Altmodisches Telefon mit Wählscheibe
The history of the emergency numbers 110/112 is closely linked to the development of the German telephone network and began in the 1930s. In addition to the telephone numbers, so-called service numbers were also set up at that time, which began with 101 as the number of the exchange. Further service numbers followed over the years. At the beginning of the 1950s, the number 110 was established for the police.
For technical reasons, 111 had to be skipped, as the pulse dialling system used at that time caused a fault in the exchanges with the number sequence 1-1-1. As a result, 110 was followed by 112 for the fire brigade. Although the emergency numbers 110/112 have existed in Germany since 1956, they were initially only available in a few large cities. This left large parts of Germany without reliable emergency services.


Foto von Siegfried und Ute Steiger, Gründung der Björn Steiger Stiftung
It was a family tragedy of all things that paved the way for the nationwide emergency call system: on 3 May 1969, eight-year-old Björn Steiger was involved in a car accident and help was not on the scene until an hour later, even though passers-by immediately called the police and Red Cross. Björn does not die from his injuries, but as a result of shock. Despite the tragic accident, Ute and Siegfried Steiger do not dwell on their grief, but decide to set up a foundation in the name of their deceased son to improve emergency care in Germany.
From the moment it was established, the foundation campaigned for the introduction of a standardised national emergency number and approached politicians. The then Federal Postal Minister Horst Ehmke was very sympathetic to Steiger's cause, but felt politically unable to implement his idea. Although the issue was debated several times in the Bundestag, the prevailing political opinion was that the project could not be realised financially. Exact figures on financing are never presented.


Siegfried Steiger gründet die Björn Steiger Stiftung
In July 1973, Siegfried Steiger wanted to check the unfinanceability himself and telephoned Stuttgart's Oberpostdirektion to ask whether they could tell him how high the costs would be for the then administrative district of North Württemberg, which consisted of 19 administrative districts and independent towns.
To his surprise, he receives a binding offer of DM 387,000 on the same day. This is a large sum for the foundation alone, but when divided among the 19 districts and independent cities, it becomes quite manageable. Because the total sum is divided equally among all of them according to the principle of parity, the calculation works out.


Richter schlägt mit Hammer
On the very day that the introduction is being celebrated and the financial viability for North Württemberg is being proven, the German Bundestag decides to reject the introduction of the 110/112 emergency numbers due to unfinanceability. But despite this decision by the Bundestag, Siegfried Steiger does not give up and continues to fight resolutely. As all his efforts were initially unsuccessful, in August 1973 he filed a lawsuit against the Federal Republic of Germany and, as an example, against the state of Baden-Württemberg.
Baden-Württemberg for "wilful failure to provide assistance" before the administrative court. He realises that the action itself would have no chance of success because there is no legal basis for it. His main aim is therefore to ensure that the issue reaches a nationwide media audience through the filing of the lawsuit and a court hearing that he is seeking, which will build up further pressure.


Die Ministerpräsidenten beschließen die Einführung des bundesweiten Notrufs
Steiger finds an important supporter in the young judge Siegfried Kasper. As expected, the lawsuit is dismissed by Judge Kasper for formal legal reasons, but he makes a fiery plea to the journalist Siegfried Clemens, who is present. In it, he emphasises how important this matter is and that unfortunately it cannot be resolved legally, but only politically. As expected, the case attracts enormous media and public attention.
This put so much pressure on the political decision-makers that on 20 September 1973, in the presence of the then Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt, the Conference of Minister Presidents finally decided to introduce the 110/112 emergency numbers nationwide. This decision heralded a turning point: Many people who would previously have lost their lives due to poor emergency care could now be saved.


50 Jahre Notruf 110/112, Festakt in Berlin
In December 1979, the last local network with emergency numbers is set up in Germany and 112 becomes the global standard and the standardised European emergency number. On 29 July 1991, the EU Council of Ministers adopts the European emergency number 112, which is binding for all member states, at the proposal of the EU Commission. 112 is now installed in all communication networks throughout Europe.
The emergency number 112 and 911 can be dialled in all mobile phone networks worldwide. The 112 number therefore helps people all over the world to call for help quickly in an emergency.

Ultimately, this is thanks to the tireless efforts and preparatory work of the Björn Steiger Stiftung over a long period of time.
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