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Customs Border Guards
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-263-1595-32, Bei Hendaye, Rommel, v. Obstfelder.jpg
On the far left, an Oberzollrat of the Zollgrenzschutz
Agency overview
Dissolved8 May 1945
TypeParamilitary Border Guards
Jurisdiction Germany
Agency executive
  • Minister of the Reich Finance Administration
  • General Inspector of the Customs Border Guards
Parent agencyReich Financial Administration [de]

Zollgrenzschutz (ZGS) (lit.'Customs Border Guards') was an organization under the German Finance Ministry from 1937 to 1945. It was charged with guarding Germany's borders, acting as a combination Border Patrol and Customs & Immigration service.


It originated in the early 19th century as a tariff enforcement unit of the Prussian government. Reorganized in 1919 under the Weimar Republic following World War I, it gradually became more militarized and transformed into a paramilitary force, also due to the economic woes of blockade, inflation and Great Depression.

In Nazi Germany it was reformed again in 1937 by Fritz Reinhardt, a State Secretary of the Finance Ministry. It came to comprise about 50,000 officials. The Border Police (Grenzpolizei), which had the tasks of passport and border control, was different from the Customs Border Guards (Zollgrenzschutz).[1]

Heinrich Himmler tried to bring the Zollgrenzschutz under the control of the Schutzstaffel (SS), which was unsuccessful at first. During the war, the units were used in occupied territories outside of Germany. A significant portion of younger officials were recruited to the Wehrmacht, leaving the Zollgrenzschutz with older men. After the 20 July 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler, the units were taken out of the control of the Finance Ministry and placed under Amt IV (Gestapo) of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA).[1]

It was deactivated at the end of World War II in Europe when Germany was partitioned.


Collar insignia[citation needed] Shoulder insignia[citation needed] ZGS Rank[citation needed] Translation Heer equivalent
Reichsminister der Finanzen Reich Minister of Finance Generaloberst
Staatssekretär State Secretary General der Waffengattung
ZGS-Generalinspekteur h.svg Generalinspekteur des Zollgrenzschutzes
General Inspector of the Customs Border Guards
Ministerial Director
Oberfinanzpräsident Senior Finance President Generalmajor
ZGS-Ministerialrat h.svg Ministerialrat
Ministerial Counsellor
Finance President
ZGS-Oberregierungsrat h.svg Oberregierungsrat Senior Government Counsellor Oberstleutnant
ZGS-Regierungsrat h.svg Zollamtmann
Customs Official
Customs Counsellor
Senior Customs Counsellor
Government Counsellor
ZGS-Oberzollinspektor h.svg Oberzollinspektor
with less than three years in the grade
Senior Customs Inspector
Government Assessor
Government Counsellor
with less than three years in the grade
ZGS-Zollinspektor h.svg Zollinspektor Customs Inspector Oberleutnant
ZGS-Oberzollsekretär h.svg Oberzollsekretär Senior Customs Secretary Leutnant
ZGS-Zollsekretär h.svg Zollsekretär
Customs Secretary Stabsfeldwebel
ZGS-Zollassistent h.svg Zollassistent
Customs Assistant Oberfeldwebel
ZGS-Zollbetriebsassistent h.svg Zollbetriebsassistent
Customs Operations Assistant Feldwebel
ZGS-Zolloberwachtmeister h.svg Zolloberwachtmeister Customs Senior Watch Master Unteroffizier
ZGS-Zollwachtmeister h.svg Zollwachtmeister Customs Watch Master Gefreiter
ZGS-Zollgrenzangestellter h.svg Zollgrenzangestellter Customs Border Employee Schütze
  • Ranks in italics with the prefix Hilfs- belonged to the Zollgrenzschutz-Reserve (ZGS-Reserve) (Customs Border Guards), formerly the Verstärkter Grenzaufsichtsdienst (VGAD) (Reinforced Border Inspection Service).


  1. ^ a b "The trial of German major war criminals : Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal sitting at Nuremberg Germany". Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Volume 11. Yale Law School. Retrieved 8 February 2020.

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