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Krahnenberg barracks , the oldest barracks in the Bundeswehr. Location: Andernach
Barracks of the Federal Police on Homburger Landstrasse in Frankfurt-Preungesheim
Abandoned barracks in East Germany

A barracks is basically a military or police building in which soldiers or police officers are accommodated (barracked) ready for call .

The word “ tenement barracks ” is used ( derogatory ) for simple, uniform apartment buildings with many tenants. In the time of industrialization , workers' barracks were created a. a. to accommodate seasonal workers .

The terms “barracks” and garrison are often used in the same way. With “barracks” one rather means the individual complex; with “garrison” always the whole location. A garrison can consist of several barracks.


The word barracks was taken over from synonymous French caserne in the 17th century . Etymologically, this can be traced back to vulgar Latin * quaderna (note) (“four each, four together”), a derivation of quattuor (“four”). The vulgar Latin word became cazerna in Old Provencal , meaning "group of four people". In Central French times this term was borrowed as caserne ; it was used to designate lounges for guards in fortresses - originally such a room was probably intended for four soldiers. When the construction of large independent soldiers' quarters began under Louis XIV , the term was transferred to these.

In Austria-Hungary , the term ubication (from the Latin ubi "where, where") was used for barracks and military accommodation .

(Note)In classical Latin, quaternae would be correct as the feminine form of the plural tantum quaterni .

Historical origin

Barracks shelters on the Hagelsberg in Gdansk , Poland.

Fixed army camps with troop accommodation have been known since the Roman Empire (e.g. Castra praetoria such as Saalburg or Housesteads ). At that time the barracks contained - in addition to armories , latrines and bath houses - everything the crews needed for their daily life. There were bakers, shoemakers and other craftsmen there. Sewing etc. were probably often from the entourage done mitziehenden women.

The simple soldiers and mercenaries of the Middle Ages slept, depending on the weather, in the open air or in the shelter of trees, rocks, barns or stables; Officers took quarters with the citizens of the cities or with the country nobility, the military leaders usually had tents.

In modern times the construction of barracks began towards the end of the 17th century with the emergence of so-called "standing armies", especially in France under Louis XIV. The fortress builder Vauban had several of the fortifications he designed equipped with barracks.


From the 18th century onwards, barracks were built on a large scale, but in what was then Germany (especially Prussia ) they were mostly not set up as crew quarters, but as houses for soldiers and their families. Each family had a room and a chamber in which the soldier lived with his wife and children, and occasionally other young soldiers.

In the 19th century, barracks were built in larger facilities that were only used to accommodate soldiers. Experiments were made with buildings of different sizes, ranging from the company to the battalion strength . Often one floor was reserved for each company. A corporal was usually also accommodated in the dormitories for the teams; There were rooms for NCOs on the stairs. This also ensured that the teams were monitored. At the time of the German Empire after 1871, many barracks complexes were rebuilt, so that at the beginning of the 20th century, with a few exceptions, the German army was no longer housed in makeshift quarters.

In the 20th century, the image of the barracks was very much shaped by the so-called rearmament in the early years of the Nazi regime . In the years 1934 to 1939/40 alone, over 500 barracks were built just for the army . Many of them were so-called "100-day barracks" because of the short construction time. In addition, there were the barracks and airfields (usually called " Fliegerhorst ") for the newly established air force . For the first time, many barracks were built outside of larger cities (e.g. Rothwesten Air Base ). SS barracks were also built (e.g. SS barracks (Nuremberg) ).

The former German, now Danish Sønderborg barracks from 1907 by the architect Adalbert Kelm, who also built the famous Mürwik Naval School (Red Castle) in neighboring Flensburg . (Photo 2014)
Army barracks of the German Wehrmacht in Ringsted, Denmark at the time of the Second World War .

The army barracks were built according to largely uniform plans, the forerunners of which were built at the end of the German Empire. A typical army barracks from the 1930s for a battalion or a division usually comprised a staff building, three company buildings and one or two farm buildings. The guard was almost always housed in the staff building when this building was in the immediate vicinity of the barracks gate.

In barracks, in which a battalion of an infantry regiment and the regimental headquarters were stationed, two other crew buildings have been erected in addition to the regimental headquarters building. These housed the 13th and 14th companies, which were directly subordinate to the regiment. A typical barracks of this type was the Estorf barracks in Hamburg-Jenfeld (later renamed as part of the Lettow-Vorbeck barracks ).

