People's Navy

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People's Navy

Flag of warships of VM (East Germany) .svg

Service flag of the warships of the People's Navy
active March 1, 1956 to October 2, 1990
Country Flag of NVA (East Germany) .svg GDR
Armed forces National Peoples Army
Type Armed forces ( navy )
structure structure
Strength 14,250 (Soll, Frieden, 1990)
People's Navy Command Rostock-Gehlsdorf

Volksmarine (short: VM ) was the name for the naval forces of the GDR from 1960 to 1990 . It was part of the National People's Army, founded in 1956 .


After the end of the Second World War , the Soviet Union began to advance armament in the Soviet occupation zone (SBZ) and later GDR at an early stage . As early as 1950, with the support of Soviet naval officers, the “ Headquarters Seepolizei ” was established, which on July 1, 1952, was renamed “ Volkspolizei See ” (VP-See).

Coastal protection ship (frigate) "Berlin, Capital of the GDR" of the People's Navy, Soviet Koni class (1985)
Schnellboot Projekt 63 / 63.300 Iltis type LTS

When the National People's Army (NVA) was set up on March 1, 1956, the "Administration Naval Forces of the NVA" with almost 10,000 men was transferred from the VP-See to the new naval forces. By resolution of the National Defense Council of the GDR on October 19, 1960, the naval forces of the NVA were given the name Volksmarine on November 3, 1960 as part of a large naval parade . This name was intended to commemorate the Kiel sailors' uprising in 1918 and the People's Naval Division formed during the November Revolution, whose revolutionary tradition the GDR claimed for itself.

In the years that followed, the Volksmarine received a large number of new ships, most of which had been built in the GDR shipyards , especially the Peene shipyard . Only a few combat units, the so-called coastal defense ships and some of the speedboats , came from the Soviet Union, and some auxiliary ships were bought in Poland . There were also Soviet-type helicopters . The main armament of the ships, especially missiles and guns, came from the Soviet Union.

After the wall was built on August 13, 1961, the 6th Coastal Border Brigade (GBK) of the Border Brigades of the German Border Police was placed under the Border Command of the National People's Army in the Ministry of National Defense on September 15, 1961 . The organizational subordination to the command of the People's Navy took place on November 1, 1961.

In the run-up to the Cuban Missile Crisis , the People's Navy observed unusual activities on the part of Soviet war and merchant ships from June 1962 and informed the GDR leadership, which had not been informed by the Soviet government. The boats used in the outpost service cleared up their own allies and their Operation Anadyr for the first time instead of NATO units . On October 23, 1962 an alarm was raised for the Warsaw Pact , which remained for the People's Navy until November 21, although the withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba had already begun on October 28.

In 1965 the People's Navy was reclassified. All impact forces (the Schnellbootverband) were combined in the 6th flotilla on the Bug peninsula near Dranske on Rügen. In the 1970s, the People's Navy had grown to around 18,000 soldiers. In the 1980s, parts of the ship fleet were renewed and a naval aviation squadron ( MFG 28 ) equipped with Soviet-type fighter-bombers was set up. The naval aviation squadron initially remained part of the air force / air defense of the NVA , it should only be operationally subordinate to the People's Navy. In the spring of 1990 the uniform took place as part of the naval troop and the introduction of naval ranks in the naval aviation squadron.

1986 to 1988 there was a brief confrontation between units of the People's Navy of the GDR and Polish naval forces in a controversial border area in the Oder Bay , the latter were pushed aside. In the treaty on the delimitation of the sea areas in the Oder Bay of May 22, 1989, the first border adjustment since 1949, an agreement was reached in which around two thirds of the disputed sea area was awarded to the GDR. The course of the border was confirmed in the German-Polish Border Treaty of November 14, 1990.

On October 2, 1990, the People's Navy, like all other NVA armed forces, was dissolved. A limited operation was temporarily continued with smaller units that were combined in the Rostock naval command . One of the soldiers was in the German Navy (from 1995: German Navy ), part of the 6th GBK from the Federal taken. Most of the equipment, ships - including 39 units to Indonesia - and boats were scrapped or sold, with only a few smaller auxiliary vessels still in service today.


