Grenzschutzgruppe 9 (GSG 9) (English: Border Protection Group 9) is
Police Tactical Unit
Police Tactical Unit of the German Federal
GSG 9 counterparts on the state level are the Special
Deployment Commandos (German: Spezialeinsatzkommandos (SEK)).
2.1 Name Change
4.1 Publicly known missions
6 Recruitment and training
9 Annual Warrior Competition
10 See also
12 External links
On September 5, 1972, the Palestinian terrorist movement Black
September infiltrated the Summer Olympic Games in Munich, West
Germany, to kidnap 11 Israeli athletes, killing two in the Olympic
Village in the initial assault on the athletes' rooms. The incident
culminated when German police, who were not trained or equipped for
counter-terrorism operations, underestimated the number of terrorists
involved, attempted to rescue the athletes.
Police did not have a
specialized tactical sniper team at that time. The army had snipers,
German Constitution did not allow the use of German Armed
Forces on German soil during peacetime.
The police rescue failed, and the operation led to the deaths of one
policeman, five of the eight kidnappers and all of the remaining nine
As a consequence of the mismanagement of the Olympic tragedy, the West
German government created the
GSG 9 under the leadership of then
Ulrich Wegener so that similar situations in the future
could be responded to adequately and professionally. Many German
politicians opposed its formation, fearing
GSG 9 would rekindle
memories of the Nazi Party's
Schutzstaffel (SS). The decision was
taken to form the unit from police forces, as opposed to from the
military, like the equivalent forces in other countries, on the ground
that German federal law expressly forbids the use of the military
forces against the civilian population. Composing the special force
from police personnel would avoid that. The unit was officially
established on April 17, 1973 as a part of Germany's federal police
Bundesgrenzschutz (Federal Border Guard Service, renamed
Bundespolizei or Federal
Police in 2005). However, the then-BGS did
have something of a paramilitary nature, used military ranks (until
1976), had combatant status (until 1994), and could (at least
theoretically) draw conscripts (until the present).
In 2017, the GSG9 announced that a CT unit meant to handle CBRN
situations will be based in Berlin.
The unit operates by the israeli "Sayeret Matkal" training and
organization standards. It also trains with the Israeli "Special
Police Unit" who specialize in Anti Terror warfare. In 1977, Israeli
Police Commander Zvi Bar awarded GSG-9 the title "Best
Terrorism Unit in the World".
GSG 9 stood for Grenzschutzgruppe 9 (Border Guard Group 9)
and was chosen simply because the BGS had eight regular border guard
groups at the time. After the 2005 renaming, the abbreviation "GSG 9"
was kept because of the fame of the unit and is now the official way
to refer to the unit. Its formation was based on the expertise of the
British SAS Counter Terrorist Units and Israeli
GSG 9 is deployed in cases of hostage-taking, kidnapping, terrorism
and extortion. The group may also be used to secure locations,
neutralize targets, track down fugitives, and sometimes conduct sniper
operations. The unit is very active in developing and testing methods
and tactics for these missions. The group may provide advice to the
different states of Germany, ministries or international allies. The
group assists the Bundespolizei and other federal and local agencies
From 1972 to 2003, they reportedly completed over 1,500 missions,
discharging their weapons on only five occasions. At the SWAT World
Challenge in 2005,
GSG 9 won eight out of eight events, beating 17
GSG 9 defended its championship the following year,
and placed fifth in 2007.
Germany offered to render assistance to
India in the wake of the
November 2008 Mumbai attacks.
GSG 9 helped train and upgrade the
National Security Guards, the primary Indian counter-terrorism
unit. Further help was provided to the
Mumbai Police so that they
could raise a police tactical unit.
GSG 9 exercise in 2005
GSG 9 operators rappel on a building of the German Bundeskriminalamt.
Its first mission, "Operation Feuerzauber" (Operation Fire Magic),
immediately established the GSG 9's reputation as an elite unit. It
was carried out in 1977 when Palestinian terrorists hijacked the
Lufthansa plane on the way from
Palma de Mallorca
Palma de Mallorca to
Frankfurt, demanding that imprisoned members of the German Red Army
Faction terrorist group be freed in exchange for the passengers and
crew who would be held as hostages. The aircraft was then flown to
several destinations throughout the Middle East. During this time, the
Lufthansa captain Jürgen Schumann was murdered by the leader of the
hijackers in Aden.
