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German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited civil protection authorities

On Tuesday, Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel visited, together with the Federal Minister of the Interior, Dr Thomas de Maizière, the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) and the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) in Bonn. She exchanged views with volunteers who commit themselves to civil protection.

During her visits to the flooded areas in 2013, the Federal Chancellor took a look at the personal commitment of the experts, most of them volunteers. Impressed by this example of practised solidarity, she initiated discussions at BBK and THW with the people who dedicate their time to help others as volunteers.

In her speech, the Chancellor pointed out: “The state provides material or financial support. It offers     help by creating appropriate framework conditions. A lot must be created by the cooperation with the Federal Government and the Länder. However, at the end of the day, it is the voluntary commitment which is the supporting pillar of our civil protection. Therefore, it cannot be stressed enough: without volunteers, without honorary commitment our system cannot be viable.” She added:”Community support has many facets. It is important that it shows clearly that there are values in our society which are put into practice by taking action: willingness to help, solidarity and social responsibility. The civil protection organisations live up to these values – irrespective of whether they are fulfilled by full-time or honorary personnel. Indeed, the good cooperation between full-time and voluntary work is one of the secrets of the overall success. We cannot operate without full-time staff. It is important that we have young people. That is why youth work plays such a central role. Here adults set an example, here young people are shown opportunities to join in and to become more knowledgeable.”

BBK presented the remote sensing system SIGIS (“Scanning Infrared Gas Imaging System”) and the prototype of an app to warn the population. Another focus was on BBK's offer to children and young people as well as on international projects, such as the commitment of BBK in Jordan. Mr Christoph Unger, President of BBK, underlined the great importance and role model function of German civil protection: “Not least due to the fact that it is based on honorary work, German civil protection has a high reputation in other countries. With BBK's offer of conceptual support, such as, for example, in crisis management or as regards risk analysis, we are well on track to become also an international network hub in civil protection.”

THW showed the Chancellor some examples from its broad range of applications. For rescue and salvage operations, the THW volunteers use a ring saw, for example. The equipment allows them to cut concrete slabs and to open house walls in order to quickly free trapped people. Besides THW volunteers and representatives of THW's Federal Association e.V., two young members of THW-Youth e.V. welcomed the guest from Berlin. The Federal Chancellor talked with them about their aims and motivations for a voluntary commitment at THW. Vice-President, Mr Gerd Friedsam, welcomed the visit of the Chancellor: “Every day, the volunteers from the relief organisations, the fire brigade and THW do fantastic work. It is important that the political parties acknowledge this work at all levels - including the Federal Chancellor - and promote civil protection which is based on voluntary commitment”, said Mr Friedsam.

Furthermore, the partners in civil protection – the Samaritans' Association, the German Fire Brigade Association, the German Life Saving Association, the German Red Cross, the St John Accident Assistance and Malteser International – presented their range of services.

Further information about the authorities is available on and

  • At the beginning of her visit, the Federal Chancellor, Ms Angela Merkel, gave a brief speech, in which she thanked all those who commit themselves to voluntary work in civil protection.   (show image)

  • THW's local section of Bonn showed the Chancellor how extremely heavy loads can be moved with the help of a hydraulic wedge.  (show image)

  • The technical presentation for the Chancellor included a demonstration on how to work with a chainsaw for concrete.   (show image)

  • The head of the local section of Bonn, Axel Müller-Storp, gave Angela Merkel a guided tour through THW's Technology Exhibition. (show image)

  • During the presentation of height rescue, the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, got involved in the process. (show image)

  • During the tour, the Chancellor also inquired about the improvement potential in civil protection. (show image)

  • The Chancellor was given the opportunity to assist. (show image)

  • Chancellor Angela Merkel in a conversation with THW's Vice-President Gerd Friedsam. (show image)

  • Angela Merkel with (f.l.t.r.) THW volunteers, Axel Müller-Storp, Gerd Friedsam, Thomas de Maizière, and Stephan Mayer. (show image)

  • The Chancellor took the opportunity to exchange views with relief organisations.  (show image)

  • The Federal Chancellor signed the guest book of THW.  (show image)

  • Seven relief organisations as well as BBK presented their range of services to the Chancellor.   (show image)

All fotos provided by THW may be used free of charge and stating details of origin for news coverage about THW and the topic of civil protection. All rights are reserved by THW. This regulation covers all fotos unless otherwise specified.

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