Aachen coffee front - Aachener Kaffeefront

The Aachen Coffee Front was the center of coffee smuggling between Belgium and the Netherlands and Germany from 1945 to 1953.

The main smuggling lines were south of Aachen in the foothills of the Eifel , with centers in Aachen-Hitfeld and Mützenich .

Dead and injured

According to official statistics, 31 smugglers and two customs officers were killed during this period . Hundreds, including bystanders, were shot, some seriously injured. For example, on December 27, 1947, the 14-year-old schoolboy Hans Kunder was shot in the head, which caused a public stir. The last dead person was the 36-year-old worker Franz Herder on February 22, 1964. The shooter, customs secretary Heinrich Becher, was acquitted in the following process, citing Section 11 of the UZwG (law on direct coercion when exercising public authority by federal enforcement officers). [1] A theological treatise was also prepared on smuggling. [2]

Smuggled amounts and methods

In those eight years, an estimated 1,000 tons of coffee were illegally brought across the border. Due to the high coffee taxation in the British occupation zone and from 1949 in the Federal Republic of Germany, coffee smuggling was lucrative and was operated by individuals for self-sufficiency or on a large scale. Among other things, US vehicles disguised as ambulances were used. When the German customs increased the use of firearms, smugglers even drove across the border in armored personnel carriers. The armored vehicles had been stolen from a Belgian barracks and came from US stocks. [3] Two so-called Besenporsche were used by the German customs to track the smuggled vehiclesused. These vehicles had retractable steel brooms in front of the front wheels to sweep crow's feet off the road that smugglers sometimes threw out. [4] When the German customs also asked permission for the use of hand grenades, the coffee war of highest political circles was terminated. Often smugglers and customs officers came from the same villages or were even related. Large-scale coffee smuggling ended in the region after the coffee tax was drastically reduced from DM 10 / kg to DM 4 / kg on August 24, 1953.


The Catholic Church had after the Second World War, hamsters , smuggling and stealing viewed with understanding; In this context, the Cologne Cardinal Frings became known with his New Year's Eve sermon of 1946 .

In Schmidt , the parish church of St. Hubertus , which was badly damaged in the All Souls' Battle in 1944, was rebuilt with income from coffee smuggling. That is why it is popularly known as St. Mocha . The pastor von Schmidt is said to have campaigned for the smuggling income to be donated. In his sermons he also blessed those who were “busy in the evening business”. [3]


  • Jörg Geuenich, Kathrin Melzer (eds.): Customs stories. 50 snapshots from 5000 years. Heimbüchel-Verlag, Cologne 2005, ISBN 3-936449-01-5 , pp. 71 ff. And 81 ff.
  • Wolfgang Trees : smugglers, customs officers and the coffee tanks. The wild post-war years on the German western border. How it was back then. Triangel-Verlag, Aachen 2002, ISBN 3-922974-06-6 .
  • Monika Sigmund: Enjoyment as a political issue. Coffee consumption in both German states . (= Studies on Contemporary History, Vol. 87). Oldenbourg, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-486-77841-0 , ( full text available online ).

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Trees : Smugglers, customs officers and the coffee tanks. The wild post-war years on the German western border. How it was back then. P. 172 f., P. 180 f.
  2. Gustav Ermecke: Moral theological principles of customs morality and customs legislation. In: Theology and Faith. Vol. 42, 1952, ISSN 0049-366X , pp. 81-97.
  3. a b Christoph Gunkel: Smuggling in the post-war period: Coffee tanks in the bean fight. In: Spiegel Online . September 7, 2009, accessed January 7, 2017 .
  4. Smuggling in the Post-War Period: Coffee Tanks in the Bean Fight. In: Spiegel Online photo gallery. September 7, 2009, accessed January 7, 2017 .