The Combat Groups of the Working Class (German: Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse, KdA) was a paramilitary organization in East Germany, founded in 1953 and abolished in 1990. It numbered about 400,000 volunteers for much of its existence.
The Kampfgruppen were formed on September 29, 1953 after the workers' uprising of June 1953. The KdA made its first public appearance at the annual May Day demonstration on May 1, 1954. It was intended to be the East German equivalent to the Factory Units of the Worker's Militia of Czechoslovakia which played a very important part in the Communist consolidation of power in Czechoslovakia in 1948. Their formation also fit the East German ethos of the worker being the centre of power in the new Communist state.
A central school for KdA leaders was set up in Schmerwitz in 1957. Der Kämpfer was the monthly newspaper and voice of the KdA; it was printed by the SED's Neues Deutschland publishing house.
The largest use of the KdA was during the construction of the Berlin Wall in the summer and fall of 1961. The best trained and most politically reliable KdA units and members from Saxony, Thuringia and East Berlin participated in the construction and guarding of the Wall. Over 8,000 KdA, about 20% of all military units, were involved in this effort. During the six week deployment of the KdA to the East-West Berlin sector boundary, only eight members escaped to the West, indicating a high state of morale and political reliability.
The KdA were not used during the peaceful mass protests in late 1989 at the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig as many KdA members identified with the protesters and some participated in the marches. The decline of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) and rapid political changes in East Germany after the Wall was opened made the KdA no longer relevant or necessary. The decision to disband the KdA was made by the East German parliament (Volkskammer) in December 1989. Disarmament of the KdA began that month and was supervised by the police who consolidated and stored weapons and equipment along with the National People's Army (NVA). The final 189,370 fighters (in 2,022 units) were completely demobilized in May 1990.
Command and ControlEdit
The KdA fell under the authority of the Central Committee (Zentralkomitee) (ZK) of the SED. The KdA was the political-military instrument of the SED; it was essentially a "party Army". All KdA directives and decisions were made by the ZK's Politbüro. The ZK also supervised the rest of the armed forces through its security commission (Sicherheitskommission).
The ZK exercised this power through two chains-of-command. The first ran through the Ministry of the Interior and the People's Police (Volkspolizei), which provided military training, equipment and operational expertise. Second was through the SED district (Bezirk) and county (Kreis) directorates in the areas of personnel and political suitability of members.
Commanders of battalions and companies Hundertschaften were appointed by the Party organization in the major factories or enterprises in the area. They were confirmed by the SED county leadership (Kreisleitung) which received regular reports on the state of training, equipment and membership.
By 1989, the KdA's membership totaled approximately 210,000 including approximately 187,000 active members and the remainder in reserve. Recruitment was accomplished by the party branches in the factories and enterprises. Membership was voluntary, but SED party members were required to join as part of their party obligation. Non-party members were compelled to join by the Free German Trade Union Federation (FDGB). Men between the ages of 25 to 60 were eligible for membership. Younger men, if they were not performing military service, were part of the Paramilitary Society for Sport and Technology (GST). The KdA also had a large number of women who were mainly used in the medical and supply services.
The KdA were organized into units based on their workplace. Each large factory, along with many neighbourhoods, had their own Kampfgruppe, each made up of about 100 workers who sought to "defend the property of the people". General units were closely tied to their local based nationalized enterprises, state and local administration offices and other workplaces, and their organizations and their employment did not extend beyond the district level. The mobile or motorized units, designated Battalions of the Regional Reserve, could be employed outside their local and district areas.
The KdA were organised like infantry, and were to supplement the military and police serving as security in rear areas during wartime or in political emergencies, such as protests against the government.
Training and EquipmentEdit
Training was conducted by the People's Police (Volkspolizei) to avoid the KdA being counted as part of the total strength of the armed forces under international treaties. A KdA member trained with his group after work and on weekends for a total of 136 hours annually. KdA training camps were held annually, usually in the wilderness.
The KdA had at their disposal many of the weapons that the police would use in riot situations, and also SK-1 armoured cars, SK-2 water cannon (both armoured and unarmoured versions), 82mm mortars; 76mm antitank guns; and 23mm and 37mm antiaircraft guns. In terms of infantry weapons, the KdA were armed with both WWII German and Soviet infantry weapons during the 1950s and 1960s In later years, they would be re-equipped with modern rifles.
Truppführer/Gruppenführer/Geschützführer/Werferführer - Squad Leader/Group Leader/Cannon Leader/Ejector Leader
Zugführer - Platoon Leader
Stellvertreter des Kommandeurs des selbständigen Zuges - Deputy Leader of the Independent Platoon
Kommandeur des selbständigen Zuges - Leader of the Independent Platoon
Stellvertreter des Hundertschaftskommandanten - Deputy Company Commander
Stellvertreter des Batteriekommandanten - Deputy Leader of an Artillery Battery
Hundertschaftskommandeur - Company Commander
Batteriekommandeur - Battery Commander
Gehilfe des Stellvertreters des Bataillonskommandeurs - Adjutant of the Deputy Battalion Leader
Propagandist - Propagandist
Fahrlehrer - Driving Instructor
Stellvertreter des Stabschefs - Deputy Chief Of Staff
Bataillonsarzt - Battalion's Physician
Stellvertreter des Bataillonskommandeurs - Deputy Battalion Commander
Parteisekretär - Party Secretary
Bataillonskommandeur - Battalion Commander
Innendienstleiter - Duty Officer
Entry: No prerequisites
The Combat Groups of the Working Class troops spend one secondary activity period learning the following skills:
- Small Arms: 1
- Melee Combat: 1
They then serve as Militia, rolling for initiative as civilians. In wartime, they serve as Internal Security troops, gaining wartime subsequent term skills in the following:
- Small Arms (Rifle or Pistol)
- Armed or Unarmed Martial Arts
- Ground Vehicle (Wheeled)
Special: Characters with Intelligence and Education > 13 may enter as an officer, but must roll 1D10 against Charisma for entrance. If so, they receive a level 1 Leadership skill, are commissioned and roll for initiative as civilians.
W. Bader, Civil War in the Marking; The Combat Groups of the Working Class in East Germany, Independent Information Centre, London
Forester, Thomas M., The East German Army; Second in the Warsaw Pact, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1980
DEUTSCHLAND-ARCHIV, Growth of Worker Militia Units Reviewed, Cologne, Vol 16 No 11, Nov 1983