Following a four-day odyssey, the hijackers directed the
Boeing 737 to
Mogadishu, Somalia, where they waited for the arrival of the Red Army
Faction members after the German government had (falsely) signalled
they would be released. In the night between October 17 and October
18, Somali ranger units created a distraction, while members of the
GSG 9 stormed the plane.
The operation lasted seven minutes and was successful with all of the
hostages rescued. Three hijackers died, the fourth was seriously
injured. Only one
GSG 9 member and one flight attendant were injured.
The international counter-terrorism community applauded the
GSG 9 for
the excellent and professional handling of the situation, as assaults
on planes are considered to be one of the most difficult operations
that a hostage rescue force is likely to need to do. To support the
GSG 9 action, two accompanying British SAS advisers provided some
newly developed flash bang grenades, but ultimately the flash bangs
were never used due to the fire risk inside the aircraft cabin.
Publicly known missions
October 17–18, 1977:
Lufthansa Flight 181
Lufthansa Flight 181 was hijacked by four
Palestinian terrorists demanding the release of
Red Army Faction
Red Army Faction (RAF)
GSG 9 officers stormed the aircraft on the ground in
Mogadishu, Somalia, and freed all 86 hostages, killing three
terrorists and capturing the remaining one.
1982: Arrest of RAF terrorists
Brigitte Mohnhaupt and Adelheid Schulz.
June 27, 1993: Arrest of RAF terrorists
Birgit Hogefeld and Wolfgang
Grams in Bad Kleinen. The theory that
Wolfgang Grams was executed in
revenge for the death of
GSG 9 operative
Michael Newrzella during the
mission (Grams had shot and killed Newrzella when Newrzella tried to
tackle him) was discredited by the official investigation which found
that Grams committed suicide.
1993: Ending of the hijacking of a
KLM flight from
Tunis to Amsterdam,
redirected to Düsseldorf, without firing a single shot.
1994: Ended a hostage situation in the
1994: Involved in the search for the kidnappers Albert and Polak.
1998: Arrest of a man trying to extort money from the German railway
company Deutsche Bahn.
1999: Arrest of
Metin Kaplan in Cologne.
1999: Arrest of two suspected members of the Rote Zellen (Red Cells)
1999: Involved in ending the hostage situation in the central bank in
2000: Advised the
Philippines in relation to a hostage situation.
2001: Arrested two spies in Heidelberg.
2001: Assisted in the liberation of four German tourists in Egypt.
2002: Arrested a number of terrorists related to the September 11,
2003: Protection of the four members of the German Technisches
Hilfswerk (THW – the governmental disaster relief organization of
Germany) in Baghdad, Iraq. The THW's mission was to repair the water
GSG 9 is responsible for protecting German embassy property and
personnel, including the embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. On April 7, 2004
two members were attacked and killed near
Fallujah while in a convoy
travelling from Amman,
Jordan to Baghdad. The men, aged 25 and 38,
were travelling in a car at the rear of the convoy, and therefore
received most of the enemy fire after passing the ambush. The men were
shot after their armoured Mitsubishi Pajero/Shogun was hit and stopped
by RPGs. In a later statement, the attackers apologized for mistaking
the German convoy for an American convoy. One of the bodies is still
2007: Three suspected terrorists were seized on Tuesday, 4 September
2007 for planning huge bomb attacks on targets in Germany. The bombs
they were planning to make would have had more explosive power than
those used in the Madrid and London terror attacks. They wanted to
build a bomb in southern
Germany capable of killing as many as
possible. Fritz Gelowicz, 29, Adem Yilmaz, 29 and Daniel Schneider,
22, were charged with membership in a terrorist organization, making
preparations for a crime involving explosives and, in Schneider's
case, attempted murder.
