East German Advisors Overseas

Discussions on other historical eras.
George Lepre
Host - Foreign volunteers section
Posts: 741
Joined: 13 Aug 2002 21:39
Location: United States

East German Advisors Overseas

Post by George Lepre » 28 Aug 2004 00:51

Hi Everyone -

I have often heard reports that East German military advisors served in the Third World during the Cold War, notably in Africa and Vietnam. Is this true? Are there any available sources regarding this topic?

Best regards,

George Lepre

User avatar
USAF1986
Member
Posts: 3438
Joined: 21 Mar 2002 01:50
Location: Louisiana, USA

Post by USAF1986 » 28 Aug 2004 03:14

Hello! Here are a few interesting quotes from this website featuring an admittedly dated report (pre unification):

http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-5159.html

Estimates of the numbers of East German military advisers in Africa varied widely, as did reports on their location. According to the West German Foreign Office, in the mid-1980s East German military advisers in Africa--members of the NVA as well as the Ministry of State Security--numbered between 2,000 and 4,000, the majority being in Ethiopia, Angola, and Mozambique.

According to some sources, East Germany was training all categories of African officers except staff officers, who received their training in the Soviet Union. Angolan paratroopers, for example, reportedly participated with an East German paratrooper battalion in joint exercises on Rügen Island in the Baltic Sea.

In the 1980s, East Germany's primary clients in Africa were Ethiopia, Angola, and Mozambique. Others receiving East German military aid included Algeria, Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zaïre, and Zambia, as well as the South-West African People's Organization (SWAPO) and the African National Congress (ANC). East German military exports to Africa generally averaged about US$60 million in the 1980s.

Many of the client countries in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen), had East German-trained civil and secret police, border troops, or prison guards. The elite Feliks Dzierzynski Guard Regiment of the Ministry of State Security trained security personnel in Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and South Yemen, for example.


Another interesting link:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/CWIHP/BULLETINS/b8-9a8.htm

The book cited in this link looks promising: John Winrow, The Foreign Policy of the GDR in Africa (a quick check of abebooks.com indicates the author apparently should be Gareth M. Winrow).

Best regards,
Shawn

George Lepre
Host - Foreign volunteers section
Posts: 741
Joined: 13 Aug 2002 21:39
Location: United States

Post by George Lepre » 28 Aug 2004 03:41

Hi Shawn -

Thank you very much for your reply. The second link you provided was great, as I was really looking for the works of German historians who had access to the former DDR archives.

You might be interested in a similar topic: Several years ago, a German government study group published an outstanding monograph regarding the top secret East German sabotage unit that was supposed to cross into the West and work together with West German communists if war seemed likely. Here's the title:

Fingerle, Stefan. Partisanen des Kalten Krieges: die Untergrundtruppe der Nationalen Volksarmee 1957 bis 1962 und ihre Übernahme durch die Staatssicherheit. Berlin: Der Bundesbeauftragte für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, 1996.

Several members of this organization were put on trial after the re-unification and convicted. I believe they were sentenced to 1-4 years in prison. A good writer could take the archival documents, the trial transcripts, and do some interviews with the former members and come up with quite an outstanding piece of history!

I couldn't help but notice your name. Were you stationed in Germany in 1986? I was in Neu-Ulm from 1986 to 1988.

Best regards,

George
Last edited by George Lepre on 28 Aug 2004 03:59, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
USAF1986
Member
Posts: 3438
Joined: 21 Mar 2002 01:50
Location: Louisiana, USA

Post by USAF1986 » 28 Aug 2004 03:49

Glad you found the links useful. I was stationed at Lindsey Air Station in Wiesbaden from 1986-1988. I have very fond memories of my time in Germany!

Best regards,
Shawn

User avatar
Karwats
Member
Posts: 634
Joined: 11 Nov 2003 12:12
Location: Current DRC, Middle East, Various

Post by Karwats » 04 Sep 2004 15:27

Hi Guys

The DDR personnel were instructors in Angola and gradually took over Signals,Sigint and Air defence from the FAPLA-Angolan forces. By the time of the Lomba battles in '87-88 they were involved at company and sometimes platoon level.

Although we knew they were there, we never managed to capture any East Germans,their evasion plans were top notch. Better it seems than their Soviet counterparts of which some were captured or killed by the SADF.

Also their families seemed to have been with them. I've still got some childrens stuff my father brought from Xangongo that was found inside a school of some sort after the SADF had taken the town.

mfs
New member
Posts: 1
Joined: 28 Dec 2004 17:28
Location: Midwestern USA

Post by mfs » 29 Dec 2004 21:28

Greetings all,

This is a very interesting thread. I'm wondering if anyone knows of any specific uniforms DDR advisors wore when in Africa? I have heard all of the following types were worn: uniforms indigenous to the country they were serving in, an olive green work/duty uniform made in the DDR, and civilian clothes. All of these seem plausible. Comments appreciated.

