuers with the title “Rescue from strongly flowing waters”; this includes a three-stage training for flow rescuers and a subsequent training section for air rescue . The purpose of this training is to rescue people in strong flowing waters, in which lifeguards, divers and boats can no longer be deployed, from land or from the air.

Medical services

Medical services encompass a large area of ​​training. The DLRG offers courses for the population in the field of first aid and medical training . Members can be trained as paramedics (San A) and paramedics (San B).


In particular, the DLRG offers courses and training for club managers , treasurers, and insurance coverage. Children from the age of twelve can take part in the training in realistic accident and emergency representation . Many other training courses are offered by the DLRG youth . Multipliers and examiners are trained in all areas.

Areas of application

Civil protection

The tactical sign of water rescue
Motor lifeboat of the DLRG
Clearance of a snow-covered roof

As a water rescue organization, the DLRG is actively involved in disaster control of the federal states and the federal government. The DLRG is also recognized by the federal government as a civil defense organization within the meaning of Article 63 of the fourth Geneva Convention . The individual regional associations set up water rescue trains and other country-specific units for the area of ​​disaster control . There are over 100 water rescue trains nationwide. A water rescue train is formed from at least one leadership group and two water rescue groups. Additional specialist units can also be attached to it, such as:

The individual local groups hold the material, such as boats, vehicles and other aids, for general help and disaster control. They are responsible for general help at the local level and the water rescue service and set up water rescue groups that can be combined into trains in the event of an emergency. The water rescue trains can also be used supraregional in the event of major damage. The district takes on the management of the operation if the area of ​​operation goes beyond the area of ​​responsibility of a local group, and is the contact person for the district administrations in its area. The regional associations set up management units or take the lead if the area of ​​operation goes beyond the territorial jurisdiction of a DLRG district.

A water rescue train rescues people from water and ice hazards and carries out medical services on and near the water. He harbors animals and property from water and ice hazards and performs diving tasks. A water rescue train transports people and material on the water, secures emergency services in and on the water and performs other tasks if necessary. He also supports other specialist services.

But DLRG disaster control units are also deployed in other areas, for example to provide assistance in the event of snow disasters. Some DLRG divisions are also represented in the Medical Task Forces with care, sanitation and decontamination components.

Water rescue service

DLRG station on
Graal-Müritz beach
Lifeguard of the DLRG
Motor rescue boat ' Cassius ' of the DLRG Bonn in action on the Rhine

One of the goals of the DLRG is to implement and set up a comprehensive water rescue service. To ensure this, many local groups have set up water rescue stations and monitor swimming pools, lakes and rivers from there on a private or public assignment. On the coasts of the North and Baltic Seas, the DLRG set up the central water rescue service coast (ZWRD-K) during the bathing season from May to September . For large parts of the coastal guard stations in the state associations of Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the water rescue service is organized centrally from the federal office in Bad Nenndorf. The water rescue stations set up there are only partially operated by the local groups themselves. Lifeguards from all over Germany and other countries can apply to the application and coordination office of the DLRG in Bad Nenndorf and are distributed from there to the individual stations, where they complete one to six weeks of guard duty. During this time, applicants must be members of the DLRG. Any holder of a silver lifeguard badge not older than two years can apply. The lifeguards work on a voluntary basis and, depending on the station, receive an expense allowance, free food and accommodation.

The information in the table is taken from the DLRG's annual reports. The recording was changed in 2002, so the values ​​there do not quite match. There is no information for empty fields.

year life
of which at
risk of death
in the water
First aid Waking hours Emergency services
2000 345 19th 7,323 35,494 1,977,532 48,707
2001 559 29 9,120 45,376 2,391,370 46,525
2002 557 55 13,281 36,910 2,300,000 45,630
2003 549 145 6,620 47.502 2,250,000 61,600
2004 692 8,381 44,969 2,112,794 51,072
2005 855 36 8,846 46,354 2,152,877 48,806
2006 1079 28 8,253 44,346 2,171,667 61,682
2007 482 26th 7,815 35,853 2,037,280 46,862
2008 519 46 7,296 45,668 2,177,807 43,809
2009 723 40 8,321 39.161 2,229,400 48,398
2010 535 33 6,866 31,231 2,180,371 40,588
2011 457 13 7,373 40,254 1,921,817 40,000
2012 411 29 8,943 39,930 1,893,779 40,000
2013 686 79 8,505 40,938 2,295,902 49.112
2014 773 109 6,665 33,306 2,088,017 46,803
2015 673 82 6,961 36,909 2,183,935 46,820
2016 1,071 39
2017 756 49
since 1950 67,728 9.216 2,220,453

