Technisches Hilfswerk
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Basic Information

The Technisches Hilfswerk (or THW for short) is a German agency that does technical, humanitarian, and logistical relief efforts both in Germany and around the world (such as during Hurricane Katrina). It largely consists of volunteers, as well as those who opt out of military conscription to work for this organization instead (their term of service is longer, but they are only activated during emergencies).

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Game and Story Use

Superheroes

  • In a setting where super-powered individuals are reasonably common, it is rather likely that many "national" German supers will be affiliated with the THW. After all, Germany tends to be rather leery of "√úbermenschen" for historic reasons, but THW supers will be seen as nonthreatening as beings can get who can punch through brick walls. The THW would likely have much better funding and be far more active internationally, since this organization would be a major source of good PR for the German government - these people fly around the world, safe lives, and make disaster areas habitable again, and you can bet that the media of the world will follow them around if they have supers among them.
    • The fact that many THW members are part-time volunteers would allow supers to pursue other careers at the same time, only activating whenever there's a disaster (though there are likely to be "permanent" members as well). This would also give them a major PR boost.
      • It probably doesn't hurt either that the THW has a spiffy logo that they can put on their uniforms..
    • Even beyond the PR aspects, the THW would allow the German government have numerous supers on file whose capabilities they know and who are probably reasonably loyal to them. Thus, in a military conflict, THW supers might end up becoming the core of a German super-powered army - these people know how to follow instructions and how to work as a team. Sure, since they started out as a humanitarian volunteer force, they are unlikely to participate in an unethical war - but in a standard alien invasion scenario, they might be very effective indeed.
      • For this and other reasons, the German government will likely allow supers who are citizens of other European Union nations to join the THW. After all, it can hardly hurt to expand the manpower base of such an organization with rare and talented individuals.
    • And while it is risky, THW supers could also help with intelligence efforts - after all, they are far more likely to gain entrance to other, potentially hostile countries than the typical flag-waving national superteam. But such spies need to be really subtle, because it would do major damage to the reputation of the THW if they are being perceived as anything but politically neutral rescue workers.
    • Any THW activist returning to Germany from duty may react different due to experiences on the mission. This may go from stress disorder up to suffering from a curse.
  • Fantasy equivalents of the THW may be possible. Perhaps there is an organization tasked with disaster relief which counts many mages and clerics among its volunteers…
  • Cynics may be reminded of the Freiwilliger Arbeitsdienst and its immediate successor the ReichsArbeitsdienst … but it would be just as easy to say that volunteering for project work comes naturally to the Germans.
    • That said, it might be entirely possible for a THW project to be perceived as meddling by the German government or EU - it would not be the first time that an NGO has been accused of being a front organisation for a meddling government and in some cases the allegations are actually true. PCs might be THW volunteers, or other people who need the THWs assistance, or investigators - the accusations may be malicious and/or true … and indeed there may be a mixed bag of volunteers, some of whom are genuine and some of whom are agents. Could be an interesting game with a mixed party of civilian volunteers and operators/spies working on the same job. Especially if their opposition is, for example, a Chinese NGO, very light on the "N" and working on the same project with the same hidden agenda, but less subtle and more prone to both violence and projection, not to mention with a tendency to complain loudly and effectively in international media.
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