Historical uniforms of the THW

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Pilot suit of the THW, 1980s, with light blue shirt, jacket and dungarees

Uniforms in the construction time of the THW

Two-pin belt and combat jacket of the air raid rescue service from the early 1960s, with brown piping and no ZS emblem on the sleeve

The first uniforms were procured in 1953 by the Federal Agency for Technical Relief . They were made of a kind of denim and therefore very robust. The uniforms were actually beige ; However, after being washed several times, they took on an almost pure white color. Therefore, it was also referred to by the helpers as the "house painter's uniform". The first uniform was both a combat suit and a work suit. Worn with a white shirt and black tie, it also represented the service suit. It was worn until the 1960s.

The uniform consisted of

  • a service shirt with two breast pockets with flaps and the THW logo on the left upper arm.
  • a pair of trousers with a thigh pocket per leg.
  • a blouson with breast pockets and flap, as well as a regulation for the jacket waistband and also with the THW badge on the left upper arm. The shape was similar to the mountain hunter's ski blouse , only in a different color.
  • a service cap in the form of a mountain cap with a THW badge made of metal on the cap.

In addition, helmets and black rain ponchos as well as half-high lace-up boots were worn. The helmets used were steel helmets with a black coating from former stocks of the Wehrmacht and the Schutzstaffel (SS).

In 1957 the khaki uniform of the Air Protection Aid Service (LSHD) was introduced in connection with the air protection helmet described below. The cut of this uniform corresponded roughly to the pilot's suit from 1963. However, the jacket had no breast pockets and instead of buttons it was provided with a zipper, which was covered with a button placket. The trousers had no button-down bib and had two short zippers on the sides. In addition, both pieces of clothing had a roughened flannel lining . Since the first jackets of the LSHD did not yet have the emblem of the civilian civil protection (ZB), armbands were worn on the left upper arm. These were either white with the ZB emblem or blue with a white stripe above and below and a central THW symbol (cogwheel with bows and the letters THW arranged one above the other). The later introduced emblem consisted of a blue circle on a yellow background with the yellow letters ZB for "civil protection" and ZS for "civil protection".

This uniform also included pull-on jackets with hoods , which were made of impregnated cotton and were intended to serve as a weatherproof jacket (the Federal Border Police introduced the swamp camouflage pattern in 1952 ; the old stocks in splinter camouflage patterns were dyed black before they were issued to the THW, but the camouflage pattern remained visible) , as well as a khaki-colored service shirt and a khaki-colored knitted sweater with V-neck. In addition, a two-thorn belt made of leather, like the one worn by the police and the Federal Border Police (BGS), was now part of it. The "buckle boots" used by the Bundeswehr and the BGS were worn as footwear, and they were fitted with a jack at the tip of the boot.

The uniforms in the 1960s

During this period there was a wide variety of uniforms in different colors, shapes and cuts. The colors ranged from blue-gray (only until 1968 for the self-protection trains of the Federal Air Protection Association , occasionally also in the THW), gray (from 1963) or khaki (1957–1962, remnants were applied as work suits up into the 80s). In terms of shape, a distinction was made between the khaki air raid protection service suit (LSHD), the cold protection suit (gray), the “pilot” suit (gray) and the gray emergency suit from the 1950s.

The emergency suit of the air raid aid service

Eg emblem on an LSHD combat suit

The LSHD emergency suit was only given to local units that participated in the air raid relief service. This suit was not only worn by the THW, but also by organizations such as the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund , the German Red Cross , the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe , the Malteser Hilfsdienst , the volunteer fire brigades and members of the management units and responsible authorities who were on duty exercised the authority of command. It was desired to achieve complete uniformity in terms of clothing throughout the LSHD.

The suit either had a color differentiation on the collar edge, which was similar to the braid of the Bundeswehr, or colored collar tabs . The colors stood for the specialist service of the carrier. The colors for the rescue service, the telecommunications and the ABC service were adopted by the THW and retained until 1994 to identify their own units.

From around 1960–1962 the khaki-colored LSHD suit was made in the same cut as the pilot suit. The colored collar braids were removed, the collar tabs were retained until the LSHD was dissolved.

The LSHD originally wanted the introduction of identification marks for leaders and sub-leaders. The plan was to attach angles or bars above the ZB emblem on the left upper arm. Due to the resistance of the organizations involved, which mostly had their own distinctive signs, this system was only tried out in the State of Hamburg, especially among rescue workers and directors from 1964. In addition, the helpers who have completed special training (drivers, radio operators, etc.) should be marked with a corresponding badge on their left forearm. However, this was no longer used in the LSHD, but was taken up again by the THW in the 1970s.

