[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]
CHAPTER I. THE GERMAN MILITARY SYSTEM
Section II. THE GERMAN SOLDIER
1. Fanatic or Weakling?
The German soldier who faces the Allies on the home fronts in 1945 is a very different type from the members of the Army of 1939 which Hitler called "an Army such as the world has never seen". The German soldier is one of several different types depending on whether he is a veteran of 4 or 5 years, or a new recruit. The veteran of many fronts and many retreats is a prematurely aged, war weary cynic, either discouraged and disillusioned or too stupefied to have any thought of his own. Yet he is a seasoned campaigner, most likely a noncommissioned officer, and performs his duties with the highest degree of efficiency.
The new recruit, except in some crack SS units, is either too young or too old and often in poor health.
He has been poorly trained for lack of time but, if too young, he makes up for this by a fanaticism bordering on madness. If too old, he is driven by the fear of what his propagandists have told him will happen to the Fatherland in case of an Allied victory, and even more by the fear of what he has been told will happen to him and his family if he does not carry out orders exactly as given. Thus even the old and sick perform, to a certain point, with the courage of despair.
The German High Command has been particularly successful in placing the various types of men where they best fit, and in selecting those to serve as cannon fodder, who are told to hold out to the last man, while every effort is made to preserve the elite units, which now are almost entirely part of the Waffen-SS. The German soldier in these units is in a preferred category and is the backbone of the German Armed Forces. He is pledged never to surrender and has no moral code except allegiance to his organization. There is no limit to his ruthlessness.
The mentality of the German soldier of 1945 is the final result of that policy of militarism which, even in the 19th century, caused a famous German general to recommend that soldiers should be trained to ask of their superiors: "Master, order us where we may die."
2. Manpower Problems
a. ANNUAL CLASS SYSTEM. When Hitler reintroduced general conscription in 1935, the greatest possible care was taken to create a strong military force without disrupting the economic life of the nation. Men were registered by annual classes and during the years before the war those of the older classes were called only in small groups to attend training exercises of limited duration. Even for the younger classes, all feasible arrangements were made for the deferment of students and of those engaged in necessary occupations. Men accepted for active service were called to the colors by individual letter rather than by public announcement for their annual class. This system was continued in the gradual mobilization which preceded the outbreak of the war in such a way that the wartime Army could be built up organically and the normal course of life was not seriously upset.
b. WAR DEVELOPMENTS. As long as the war was conducted on a limited scale, the Armed Forces were very liberal in granting occupational and medical discharges. As the war progressed and grew in scope and casualties mounted, it became necessary to recall many of these men and eventually to reach increasingly into both the older and the younger age groups.
After Germany changed from the offensive to the defensive in 1943, it became both possible and necessary to transfer an increasing number of Air Force and naval personnel to the Army, to enforce "voluntary" enlistment in the Waffen-SS, and to commit line-of-communication units to regular combat not only against partisans but against regular enemy forces.
The increasingly heavy losses of the Russian campaign forced Hitler to cancel his order exempting "last sons" of decimated families and fathers of large families from front-line combat duty. Prisons and concentration camps were combed out for men who could be used in penal combat units with the inducement of possible later reinstatement of their civic rights.
Although a "total mobilization" was carried out in the spring of 1943, after Stalingrad, it became necessary by the end of that year to lower the physical classification standards drastically and to register men up to 60 years of age for military service. Even men with severe stomach ailments were drafted into special-diet battalions. During the summer of 1944, civilian occupations were reduced to an absolutely necessary minimum. Finally, the remaining male civlians from 16 to 60 were made liable for home defense combat service in the "Volkssturm" and even Hitler Youth boys and girls were called up as auxiliaries.
Along with these measures there went a continuous reorganization of combat as well as administrative units for the purpose of increasing efficiency and saving personnel.
The strength of divisions was lowered while their firepower was increased
and their components were made more flexible. Severe
After the Allied breakthrough in France, Himmler was appointed Commander of the Replacement Army and as such made the Waffen-SS the backbone of German national dense. Whole units of the Air Force and Navy were taken over and trained by the Waffen-SS and then distributed among depleted field units. The organization and employment of the Volkssturm is under Himmler's direct control.
The complicated record system of the Armed Forces was maintained in principle but streamlined for the sake of saving manpower.
c: FOREIGN ELEMENTS. (1) Original policy. In their attempts to solve their ever acute manpower problems, the Germans have not neglected to make the fullest possible use of foreign elements for almost every conceivable purpose and by almost every conceivable method. Originally, great stress was laid on keeping the Armed Forces nationally "pure". Jews and Gypsies were excluded from military service. Foreign volunteers were not welcomed. Germans residing abroad and possessing either German or dual citizenship were rounded up through the German consulates from 1937 on. When Germany set out to invade other countries, beginning with Austria, only the inhabitants of these countries who were held to be of German or related blood became liable to German military service; the Czech minority in Austria, for example, was exempted.
(2) Recruiting of foreigners. With the invasion of Russia in June 1941, German propagandists set themselves to the task of changing the whole aspect of the war from a national German affair to a "European war of liberation from Communism". In this way the Nazis were able to obtain a considerable number of volunteers from occupied and even neutral countries, who were organized in combat units of their own in German uniforms and under German training. The original policy was to incorporate racially related "Germanic" people, such as the Dutch and Scandinavians, into the Waffen-SS and non-Germanic people such as the Croats into the Army. When the failures in Russia and other increasing difficulties began to affect the morale of the foreigners, their "voluntary recruitment" became more and more a matter of compulsion and their service in separate national units had to be brought under more rigid supervision. The organization of such units, therefore, was turned over in increasing measure to the Waffen-SS, even in the case of racially non-Germanic elements.
