U.S. Carbines in Germany and Austria

and the
U.S. M1 Carbine

The M1 Carbines
in the
British Occupation Zone
Lower Saxony

The American Occupation Zone The British Occupation Zone National Agencies Additional Info
Bavaria Berlin Lower Saxony Border Guard Accessories
Bremen Enclave Hessen Bundeswehr Oddities
Wurttemberg-Baden Labor Service Parts

After the end of the war the area that would become Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) found itself lying within the British Occupation Zone. In 1946 the British Office of Military Government merged the former German states of Brunswick, Oldenburg, and Schaumburg-Lippe with the former Prussian province of Hanover to form Niedersachsen.

What would become known as the Bremen Enclave, including the ports of Bremen and Bremerhaven, were within the area that became Lower Saxony. The Bremen Enclave was created and became part of the American Occupation Zone when America insisted on having it's own port in Western Europe. The Bremen Enclave is the white areas Cuxhaven and Osterholz on the map below.

In 1952 when the West German government took control of most of the responsibilities for West Germany, the British, French, and American Occupation Zones became one zone, though the occupation did not end until May 1955. Having been under the control of the British, the weapons the police of Lower Saxony were armed with prior to 1952 were provided by the British, and not of American manufacture.

On 01 October 1952 the Niedersachsen Ministry of the Interior in Hannover obtained a loan of 500 of Bavaria's U.S. M1 carbines. All of these carbines were marked "Bavaria Rural Police". [Bavaria's War Baby, DWJ Magazine, December 2007; personal communication with the author, Gerhard Ortmeier]

On 05 Nov 1952 the Minister of the Interior of Niedersachsen issued an order (II/2e - 22.80.05) for distribution of the first M1 carbines. These were issued to the Landespolizei with directions that they were to be issued to their "Alert Police". The orders also allowed for the Landespolizei to use the carbines to kill animals with rabies, which had become a serious threat after the war. [Niedersachsen Landespolizei archives]

During 1952 the German police agencies within the Western Allied Occupation Zones re-organized their forces to include the "Alert Police", known as the Bereitschaftspolizei (BEPO). These units consisted of officers of the Landespolizei while they were in training and during their first four years with the Landespolizei. The units were structured as a 24/7 emergency response unit that handled major events including catastrophes and riots. Collectively, the BEPO of all of the Western Allied Occupation Zones could be pooled by the German government if the need arose. They were organized and equipped as a para-military force, with weapons of an army vs. just the police.

Distribution to the Landespolizei of Niedersachsen 05 Nov 1952
Landespolizei LocaleM1
Aurich Region 9 270 8
Braunschweig Administrative District 18 540 10
Braunschweig Police Directorate 9 270 8
Hannover HQ 27 810 15
Hannover Region 18 540 10
Hildesheim Region 27 810 15
Lüuneburg Region 27 810 15
Oldenburg Region 18 540 10
Osnabrück Region 18 540 10
Stade Region 18 540 10
Landespolizei School 54 2700 20
Totals 243 8370 132

The directions for issuing the carbines included instructions allowing the police cadets to fire 3 rounds each, at 100 yards. Police officers were allowed to fire a maximum of 10 rounds each. Until companies in West Germany began manufacturing large quantities of ammunition in the mid to late 1950's, sufficient ammunition for the carbines was an issue for all of the German agencies that used the carbines.

On 27 July 1954 Lower Saxony obtained another loan from Bavaria of an additional 1000 U.S. M1 carbines. In 1955 Lower Saxony obtained an additional 900 U.S. M1 carbines from Bavaria, paying Bavaria 75 DM each for all of the carbines they had been loaned. This included an additional 300 carbines obtained sometime between 1952 and 1955, for a total of 2700 U.S. M1 carbines. All of the carbines were obtained for the police of Lower Saxony. [Bavaria's War Baby, DWJ Magazine, December 2007; personal communication with the author, Gerhard Ortmeier]

At the time Lower Saxony received their carbines they were no longer required to place markings on the weapons that identified which agency was using them. Many weapons that served with the police in Niedersachsen have the letters Nds within a square, or, for the Landespolizei the letters LPN. According to the Office of History for the Niedersachsen Landespolizei, the M1 carbines they obtained from Bavaria were not marked with any identifying marks by Niedersachsen or their police. Bavaria's Waffenamt office had been ordered to remove the Bavaria agency markings from at least the first carbines (marked Bavaria Rural Police) that went to Niedersachsen, but it is not known if the order applied to all of the carbines, or, if they followed this order for the first carbines and not the rest. They had also been ordered to remove the markings of 2000 carbines sold to the Austria Gendarmerie and this did not happen.


On 25 Apr 1955 the Niedersachsen Ministry of the Interior issued an order (III/2b - 22.80.27 - Nr. 1181/55) for M1 carbines equipped with 1 x 11 scopes be issued to various Landespolizei posts, the Water Police, and the Criminal Police. [Niedersachsen Landespolizei archives]

Those of us familiar with the M1 carbine would rightfully question the logic of using scopes on a rifle meant for distances of 300 yards or less. The answer is simple, accuracy. Given the limited amount of ammunition with which to practice and use, the danger of shooting unintended targets, and the fact the police were not issued rifles with greater distance and accuracy, they made do with what they had. Shooting a rabid fox in a populated area required accuracy and as few shots as possible. It's difficult to consider the M1 carbine a "sniper rifle", until you take into account the history of West Germany in regards to arming their police 1945-1972. ["Munich" movie editorial, Visier Magazine 25 Jan 2006]

Scoped M1 Carbines for the
Niedersachsen Police - 25 Nov 1955
LocaleScoped M1 Carbines
Aurich Region 6
Braunschweig Administrative District 10
Braunschweig Police Directorate 4
Hannover Police Directorate 4
Hannover Region 10
Hildesheim Region 10
Lüuneburg Region 10
Oldenburg Administrative District 8
Oldenburg Police Directorate 2
Osnabrück Police Directorate 2
Osnabrück Region 8
Stade Region 8
Wilhelmshaven Police Directorate 2
Water Police Ordnance Office 3
Criminal Police Ordnance Office 3
Total 90

The scope was mounted to the left side of the receiver and provided enough distance over the top of the carbine to allow for use of the scope or the regular carbine sights.

Niedersachsen's Manual for the U.S. M1 carbine (Dienstvorschriften)

Niedersachsen's Ministry of the Interior issued a user's manual for the M1 carbine, beginning with the first carbines they issued 5 Nov 1952. A copy of this manual is in possession of the History Department of the Landespolizei, but examination of the contents has been limited to a few photocopies kindly provided by Niedersachsen. A copy of this manual is being sought, even if only a photocopy.

Courtesy of the Niedersachsen Landespolizei Archives

Courtesy of the Niedersachsen Landespolizei Archives

Courtesy of the Niedersachsen Landespolizei Archives

Disposition of Niedersachsen's U.S. M1 carbine

It is not known what happened to these carbines, at this point. Research into this, along with Niedersachsen's use of the M1 carbine, is continuing.

Return to Menu