Rapid deployment group (SEG)

In some federal states, local groups have formed quick response groups in order to carry out the tasks of mobile water rescue services and extended disaster control with them. These SEGn are often found on large rivers (for example on the Rhine or Elbe) or districts with large lakes (for example Chiemsee, Starnberger See). SEGs can perform various tasks:

  • Rescuing people from dangers in and around the water
  • Rescue and recovery of people, vehicles and objects by divers
  • Care of the injured in a mass casualty casualty (MANV)
  • Medical service tasks at MANV
  • Organized first aid ( First Responder (FR) / on-site helpers ( HvO ))

The Rapid Deployment groups are depending on the requirements or local conditions different DLRG vehicles available, such as trolley diving , equipment car water rescue or trolley Technik Logistik .

A special task of some rapid response groups is the so-called first responder or "helper on site" ( HvO ), who is usually available day and night in rural regions to bridge the time until the emergency doctor arrives and to provide immediate emergency medical help Afford.

Combat clothing

DLRG turnout gear in corporate design from 2006

The operational clothing of the DLRG is designed in the colors red and yellow, the international colors of the lifeguards. There is no uniform uniform for all emergency services. However, there are regulations for wearing personal protective equipment . Lifeguards wear either yellow t-shirts with red writing or red t-shirts with yellow writing. The inscription on the back reads "DLRG-Wasserrettung", on the chest it says "DLRG" on the left side. This coloring and lettering is uniform throughout Germany and on all items of clothing. Sweaters and jackets as well as pants, shorts and swimwear are always red with yellow lettering and sometimes with reflective stripes in the color yellow-silver-yellow. The lettering "water rescue" can be replaced in disaster control and on missions by the respective specialist function of the helper, for example " deployment diver ", "paramedic", "doctor", "operations manager", "train driver" or "trainer" (in training). The DLRG emergency vehicles are painted in the basic color white or silver and have a red stripe with the yellow inscription "DLRG" and "Wasserrettung". Boats are either painted like the vehicles or have a completely red hull with yellow lettering.

Rescue dogs

More and more branches of the DLRG also have rescue dogs . These rescue dogs are trained for between two and three years according to the guidelines of various rescue dog organizations. In order to be used, the dogs have to repeat their test every two years. There are basically four areas of application for rescue dogs: Searching in the open, in rubble, under avalanches and in water, while the latter is the main area of ​​application for DLRG rescue dogs. Your task is to track down the point where a missing person got into the water ( mantrailing ) and to track down people under water ( water location ). In this case, the dogs can perceive people lying at a depth of up to 50 meters and thus show rescue divers the point where they should start their dive.

Another area of ​​responsibility of the rescue dogs is searching for poorly accessible bank regions. The DLRG rescue dogs also use the building and rubble search, especially for flood and evacuation missions. The dogs are specially trained to work in the area of ​​water and to drive different types of boats. Well-trained rescue dogs can also support lifeguards in their operations by pulling the lifeguard to the drowning person with a special harness, or by hanging the lifeguard on to the dog and being pulled ashore by it. In addition to the dogs, the dog handlers are specially trained in map and compass science, radio, medical services, first aid for dogs and cynology .

Educational work

Another large area of ​​application of the DLRG is educating the population about dangers in and around the water. The DLRG youth is largely active in this area. The DLRG youth holds beach festivals and kindergarten days to make even the youngest aware of the dangers in and around the water and to teach them the right behavior. The DLRG main association ensures that bathing rules and ice rules are disseminated , informs about the marking of bathing areas , disseminates safety tips for educators, parents and supervisors and publishes rules of conduct for activities in floods, for surfers and for mudflat hikers.