The People's Navy was part of the United Baltic Fleet in the organization of the Warsaw Pact . Your area of ​​operation was the Baltic Sea and the Baltic Sea exits. It was commissioned to keep the sea route across the Baltic Sea free for Soviet reinforcements and to take part in offensive operations against the coasts of opposing states in the Baltic Sea. For this purpose, naval forces such as submarines , speedboats, minesweepers and landing ships were available. The leadership of the People's Navy took place from the daily command post (TGS) in Rostock Gehlsdorf. For the lead in the event of war, which was the main command post Ticino kept in readiness.

The routine service of the People's Navy was characterized by constant high readiness. In addition, there was extensive reconnaissance activity against the NATO marines in the Baltic Sea. Vehicles, mostly minesweepers, were constantly at sea for this outpost service. Special reconnaissance ships were used for electronic surveillance and reconnaissance of other naval forces.

The 6th Coastal Border Brigade (6th GBK) played a special role in preventing escapes from the GDR . The 6th GBK was organizationally subordinate to the command of the People's Navy since November 1, 1961 and had a large number of patrol boats and an observation organization on land. Organizationally, the GBK did not belong to the border troops of the GDR , which in turn maintained boat groups on the Elbe . The ranks of the 6th GBK corresponded to those of the Volksmarine, the uniforms differed by a green piping on the shoulder pieces and instead of “Volksmarine” by the inscription “Grenzbrigade coast” on the cap ribbon.


Structure of the People's Navy

Chief of the People's Navy
People's Navy Command
independent units
Teaching and training institutions
independent departments
Rear services
Ships and boats

The basic structure in three flotillas was valid for most of the time of the Volksmarine. In the early years there were also the following other flotillas:

  • 3. Flotilla (1956–1958), coastal security flotilla: Emerged from coastal section I of the VP Sea, from May 1, 1956, coastal section flotilla II of the "Ost" fleet base, Sassnitz
  • 7. Flotilla (1956–1957), school boat flotilla: emerged from a school boat department of the VP-See; Parow site
  • 9. Flotilla (1956–1960), test ship flotilla: built up from a building instruction department and merged with the Scientific and Technical Center (WTZ) in 1961; Wolgast location .

After its dissolution, the People's Navy was divided as follows:

Soldier of the Combat Swimmer Command 18 (KSK-18) jumping out of the Mil Mi-8 "Hip" helicopter of the Marine Helicopter Squadron 18 (MHG 18)
Coastal Missile Complex 3P51 Rubesch (NATO code: SS-C-3 Styx). Rocket launch vehicle MAZ-543 M of the KRR-18

There were also (as of around 1985):

