terminology BKA

Bundeskriminalamt or
Federal Criminal Investigation Office

Because the post-war West German quasi-constitution — “The Basic Law” — had set up the country as a fairly loose confederation states, with little power to establish national agencies, there was no German equivalent of the American FBI. The closest German cousin to the FBI was the BKA, which until the Baader-Meinhof era, was a relatively small agency charged with coordinating efforts between the police forces of the various German states (Länder).

Late in 1971 the BKA promoted Horst Herold to head the organization. Herold became the man most closely associated with the hunt for the Baader-Meinhof terrorists. It was Herold who was also instrumental in convincing the various states to cede some of their cherished police power to the BKA, and it was transformed into a much more powerful national police force. By the time of his retirement ten years later, Herold was overseeing a BKA with a budget four times the size of its 1971 budget, and employing three and a half times the people.