GSG 9 were on the verge of boarding a German freighter, the
MV Hansa Stavanger, which had been hijacked by Somali pirates. The
case of the Hansa Stavanger, at this time off the Somali coast seemed
sufficiently symbolic to justify another potentially successful rescue
operation, though on a much larger scale. More than 200 GSG 9,
equipped with helicopters, speedboats and advanced weapons, had been
secretly brought, via Kenya, to a location 80 kilometres (50 mi)
from the German freighter. The
United States Navy
United States Navy helicopter carrier
USS Boxer was lent to the Germans to act as their flagship, and a
German Navy warships flanked the Boxer. The ships had been
patrolling near the Hansa Stavanger for days, waiting at a distance to
evade detection on the pirates' radar screens. But the operation was
called off before the rescue effort could begin. US National Security
James L. Jones
James L. Jones had called the Chancellery to cancel the
operation. The US government, worried that the operation could turn
into a suicide mission, was sending the USS Boxer back to the Kenyan
port of Mombasa, where the German forces were to disembark. Officials
at the German Federal
Police headquarters in Potsdam, outside Berlin,
concerned about the potential for a bloodbath, had also spoken out
against the operation.
GSG 9 was involved in a raid on the
Hells Angels chapter
leader Frank Hanebuth (de)'s house, as part of a crackdown on the
group. During the raid, they knocked down the wooden gate and
rappelled from a helicopter onto his residence. They are also reported
to have shot a dog on the premises belonging to Hanebuth.
GSG 9 was deployed to assist with the 2016 Munich
Note: The majority of this unit's missions are confidential and public
information is not available. Since its inception,
GSG 9 has
participated in over 1,500 missions, yet reportedly fired shots only
on five occasions (official count, prior to the 2003
Iraq War). These
Mogadishu in 1977,
Bad Kleinen in 1993,
Aachen in 1999
and two more missions where firearms were used to shoot dogs of the
persons being arrested.
The unit forms part of the German Bundespolizei (Federal Police,
formerly Bundesgrenzschutz), and thus has normal police powers,
including, for example, the power of arrest. The Federal
Germany (and thus the GSG 9) is under the control of the Federal
Ministry of the Interior. The Bundespolizei also provides aerial
transportation for the GSG 9. In contrast, regular police forces are
subordinate to the various States or Länder, as are their
Spezialeinsatzkommando (SEK) teams, while the military is responsible
Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK) (
Special Forces command) and the
GSG 9 is based in Sankt Augustin-Hangelar near
Bonn and is
currently under the command of Olaf Lindner. Previous commanders were
Ulrich Wegener, Uwe Dee, Jürgen Bischoff and Friedrich Eichele. GSG 9
consists of three main sub-groups, plus a number of support groups:
The first sub-group of the
GSG 9 is used for regular land-based
counter-terrorism actions. This may involve cases of hostage taking,
defusing bombs, kidnapping, terrorism or extortion. The group may also
be used to secure locations, neutralize targets, sniping and tracking
The second sub-group of the
GSG 9 is used for operations at sea, for
example the hijacking of ships or oil platforms.
The third sub-group of the
GSG 9 is used for airborne operations,
including parachuting and helicopter landings.
This service group maintains the
GSG 9 armoury and is involved in
testing, repairing and purchasing weapons, ammunition, and explosives.
This unit handles communications, including the testing, repairing and
purchasing of communications and surveillance equipment.
Handles the administration of GSG 9.
This unit supports other units in gaining entry to target areas and is
responsible for the procurement, testing and issuance of non-weapon
equipment. The members of the technical unit are also explosive
ordnance disposal experts and they are cross-trained in direct action
operations. They are trained in the rendering safe and disposal of
improvised explosive devices
This unit trains existing members, selects recruits, and trains new
Recruitment and training
Members of the Bundespolizei and other German police services with at
least two years of service can apply for the selection process of the
GSG 9. The test has the following:
Physical tests, which includes 5000 m run, 100 m sprint, jump,
chin-ups, bench press and obstacle course
Marksmanship test with duty pistol and submachine gun
The subsequent 22-week training period includes thirteen weeks of
basic training and nine weeks of specialized training. The
GSG 9 members is classified as top secret. Further
training often involves co-operation with other allied
counter-terrorism units like Israel's
Yamam and India's National
Security Guards (NSG). Only one in five pass the training course.