The cold protection suit

Lined parka from THW, procured from 1968

The cold protection suit was manufactured by the Bulag company in Auerbach in Upper Palatinate between 1962 and 1968 on behalf of the Air Protection Aid Service (LSHD) and was worn by all specialist services. Different colored collar tabs were attached depending on the specialist service affiliation . The suits of the THW were provided with the triangular badge of the civil defense, while the suits for the LSHD carried the round ZB badge. The cold protection suit was made of a graying fabric, which attracted the water quite strongly in damp weather. He was also called "felt louse" or "horse blanket" by the helpers.

This suit included a jacket without a roll and a pair of pants with a belt. Furthermore, a cap was worn, which looked very similar to the Wehrmacht field cap M43. THW helpers wore a metal badge in the form of a gear wheel, the hats for the LSHD were without badges. On special occasions it was also worn as a service suit with a tie and white shirt.

This suit was still used by many old helpers until the end of the 1980s. In normal service, however, it was replaced by the army-style parka from the late 1960s .

"Pilot" emergency suit

Jacket for the pilot suit 1st form, with the badge valid until 1972 Here: Rescue Service
Jacket for the pilot's suit 1st form with the badges or name strips valid from 1973. Here: rescue workers with special training, paramedics of all specialist services

This suit was introduced from 1963 both in the THW and in the LSHD units. The name Pilot comes from pilot fabric (also moleskin or English leather), which is valued for its particularly robust nature and is still used today for work clothing, especially in the guild trade. The suit was worn until the late 1990s.

In the THW the triangular badge with the THW symbol was worn on the left sleeve, on the suits of the LSHD units the already mentioned ZB badge. In addition, the specialist services were identified by means of different colored collar tabs according to the above-mentioned color sample.

It was only available in gray, and it later replaced the cold protection suit in conjunction with the parka. A gray sweater with a V-neck was also included, which was only procured until the introduction of the parka. Depending on the manufacturer, the suit was made in different qualities.

After the LSHD was dissolved in 1972, the collar tabs and the ZB badge were omitted, which had to be separated from the suits still to be worn and replaced by the badge of the respective organization. From its introduction in 1963 to the last year of manufacture (1995), this suit saw a number of changes and improvements.

The “Pilot” emergency suit had one or two small pockets inside the jacket, depending on the manufacturer. These small bags were for aid packet provided so that the helpers in the emergency himself or his comrades connect could.

First version from 1963 to around the end of the 1970s

THW headgear from the 1960s and 1970s

Jacket: breast pockets with pinch pleats, side pockets closed with two buttons.

The Koller was also fastened in the back with two buttons. Similar to a shirt cuff, the sleeve ends could be closed in different widths with buttons. On the sides there were three holes with a fabric reinforcement. These were intended for the attachment of hooks that should hold the belt in its position approx. 3–5 cm above the side pockets. These hooks were already part of the equipment of the LSHD suit from 1957 as well as of the equipment of the cold protection suit and could also be found on the pilot suits of the last series. However, since these hooks were found to be impractical by many, they were usually removed immediately after the issue.

Pants: dungarees with buttonable bib and two side and back pockets.

The waist size could be adjusted with two buttonable latches on the sides. Depending on the manufacturer with or without a folding rule pocket (Rodex / Wurster Metzingen: with a folding rule pocket, W&O without a folding rule pocket) All buttons were made of black plastic.

A mountain cap or a boat made of the same material were worn as headgear . A two-pronged belt made of black leather was worn until the late 1960s. This was followed by the introduction of a belt coupling with a box lock, initially in olive, as in the Bundeswehr. From 1975 there was a moisture protection suit made of plastic-coated cotton .

From the early 1980s to the early 1990s

Jacket: Smooth breast pockets without folds, the Koller was now completely sewn in the back area without buttons and provided with a moisture protection insert. The flaps of the side pockets now had a concealed button and could be closed with a button. The sleeve ends were now worked on.

Pants: Only one back pocket on the right and a ruler pocket on the right leg that can be closed with a flap. The buttons were now made of metal.

Elimination of the mountain hat and introduction of the BW winter hat in gray. Introduction of the BW field coupling in small numbers in olive, from around 1979/80 in the gray version of the new disaster control suit of the BZS, this fully corresponded to the technical delivery conditions of the field and combat suit of the Bundeswehr in olive at that time.

