The German pamphlet translated below contains information on general
health precautions, which are not only of interest and value in
themselves, but also because of their close similarity to
official U.S. Army medical instruction and principles of
sanitation. While the pamphlet has reference to the North African
area, much of it is applicable to all areas and is therefore of
The pamphlet was issued by the office of the German Army Surgeon General
and is dated 1942. As is apparent from the context, it is intended for
the individual soldier. Instructions accompanying the pamphlet state
that it is to be carried in the inside flap of the paybook.*
The translation of the pamphlet follows:
* * *
The climate of the country is quite different from that of your homeland. The
days in summer are hot and sunny, in winter, warm; the nights, on the other hand, are
cool in summer, in winter, very cold. Throughout the entire country, water
is very scarce. The German soldier must, first of all, accustom himself
to the climatic peculiarities. The population of the country has different
customs, ways of living, and practices, than our people. They have a different
religion. Do not disregard all this in association with the people of the
country. You will get on much easier. There are illnesses there which we
do not have in Germany. You must, therefore, know the dangers which threaten
you in this particular country.
Observe the following:
The virus of many different kinds of diseases can come from the water of
this country. Therefore, never drink unboiled water, also do not rinse out your
mouth with it, as long as your superior officers do not designate the water pure! Boil
your water! It is best to drink tea or coffee and use the portable filter
apparatus. It makes all fresh water potable!** Drink no mineral water and
no lemonade as long as it has not been expressly designated as harmless by your
superior. Ice in restaurants and ice-cooled drinks, which are offered for sale on
the streets, are not prepared under sanitary conditions and, therefore, are harmful
to your health; avoid them, even if you are extremely thirsty. Do not wash
yourself in dirty water, do not bathe in streams, lakes, ponds, pools. Bathing in
the sea is permitted. Do not bathe when in an overheated condition.
You will receive the best food from your unit. Do not eat raw meat. Never
drink unboiled milk, especially not goatmilk! Wash all fruit in purified water or
peel it before eating. Do not buy quarters or halves of melons when they are
offered by street merchants. Buy only whole, uncut melons. Do not pick up any
food from the ground, especially meat, fish, and sausage; in the heat, foodstuffs
perish quickly and contaminate! Protect your rations from flies. They carry disease.
Always wear a stomach band.*** You protect yourself against catching
cold. Always wear your sun helmet out of doors during the heat of the
day. Otherwise, wear your field cap. It serves no purpose and is harmful to the health to run
about in warm countries with the upper part of the body naked. It is a mistake to
believe that one is cooled off in that manner. When the air-temperature is greater
than 38 degrees Centigrade [100 degrees Fahrenheit] the wind has a heating effect
on the skin.
Avoid particularly the dwellings of natives. Before you take up quarters
in houses or barracks, clean the area thoroughly. Excrement and refuse are the
breeding places of flies, and these carry to food-stuffs or direct to people the
germs of dangerous illnesses (especially dysentery). Therefore, latrines must
be free from flies. The trench-latrine serves the purpose.
Besides flies there are body lice, ticks, mosquitoes, snakes, and scorpions
in this country. Mosquitoes are carriers of fevers, and malaria. Combat the
mosquitoes in the morning and in the evening in your barracks by continuously
killing them. If you burn a light in your barracks, keep the windows closed when
possible; mosquitoes are attracted by burning lights. Use your mosquito net when
you go to bed. Be careful, however, that when you lie under your mosquito net
that there are no mosquitoes in the net and that the net is carefully tucked in under
the bed and no openings are left for mosquitoes to enter.
If you have body lice, report it immediately: body lice and ticks carry
spotted fever and relapsing fever, and both are serious illnesses. The snakes in
this country are poisonous. They hide themselves in the sand. Scorpions are
often found under loose rocks. Therefore, do not run about with bare feet and
naked legs. Inspect your sleeping-bag daily for snakes and scorpions. Shake out
your boots before putting them on. They are a favorite hiding-place for scorpions. It
is frequently maintained that a drink of liquor is beneficial after you have suffered
a snake bite. This is foolishness. Alcohol, under such circumstances, is
harmful. If you should be bitten by a snake, apply a tourniquet directly above the wound
on the side toward the heart. The pressure applied to the tourniquet should not be
great enough to cause the wounded part to swell and turn blue. With a disinfected
razor blade, make a cross-like incision at the wound. Each cut should be at most
about 1 inch long and not deeper than 1/2 inch. Allow the wound to bleed
for 3 minutes; sucking the poison from the open wound is frequently recommended. This
should be undertaken only by one who has no open sores or cavities in his
mouth. With the blunt side of the disinfected razor blade, rub several potassium
permanganate crystals into the wound; bind the wound and remove the tourniquet. Then
report to the unit surgeon or medical officer immediately.
(6) Venereal Diseases
Women who solicit freely are usually infected. You should visit those
houses only which are approved by the military authorities. Always use a
condom. Follow orders, and take a prophylaxis after having exposed yourself.
(7) Concerning Animals
Dogs and cats are frequently carriers of diseases, e.g., rabies, serious
worm and blood diseases. Do not handle dogs, cats, or monkeys.
The vaccinations prescribed by the military authorities protect you from
serious diseases. The unvaccinated person not only endangers himself, but the
lives of his comrades as well!
(9) Prevention of Malaria
Do not hesitate to take tablets to prevent malaria, when they must be taken! You
do not know the danger to which you and your comrades are exposed.
(10) Skin Irritation ("Red Dog")
"Red dog" (roter Hund) is an annoying skin irritation, which is caused by
excessive heat and attended by extreme perspiration. Frequent bathing in warm
water and lathering with medicinal soap (when available) is the best protection. If
you have "red dog," lather yourself with medicinal soap, and allow the lather
to remain on your skin for 15 minutes. Blot yourself dry--do not rub. Dry yourself
especially carefully in those parts where the conformation of the body causes
skin wrinkles and between the toes.
(11) Slight Injuries
If you receive a slight wound on the calf of your leg from a thorn, or from
striking against a sharp rock or from insect stings, apply a sterile bandage. If
you allow such apparently trivial wounds to go unattended, they can develop into
annoying and slowly healing sores.
*The paybook is carried by all German soldiers and is often found on German
prisoners; aside from containing the pay record of the individual, the paybook
also includes the soldier's unit, although it may not be up-to-date in this
respect, and such miscellaneous personal data as gas mask size, blood type, etc.
**If this statement is correct, the filter probably includes an element to chlorinate
the filtered water.
***Stomach bands are not believed to serve any useful purpose and are not
recommended by the U.S. Army Medical Corps.