Marineküstenpolizei

Having decided that a police branch was required for the Navy, the high command of the Kriegsmarine took the logical step of following their army counterparts by drafting in experienced police personnel from the civil sector to create this new force. Where the army had turned to the Gendarmerie to provide the initial cadres around which the Feldgendarmerie des Heeres was formed, the Kriegsmarine turned to the civil waterways police, the Wasserschutzpolizei or WSP.

Unlike the Feldgendarmerie however which was formed shortly before the outbreak of war as Germany began to mobilize, the Marineküstenpolizei or MKP was not formed until 1940. With Unternehmung Weserübung, and the occupation of Denmark and Norway the Germans found themselves with a vastly increased amount of coastline to secure.

A decree issued by the Chef der Ordnungspolizei dated 20 April 1940

(O-KdO g2 (O 7) Nr 23—40g) authorised the transfer of police personnel to the newly formed MKP. A letter issued on 10 May 1940 listed a number of police personnel from various WSP units throughout Germany who were ordered to assemble at the railway station in Wilhelmshaven on 13 May 1940 for duty with the MKP. At the same time two harbour patrol motor boats previously used by the police, were transferred to the naval authorities and were to report to the port of Emden with their crews on the same day.

The MKP at this time recruited exclusively from serving WSP officials and reservists who from this time on were no longer considered police personnel but came under the control of the Kriegsmarine, more specifically the 2. Admiral der Nordsee or 2. Admiral der Ostsee. (The 2. Admiral or 2nd Admiral was the Flag Officer responsible for administration rather than operations.)

Within the Reich, the authority of the MKP extended over the inshore coastal areas and ports and in occupied countries also to inland rivers and lakes. Its areas of responsibility included the security of rivers and river mouths, protection of fisheries, controlling order and discipline of personnel onboard ships whilst in port and also of naval land units in coastal areas.

Duties included the arrest of miscreants and their delivery to either the military justice system if a court martial was appropriate, or to a responsible civilian court in other cases, the monitoring and observing of coastal areas, prevention of the escape of wanted persons by sea from occupied areas and general assistance to the military authorities. It can be seen that whilst some of their duties might seem similar to ‘Shore Patrol’ personnel in the USN or Royal Navy, the range of duties they carried out was far wider than what might be considered their allied equivalents. The MKP were effectively a naval version of the military police though with their own very specific tasks.

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Members of the Wasserschutzpolizei in their ‘Hafenboot’. In April 1940 an initial tranche of 71 WSP personnel, together with their Hafenboote, were transferred to the Marineküstenpolizei.(Josef Charita)

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An NCO of the Wasserschutzpolizei. On transfer to the MKP, personnel initially retained their full WSP uniform.

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A senior NCO of the MKP shown here wearing his original WSP uniform.

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The same NCO, now in regulation Kriegsmarine uniform though note, without sleeve eagle. His colleagues still wear their original WSP uniforms.

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The same NCO once again. This time the emblem of the MKP, an unfouled anchor, can be seen on his shoulder strap.

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In photographs such as this it can be impossible to be sure whether the individual is a member of the WSP or MKP.

An order of the day number 192 dated 9 September 1941 set out some of the details regarding the new formation:

Provisional Regulations for the Marineküstenpolizei

Arrangement, Assumption, Employment

1. The Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine can request members of the Wasserschutzpolizei (active and reservist) from the Reichsführer SS und Chef der Deutschen Polizei for tasks in the occupied areas in wartime as members of the Marineküstenpolizei. The number of the WSP officials available is restricted

2. The Marineküstenpolizei (MKP) is to consist of officers and NCOs who are specially trained for the execution of water protection police type tasks of every kind.

3. As a rule the MKP will not be used in closed units, their members will be distributed in the local harbour monitoring posts in the numbers as required. Exceptionally, if the employment of a closed MKP unit is required, it will be ordered by the responsible command office of the Kriegsmarine(Naval Commander or Admiral Commanding the Coast),

Service Conditions

7. Officers and NCOs of the MKP are soldiers on an equal footing as the appropriate ranks of the Kriegsmarine. They are subject to military laws and regulations.