Germany: DSR-Precision GmbH DSR-1
GSG9 Tactical Boot (Designed specifically for
GSG 9 by Adidas)
Germany: Heckler & Koch 416 Commando
Germany: Heckler & Koch 417 Commando
Germany: Heckler & Koch G36 (
G36K and G36C)
Germany: Heckler & Koch G8
Germany: Heckler & Koch MP5, in various
Germany: Heckler & Koch MP7A1
Germany: Heckler & Koch MZP-1
Germany: Heckler & Koch PSG1
Germany: Heckler & Koch FABARM FP6
Germany: Heckler & Koch VP9 Tactical is replacing the older
Heckler & Koch USP Tactical (P12)
Austria: Steyr AUG A3
GSG 9 diving watch
Germany: Heckler & Koch Knife
GSG9 is a member of the ATLAS Network.
In 1975, Bischofsgrün, Bavaria, assumed a sponsorship of the GSG
Since 1983, the
GSG 9 hosts the
Combat Team Conference (CTC) on a
four-year basis. The CTC is a competition of international special
The GSG-9-Kameradschaft e. V. is an association of former GSG 9
Annual Warrior Competition
GSG 9 won the 2012
Annual Warrior Competition defeating the defending
2011 champion EKO Cobra.
Spezialeinsatzkommando, German state police forces' police tactical
Zentrale Unterstützungsgruppe Zoll,
Special Support Team for Customs.
^ "Conception for the Establishment and Employment of a Border-Guard
Police Action (GSG9)" (PDF). 19 September 1972. Retrieved
9 September 2017.
^ This norm, for a long time merely theoretical - possibly the only
German law with monetary values in
Deutsche Mark not amened to euros -
has outlasted even the draft suspension of 2011 and is theoretically
still applicable. 
Police - Duties and Organization -
Special Forces GSG 9"
(PDF). Federal Ministry of the Interior. 4 August 2005. p. 17.
Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015.
^ History of The Original SWAT WORLD Challenge Archived February 22,
2012, at the Wayback Machine. "Team GSG-9, the Federal Border Police
of Germany, swept the competition and won all seven events."
^  Archived February 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Elite German police wing to train NSG". Indian Express. 2008-12-20.
^ Samanta, Pranab Dhal (2009-03-29). "German counter-terror force to
help set up Mumbai SWAT team". Indian Express. Retrieved
^ Interview with Ulrich Wegener, Welt Online, 13. Oktober 2007
retrieved on 12-01-2008
^  Archived June 2, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
^  Archived November 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
^ SPIEGEL ONLINE, Hamburg,
Germany (4 May 2009). "Mission Impossible:
German Elite Troop Abandons Plan to Free Pirate Hostages". SPIEGEL
ONLINE. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
^ "German police target
Hells Angels in large-scale raids". BBC News.
Retrieved 20 January 2016.
^ "[live] Shooting in
Munich shopping center". Retrieved
^ "WDR Aktuelle Stunde on Twitter". Retrieved 2016-07-22.
^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on
2015-06-23. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
GSG 9 der Bundespolizei: Informationbrochure Die
GSG 9 der
Bundespolizei sucht Nachwuchs! (Stand: 28. Juni 2007). [Handed out ob
June 19, 2010 by the Federal
Germany on an information day
at the Federal Criminal
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-02. Retrieved
^ "Sinn Uhren: Modell UX GSG 9". Retrieved 20 January 2016.
GSG 9 Kameradschaft e.V. "www.gsg9.de". Retrieved 20 January
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-12. Retrieved
GSG 9 Kameradschaft e.V. "www.gsg9.de". Retrieved 20 January
Wikimedia Commons has media related to GSG 9.
GSG 9 page of the German Federal Police
Site of the
GSG 9 companionship
Law enforcement in Germany
Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz
ASSIK and GSG 9)
Zollkriminalamt (incl. ZUZ)
State police forces
Special units or branches
Arrest unit (incl. BFE+)
Special Deployment Commando
Local public order forces
Bahnpolizei (until 1992)
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Polizei beim D