  • a torpedo-technical company (TTK-18) in Sassnitz (maintenance and care of anti-submarine torpedoes)
  • a naval helicopter squadron (MHG-18) (stationed in Parow near Stralsund . It used a place that was already used by an air wing in World War II.)
  • a naval aviation squadron (MFG-28) , Laage (temporarily)
  • a naval engineer battalion (MPiB-18), Sassnitz
  • a combat swimmer command (KSK-18), Kühlungsborn
  • a news regiment (NR-18), Bad Sülze
  • a Coastal Missile Regiment (KRR-18), Black Post
  • a coastal defense regiment (KVR-18), Rostock (from 1988)
  • the Marine Propaganda Company (PRK-18), Rostock-Warnemünde
  • the battalion radio electronic combat (BFEK-18) in Hanshagen near Greifswald
  • the ammunition depot 18 (ML18) in Seltz near Altentreptow (camouflage name "Lamppost", was also the rear guide point)
  • ammunition depot 14 (ML14) near Gelbensande
  • the tank and lubricant storage facility 18 (TSL 18) in the Ladebow district of the university town of Greifswald
  • the repair base 18 (IB 18), with the staff in Wolgast and various workshop areas in branch offices:
    • WB 1 - Central weapons workshops in Wolgast
    • WB 2 - Central communications and radio technology workshops in Stralsund, Dänholm Island
    • WB 3 - Central vehicle workshops (I-Basis) in Greifswald-Ladebow
    • WB 4 - Ship technical workshops in Ribnitz-Damgarten
    • EM location in Lauterbach on Rügen
  • the central warehouse for the mobilization reserve in Greifswald-Ladebow
  • the Scientific Technical Center (WTZ) in Wolgast
  • the sea ​​hydrographic service of the GDR (SHD), Rostock
  • Trial and special facilities
  • the independent security train 18 (SSZ 18) in Rostock-Gehlsdorf (Langenort), directly subordinate to the admiral and acting as his personal protection force
  • Teaching and training institutions
    • “Walter Steffens” fleet school in Parow , training of NCOs and sailors for the ship and boat crews
    • Officers' college “Karl Liebknecht” in Stralsund , training of officers and reserve officer candidates (ROA) in the People's Navy and foreign naval forces
    • NCO school for rear services (SSTA-18 = ship master department-18, teaching facility "Paul Blechschmidt") on the Dänholm near Stralsund, training of NCOs in the technical area especially for the maintenance bases of the Volksmarine. The entire basic training of all basic military service personnel for the rear service of the VM, including military driver training, took place there.

Chief of the People's Navy

Flag of the Chief of the People's Navy and Deputy Minister of Defense
Service career badge of the People's Navy.
Schnellboot Projekt 131 / 131.400 Libelle type KTS

With the formation of the naval forces at the beginning of 1956, the name was still "Chief of the naval forces". With the renaming of the naval forces in the People's Navy on November 3, 1960, the title was renamed "Chief of the People's Navy". From December 1, 1972, the Chief of the People's Navy was also the Deputy Minister for National Defense and his title was “Deputy Minister and Chief of the People's Navy”. From December 11, 1989, the name was again only "Chief of the People's Navy" and remained so until the People's Navy was dissolved.

In peacetime the Volksmarine was led from the Volksmarine command in Rostock -Gehlsdorf. The bunkered main command post in Ticino near Rostock was prepared for the event of war .

March 1, 1956 - December 31, 1956 Rear admiral Felix Scheffler
January 1, 1957 - July 31, 1959 Vice admiral Waldemar Verner
August 1, 1959 - July 31, 1961 Rear admiral Wilhelm Ehm
August 1, 1961 - February 24, 1963 Rear admiral Heinz Neukirchen
February 25, 1963 - November 30, 1987 admiral Wilhelm Ehm
December 1, 1987 - November 17, 1989 Vice admiral Theodor Hoffmann
December 11, 1989 - October 2, 1990 Vice admiral Hendrik Born



The following types of ships and aircraft were available:

Attempts to escape

In the course of time there were repeated illegal escape attempts by VM members. Partly with the help of its own floating unit that was supposed to break through to the west. The following cases, among others, became known:

  • August 24, 1961 - The boat G 423 of the 6th GBK from Wismar arrives in Travemünde , three of the twelve crew members remain in the west.
  • December 1963 - A chief mate of a minesweeper type Krake escapes by jumping into the Baltic Sea and rescue by a Swedish merchant ship.
  • Jan. 12, 1967 - Submarine 474 thwarted an attempt to escape .
  • Jan. 27, 1967 - Arrest of eight crew members of the submarine 412 Teterow in Peenemünde for preparing an escape attempt with their boat.
  • January 1968 - Arrest of seven crew members of the TS boat 844 Wilhelm Bänsch on Bug ( 6th flotilla ) for preparing an escape attempt with their boat, of which only two soldiers were convicted.
  • August 7, 1973 - An escape attempt by the submarine hunter 421 “Sperber” was thwarted .
  • August 5, 1979 - Chief Petty Officer Bodo Strehlow of the border ship G-424 Graal-Müritz includes the rest of the crew and tries to hijack the boat to the west. The crew managed to break out using hand grenades. Strehlow is seriously injured. He survived and was imprisoned until the end of 1989.
  • March 4, 1988 - Two sailors flee on a Swedish ferry, but later return to the GDR unmolested.

