by Shawn Bohannon

The Zivilverteidigung (Civil Defense) of the German Democratic Republic traced its roots to the mid-1950s with the establishment of the Organisation des zivilen Luftschutzes (Organization of Civilian Air Defense). In mid-1958, the organization evolved into the Kommando Luftschutz (Air Defense Command) and was subordinated to the Ministry of the Interior. In the late-1960s it was reorganized as the Luftschutzes zur Zivilverteidigung (Air Defense for Civil Defense) and continued to function under the direction of the Minister of the Interior.

Concerned with the catastrophic effects that nuclear weapons would inflict on its population centers in the event of war, the defense ministers of the Warsaw Pact deemed their protection to be of vital strategic importance. To this end, the Warsaw Pact member states agreed to strengthen and coordinate the efforts of their respective civil defense organizations. With a renewed sense of relevance, the Civil Defense of the German Democratic Republic transferred to the authority of the Ministry for National Defense effective 1 June 1976. The responsibility for its management and development lay henceforth with the Minister for National Defense. Shortly thereafter, the Hauptverwaltung Zivilverteidigung (HVZV) (Civil Defense Main Administration) was established in Berlin. Further structural changes became effective starting from June 1978. In addition to controlling wartime civil defense, the organization coordinated response measures for catastrophes and other dangers threatening the civil population. Of note, the Civil Defense did not belong to the Nationale Volksarmee.

Leiter der Zivilverteidigung der DDR

Generalleutnant Fritz Peter (1 Dec 1976-30 Apr 1990)

Stellvertreter des Leiters und Chef des Stabes

Generalmajor Rudi Schütz (1 June 1978-30 Nov 1986)
Generalmajor Werner Zaroba (1 Sep 1986-30 Sep 1990)

Stellvertreter des Leiters und Chef des Bevölkerungs- und Volkswirtschaftsschutzes

Oberst Rolf Fischer (1 Dec 1976-31 May 1990)

Stellvertreter des Leiters und Chef Ausbildung

Oberst Klaus Rude (1 June 1978-31 Aug 1990)

Stellvertreter des Leiters und Chef der Politischen Verwaltung

Oberst Kurt Sommer (16 Nov 1977-30 Apr 1990)

Leiter/Kommandeur der Zentralen Lehranstalt (1967-1972)/ der Fachschule (1972-1978)/ des Instituts der Zivilverteidigung der DDR (1978-1984)

Oberst Hugo Harwardt (15 Nov 1967-31 Mar 1984)

Kommandeur des Instituts der Zivilverteidigung der DDR

Generalmajor Albert Pankau (1 Mar 1984-31 Mar 1990)

Generals in the Zivilverteidigung der DDR (1976-1990): 8

Generalmajor Dr. rer. pol., Dipl.-Mil. Rolf Fischer
Generalmajor (a.D.) Dipl.-Staats-Wiss. Hugo Harwardt
Generalmajor Dipl.-Mil. Albert Pankau
Generaloberst Dipl.-Mil. Fritz Peter
Generalmajor Dipl.-Staats-Wiss. Klaus Rude
Generalmajor Dipl.-Mil. Rudi Schütz
Generalmajor Dipl.-Mil. Kurt Sommer
Generalmajor Dipl.-Mil. Werner Zaroba

Sources used

Ehlert, Hans & Wagner, Armin (editors). Genosse General! Die Militärelite der DDR in biografischen Skizzen. Ch. Links Verlag, Berlin, Germany, 2003.
Froh, Klaus & Wenzke, Rüdiger. Die Generale und Admirale der NVA: Ein biographisches Handbuch. Ch. Links Verlag, Berlin, Germany, 2000.