Early to mid 1990s

The execution of the single suit remained unchanged. Only the breast pockets of the jacket could now be closed with a zipper. The boat was used as headgear and the black beret was introduced from 1991. In the same year, a wet protection suit made of Goretex was also introduced . From the mid-1990s, the coupling had an embossed THW symbol. The parka introduced in 1968 and the light blue-gray service shirt have remained largely unchanged during this period. In addition to the THW sleeve badge, the respective service identification and the badge for a completed special training have been worn on the jacket since around 1973 .

From the beginning of the 1980s - as is common in the Bundeswehr - more and more name strips were worn on parkas and jackets.

THW wool sweater from 1991 in the style of the Bundeswehr sweater

Towards the end of the 1980s, the THW also procured gray Bundeswehr sweaters. In 1994, trousers were introduced. This was the same as the BGS pants, but the color was gray. The sweaters had the triangular THW symbol on the left upper arm. The trousers were only given out in a few managerial areas.

Until the introduction of the new emergency suit in 1999, all variants of the pilot suit were to be found in the THW, since old stocks were also applied up to the last. Another reason for this is the very good quality of these garments, which is particularly the case with the uniforms made in the 1960s. During this time, the pilot suit in some THW local associations was also equipped with reflective back labels and reflective strips to ensure better visibility in the dark.

Army clothing

Since the THW could not immediately deliver the “Pilot” emergency suit and the gray parka to all local associations in the 1970s, some of the helpers were equipped with the Bundeswehr's combat suits and parkas . The THW badge was simply attached under the national badge as well as the service badge .

But these suits were rarely seen in public. After all local units were equipped with the “Pilot” suit, the combat suits and parkas were returned to the Bundeswehr.

Work suits

The work suits in blue (1984–1989), gray (1990–2000) and petrol blue (since 2000), as well as the former “Pilot” suits, are still worn today during work and training in the accommodation. They consist of dungarees with a breast pocket closed by a zipper and a back pocket and ruler pocket and a work jacket with two breast pockets with flaps. The material is cotton and therefore very hard-wearing. This suit was also worn by the THW youth in connection with the parka until the introduction of the new clothing for young helpers in 2003. From 1980 to 1985, the police overalls in North Rhine-Westphalia were also used for these purposes at the THW.

Clothing for young helpers

Between 1975 and 1985 there was already a suit especially for young helpers. This consisted of a jacket and trousers made of cotton and was similar in design to the work suits. However, the color was a light blue similar to that of foreign clothing. The helmets of the young helpers were white, but otherwise identical to those of the active units. The shaft boots were worn as footwear.

Between 1985 and 2002 the young helpers wore the clothing and footwear of the active units. From 2003 there was again special clothing for young helpers including a hard hat and special footwear, which is still used today with small changes. This is based on the design of the operational suits of the active units, but differs among other things. a. with a light blue shoulder area and back labels with the inscription "THW Jugend". In addition, apart from the impregnation against moisture, the suit for young people does not have the same protective properties as the regular emergency suit, but may continue to be used as part of basic training until the test is passed.

In addition, service IDs are currently being introduced for functions within the youth.

Clothing for foreign assignments

Jacket for foreign clothing of the THW, early 1990s

Until around the beginning of the 1990s, regular combat clothing (pilot suit, etc.) was also worn on missions abroad. Due to the increasing number of deployments in tropical climates such as B. in Africa, it became necessary to introduce operational clothing that is suitable for these climatic conditions.

It consisted of a buttoned jacket with two breast pockets that could be closed with Velcro and a "sleeve office" on the left sleeve and trousers with two back pockets and a thigh pocket on the right side. In addition, a beige tropical hat and a service shirt with short sleeves belonged to this clothing. The jacket and pants were made of a light, light blue cotton fabric. The THW badge was attached in a triangular shape to the sleeve office, but without removing the white carrier material before sewing it. In terms of cut, both parts are identical to the multi-purpose suit of the BGS, with the exception of a fleece tape for the name strip above the left breast pocket of the jacket. It is noteworthy, however, that the jackets for the THW also had tunnels for attaching shoulder pieces, although these were not worn at the THW. Service plates were not worn on this type of clothing.

Service status

Service registration from 1973 to 1994

For the current and historical service numbers see:


In the period from 1953 to 1972, dark blue sleeve stripes / bands were worn on the left upper arm (group leader) and on the left forearm (from platoon leader) of the operational jacket. At the THW there had been service numbers since 1973 which indicated membership of a specialist service for extended disaster control via the specific color - such as cadmium yellow for the telecommunications service or purple for the supply service . The license plates were worn as patches on the service and service suits.

