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A gendarmerie (individual gendarme ) is a state guard to maintain public peace, order and security . Such divisions were originally part of the army . The system of militarily organized police units spread under the Napoleonic rule in Europe and in many former French colonies and mandate areas . Because such official associations have historically evolved from the military and usually exist alongside the regular armed forces of a country, they are sometimes also referred to as paramilitary associations ( Greek para = next to). A well-known example are the Italian carabinieri .

The gendarmerie is differentiated from civilian police authorities as a rule by belonging to the military or subordinate to the state's Ministry of Defense . This is due to the emergence of the gendarmerie, which often functioned as an early military police . Today there is also a demarcation in the areas of responsibility. Unlike in Germany, the security apparatus are often divided into municipal and national levels , and in federal states also into federal levels. In these systems, the gendarmerie is often responsible for maintaining order in areas that do not have their own police authority, for example because they are too small or have too few residents (villages, rural areas). In such cases, the gendarmerie is often based in the next larger town. Their precise area of ​​responsibility differs from country to country, but the gendarmerie is often used as an additional independent regulatory body. In some countries it still provides the military police abroad .


French gendarmes in the 16th century

The word 'Gendarmerie' comes from ' Gensdarmes ' from the French gens d'armes and means 'the armed men', literally 'people under arms'.

Originally it was a heavily armored and armed troop of knights , which was founded by King Charles VII of France in 1445 as the first standing troop formation. The 15 orderly companies each comprised 100 members. The troops survived as a heavy cavalry until the revolution of 1789 .


The gendarmerie was originally a military association that had nothing to do with the current tasks of the gendarmerie. Only in the course of the French Revolution did the need for a protection force become necessary for internal security. In Germany, the respective landlord was responsible for internal security until the abolition of the lordship , for which, for example, he held the right of common land succession . This changed in the course of the European Revolutions of 1848/49 , in which the manorial system was abolished. Thus there was no competent authority for internal security tasks. In order to be able to quickly and efficiently set up protective teams for internal security by the respective sovereigns, the military was used and separate units for police tasks were assigned from them.

List of states with gendarmerie and local names





European gendarmerie force

The European Gendarmerie Force (ger .: European Gendarmerie Force (EGF or Eurogendfor) , French .: Force de gendarmerie européenne (FGE)) is a European military police force that the crisis management is to serve. It was decided to set it up in 2004, and in 2006 it was declared fully operational. It is headquartered in Vicenza, Italy and has a core of 800 to 900 members. A further 2,300 men are available for reinforcement.

States that used to have gendarmes

Badge of the (former) Gendarmerie Hessen


In Belgium there was the Rijkswacht / Gendarmerie until 2001 . The police reform of 2001 created an integrated police force structured on two levels:

  • Federal Police ( Federale Politie , Police Fédérale ), with a General Commissioner and three General Directorates (the Administrative Police, the Criminal Police and the Directorate for Assistance and Administration). Some of these are also decentralized at the provincial or judicial district level.
  • Local Police ( Local Politie , Police Locale ) with its currently 195 police zones has been formed from municipal police units and the Rijkswacht / Gendarmerie , which existed until 2001 .


Prussian Landgendarm of the XI. Gendarmerie Brigade Kassel
Gendarmes on horseback and on foot, Electorate of Hesse around 1840
Ducal Gothaische Gendarmerie (1911), with a blue skirt and helmet in the Prussian style
Gendarmes of the Grand Ducal Baden Gendarmerie 1899
Seal of the Grand Ducal Saxon Gendarmerie

Historically, there were also gendarmes in practically all federal states in Germany , most of which were built in the 19th century based on the French model. At the time of the monarchy, for example, in Prussia , Bavaria and Württemberg , the gendarmerie was subordinate to the war ministries and military criminal justice in terms of personnel and discipline, and to the interior ministries in technical terms :


Royal Saxon Land Gendarmerie

has been subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior since its foundation in 1809 . This also applied to all gendarmes who had given up their military independence through military conventions with Prussia in 1867 and 1870. From 1871, only the gendarmes of Prussia, Bavaria and Württemberg were formally subordinate to their war ministries. The Imperial Gendarmerie Brigade in Alsace-Lorraine was a special case .

