The M1 Carbines
The territory of the original German state of Hessen was altered at the end of the war. The area remaining was known as Hessen-Nassau from 08 May 1945 through 19 Sep 1945, Greater Hessen from 20 Sep 1945 through 30 Nov 1946, and finally the Federal State of Hessen on 01 Dec 1946.
Hessen had a post-war population of approximately 4,025,000 within 13,117 sq. miles. An area slightly larger than the State of Maryland. The Office of Military Government, U.S. (OMGUS) subdivided Hessen into three regional districts: Darmstadt, Kassel, and Wiesbaden.
Frankfurt was the largest city in Hessen with the largest city police force. They had 24 police stations as well as 14 land posts and district branches. In October 1945, each district branch received one Colt 1911 with three rounds of ammunition. (1)
Frankfurt was the headquarters of U.S. Forces Europe, whose staff occupied the former I.G. Farben building (chemical cartel that had produced chemical weapons, and the gas used in the Nazi death camps). At the end of the war, the building was renamed the General Creighton W. Abrams Building and is currently the Humanities Building of Johann Wolfgang Goethe University. Many of the U.S. Army Office of Ordnance depots that contained small arms were scattered between Frankfurt and Stuttgart, located approximately 130 miles to the south-southeast.
The U.S. Carbines used by Hessen
On 04 Apr 1946, the U.S. Office of Military Government (OMGUS) for Hessen issued a directive for the marking of weapons used by the police in Hessen. Initials identifying the police agency were to be stamped in the top of the recoil plate with a metal die. Revolvers were to be stamped with the agency markings on the rear strap of the grip.
Additional markings could be added, and sometimes were, at the direction of the particular police agency, one of their subdivisions, or the police in a particular geographical area. Not all of these agencies were issued U.S. Carbines.
By June 1949, the Hessen Polizei had received 2,458 M1 carbines and 4,590 pistols from the U.S. Military Government (OMGUS), Hessen.(4)
One feature unique to some of the carbines used throughout Hessen was the polishing of the finish to a bright shiny blue. Sometimes to a degree it partially removed the U.S. Carbine markings on the receiver ring and/or the manufacturer and/or serial number on top of the receiver behind the rear sight. Those with markings removed needed to be reblued or refinished and were buffed to a bright shiny finish.
Before the end of the occupation, Hessen reimbursed OMGUS for the cost of the weapons, thereby taking ownership. The U.S. carbines were used by the police in Hessen from 1946-1976. Hessen records indicate they had sold a total of 3,396 U.S. carbines by 1977.
Border Police - Grenzpolizei
The Hessen border was 730km (about 453 miles) long. To the north, south, and west they shared borders with the occupation zones of the other Western Allies. In the east 105km (65 miles) of their border was shared with the East German land/state of Thuringia, part of the Russian Occupation Zone.
The Hessen Border Police were established in February 1946, with 635 officers. Border patrol duties had been handled by the Hessen Gendarmerie prior. By 1947, the Border Police had been reduced to 323 officers. In October 1949, the Hessen Border Police were absorbed into the Federal Republic's new customs police. Many of the former Border Police officers remained with the Hessen Landpolizei.
Records indicating how many carbines had been issued to the Hessen Border Police have yet to be located. However, approval from the joint Allied Control Council for the Occupation of Germany to arm the police throughout both West and East Germany had specified the police working along the borders were the only police approved to use carbines. Within the American Occupation Zone these carbines were U.S. carbines.
The example shown above and below has the number 5 engraved on a half dozen parts of this carbine. Not enough examples of U.S. carbines used by Hessen have been examined to determine if this was common throughout Hessen or only done by the Border Police. U.S. carbines polished to a bright blue with various parts numbered with a single digit unrelated to the serial number have been observed among the U.S. carbines used by the gendarmerie in the Austrian land/state of Upper Austria. One example had a recoil plate with the markings of the Hessen Border Police (HE-B). It is not known if the gendarmerie in Upper Austria also polished the finish to a bright blue and added a single digit to various parts or if the carbines had been purchased from Hessen. It's also possible some of the carbines used by Hessen were returned to U.S. inventory then later reissued to the Austrian gendarmerie. The example shown here was not used by Austria.
Civilian Guard - Wachpolizei
In 1945, civilian security guards were recruited by, and under the command of, the reformed local police stations. Guards were hired to assist with guarding buildings. The guards wore no uniforms. They were identified by military government armbands they wore over their civilian clothes. The armbands were in English and German. As with the police, it soon became clear the guards needed to be armed due to the number and severity of physical attacks on the guards.