8. Members of the MKP carry the standard military rank designations with the suffix ‘der MKP’ (e.g. Feldwebel der MKP, Leutnant der MKP)

Rank designations of the MKP

Polizei

MKP

Rottwachtmeister

Maat

Wachtmeister

Obermaat

Oberwachtmeister

Feldwebel

Revieroberwachtmeister

Oberfeldwebel

Hauptwachtmeister (less than 12 years service)

Oberfeldwebel

Hauptwachtmeister (more than 12 years service)

Stabsoberfeldwebel

Meister

Sonderführer (Lt. der MKP)

Revierleutnant

Sonderführer(Oblt der MKP)

Revieroberleutnant

Officer ranks of the Polizei (insofar as military ranks are concerned) on call up as naval officers or appointment thereto and/or as Sonderführer in officer ranks are not fixed.

The ranks of naval officers of equal standing will have the suffix ‘der MKP’.

Members of the MKP who hold a higher rank as reservists in another branch of the armed forces than he would hold after his rank was adjusted after transfer, is to be accorded that higher rank.

9. Ranks of MeisterRevierleutnant and Revieroberleutnant are to be appointed as Sonderführer in the Kriegsmarine only if their use in an officer position is definitely required. In other cases they are to be transferred back to a home service post.

The same arrangement is valid for Polizei reservists in respect of the allocation of ranks of Maat and Obermaat.

10. Service conditions of the Ordnungspolizei taken over by the MKP correspond to the service conditions of members of the reserves who are called up for military service.

11. On discharge from the MKP, former officials and reservists from the Ordnungspolizei will return to their home service post. No special rights arise from affiliation to the MKP.

Uniforms and Insignia

In the same way in which police uniforms were worn during a transitional phase by members of the civilian police transferred into the army to serve in the Feldgendarmerie, so WSP uniforms were initially worn by those transferred into the navy to serve in the MKP.

For several months after the formation of the MKP, personnel transferred from the WSP continued to wear their WSP rank insignia (as confirmed in OTB 41, Nr 52 XVI of 12 March 1941). An exception to this was if the police member held a reserve rank in the navy, in which case he would wear Kriegsmarine uniform with the insignia of the appropriate naval Sonderführer (Specialist) rank. The same order however indicated that although the WSP uniform would be worn, it should have the naval version of the national emblem sewn on to the right breast in the same manner as for naval uniforms.

Not long afterwards, on 24 July 1941, the order previously referred to (OTB 41, Nr 192) prescribed the use of standard issue naval garments as follows:

Armament, Clothing, Equipment

For the MKP, the normal naval clothing regulations are to be followed in principle, with the following deviations:

a) All members of the MKP wear on the left upper arm of the blue jacket and the greatcoat the national emblem of the water protection police (without district designation) and on the left lower arm of the blue jacket (for officers between sleeve strips and career badges of the naval officers and/or officers of the naval artillery) and the greatcoat a light blue band with the inscription ‘Marineküstenpolizei’ in yellow embroidery in accordance with the special sample.

b) On duty, NCOs of the MKP carry on the right breast, a pin-on MKP insignia in white metal with the lettering ‘Marineküstenpolizei’ in luminous letters as on the special sample.

Paragraph 33 of the same order confirmed the issue of personal kit to MKP personnel, thus:

The MKP in service with the Kriegsmarine is equipped with pistol, belt with bayonet, bread bag, canteen, drinking cup, and mess kit and, further, with any weapons and equipment necessary for the execution of their tasks, as well as with the M.K.P. Insignia.

Furthermore the M.K.P. member receives the same Soldbuch and identity discs as the regular soldiers of the Kriegsmarine.

The special MKP insignia worn on the standard naval uniform can thus be summarised as follows.

Cuffband

The narrow MKP cuffband is made from cornflower blue cloth 2.2 cm in width, with yellow-gold Russia braid edging. In the centre was machine- embroidered the legend Marine-Küstenpolizei in Gothic script in the same golden-yellow colour as the edging. Examples may also be encountered with edging and lettering in gold coloured wire and these are presumed to be for officer or senior NCO ranks.