See also


  • Siegfried Breyer, Peter Joachim Lapp: The People's Navy of the GDR. Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Koblenz 1985, ISBN 3-7637-5423-7 .
  • Torsten Diedrich: The GDR's mysterious submarine weapon. In: Stephan Huck (Hrsg.), Cord Eberspächer (Hrsg.), Hajo Neumann (Hrsg.), Gerhard Wiechmann (Hrsg.), Torsten Diedrich, Peter Hauschildt, Linda Maria Koldau , Klaus Mattes, Karl Nägler, Hajo Neumann, Kathrin Orth, Michael Ozegowski, Werner Rahn , René Schilling, Heinrich Walle, Raimund Wallner: 100 years of submarines in German navies. Events - Technology - Mentalities - Reception (= Small series of publications on military and naval history. Volume 18). Dr. Dieter Winkler Verlag, Bochum 2011, ISBN 978-3-89911-115-6 , pp. 81-92.
  • Robert Rosentreter : In the swell of time - four decades of the Volksmarine. Stories and anecdotes. Ingo Koch Verlag, Rostock 2000, ISBN 3-935319-07-X .
  • Rüdiger Fuchs: Comrade Sailor! BS-Verlag, Rostock 2006, ISBN 3-89954-196-0 .
  • Dieter Flohr: Volksmarine - Consideration of a German fleet 1950-1990. BS-Verlag-Rostock, ISBN 978-3-89954-138-0 .
  • Hans-Werner Deim, Hans-Georg Kampe, Joachim Kampe, Wolfgang Schubert: The military security of the GDR in the Cold War. ISBN 978-3-932566-80-6 .
  • Ulf Kaack : The ships of the Volksmarine 1960–1990. Geramond Verlag, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-86245-649-9 . (Series: Typatlas NVA).
  • Ingo Pfeiffer: Naval Forces of the GDR - demolished 1950–1990. Carola Hartmann Miles-Verlag, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-937885-71-1 .
  • Dieter Flohr: Press officer in the Cold War. My time in the People's Navy . OCEANUM Documentation 03, ISBN 978-3-86927-553-6

Web links

Commons : Volksmarine  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Volksmarine  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Theodor Hoffmann: "The last command", Mittler, 1993, ISBN 3-8132-0420-0 , p. 320
  2. ^ Ingo Pfeiffer: At the Edge of the Abyss - The military operation "Anadyr" 1962 . In: Marineforum , 10-2012, p. 38 ff.
  3. Germany on the front line . In: Die Zeit , No. 11/1993
  4. Klaus Froh, Rüdiger Wenzke : The generals and admirals of the NVA. A biographical manual. 4th edition. Ch. Links, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-86153-209-3 , p. 277 ff.
  5. Overview of the escape attempts at: Ingo Pfeiffer: Fahnenflucht zur See - The People's Navy in the sights of the MfS . Homilius, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-89706-913-8 .
  6. ^ Ingo Pfeiffer: Flight and "mutiny", The sea border of the GDR in August 1961 . In: Marineforum 10-2006, p. 50ff.
  7. ^ Willy Reiss: Encounters between the German Navy and the People's Navy at sea - reports from six officers of the German Navy . In: Marineforum 1 / 2-2006, p. 26f.
  8. Ingo Pfeiffer: "Alibaba and the 40 robbers" - the foiled group desertion with the hijacking of the submarine "474" of the People's Navy in 1967 . In: Marineforum 3-2003, p. 26ff.
  9. a b c d Ingo Pfeiffer: In the sights of the MfS: desertions by VM members . In: Marineforum 6-2005, pp. 25ff.
  10. ^ Ingo Pfeiffer: desertion attempt with the submarine hunter of the NVA Volksmarine . In: Marineforum 6-2002, p. 48ff. (Part I) and Marineforum 7 / 8-2002 p. 43 ff. (Part II)