The guards were armed with U.S. carbines and/or handguns. The letters HE-CG were placed on the weapons they were issued, as indicated above. It is not known how many carbines they were issued. (3)
In February 1947, the Civilian Guard agency and personnel were transferred to the U.S. Military Police and renamed the Industrial Police (Industriepolizei). The M.P.'s organized the Industriepolizei into battalions, companies, and platoons and issued them U.S. military uniforms with police arm patches identifying them as Industriepolizei. The officers lived in their own barracks at American military bases in the areas they served. They were used to strengthen the U.S. Military Police by guarding American facilities, housing areas, cargo, and other areas.
The Industriepolizei in Hessen were equivalent to the Labor Service Guard Battalions used in the other U.S. Occupation Sectors in Germany.
The weapons they had been issued as the Civilian Guard were returned to the Hessen Police. They were rearmed with carbines and handguns from the inventory of the U.S. Military Police, who retained ownership of the weapons. The Industriepolizei in Hessen along with the Civilian Guards and Labor Service in other U.S. sectors were an extension of the M.P.'s of their sector as opposed to a stand alone German police agency.
Also refer to the section on the Justice Police below.
Forestry Police - Forstpolizei
The Hessen Forestry Police are not known to have been issued U.S. weapons. They were issued German K98 rifles that were marked with the letters HE-F. (3)
Justice Police - Justizpolizei (or Industrial Police - Industriepolizei)
A 1951 inventory conducted by Hessen indicates the Hessen Justice Police had been issued 279 U.S. carbines, 215 U.S. S&W revolvers, and 10 U.S. Model 1911 pistols. The Justice Police guarded the criminal prisons in Hessen.
No documentation has been located to confirm the markings assigned to the Justice Police. The HE-J.P. example below would logically fit this agency. The authors of Dienstwaffen der deutschen Polizei und Gendarmerie, Historie, Technk, Kennzeichnung - Hessen (3) have indicated they believe these markings were possibly the Industriepolizei. They indicate the letter J may have been used as no stamp with the letter I was available.
So far this author's research has indicated the Hessen Industriepolizei were under the command of the U.S. Military Police with their weapons not being subject to the markings required under the occupation laws as the weapons remained the property of the Military Police.
If anyone has documentation or evidence that can confirm which agency this was please contact me on our forums (sleeplessnashadow).
Placing the serial number on parts was often something decided by an agency's armorer or regional armorer in an effort to keep the parts with the firearm they were on. The Germans used this protocol as most of their weapons required hand fitting certain parts. They were initially unaware of the interchangeability of the parts on any U.S. carbine. The single digit shown on the HE-B carbine above served the same purpose.
Criminal Police Investigators - Kriminalpolizei
Police investigators who investigate crimes in Germany (commonly referred to as detectives in the United States) are a police agency separate from the others.
Municipal Police - Stadtpolizei
The U.S. Office of Military Government in Hessen ordered every city with a population of 5000 or more to have their own city police department under oversight of the city's elected officials. Cities with a population under 5000 were allowed to have their own city police department or opt to use the Hessen Landespolizei.
On 6 Nov 1945, the joint Allied Control Council for the Occupation of Germany enacted Directive No. 16, Arming of the German Police. This law allowed the city police throughout Germany to be armed, but only with handguns. The weapons were not to be issued until the German police agencies were considered organized, trained, and operating effectively.
Prior to this directive, the U.S. Office of Military Government for Hessen had issued a limited number of carbines, handguns, and ammunition to several city police agencies in Hessen. The March 1946 OMGUS directive to the Hessen police directed the Municipal Police who had received carbines to mark the carbines HE-R under the supervision of the OMGUS Public Safety Officer. The carbines were to be turned over to the Hessen Rural Police as soon as the revolvers were issued. (3)
U.S. Carbine used by the Hessen Municipal Police (Stadtpolizei)
S&W Victory revolver used by Hessen Municipal Police
Rural Police - Gendarmerie/Landespolizei
OMGUS designated the Hessen land/state police as the Rural Police and divided them into three separate jurisdictional districts. The Germans referred to these officers as the Hessen Gendarmerie in the districts of Darmstadt and Wiesbaden and as the Landjägerei in the district of Kassel. In 1952 all three were unified into one organization, the Hessen Landespolizei. (5)
As was done with some of the Municipal Police, prior to the directive of the Allied Control Council carbines and handguns had been issued in limited numbers to the Rural Police. The March 1946 OMGUS directive to the Hessen police indicated the carbines and handguns already in possession of the Rural Police would be marked with the HE-R by teams of German civilians from Wiesbaden Police headquarters. (3)
U.S. Carbine used by the Hessen Rural Police
Over time, as other police agencies reorganized or merged with new federal agencies the duties of the Landespolizei sometimes also changed to fill the void left by others. These changes sometimes required different weapons and/or made weapons available in different quantities.
