This article includes a list of general references, but it remains largely unverified because it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (February 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Customs Border Guards

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 Schultzstaffel (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 Shoulder insignia ZGS Rank[2][3] Translation Heer equivalent
Generalinspekteur des Zollgrenzschutzes General Inspector of the Customs Border Guards Generalleutnant
Ministerialrat Oberst
Oberregierungsrat Oberstleutnant
with less than three years in the grade
Zollinspektor Customs Inspector Oberleutnant
Oberzollsekretär Senior Customs Secretary Leutnant
Customs Secretary Stabsfeldwebel
Customs Assistant Oberfeldwebel
Customs operations assistant Feldwebel
Zolloberwachtmeister Customs Senior Sergeant Unteroffizier
Zollwachtmeister Customs Sergeant Gefreiter
Zollgrenzangestellter Customs border employee Schütze


  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.
  2. ^ "Germany 1933-1945 (Third Reich): Customs Service". Uniform Insignia. 7 March 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  3. ^ "Uniform und Dienstgradabzeichen der Landzollbeamten (Zollgrenzschutz)" (in German). Retrieved 1 January 2019.