Night guard

The night guard´s function was to patrol the streets and pathways at night, to provide law and order and to caution sleeping citizens against fire, thieves and enemies. He controlled the proper closure of town gates and front doors. At times he called out the hours. In Korbach there were night guards until the 1930s.

Der Nachtwächter
(Photo: Karl Althoff)

In the Middle Ages night guards were very impor-tant. However, they did not earn much. At the time smuts occurred frequently, as the houses - apart from comparatively few stone houses - were made of easily flammable materials (like timber and straw).

Houses often stood close to each other and open fire places carried a particular risk. That is the reason why only those who possessed a bucket obtained the citizenship. In case of fire everybody had to help as fires used to expand quickly. During the large fire in 1664 most of the houses burnt down. Only the stone houses and the Schwalenstöcker house at the Kat-thagen still remain. All the other houses date from the period after 1664.

A night guard had the right to interrogate suspicious people; if necessary he could even arrest them.

(Photo: Birgit Emde)

The typical equipment consisted of a halberd respectively a lance, a horn and a lantern. Due to their overeagerness - especially in Korbach - the night guards were also referred to as "Pul-verköppe". A group of bronze figures designed by Peter Lehmann (1977, Bissel/Ahlhorn) in the Professor-Bier-Strasse represents them. A likeness to the mayor who placed the order is said to be mere coincidence.


© Lennart Jahn/ M. Möller


Ein Rundgang durch die alte Stadt, bearb. von Ursula Wolkers, hrsg. vom Wilhelm Bing Verlag und Magistrat der Stadt Korbach mit Förderung der Sparkassenstiftung Waldeck-Frankenberg, Korbach 1999.