Water Police - Wasserschutzpolizei
The Rhine river flows along the southwest border of Hessen. The Weser river runs from the coast at Bremerhaven, through Bremen, the north of Hessen and into Thuringia, formerly part of East Germany and the Russian Occupation Zone. The Hessen Water Police worked these and other major waterways. In 1948 they had 395 officers, 51 boats, 31 cars, 22 motorcycles. Each boat was assigned 1 U.S. carbine until 1958 when a second U.S. carbine was added to each boat. (3)
Documentation of the markings on the weapons used by the Water Police has not been found. Given this agency's OMGUS designation as the Water Police, it is assumed the markings may have been HE-WP.
Hessen Police Weapons - Hessen Crest added 1969
For the U.S. carbines still in service in Hessen the crest was added to the top of the receiver on the bevel between the serial number and recoil plate.
A number of German sources have indicated they had seen U.S. carbines used by Hessen with the Hessen crest that had the U.S. markings and serial numbers removed. It is not known if this was done with all the U.S. carbines when the crest was applied or if it was limited to carbines in use with a particular agency within Hessen.
Hessen Police Custom "Sniper" Rifle
The author indicates that in Hessen and in other parts of West Germany in 1972 there were still large numbers of U.S. M1 carbines in use by and/or available to the police. A supervisor at the Hessen Police armory acquired the Diavari 1.5 - 6 x 36 by Zeiss from the commercial market. He also arranged for the manufacture of a thumbhole Mannlicher type stock by Wolfe. The stock was made from high quality walnut. It was described as luxurious. Hessen made 30 of these carbines. "A few" of the carbines were placed in special gun cases lined with green felt with the interior form fitted to the carbine. The case interior included compartments for magazines and accessories. These carbines were no longer used after 1974/1975, due to the changes implemented after the incident at Munich. (7)
"A custom 7.62 x 33mm (.30) M1 Carbine as used by the Hessian State Police in West Germany. The stock was made by Messrs Wolfe, a noted sporting stock manufacturing company. The scope is a Zeiss-Diavari 1.5 to 6 power variable telescope. About thirty of these special rifles were made" for the Hessian State Police, who used them as sniper rifles.
In 1983, the Hessen police sold all thirty carbines to Peter M. Busch Import-Export of Höchberg, Würzburg Kreis, Bavaria, Germany. Busch indicated all were marked with his company logo on the bottom of the trigger housing and on top of the barrel under the handguard. All were sold to collectors in West Germany.
Company logo of Peter M. Busch Import-Export of Höchberg, Würzburg Kreis, Bavaria, Germany
consisting of a black powder pistol through the middle of the letter B
The photographs below were provided by Waffen Merle GmbH in Göppingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Unfortunately, the rifle was unavailable for additional photographs of the U.S. and/or West German markings.
The wood in the thumbhole and on the handgrip is custom checkered.
Wolfe had manufactured approximately 50-100 additional stocks. These were later sold in America by Interstate Arms.
Those of us familiar with the M1 carbine might question the logic of using scopes on a rifle meant for distances less than 300 yards. It is difficult to consider the M1 carbine a "sniper rifle", until you take into account the history of West Germany regarding rearming their police 1945-1972. The police had not been issued rifles with greater distance and accuracy. They made do with what they had.
Scopes on U.S. carbines were also used by the Bavaria Forestry Police during the American occupation and the Niedersachsen Landespolizei after the occupation ended. Europe was experiencing a problem with rabid foxes wandering into populated areas in search of food. The scopes were used for better shot accuracy to avoid hitting civilians.
Hessen Police Regulations for the M1 Carbine - A User Manual
In September 1954, the Hessen Ministry of the Interior published a User Manual for Hessen police officers for the M1 carbine. The manual is approximately 3" wide x 4.5" tall with 35 pages covering the function, operation, disassembly, cleaning, and care of the M1 carbine. Eight of the pages are excellent illustrations depicting the carbine parts, names (in German).
The example below is ink stamped for the Hessen Police Administrative Office in Wiesbaden-Kastel.