Structure and financing

Structure of the DLRG

The federal association of the DLRG as the highest structural level consists of 18 regional associations. The state associations consist of district divisions, which in turn usually comprise several local or district divisions. These can still have affiliated bases. The district level is omitted in some regional associations. The actual association work with swimming, lifeguarding and first aid training as well as the implementation of the water rescue service take place on the lower levels. The federal office is located in Bad Nenndorf, Lower Saxony .

In 2015 the DLRG had 549,502 members. Of these, 26,179 (4.77 percent) were children up to 6 years of age, 190,316 (34.63 percent) were children from 7 years to 14 years, 60,086 (10.93 percent) were adolescents aged 15 to 18, 59,605 (10, 85 percent) were young adults between the ages of 19 and 26, 62,619 (11.40 percent) were adults between the ages of 27 and 40, 105,996 (19.29 percent) were adults between the ages of 41 and 60, 43,638 ( 7.94 percent) adults over 60 years of age and 1,063 (0.19 percent) were companies, authorities and associations.

Federal level

Structure of the DLRG

The statutes of the DLRG stipulate that the following bodies exist at federal level.

Bundestag meeting

The Bundestag meets every four years. It is here that fundamental questions about the direction of the DLRG are decided. It consists of the members of the Presidium and the elected representatives of the regional associations. The resolutions are binding for all other levels.

Membership statistics of the DLRG
Presidential Council

The Presidential Council meets twice a year and is composed of the presidents of the regional associations and the members of the Presidium. Between the meetings of the Bundestag it is the highest decision-making body of the DLRG and decides on all questions that do not have to be decided by the Bundestag.


The Presidium is elected by the Bundestag and is the governing body of the DLRG. It ensures that the resolutions of the Bundestag and the Presidential Council are implemented. The members form departments (departments) such as for deployment, training or association communication.

Departmental meetings

There are various departmental conferences, each chaired by a member of the Presidium. In order to protect the interests of the regional associations, the regional associations send a department head. The departmental meetings prepare, among other things, resolutions and recommendations for resolutions for the organs of the federal level.

Court of arbitration and honorary court

The arbitration and honorary tribunals have the task of protecting the reputation of the DLRG by punishing violations of members that could damage the reputation.

Board of Trustees

The board of trustees has an advisory function and consists of important public figures.

Regional associations

Regional associations with their offices

There are a total of 18 regional associations with their own legal capacity and statutes:

  • to bathe
  • Bavaria
  • Berlin
  • Brandenburg
  • Bremen
  • Hamburg
  • Hesse
  • Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
  • Lower Saxony
  • North Rhine
  • Rhineland-Palatinate
  • Saar
  • Saxony
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Schleswig-Holstein
  • Thuringia
  • Westphalia
  • Württemberg

The organs of the state level are similar to those of the federal level. Their names are according to the regional association conference, regional association council, etc.


The district level is developed differently in the individual regional associations. In some cases, such as in the Württemberg regional association, it takes on the functions of the local groups. Larger cities have so-called city districts, which are members themselves and form a mixture of local group and district. In addition, there are districts that are only an administrative intermediary between local groups and regional associations. There is no district level in the Schleswig-Holstein regional association. The structures are directly below the regional association level, a district commissioner coordinates the cooperation in the area of ​​the respective district. In the past, the main task of the districts was to carry out higher-level training courses, such as trainers, watchmen and boatmen. However, this system was partly inefficient and was replaced by the structure of the so-called training regions. These each consist of several districts and coordinate their training offerings within the regional association. Regardless of the existence of subordinate local groups, the districts have a similar structure to the federal association and the regional associations. They have their own statutes and comparable bodies such as the district conference, the district council and the district executive.

Local groups and chapters

Sign for a beach guarded by the DLRG

The local groups (in Bavaria local association or district association) as a local structure take care of the practical work. There are currently around 2,200 DLRG local groups throughout Germany. They take on the swimming and lifeguard training, offer first aid courses for the population, train and educate their emergency team and provide the material required for operations. Furthermore, they organize the water rescue service, advertise on a local level and are ultimately responsible for the reception and care of their members. All of this is uniformly regulated nationwide with a few exceptions, for example the district of Bonn , which is a member itself , in which there are no local groups with their own board, but training centers (AZ) whose AZ heads are subordinate to the district board. The focus of the individual local groups is very different. There are local groups that only concentrate on swimming training and rescue sports. Other local groups are almost only active in disaster control and water rescue services. Also at the lowest level there are the same organs as in the higher levels, but the local group meeting (annual general meeting) takes place once a year. The board meets several times a year. All members over the age of 16 are entitled to vote in the elections.