Gendarmerie in German states until 1936

The Prussian Landgendarmerie was founded in 1812. By 1912 the chief of the Landgendarmerie had the rank of division commander . For each Prussian province there was a gendarmerie brigade headed by a brigadier with the rank of colonel ; The Prussian gendarmerie comprised a total of 12 brigades. The officers were supplemented from the army ; the gendarmes themselves were former NCOs with nine years' service. The Prussian Landgendarmerie was mainly active in the countryside, as the cities had their own police forces ( protection teams ). The uniform of the gendarmerie was dark green with yellow lace . In the event of mobilization, the field gendarmerie was formed from the Landgendarmerie .

Prussia also had a so-called body gendarmerie, which was the bodyguard of the imperial couple; she was subordinate to one of the adjutants general.

In the daily service the gendarmes were the instructions of the Provincial President , the district president and district administrators tied to which they were allocated directly. In the Prussian Army , these were the Landgendarmerie , in the Bavarian Army the Gendarmerie Corps ( Munich headquarters ) and in the Württemberg Army the Landjägerkorps ( Stuttgart headquarters ). In Saxony the gendarmes were not members of the military , but civil servants. The realm of Alsace-Lorraine had its own gendarmerie brigade .

Gendarmerie in Germany from 1936 to 1945

In the time of National Socialism the gendarmes in Prussia were called Landjägerei ; they were initially disbanded in June 1936 and in 1939 they were finally subordinated to the Reich Security Main Office as individual gendarmerie .

Their task was the police enforcement service in the countryside and in places with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants (in exceptional cases less than 5,000 inhabitants). From September 1938 they were subordinate to the General Inspector of the Gendarmerie and Police in the communities , regionally they were subordinate to the commanders of the gendarmerie at the higher police authorities.

From 1939 to 1945 the gendarmerie was organized as follows:

until 1939 from 1939
Gendarmerie commands Gendarmerie commands
Gendarmerie districts Gendarmerie teams
Gendarmerie inspections Gendarmerie districts
Gendarmerie offices Gendarmerie group posts
Gendarmerie stations Gendarmerie post
Gendarmerie post Gendarmerie line items

The motorized gendarmerie formed a special branch . It was formed in 1936 from the SA Feldjägerkorps and was briefly called the Motorized Road Police or Motorized Gendarmerie Readiness .

The Motorized Gendarmerie was responsible for the traffic monitoring of the country roads and Reichsautobahn and is thus the forerunner of today's motorway police .


  • Gendarmerie detachments (motorized) , later reinforced gendarmerie companies (motorized) with four platoons each ,
  • Gendarmerie readiness (motorized) , later gendarmerie companies with two to three platoons,
  • Gendarmerie trains .

Another special form of gendarmerie from 1936 on was the high mountain gendarmerie in the Alps .

During the Second World War, special gendarmerie units were set up to occupy the conquered areas. These included the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the General Government . These barracked units were organized in G. regiments, battalions and companies. The motorized gendarmerie formed special gendarmerie battalions (motorized) during the war .

In the areas of the occupied Soviet Union , parts of the Balkans and also in northern Italy , gendarmerie task forces were formed within the framework of the police force , which were divided into main gendarmerie teams . From December 1944, the units had the prefix SS - , but remained part of the Ordnungspolizei .

Gendarmeries in the western German occupation zones from 1945 and in the Federal Republic of Germany

Also in the period after the Second World War there were in French and American occupation zones in Rhineland-Palatinate until 1972 (amalgamation of the Ordnungspolizei and Gendarmerie to form the State Police RLP) and in Hesse until 1964 and Bavaria, gendarmes and / or country hunters' offices that were gradually like the City police were absorbed into the respective state police . There was also a gendarmerie ( Saarbataillon ) in Saarland from 1945 to 1969 . The law on the organization of the police in Saarland (POG) of December 17, 1969 merged it with the state police to form a protection police. In the Duchy or Grand Duchy and the later Free State of Oldenburg there was a gendarmerie from 1786 to 1936 ( Großherzoglich Oldenburgisches Gendarmeriekorps ). From September 1945 to the end of October 1946 there was a gendarmerie as the state police force, which included both the old gendarmerie and the local police. It was apparently dissolved again when the state of Lower Saxony was founded on November 1, 1946.

