The Technische Hilfswerk can look back on an eventful development and many years of commitment by voluntary workers. On 22 August 1950 the Federal Minister of the Interior agreed upon starting the establishment of a civil security service in Germay. Today the federal agency is one of the most modern relief organisations worldwide.
It was a time of political and cultural changes and renewals in post-war Europe when the first meeting was on 1950 in Bonn, to discuss the development of a civil protection tool in the Federal Republic of Germany. At that time, there were hardly any structures of civil protection in the newly founded republic, so the spoken promise given by the Minister of the Interior on that evening signified a crucial innovation.
In 1953, the “Technische Hilfswerk” became a federal agency, thanks to the constitutional mandate by the Federal Ministry of the Interior. The “Technische Hilfswerk”, founded in the era of the cold war and the division of Germany to maintain “public safety”, among other tasks, has continued to develop since then in many respects. Right from the start, the guiding principle of the Federal Agency which stands behind the operations of the voluntary staff has remained the same. To commit oneself on a voluntary basis to the protection of the population and people in distress is a humanitarian idea, which makes THW known, not only at home, but also well beyond the borders of the Republic and Europe.
For more than 50 years, the “Technische Hilfswerk” has been operating in Germany every day in order to render technical assistance. The competent help of the “Blue Angels”, as the volunteers of the “Technische Hilfswerk” were called by the French population after their operation in France in 1999, has ranged from the disasters that moved the nation in the 1960s, such as the flood in Hamburg and the mining accident of Lengede to the floods of the Elbe and Oder at the beginning of the new millennium. The repair work after the storm tide in the Netherlands in 1953 marks the beginning of the missions of the “Technische Hilfswerk” abroad. It was followed by humanitarian assistance after drought periods, civil wars and earthquakes in Africa, Europe and South America, as well as in South and South-East Asia after the Tsunami disaster. In 2005, the “Technische Hilfswerk” provided technical assistance to the United States for the first time in its history. The earthquake in Haiti is another chapter of humanitarian aid abroad: THW provided the population with drinking water and supported the German Embassy in coordinating the German relief measures.
Through its competent, quick and selfless relief measures domestically and abroad, the “Technische Hilfswerk” is making a contribution in the effort to reduce hardship and disasters. Through its operations after disasters and in its long-term reconstruction projects, it implements humanitarian aid worldwide on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany. On occasion – as after the operation of the “Technische Hilfswerk” in Skopje, Yugoslavia in 1963. Today the Technische Hilfswerk participates in the worldwide intermeshing of all relief organisations as an internationally active operational organisation. As a competent partner, the “Technische Hilfswerk” is assigned a sustaining role by the United Nations as well as in the European Union.
It is the manifold range of tasks, the commitment and the quality of its work which have earned the members of THW its good reputation at home and abroad since its foundation in 1950. Whatever kind of technical support is needed, the voluntary experts of THW know their business. The tasks of the volunteers are derived from the law concerning the Federal Agency for Technical Relief.
Technical Threat Prevention:
-Search, rescue and salvage
-Clearing and blasting
-Rescue from water dangers
-Fight against flooding and inundation
-Lighting of operational areas
Technical Support in the Range of Infrastructure:
-Drinking water supply
-Waste water disposal
Command/ Communication, Logistics:
-Establishment and operation of command centres
-Creation of temporary telecommunication systems
-Establishment and operation of logistic bases
-Catering and care of operational staff
-Maintenance of material, repair and maintenance work for mission equipment
-Transportation of consumer items for mission demands
Technical Support in the Protection of the Environment:
-Fight against oil damage
-Provision of the Population
-Electricity and drinking water provision
-Waste water disposal
-Establishment and equipment of emergency accommodation and collecting points with matching infrastructure
Further Technical Support:
-Technical help on traffic routes
-Rescue from heights
-Makeshift road works
-Maintenance of civil protection facilities (emergency wells, shelter)