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Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution

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Title: Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution  
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Subject: Law enforcement in Germany, Klaus Traube, Heinz Fromm, Stammheim Prison, Arrest unit
Collection: German Intelligence Agencies, Privacy in Germany
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Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution

Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution
Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV)
Emblem of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution
Agency overview
Formed November 7, 1950 (1950-11-07)
Jurisdiction Government of Germany
Headquarters Cologne
Employees 2,641 (as of 2010)
Annual budget €230.8 million (2015)[1]
Minister responsible
Agency executives
Parent agency Federal Ministry of the Interior

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (

  • Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution
  • Heinz Fromm – The Fighter Against Terrorists, Extremists and Russian Spies

External links

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ German Spy Chief Quits over Botched Terror Probe Der Spiegel. Last accessed 12 November 2013.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Friedrich discusses Reform of Constitutional Protection, Text Archive of the German Bundestag from 13 September 2012. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c d e
  11. ^


See also

Vice Presidents


The failure to detect the activities of the 9/11 conspirators questioned the capability of the BfV to protect the constitution and ultimately the population. The rise of "right-wing extremism", especially in the former GDR, was also partly blamed on the failure to establish working structures there.[10][11]


The counter-intelligence activities of the BfV were mostly directed against the East German Ministry for State Security (Stasi), another employer of ex-Gestapo agents. The MfS successfully penetrated the BfV and in a number of affairs destroyed its reputation as a counter-intelligence service by the early 1980s. In this, the MfS profited from the West German border regime which allowed any GDR citizen into the Federal Republic without restrictions.[10]

Since 1972 the BfV is also concerned with activities of foreign nationals in Germany, especially extremists and so-called terrorists who operate in the country or plan their activities there, such as the Kurdistan Workers' Party. One of the major intelligence failures in this field were the riots by supporters of the PKK in 1998, which the BfV missed due to the Cologne carnival.[10]

From the beginning, the BfV was troubled by a number of affairs. First, in the Vulkan affair in April 1953, 44 suspects were arrested and charged with spying on behalf of East Germany (GDR), but were later released as the information provided by the BfV was insufficient to obtain court verdicts. Then, in 1954 the first president of the BfV, Otto John, fled to the GDR. Shortly after that it became public that a number of employees of the BfV had been with the Gestapo during the Third Reich. Nevertheless, material on the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) was essential for banning the party by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany in August 1956. Over the years, a number of associations and political groups were banned on material provided by the BfV.[10]

In the course of drafting the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany the military governors of the Trizone outlined the competences of federal police and intelligence (Polizeibrief of 14 April 1949). In accordance with this outline the BfV was established on 7 November 1950. At first the BfV was mostly concerned with Neo-Nazism and communist revolutionary activities. Soon the BfV also became involved in counter-espionage.[10]


Main concerns of the BfV are:

While the BfV uses all kinds of surveillance technology and infiltration, they mostly use open sources.[2] The BfV publishes a yearly report (Verfassungsschutzbericht) which is intended to raise awareness about anti-constitutional activities.[9]

Activities and operations

In 2013 federal funding for the BfV was € 207 million;[7] with a total of 2,641 staff members employed.[8]

  • Department Z: Administration
  • Department IT: IT and operational intelligence technology
  • Department 1: Central services and support
  • Department 2: Extremism (left- and right-wing)
  • Department 4: Counter-espionage, protective security and counter-sabotage
  • Department 5: Security threats posed to by foreign extremists or from abroad
  • Department 6: Islamic extremism and terrorism

[6] The BfV is based in

BfV headquarters in Berlin
BfV headquarters in Cologne


Unlike some intelligence agencies of other countries, the agents of the German intelligence services, including the BfV, have no police authority. This is due to the history of abusive police power in previous regimes. In particular, they are not allowed to arrest people and don't carry weapons.[5]

The BfV is overseen by the Federal Ministry of the Interior as well as the Bundestag, the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information and other federal institutions. The Federal Minister of the Interior has administrative and functional control of the BfV. Parliamentary control is exercised by the Bundestag in general debate, question times and urgent inquires, as well as by its committees, most notably the Parliamentary Control Commission and the G10 Commission. The BfV is also under judicial control and all its activities can be legally challenged in court. Based on the right of information, the general public can direct inquires and petitions at the BfV.



  • Oversight 1
  • Organisation 2
  • Activities and operations 3
  • History 4
  • Critique 5
  • Presidents 6
  • Vice Presidents 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


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