The Federal Border Guard was originally set up as a gendarmerie. However, due to the distribution of competencies, he only performed gendarmerie duties to a limited extent, as the police competence in the Basic Law generally lies with the federal states.

Gendarmerie schools in Germany

In 1912 there were four gendarmerie schools in the German Reich: Einbeck , Wohlau , Munich and Karlsruhe . Both the district officers and the gendarmerie trainees were trained there in three-month courses. The schools were each managed by a staff officer as commander . The teaching staff consisted of an officer , a plainclothes teacher and four to five chief sergeants . The training included criminal law , official law , criminalistics , research into criminal offenses as well as horse knowledge, service dog training, fencing , cycling and shooting lessons for revolvers and carbines . The civilian teacher taught handwriting and writing essays.


At the beginning of the 19th century , the Κρητική Χωροφυλακή , the "Cretan Gendarmerie", was set up by Italian Carabinieri on the autonomous island of Crete .

Until the dictatorship (1967–1974) in Greece , the police were subordinate to the military (in this respect one can also speak of a "gendarmerie" here) and had green uniforms. Since the end of the dictatorship, the Greek police have been subject to the Ministry of Public Order (Υπουργείο Δημόσιας τάξης). Since then, their uniforms have been blue.


Haitian Gendarmerie

As part of the US military intervention in Haiti , the United States Marine Corps founded the Gendarmerie d'Haïti as a colonial police force in September 1915 . It had around 3,000 members in 1927 and was renamed Garde d´Haiti that year . The gendarmerie was mainly used to counter insurgency in the war against the so-called cacos (Second Caco War 1918–1920). The most prominent commanding officer was Major of the Marine Corps Smedley D. Butler , who held the rank of Haitian Major General in this capacity .


Former gendarmerie building in Bad-Mondorf, which is now available to the police .
Honor guard of the gendarmerie at Luxembourg Airport during the visit of Queen Juliane of the Netherlands (1951).

On January 1, 2000, the Gendarmerie Grand-Ducale was merged with the Luxembourg police to form the Police Grand-Ducale . The Luxembourg Grand Ducal Gendarmerie, as it existed until December 31, 1999, was created in 1797 under the French rule under the name "Gendarmerie Nationale Compagnie de Luxembourg".

During these 203 years the name and affiliation of the Gendarmerie Corps was changed many times:

  • 1797 Gendarmerie Nationale Compagnie de Luxembourg
  • 1804 Gendarmerie Impériale
  • 1813 Milice Gouvernementale
  • 1815 Maréchaussée Royale
  • 1830 Maréchaussée
  • 1840 Maréchaussée Royale Grand-Ducale
  • 1843 Gendarmerie in the federal contingent - Contingent Fédéral
  • 1863 Compagnie de Gendarmerie Royale Grand-Ducale
  • 1867 Gendarmerie in the Corps des Chausseurs Luxembourgeois
  • 1877 Corps de la Gendarmerie
  • 1881 Compagnie de Gendarmes et de Volontaires
  • 1945 - December 31, 1999 Gendarmerie Grand-Ducale


Historical lightable display of an item

The federal police was on 1 July 2005 with the federal safety guard corps and the police officer corps for wax body federal police combined. Before that there was the gendarmerie under different names and different functions in Austria:

An exhibition on the history of the gendarmerie can be found in the Museum Sankt Veit an der Glan .


In the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy there were:

Russian Empire

In the Russian Empire there was the Отдельный корпус жандармов ("Special Gendarmerie Corps ") from 1836 to 1917 .


The term is sometimes used in (French-speaking) western Switzerland instead of the usual term “Police”. However, this is not the rule. Swiss online telephone directories, for example, lead directly to “Police” when searching for “Gendarmerie”. An example of the gendarmerie can be found in the canton of Friborg.


in Hungary the gendarmerie existed under the name Csendőrség until 1945, the Hungarian police is still called Rendőrség today .