NKOMO
Member
Posts: 15
Joined: 16 Aug 2005 21:51
Location: USA

Post by NKOMO » 07 Dec 2005 04:17

From what I understand you are correct. There have been rumors around for years about the EG advisors wearing an olive green uniform, but I have been unable to track an example down.
It seems that EG also made a rain pattern uniform for the SWAPO. It looks identical to any EG rain pattern uniform minus the holes for the shoulder boards and it is also missing the pocket on the right arm(I believe). If I get a chance, I can post a photo or send you one by email. Let me know.
Arch

User avatar
ritterkreuz1945
Member
Posts: 318
Joined: 23 Nov 2003 06:36
Location: Peoria, Illinois

Post by ritterkreuz1945 » 09 Dec 2005 03:29

[quote="USAF1986"]Glad you found the links useful. I was stationed at Lindsey Air Station in Wiesbaden from 1986-1988. I have very fond memories of my time in Germany!

Best regards,
Shawn[/quote


I just wanted to say hello, I was stationed out at the Army airfield in Wiesbaden in 2002.

Michael

corsa
Member
Posts: 49
Joined: 26 Jan 2006 14:34
Location: Germany

Post by corsa » 27 Jan 2006 12:00

Some GDR instructors was working in the 1988-89 training the presidential guard of the so-called SNASP (Secret Service) in Mocambique. The leadership of this was in the East German MfS and the instructors came from the Wachregiment Feliks Dzierzynski in Berlin.
Same officers was some years before in action in Ethiopia, to instruct the Guard of the
Ethiopian leader. East German Secret Service Instructors helped to build the
Yemen Secret Service. In the 70th they help to build a Secret Service in Zanzibar.

Thälmann
Member
Posts: 7
Joined: 01 Feb 2006 18:35
Location: Stockholm

Post by Thälmann » 02 Feb 2006 00:15

Here is a great picture, unfortunately I don't have any background info on it.

Image

NKOMO
Member
Posts: 15
Joined: 16 Aug 2005 21:51
Location: USA

Post by NKOMO » 14 Feb 2006 22:58

It seems the East Germans were very much involved in the training of many foreign secret police agencies. I know they were involved in training the Sandinista secret police as well. I am still trying to find a picture of the green uniform they wore over in Africa. If anybody has any photos or actually have one of these uniforms, please post them here.
I recently purchased a green uniform that was used in that was used in that region from a buddy of mine from South Africa. He swore up and down that it was East German, but it looks Cuban to me. No tags or makers marks anywhere on this uniform. If you'd like I could post a pic here or send someone a pic through their email.
Arch

corsa
Member
Posts: 49
Joined: 26 Jan 2006 14:34
Location: Germany

Post by corsa » 17 May 2006 11:43

[quote="Thälmann"]Here is a great picture, unfortunately I don't have any background info on it.

I think, the General on the picture is the former east german minister of defense, Heinz Hoffmann, during a visit
in a officers school in the GDR (the other man could be the leader of the officers school). The young man seems to come from northern africa (maybe Ethiopia?), learner for a officer in the second year. There was a lot of learners from different countries in east german officers schools.

User avatar
Winston Smith
Member
Posts: 256
Joined: 16 Jul 2005 08:38
Location: Israel

Post by Winston Smith » 17 May 2006 17:25

I remember reading once in a Israeli paper that there were Stasi advisors in Syria before 1967, they warn the Syrian against going to war with Israel, they even feared that the IDF would have a victory parade in Damescus.

Potsdamerplatz
Member
Posts: 2688
Joined: 04 Nov 2005 05:06
Location: Scotland

Post by Potsdamerplatz » 10 Aug 2006 00:25

You will find some interesting information at this webpage:

http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-5159.html

Apparently East Germany sent military advisors during the 1980's to South Yemen, Iraq, Vietnam, India, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Afghanistan, and other countries or movements in less-developed countries, including the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

In Africa also during this period, military advice or assistance was given to Ethiopia, Angola, and Mozambique. Others receiving East German military aid included Algeria, Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zaïre, and Zambia, as well as the South-West African People's Organization (SWAPO) and the African National Congress (ANC).

The article also claims that East Germany helped train terrorists at camps in Libya and South Yemen.

I hope you will find this information useful.

Best regards,

KLange
Member
Posts: 29
Joined: 29 Jun 2006 22:54
Location: MI

Post by KLange » 20 Sep 2006 06:46

NKOMO wrote:It seems the East Germans were very much involved in the training of many foreign secret police agencies. I know they were involved in training the Sandinista secret police as well. I am still trying to find a picture of the green uniform they wore over in Africa. If anybody has any photos or actually have one of these uniforms, please post them here.
I recently purchased a green uniform that was used in that was used in that region from a buddy of mine from South Africa. He swore up and down that it was East German, but it looks Cuban to me. No tags or makers marks anywhere on this uniform. If you'd like I could post a pic here or send someone a pic through their email.
Arch
Maybe that uniform was a covert issue uniform. Different from the standard rain pattern, and with no identifiable markings for the sake of plausible deniability in case something should ever go wrong. Also, could you please fill me in more about the GDR support for the Sandinista secret police and the government in general?

Return to “Other eras”