There were self-adhesive and reflective service labels for the helmet, which were attached to the left side of the helmet. These badges were the same for all specialist services, as they only indicated the position and not the specialist service affiliation. These badges for the helmet remained valid until 1999.

From 1995 onwards there were only badges with an ultramarine blue border on a gray background, because with the dissolution of the specialist services, the color distinction was no longer applicable.

Full-time employees

The badges for full-time staff were not differentiated according to specialist services, but according to their respective careers and later according to salary groups. Like the badges for the local representatives and their deputies, these had the THW symbol in the middle. The background was also light blue. These badges were also available in embroidered or metal versions.

Badge for special education

In addition to the service identification, there were also badges for special training, which were worn on the left forearm. If a helper had completed several of these training courses, according to the clothing guidelines only the badge for the main additional function was to be worn.

The badges were round and made of the same light blue fabric as the service badges. All badges had a silver border in the middle of which the respective symbol for the completed training could be seen. These badges were also available - analogous to the service identification - in a version for use as well as for service suit and remained valid until 1994 and were only worn by voluntary workers.

A later version of badges for special training then existed as a replacement for the service badge on the chest. Due to application problems such as the lack of identification of guides or sub-guides and a lack of multiple identification, these were not introduced across the board. They are no longer included in the 2013 clothing directive.

Badges were given for the following special training:

Badge special education
Special training until 1994 until 2013
ABC specialist helpers no badge Badge abc fachhelfer.png
Respirator wearer Thw badge special training respiratory protection device carrier 1994.jpg Badge atemschutzgeraetetraeger.png
Ferry driver / boat driver Thw badge special training guide guide 1994.jpg+Thw badge special training boat guide 1994.jpg Badge bootsfuehrer.png
Drivers Thw badge special training for drivers 1994.jpg Badge Kraftfahrer.png
machinist no badge Badge machinist.png
Paramedics Thw badge special training paramedics 1994.jpg Badge sanitaetshelfer.png
Radio operator File-Thw badge special training radio operator 1994.jpg Badge sprechfunker.png
Explosive person Thw badge special training for explosives 1994.jpg Badge blasting authority.png
Administrative assistant Thw badge special training administrative assistant 1994.jpg no badge
function in the staff of the THW local association

Service suits

Sleeve badge on the THW service suit from 1974 (left) and 2011 (right)
Strap buckle on a service suit

A service suit has existed since 1974, which is worn on the occasion of ceremonial or certain official events. Exclusively to this must Orders, decorations and organization THW own awards are worn. In addition to the badge of honor of the Technical Relief Organization in three stages, there is the helper badge in gold and gold with a wreath as well as the service badge and the badge for humanitarian aid abroad .

In addition to these organizational awards, awards from the federal and state governments, such as B. the storm surge or flood relief and rescue medals as well as the Federal Cross of Merit in all its levels are awarded to THW helpers. In addition, it is also possible to award the lifeguard badge from the DLRG , DRK and the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund as well as the German sports badge upon achievement of the respective achievements.

Service suit from 1974

The service suit, which was procured from 1974 and was introduced at the urging of the helpers, is still worn today for official occasions. The design comes from the designer Heinz Oestergaard , who also designed the new police uniforms at the time.

It consists of slate blue service trousers, a light blue service jacket with a breast pocket with a flap on the left side and two side pockets near the hips, also with flaps and the national badge on the left upper arm (silver federal eagle on a light blue background, above the initials "THW") Tie in blue. In addition, a matching coat could be purchased for this service suit, which was the same color. The sleeve badge with the federal eagle was also sewn on the left upper arm. However, this coat was only bought by a few helpers. Mountain hats were initially worn with the service suit. These were in the color of the trousers and, in contrast to the normal mountain hat, had a federal cockade and a special THW emblem. Later, caps in the color of the trousers and, from 1984, their own peaked caps - also in the color of the trousers - were procured and, with the exception of the Bavarian State Association, where the mountain hat was still worn for traditional reasons, they were introduced nationwide. The hats were identical to the hats of the state police and the BGS . These are still worn today. For a short time different colored ribbons were worn on the service hats. The platoon leaders and local officers wore a silver cap ribbon instead of the light blue cap ribbon, while the state commissioners and the director wore a gold cap ribbon. From the beginning of the procurement of black berets in 1991, these were given out as service suits. The helper had to procure a white shirt and black shoes for the service suit himself.

The service suit was also available for women in the form of a costume with either a skirt or trousers, as well as a matching hat and coat. Instead of shirts and ties, the women wore a white blouse and a dark blue scarf.

