blockwart of the decade.

In the post about the snow cops in Boston, I used the term “Blockwart”, which is a German term of insult for someone who takes enjoyment in the enforcement of minor rules and laws.  (In WWII Germany, the Blockwart or Blockleiter was the Nazi party member politically responsible for the neighborhood.)

Here’s a prime example of the Blockwart mentality, culled from the German newspapers:

Meet Horst.  He went into early retirement five years ago at the age of 50.  He has decided to use the time on his hands by enforcing the parking rules in his home town of Osterode in Lower Saxony.  He leaves the house every day with a notepad and a camera, and collects license plate numbers of parking violators.  When he gets back to his house in the afternoon, he diligently writes up an Anzeige (citizen’s report of an infraction to authorities) for each infraction, and then faxes the stack to the local county office so they can issue traffic tickets.

In the last four years, he has sent in ten to fifteen Anzeigen per day, for a grand total of 15,000.  He even wrote up a life flight helicopter that had landed on a public street to pick up a patient.

Naturally, he has achieved a certain notoriety in his town.  When people get irate with him or insult him in public, he files Anzeigen for defamation, and collects money for pain and suffering. Apparently, some businesses in his home town will no longer serve him, because his presence keeps other customers away.  From everything I can read about Horst, it’s pretty clear that he has a personality disorder.  Maybe the relentless riding of minor rules and the writing up of his fellow citizens for small infractions makes him feel powerful or important.  It’s definitely not a mentally normal or healthy thing to spend all your time hounding your neighbors and fellow townsfolk for violating traffic laws.

Of course, over here he would probably be in heaven if you gave him a badge, gun, and ticket book, and let him loose on the wintery streets of Boston to hand tickets out directly on the spot.  The question remains–do people like Horst feel drawn to positions where you can legally lord it over your fellow citizens?   And how many like him have slipped past the psych exams and are working in code enforcement?

On a side note, it’s obvious that Horst doesn’t really care about the laws, just their suitability as a legal way to be an obnoxious asshole.  He got a speeding ticket for going 60km/h in a 50 zone, and socked with a ten euros fine.  He appealed the ticket instantly, and dragged the county to court over those ten euros, fully aware of all the legal ways to make yourself  a nuisance.

After fighting a 10-Euro ticket all the way to trial, his county officials have finally had enough.  In the future, they’ll just file his Anzeigen without issuing tickets for infractions based on them.  (No word on whether they’ll issue refunds to the 15,000 recipients of traffic tickets based on Horst’s earlier Anzeigen.)

So yeah: Blockwart.  There’s your prime, textbook example and definition.


21 thoughts on “blockwart of the decade.

  1. BobG says:

    Horst sounds like he would enjoy working for the TSA.

  2. og says:

    I had one of those guys in my neighborhood.

  3. 2yellowdogs says:

    Amazed he hasn’t had his tires slashed and his front porch mounded with bags of flaming dog shit.

  4. perlhaqr says:

    They’ll issue tickets based on the word of someone who isn’t a sworn LEO over there? WTF?

  5. Kristopher says:

    I noticed the use of past tense, og.

    Yea, one of those guys wouldn’t last very long around me either.

    Not sure whether or not I would go the P.I./deep background check/legal action route, or if I would just invest in burlap, rope, and quicklime.

  6. Old NFO says:

    Sad, but those people DO exist. Personally, I think the ONLY reason he is still alive is the German respect for rules/laws…

  7. Evan Price says:

    Sounds like a certain guy I recall. He was in charge of the local nuisance issues department- zoning, animal ocntrol, etc.

    Loved to write tickets and often for minor procedural violations or by strictly interpreting the law in the most restricvtive way possible. Badge heavy and liked to push his authority around.

    You might remember him. Dennis Rader? A.K.A. the BTK killer?

    This sort of mentality tends to express itself badly.

  8. john b says:

    there was one of those around our neighborhood too.
    His house started acting real haunted.
    and he couldn’t keep a car functioning.

  9. Bruce H. says:

    Is the “wart” a cognate of warden in English?

  10. Cybrludite says:

    Around here he’d be shot in front of hundreds of witnesses, none of whom would have seen a damn thing.

  11. […] Today, Blockwart is a colloquial German insult word for a person who feels the motivation to keep people in line, esp. by reporting them to officials or pressing the enforcing of rules (esp. petty rules) upon people. Via Marko, who has a story about a real-life blockwort in modern Germany: […]

  12. MarkHB says:

    The UK analogue seems to be the Jobsworth: “Oh, I couldn’t let you off. It’s more than my job’s worth…”

    I believe there is a special hell reserved for these people, along with child molesters and people who talk at the theatre.

  13. KA9VSZ says:

    I’m a volunteer with our local PD reporting disabled parking violations. It astounds me that so many able-bodied people get upset when they see me writing them up for illegally parking in a disabled-parking stall or in the access aisle. I try to not be a blockwart but, jeez, it’s hard sometimes to not feel a wee bit, um, righteous when I see the fit driver sprint into the store as a disabled driver searches for an open stall. Slightly off-topic but I feel better now. Thanks for listening.

  14. Will says:

    Yeah, we have a local cop that probably would fit the description. Writes tickets for anything that doesn’t fit the exact definition of the regulation. Everything is either black or white in his world. No such thing as a grey area. I’m told the city can’t do anything about him due to the union, among other reasons. Twentysome years on the force, never promoted, IIRC.

  15. Montie says:

    I have an officer like that. He is actually the highest “producer” in the department and the chief loves it and says that he carries the department in stats. But, not only is he a pain in the ass to the public, he is constantly ratting out his fellow officers over petty stuff to me which is a huge pain in MY ass. He may write more tickets, make more stops and arrests than anyone else. but he has a personality that immediately pisses off citizens at the moment of contact, so I constatnly have to investigate complaints about him. He can’t understand why he cannot get off of midnight shift…heh.

  16. The guys I’m meeting with in Vienna tell me that allowing private citizens to issue tickets is a real possibility in Austria.

  17. Cowboy Dan says:

    “Bet he doesn’t get invited to too many birthday parties, either.”

    He probably has to eat lunch alone, too. I wonder how well his radio works when he goes in alone to clear out bar fights. We had a few folks like that when I worked in a prison. It never dawned on them that the reason other officers seemed to come slowly when they called for help was that they made it so hard for the other officers to do their jobs.

    As much as I wanted to slow down en route to one of their calls, I couldn’t bring myself to let another officer get hurt. PITA or not, they wore my same suit and did the same job. I’m such a Pollyanna sometimes.

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