Sleeve Eagle

The WSP pattern sleeve eagle was worn. This was either in machine embroidered or machine-woven form and had the police pattern national emblem in golden yellow colour on a navy blue backing. Officer grade examples would be hand embroidered in gold coloured wire.

Gorget

The special ‘Insignia’ referred to in the OTB of 24 July 1941 was in fact a gorget plate. This was similar in shape to the Feldgendarmerie example but smaller at just 13 cm wide, and was unique in that it featured a hinged horizontal pin fitting on the reverse rather than being suspended from a neck chain.

The plate was stamped from thin sheet metal with a raised edge with the legend Marine-Küsten/Polizei in two lines, and had a silver painted finish. At each side and just above the lettering are positioned two naval style buttons with the traditional fouled anchor motif. The buttons and lettering were painted with a pale yellow luminous paint. The reverse face of the plate was covered in field grey coloured wool. The MKP gorget was unusual in that there were two prescribed methods of wear. On the jacket, it was worn on the right breast, just below the naval breast eagle, with the pin through thread loops sewn onto the jacket (in a similar manner to loops sewn on to uniforms to hold badges and awards).

Perhaps it is because of this position, directly below the national emblem on the jacket, that the gorget lacks the national emblem found on the Feldgendarmerie gorget as this would have seemed superfluous. When worn on the greatcoat however, which of course did not feature a national emblem on the right breast, two short 9 cm lengths of chain were attached to the gorget by means of passing the gorget pin through links in the chain. The other ends of the chain had small hooks attached which then served to attach the assembly to small loops sewn under the greatcoat collar.

When the assembly was worn, it had the appearance of a conventional gorget, worn centred on the chest by a neck chain. The MKP gorget is one of the rarer types and not too often encountered on the collector market. Even rarer however, are photos of the gorget being worn.

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Although the officer here is in WSP uniform, the fact he is accompanied by an armed Kriegsmarine sailor suggests he may be acting as an MKP officer. (Josef Charita)

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As this photo was reputed taken in Norway the officer in the centre is almost certainly acting as MKP as the WSP did not operate outside of the Reich.

It is to be expected that with such a small branch as the MKP, good photos of its personnel would be relatively scarce. It is interesting that photos have been found with the gorget in wear and with the cuffband in wear, but so far the author has not encountered a photo showing both in wear at the same time!

As stated in the original regulations for the creation of the MKP, these were as a rule not formed up as self-contained unit as were their Feldgendarmerie counterparts. Instead, a small handful of MKP personnel would be allocated to the office of the local Harbour Commander (Hafenkommandant).

This being the case, the normal means of identifying the branch of service of a member of a military police type unit by examining the entries in the Soldbuch showing their unit allocation cannot be used in this case as these entries would simply show the individual allocated to the local harbour or installation commander.

Virtually the only way therefore of identifying such documents to these troops is by the addition of the suffix ‘der MKP’ to the individuals rank as shown in the book.

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There is no question in this case that the individual in the centre is MKP. In full Kriegsmarine uniform with the addition of the Polizei sleeve eagle and ‘Marineküstenpolizei’ cufftitle. (Josef Charita)

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An interesting transitional uniform is shown here. The jacket is WSP with the sleeve rings of an NCO, but with the addition of a Kriegsmarine breast eagle and the use of a regulation Kriegsmarine NCO visor cap.

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Unfouled anchor badge worn on the left sleeve by Junior NCO ranks serving with the MKP.

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An extremely rare photograph, one of only a handful known to exist, showing the MKP gorget in wear, in the regulation position under the breast eagle.

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Soldbuch of Marineküstenpolizei Oberbootsmann Heinz Eberhard. Only the use of the suffix „der MKP” to the ranks indicates he is from the naval police. (Ian Jewison)

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The awards page from the Eberhard Soldbuch showing the issue of a Police Long Service Medal, another clue to his police origins. (Ian Jewison)

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