The Volkspolizei-Bereitschaften (VPB, German for "People's Police Alert Units") were paramilitary police units of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) from 1955 to 1990. The VPB were barracked units of the Volkspolizei for riot control and counterinsurgency with regiment status, under control of the Ministry of the Interior and considered part of the armed forces, but were never part of the National People's Army or the Ministry of National Defence. The VPB were organized as Internal Troops like in many Warsaw Pact countries. The VPB functioned as the de facto armed branch of the Ministry for State Security (Stasi), the secret police force of the German Democratic Republic, although this ministry had its own military unit, the "Felix Dzerzhinsky Guards Regiment" as well.

Insignia of the Volkspolizei-Bereitschaft
ActiveApril 1955 – October 1990
Country German Democratic Republic
Part ofVolkspolizei
Garrison/HQEast Berlin
Members of the Volkspolizei-Bereitschaft on duty at the Brandenburg Gate on 22 December 1989, the day before the opening of the Berlin Wall.


The German Democratic Republic's Ministry of the Interior (German: Ministerium des Innern, or MdI) maintained the independent Department of the Alert Units of the Volkspolizei (the country's main law enforcement agency) known as the Volkspolizei-Bereitschaften (VPB). It consisted of between 12,000 and 15,000 men (sources disagree) in 21 Volkspolizei Alert Units of battalion strength. There was usually one unit per district of East Germany, but the key districts of Halle, Leipzig and Magdeburg, with their large working class populations, and Potsdam all had two units. The Presidium of the People's Police in East Berlin had three units located in Basdorf.

Each Alert unit was organized as follows:

  • Headquarters section
  • Four alert companies:
  • Support company
    • Anti-tank platoon with 3x45 mm/57 mm(later ATGM's)
    • Artillery platoon with 3x76.2 mm ZiS-3 field/anti-tank guns
    • Mortar platoon with 3x82 mm mortars
  • Headquarters and staff company with:
    • signals platoon
    • engineer platoon
    • chemical platoon
    • reconnaissance platoon
    • transport platoon
    • supply platoon
    • control section
    • medical section


These units were equipped with light and medium infantry weapons, SK-1 wheeled armoured personnel carriers, SK-2 water cannon (both armoured and unarmoured versions) and buses. Their uniform was the standard Volkspolizei grey-green. The political reliability of the Alert Units was of particular importance to the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) as they would be used against the population in the event of social disorders such as the strike of 17 June 1953 in the industrial areas of East Germany.

See also