In contrast to the emergency suits, the service IDs and the badges for special training were machine-embroidered on a light blue felt pad (see chapter Service IDs). There were also name tags made of black plastic with white writing and silver metal with black embossed writing.

In the event that a jacket was not worn, for example in summer, there was the national badge described above attached to leather, which was to be worn on a loop on the button of the left breast pocket.

Service suit from 2011

In 2011 a new service suit was introduced. The most noticeable change is the change in the basic color from light blue to a darker Friedrich blue. The sleeve badge with the federal eagle and the initials "THW" on the left upper arm is no longer made in silver on a light blue background, but in the colors of the Federal Republic with a golden border and lettering.

Day shift clothing

Since 2011 there has also been day shift clothing, which closes the gap between uniform and suit. This consists of a light blue shirt, gray cargo pants , a black blouson and a black baseball cap .


The first helmets specially procured for the THW were delivered to the local associations from around 1957 when the LSHD was set up . They were white helmets made of fiberglass-reinforced polyester resin , which looked similar in shape to the air safety helmet of the Second World War. Due to the poor resistance of the material, the following helmets were made from polycarbonate from 1966 onwards . The helmets initially had chinstraps made of black leather or white plastic with a simple buckle, later they switched to chinstraps made of webbing, which were equipped with a quick fastener. This had the advantage that the helper could not injure himself with the chin strap when the helmet was pulled, because the lock would then open. The helmets used or taken over by the LSHD had service plates for subordinates and leaders. These were executed in the respective specialist service color. For Unterführer (troop and group leader) the badge was a line in the middle of the helmet from front to back, for platoon leaders a circumferential stripe in the middle of the helmet and for standby leaders two circumferential stripes in the middle of the helmet.

From the mid-1970s, yellow helmets in the form of a construction helmet were introduced at THW. These met the guidelines for a safety helmet , but had the aforementioned chinstrap made of webbing. For the yellow THW helmet in the first version, there was also an officially supplied neck leather, as with the fire helmets, which could be attached to the inside of the helmet.

However, since this was omitted in later versions, many helpers retrofitted this privately. The new helmets also offered the option of attaching a head light and a visor. They were worn with various manufacturer-related changes up to the introduction of the helmet of the Berlin fire brigade (Dräger HPS 4100) also in connection with the current emergency suit. The helmets initially had a round THW emblem, later a triangular one on the right side. The service indicator (see above) was affixed to the left.

The Dräger HPS 4100 is gradually being replaced by the successor model 4300.


When the THW was being set up, the helpers had to bring their own shoes. Boots were only issued in the following years. The first boots were half-high lace-up boots. From 1957 on there were high boots ("Knobelbecher"), some of which came from the holdings of the Bundeswehr and the then Federal Border Police (now the Federal Police ).

From the beginning of the 80s, the shaft boots had an antistatic and chemical-resistant and reinforced outsole, a reinforced heel and a steel cap in the toe area (corresponding to the S3 safety shoes). The buckle on the boot leg fell off.

In addition, these boots no longer had a metal bumper edge on the toe, as there was a risk of sparks forming on asphalt. The buckle boots that were still on had to be removed.

From the mid-1980s, small quantities of lace-up boots were procured. These largely corresponded to the Bundeswehr boots and were u. a. Issued to the helpers in the electrical groups of the repair trains as well as to the helpers of the telecommunication trains, because it was difficult to get into the crampons to walk on overhead line masts with the shaft boots .

Individual evidence

  1. a b Peter Kupferschmitt, Emergency Vehicles in Air Defense Aid Service Volume 1, Verlag Klaus Rabe
  2. Fig. Retrieved January 20, 2018 .
  3. Wolfgang Reuber: The beret - the ideal headgear for the THW helper. THW local association Bad Homburg, accessed on March 23, 2020 .
  4. ^ Photo THW Halver 1973. Retrieved January 20, 2018 .
  5. a b Fibel des Technischen Hilfswerk 1977, pp. 50–51 (accessed on March 28, 2018).
  6. a b c Directive on clothing and labeling in the technical relief organization (clothing directive; BeklRiLi), edition 2007, annex 3.8
  7. Directive on clothing and labeling in the technical relief organization (BeklRiLi), November 1, 2013.
  8. Hans Dietrich Genscher, Memories (1995), p. 177
  9. Nikolaus Ziske: The THW blue - a historical search for traces . THW historical collection , accessed on March 23, 2020 .
  10. plastic helmet (~1960). Markus Bruchmann, accessed on December 13, 2015 .

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