Local groups can also have affiliated bases. Support points are smaller organizational locations which, due to a small number of members, cannot fill all offices and therefore have no independent bodies capable of acting through power of attorney and therefore no legal independence. City associations can arise, for example, by merging local groups and bases.

Federal Office

DLRG federal office (right) and conference hotel Delphin (left) in Bad Nenndorf

In addition to the federal office, the DLRG owns the three-star conference center Hotel Delphin in Bad Nenndorf, Lower Saxony . This is also where the DLRG Service Gesellschaft mbH (DSG) has its headquarters, which sells DLRG material (rescue and training equipment) and leisure fashion (according to its own information with over 5500 articles) to third parties and also takes care of all activities that the DLRG does carried out together with sponsors. The DSG is also responsible for the operation of the Delphin conference hotel . Analogous to the DSG, there is also the DLRG material office in Bad Nenndorf, from which all members and branches can order material that they need for work in the local groups and during operations.


The DLRG Federal Association is financed to around 13 percent from the shares in the membership fees and around 6 percent from income from economic activities. This includes, for example, the sale of operational and training material to branches and members via the material office. Donations make up 65 percent of the income. 4 percent make up grants from foundations and public funds and other income. The total income in 2015 was around 17.5 million euros. With this income, the DLRG finances conferences, training and further education (around 10 percent). The emergency services and trainers work on a voluntary basis and only receive an expense allowance.

DLRG youth

Logo of the DLRG youth

The youth of the German Life Rescue Society, often called DLRG youth, has been an independent organization since June 3, 1962 and unites all DLRG youth groups. It sees itself as a children and youth association and is mainly active in this area. According to the statutes, members of the DLRG-Jugend are all members of the DLRG up to the age of 26 and their elected representatives.

The DLRG-Jugend is an independent, publicly recognized association. Among other things, it supports the main association in the fight against drowning and conducts action-oriented and creative youth education work . One of the objectives is to represent the interests of children and young people and to contribute to the development of young people. In a playful way, she tries to introduce her members to the tasks, training and technology of the DLRG. For example, the DLRG youth also organizes competitions, district and state youth meetings, and offers seminars such as training to acquire the youth leader card .


The DLRG is a member of the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF), the International Life Saving Federation (ILS) and ILS-Europe ( ILS-E ), the Federal Association for the Promotion of Swimming Training (BFS), the Federal First Aid Working Group (BAGEH), of the German Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband , the German Donation Council (founding member), the Federal Working Group More Safety for Children , the German Society for Bathing and the European Movement and the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS). It is also the leading association in the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) for the sport of life swimming and rescue sports and is involved in various committees and associations in the field of civil and disaster control. The DLRG is a member of the European Movement Network .


The discipline dragging doll
DLRG swimming, Linz - Honnef

Swimming competitions

Competitions take place regularly at all levels of the DLRG . Within the districts, many local groups regularly organize friendship competitions in order to compete with other local groups without being forced to. Many local groups hold local group championships. District championships are held once a year in the districts. On these, teams and individual starters from all local groups of the respective district can qualify for the respective state championships, which are organized by the state associations. This is where the best teams and swimmers qualify for the German lifeguard championships. At the German championships, which the DLRG youth organizes on behalf of the DLRG main association, the best lifeguard is determined in each of the various age groups.

The DLRG competition system is divided into age groups and genders. There are age groups AK 12, AK 13/14, AK 15/16, AK 17/18 and AK open. Competitions are held in individual and team mode. A team consists of a maximum of five swimmers, four of whom compete in each discipline. Disciplines in the individual starts are, for example, obstacle swimming, towing, fin swimming and rescue. Team disciplines are, for example, the obstacle relay, rescue relay or the harness rescue relay. In addition to swimming skills, knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation was required up to 2015 . The routes for the individual starters are 50 to 200 meters long. The relay teams swim 4 × 25 meters to 4 × 50 meters. The German senior lifeguard championships exist for older lifeguards.