The buildings of the army barracks were mostly three-story, i.e. H. with a high ground floor and two floors above. The facades, however, were designed in different ways. B. by plastering or by facing brick. The local conditions influenced this. The farm buildings, however, were designed as two-story, although the storeys were taller because the kitchens and dining rooms were in the farm buildings.

In addition, the technical area or functional area was separated from the buildings described above. The buildings required by the housed units were erected in this area, for example halls for motorized vehicles, guns, workshops, stables, etc. A shooting range was also often set up within the barracks. Were rods, e.g. B. a regimental staff, also housed in a barracks, a separate staff building was built for this. Due to the large number of officers stationed in such a barracks, a building in a similar style was usually built for the officers' quarters / casino .

Typical barracks from that time are:

Erected for an artillery regiment for two departments stationed there: per department: three crew buildings, one staff building and one farm building. There was also a staff building for the regimental staff and an officers' mess. In the south-west corner there was a small shooting range until the barracks were converted into the Helmut Schmidt University / University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg .
Erected for a news department: three crew buildings, a staff building and a farm building. There were also extensive buildings for the functional and technical areas.

Bundeswehr barracks today

The rearmament of West Germany in the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s brought with it a new and extensive barrack-building program, also because many of the military accommodations, especially those in large cities, were already occupied or no longer used by troops of the Western occupying powers and allies after 1945 . Similar to the Luftwaffe in the 1930s, many newly designed barracks (usually battalion barracks , in contrast to the earlier regimental barracks ) were built in regions in which garrisons had never existed before, often in or near the border area , especially in the area of ​​the earlier ones US zone of occupation with its lower population density.

The development on the other side of the Iron Curtain was similar . Most of the existing barracks in East Germany continued to be used by the Soviet occupation forces . As a special feature, small garrisons were deployed in the GDR for the GDR border troops, which were widely scattered down to the company level along the inner German border .

After the end of the Cold War and reunification , numerous barracks were no longer needed in East and West Germany. With the withdrawal of the occupation troops, the integration of the NVA into the Bundeswehr and its downsizing, as well as the conversion from conscription to a professional army , many sites were closed. The conversion , known as conversion , of military properties for civil purposes led to the renovation or demolition of numerous barracks. The preservation of historical barracks is a concern of the preservation of monuments , but often problematic due to the structure of the buildings and their architecture, which is not perceived as very attractive. Even the barracks that are still used as such often have to be adapted to today's requirements through renovation and conversion.

In today's Bundeswehr barracks, the accommodation rooms are usually in individual blocks of one or two company strengths. The soldiers are accommodated separately according to rank groups , employment and gender. For example, recruits in basic training or on other short courses usually have to share a room with four, six or even eight, while in the main units there are four to six-man rooms. The higher one rises in rank , the more likely one has the right to be allocated a single room, if the structural and personnel conditions allow this.

The keywords Kaserne 2000 or Stube 2000 are understood to mean the gradual renovation of the previously common rooms to increase the quality of living. This includes, among other things, new furniture (beds, tables, chairs, lockers), a reduction in the number of beds per room and, if possible, the dissolution of the previous collective sanitary rooms. Depending on the local conditions and the scope of the renovation work, this will be implemented to different degrees. While in some cases only the furniture is exchanged, other rooms are given individual washbasins and shared communal washrooms with individual shower cubicles, or two rooms are equipped with a shower / toilet for shared use.

Depending on the type of barracks, there are pure accommodation buildings or those in which the company's offices are usually located on the ground floor. The administrative and utility rooms are located in other buildings. Sports facilities, parade grounds, medical facilities and care facilities ( OHG , UHG, team home , leisure offices) can also be located on the barracks grounds .

Barracks are usually military security areas , are secured with fences and are guarded against unauthorized entry under threat of the use of firearms .

In principle, naval ports are also barracks, but are generally referred to as bases . In the Air Force, the soldiers' accommodation areas are usually physically separated from the airfields for security reasons .

A (on-site) training area is attached to some barracks , on which the recruits receive and deepen their combat training in the open air.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Kaserne  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : barracks  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Barracks. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . Retrieved September 11, 2019
  2. ubication. In: Duden online . Retrieved September 11, 2019 .