Ivory Coast



The Jandarma was united with the police in 1960 to form a unified Cypriot police force.

Use of language

Gendarme is occasionally used as a slang term for the police, mainly in the Bavarian dialects ("Schandi"). The term is also used in the popular and well-known terrain game robbers and gendarmes as a term for the catcher party .


  • Horst Albrecht / Horst Friedrich: The history of the police and gendarmerie of the Duchy of Nassau (publication series of the German Society for Police History eV Vol. 5) Lübeck (Verlag Schmidt-Römhild) 2001. ISBN 978-3-7950-2926-5 . ISBN 3-7950-2926-0
  • Gendarmerie , in: Georg von Alten: Handbook for Army and Fleet. IV. Volume, Berlin [u. a.] 1912, p. 127.
  • Staff-Oberwachtmeister Wintermann: Grand Ducal Oldenburg Gendarmerie Corps 1817–1917. Memorandum for the centenary of the corps. Oldenburg i. Size 1918.
  • Gendarmerie Command (ed.): Service regulation for the Grand Ducal Oldenburg Gendarmerie Corps. Oldenburg i. Size 1911.
  • Heinrich Lankenau : Oldenburg Police Handbook. Oldenburg 1928.
  • Heinrich Lankenau: The Oldenburg Land Dragon Corps (1817–1867), Oldenburg 1928.
  • Karlheinz Bühler: Ordnungspolizei and Gendarmerie in Oldenburg. In: Zeitschrift für Heereskunde 48 (1984), 313, pp. 70–74.
  • Udo Elerd (Ed.): From the vigilante to the armed forces . On the history of the garrison and the military in the city of Oldenburg. Oldenburg 2006.
  • Dr. jur. Max Weiß, Police Adviser: The Police School. A textbook and guide for teaching at police schools and in criminology courses, also a book for self-teaching for police trainees and a reference book for officers of the security, criminal and welfare police, edited for Prussia and Saxony. Vol. I, Dresden 1910.
  • Dieter Deuster: German Police Uniforms 1936–1945. Stuttgart 2009.
  • Michael Broers: The Napoleonic Gendarmerie: A protocolonial paramilitary police force. In: Tanja Bührer , Christian Stachelbeck , Dierk Walter (eds.): Imperial Wars from 1500 to today. Structures, actors, learning processes, Paderborn [u. a.] 2011, ISBN 978-3-506-77337-1 , pp. 111-128.
  • Fritz Beck: History of the Grand Ducal Hessian Gendarmerie Corps 1763–1905. Designed and compiled on the basis of official documents. With 4 uniform pictures, Darmstadt (H. Hohmann) 1905.
  • Paul Steinmann: The Mecklenburg-Strelitzsche Landgendarmerie, its prehistory, its foundation in 1798 and its further development. A contribution to Mecklenburg culture and class history , Schönberg i. Mecklenburg (Hempel) 1924.
  • Pierre Montagnon: Histoire de la gendarmerie , Paris (Pygmalion) 2014. ISBN 978-2-7564-1429-4 .
  • Giovanni Arcudi and Michael E. Smith: 'The European Gendarmerie Force: a solution in search of problems?'. In: European Security 22 (1), 2013, pp. 1–20, doi : 10.1080 / 09662839.2012.747511 .
  • Bernd Wirsing: The history of the Gendarmerie Corps and their predecessor organizations in Baden, Württemberg and Bavaria, 1750-1850 , Konstanz (University of Konstanz, Phil. Diss.) 1991.
  • Clive Emsley : Gendarmes and the State in Nientenenth-Century Europe , New York (Oxford University Press) 1999. ISBN 0-19-820798-0 .

See also

Web links

Commons : Gendarmerie  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Official website of the Jandarmeria Română ( Memento of the original from May 31, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. ^ Teresa Eder, What powers does the European gendarmerie force have? Der Standard, February 5, 2014.
  3. ^ Gendarmerie Freiburg
  4. ^ Article in Münchner Merkur from March 22, 2003