Karl Dienstbach

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Karl Dienstbach (* 6 October 1900 in Frankfurt am Main; † 30 July 1977 in East Berlin) was a German communist, interbrigadist and functionary in the People’s Police (VP) of the GDR.


Karl Dienstbach joined the workers’ movement at an early age, becoming a trade union member as early as 1916. Since 1925 he was a member of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and became active in the Revolutionary Trade Union Opposition (RGO) at the end of the 1920s. In 1930 he became a functionary of the Red Trade Union International, founded in Moscow in 1921.

He was a KPD parliamentarian in Hesse-Nassau from 1930. In March 1931, Dienstbach and RGO Reichsleitung member Erich Steffen were arrested in Ludwigshafen am Rhein on suspicion of industrial espionage at I.G. Farbenwerke for the Soviet Union.[1] In a trial before the Frankenthal (Palatinate) Regional Court, he was sentenced to two years in prison.[2]

Before beginning his prison sentence, he managed to emigrate to the Soviet Union in 1932, where he attended the International Lenin School and received military training, among other things.[3] During the Spanish Civil War, he fought on the side of the Republic in the International Brigades as a commander in an armored brigade.[4] After the end of the Spanish Civil War, he returned to the Soviet Union via various countries. After Germany’s invasion of the USSR, Dienstbach worked, among other things, for the National Committee of Free Germany in Prisoner of War Camp No. 68 in Chelyabinsk as a political instructor.


After the end of World War II, he initially served as chairman of the trade union in the Berlin-Mitte district from 1947.[5] In 1950, he joined the German People’s Police[6] and later held leading positions in the criminal investigation department.[7] Most recently he held the rank of colonel in the VP.


  • Hans Beimler Medal
  • 1970: Fatherland Order of Merit in Gold[8]
  • 1975: Honorary clasp to the Fatherland Order of Merit in gold[9]


The urns of Karl Dienstbach and his wife Mia Niederkirchner were interred in the “Pergolenweg” gravesite of the Socialist Memorial at the Friedrichsfelde Central Cemetery in Berlin-Lichtenberg.

Karl Dienstbach was married to Mia Niederkirchner-Dienstbach (1911-1982), the daughter of Michael Niederkirchner (1882-1949), and was thus the brother-in-law of Käthe Niederkirchner (1909-1944). Käte Niederkirchner (* 1944 in Chelyabinsk) is his daughter.


  • Jochen Lengemann: MdL Hessen. 1808-1996. Biographical Index (= Political and Parliamentary History of the State of Hesse. Vol. 14 = Publications of the Historical Commission for Hesse. Vol. 48, 7). Elwert, Marburg 1996, ISBN 3-7708-1071-6, p. 107.
  • Nassau Parliamentarians. Part 2: Barbara Burkardt, Manfred Pult: Der Kommunallandtag des Regierungsbezirks Wiesbaden 1868-1933 (= Publications of the Historical Commission for Nassau. 71 = Prehistory and History of Parliamentarianism in Hesse. 17). Historical Commission for Nassau, Wiesbaden 2003, ISBN 3-930221-11-X.

Web links

  • Dienstbach, Karl. Hessian biography. (Accessed 30 July 2019). In: Hesse State Historical Information System (LAGIS).

Individual references

  1. Report in the Social Democratic Press Service, Berlin, 14 April 1931, pp. 5-6.
  2. Helmut Lüders et al: Vaterländische Schriften. Volume 1 – Volume 3, p. 148, Mannheim, 2004 ISBN 3-938164-00-X.
  3. Entry Karl Dienstbach at: Nassau Parliamentarians. A Biographical Handbook, Part 2.
  4. Günter Koch: Bewährung am Ebro, Berliner Zeitung, 18 April 1971, p. 8.
  5. Neues Deutschland, December 5, 1967.
  6. Neues Deutschland, 30 December 1968.
  7. Neues Deutschland, October 6, 1975.
  8. Neues Deutschland from December 1, 1970
  9. High Honors for the National Day of the GDR, Neues Deutschland, October 2, 1975, p. 3