The DLRG also organizes or takes part in a large number of national and international competitions. The best juniors of the DLRG regularly go to the junior European championships in lifeguarding. The national team participates in the world championships in lifeguarding every two years . At the world championships, the rescuers not only have to prove themselves indoors, but also complete disciplines in open water. In 2008 the DLRG hosted the World Championships in Berlin and Warnemünde . Every year it also organizes the "DLRG Cup" in Warnemünde. In this competition, only open water disciplines are swum, such as surf swimming or rescue board races. The “DLRG Trophy” is organized at national level, where local groups can compete in open water disciplines. The second international competition is the Germany Cup, which is organized annually for teams from all over the world in Warendorf . Here only disciplines are swum in the indoor pool. For its younger and older members, the DLRG annually organizes the “Junior Rescue Cup ” and the “German Senior Championships” and takes part in the Military Championships (CISM).

Lifeboat comparison competitions (RBVK)

This special type of competition is based on the tasks of the DLRG in boating. IRB (Inflatable Rescue Boats) teams compete in various disciplines and, for example, have to rescue team members with the lifeboat. In some regions these competitions take place at the district and national association level.

Other organizations

In Germany, in addition to the DLRG, the water rescue service of the German Red Cross (DRK) and the German Society for Rescue of Shipwrecked People (DGzRS) as well as the fire services , the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB) and the Technische Hilfswerk (THW) are active in water rescue .

In Switzerland there is the Swiss Lifesaving Society (SLRG) and in Austria u. a. the Austrian Water Rescue (ÖWR) and the water rescue of the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Austria . All these organizations pursue the same goals and work like the DLRG on a voluntary and non-profit basis.

In Australia, the USA and, for example, Greece, however, there is no such structure. Most of the lifeguards here work full-time and are paid for their work. But there are also lifeguards there who voluntarily ensure water safety. Similarly, there are privately organized lifeguards in Germany (for example on Sylt) who are paid for their work.

See also


  • Klaus Bartnitzke: Chronicle of the DLRG. A historical review in snapshots. 90 years of the German Life Saving Society. DLRG e. V. - Presidium, Bad Nenndorf 2003.
  • Klaus Bartnitzke, Josef N. Schmitz: DLRG: Humanity and sport in the service of fellow human beings. Hofmann, Schorndorf 1985, ISBN 3-7780-3913-X .

Web links

Commons : Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Annual report 2018. German Life-Saving Society, accessed on September 6, 2019 .
  2. ^ History - Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft eV Retrieved on May 13, 2018 .
  3. a b c d e Klaus Bartnitzke: In the sign of the peeking eagle. 50 years of the German Life Saving Society . A chronicle in words and pictures compiled and edited by Klaus Bartnitzke and Ilse Stoffregen. Edited by the President of the DLRG, Essen-Rüttenscheid 1963, 144 pp.
  4. a b How it all began. DLRG, accessed on March 22, 2017 .
  5. The upswing and the “golden” years (1960–1980). Retrieved March 22, 2017 .
  6. Brief description of the DLRG. Retrieved June 11, 2017 .
  7. 1980–2003: Reunification and the structural process. Retrieved March 22, 2017 .
  8. Hans-Hubert Hatje is DLRG President. DLRG, October 18, 2013, accessed on March 22, 2017 .
  9. Achim Wiese: Achim Haag unanimously elected as the new president. October 21, 2017. Retrieved October 24, 2017 .
  10. The German Life Saving Society e. V. DLRG, accessed on March 22, 2017 .
  11. a b c d e DLRG annual and financial reports ( online )
  12. Central Water Rescue Service Coast (ZWRD-K). DLRG, accessed on March 22, 2017 .
  13. Statistics - Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft eV Retrieved on May 17, 2018 .
  14. DLRG Service Society | Welcome. Retrieved March 23, 2020 .
  15. International Maritime Rescue Federation: Full Members ( Memento from July 3, 2018 in the Internet Archive ),, accessed on July 3, 2018.
  16. ^ Members> Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft e. V. (DLRG). European Movement Germany, accessed March 22, 2017 .

Coordinates: 52 ° 20 ′ 37.9 ″  N , 9 ° 22 ′ 58.2 ″  E

This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on January 14, 2007 .