At the same time, it became necessary for the Army to fill its own depleted German units by adding a certain percentage of foreign recruits. This was done partly by declaring the inhabitants of annexed territories, such as the Polish Corridor, to be "racial Germans" (Volksdeutsche), making them provisional German citizens subject to induction into the Armed Forces. A considerable source of manpower was Soviet prisoners of war of different national origins. Some of these were put into regular German units as "racial" Germans; others were employed in such units as "auxiliary volunteers". Separate national units also were created from Cossacks and from the numerous peoples who inhabit the Caucasus and Turkestan and are collectively referred to by the Germans as "Eastern Peoples" (Ostvolker). Every possible inducement has been used for the recruiting of foreigners, including their religion, as in the case of the Mohammedans in the Balkans. Only in the case of Jews and Gypsies was the original policy of exclusion not only upheld but extended during the war to include those of 50 per cent Jewish descent.
3. Duties and Rights of the Soldier
a. THE OATH. Every German soldier, upon induction, is compelled to affirm his legally established military obligation by means of the following oath (vow, for atheists): "I swear by God this holy oath (I vow) that I will render unconditional obedience to the Führer of Germany and of her people, Adolf Hitler, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and that, as a brave soldier, I will be prepared to stake my life for this oath (vow) at any time." If, because of an oversight, the oath has not been administered to a soldier, he is held to be in the same position as though he had sworn it; the oath is regarded only as the affirmation of an inherent legal duty.
b. MILITARY DISCIPLINE. The German system of military discipline is rigorous, and excesses are severely punished. In principle, absolute and unquestioning obedience towards superiors is required. However, since the summer of 1944, when the Army came under the political influence of the Nazi Party, new orders were issued providing that disloyal superiors not only need not be obeyed but in emergencies may be liquidated by their own men. Officers who do not lead their men into combat or show other signs of cowardice or who, for any reason, mutilate themselves, are normally condemned to death. Divisional commanders and other high-ranking combat officers are specifically ordered to set an example of leadership in the front lines; this explains the high casualty rate among German generals.
Traditionally, German superior officers were addressed only indirectly, in the third person, as "Herr Major is absolutely right." Hitler, however, is addressed directly as "My Leader". Therefore, the Nazis made use of the direct form of address toward superior officers at first optional, then compulsory. Superior officers and noncommissioned officers are addressed as "Mr." (Herr) followed by their rank; in the Waffen-SS, however, only by their rank: "Herr Leutnant!", but "Unterstürmführer!"
Originally, a distinction was made between the regular military salute and the "German salutation" (Deutscher Griss) which consists of saying "Heil Hitler!" with the right arm outstretched. In August 1944 the latter type of salute was made compulsory throughout. Everyone salutes his own superiors as well as others entitled to a salute according to the following general rules: Every officer is the superior of all lower-ranking officers and all enlisted men; every noncommissioned officer is the superior of all privates; every noncommissioned officer in one of the first three grades is the superior of lower-grade noncommissioned officers in his own unit. There is no general rank superiority otherwise among noncommissioned officers or among the various grades of privates; however, all members of the Armed Forces are obligated to "greet" one another as a matter of military etiquette.
Members of the Armed Forces are forbidden to associate with foreigners even if they are racially related; marriages between soldiers and non-German women are subject to approval, which is given only after a very thorough investigation; the offspring of such marriages are considered to be German. In the Waffen-SS, such marriages are entirely prohibited for German personnel.
Men who severely and repeatedly violate military discipline, it not to an extent that warrants a death sentence, are transferred to correction battalions for probationary period and given arduous and dangerous assignments; if incorrigible, they are then turned over to the police for extreme punishment.
c. PRESERVATION OF HONOR. Honor is considered the soldier's highest possession. Except in extreme cases, he may be given the opportunity to redeem himself for a dishonorable action by a heroic death in battle or, in milder cases, by exceptionally brave and meritorious service in the lowest grade of private to which he is reduced from his former rank. However, there also exists a rigid personal honor code for officers. Under its provisions, they are obligated to defend their own personal honor as well as the good name of their wives by every possible means and are held to account for violations committed by themselves or their wives. According to the German conception, special honor rules apply to officers and those civilians who are socially their equals. These rules provide in extreme cases for settlement by duel with pistols until one of the two parties is fully incapacitated. This is a leftover from feudal times; before Hitler's assumption of power, a half-hearted attempt was made to outlaw duelling by officers, but the penalties provided were light and did not carry moral stigma. It is significant that under Hitler, duelling of officers was legalized in cases where all efforts at settlement by an officers' court of honor (appointed by a regimental or higher commander) fail; however, for duels between two officers, but not between an officer and a civilian, a decision must first be obtained from the Commander-in-Chief of the Army. Their medieval conception of honor has a strong influence on the mentality and actions of many German officers. An officer is obligated to react to deliberate insults instantaneously, in a positive and masterly fashion, and to protect other officers from becoming the object of public disgrace.
In the SS, "qualified" enlisted men (i.e. those who carry the dagger) are subject to the same honor rules as officers, being obligated to "defend their honor by force of arms".
4. Morale Factors
a. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OFFICERS AND MEN. The opening of the officer's career to the common German man of the people was a revolutionary change in the German social system brought about by Hitler. It has created an entirely different type of relationship among the ranks than existed in the armies of Imperial Germany.
No one can become an officer without being a certified Nazi, even if not a member of the Party, and without being considered capable of imbuing his men with the Nazi spirit. Thus, the social mingling between officers and men in off-duty hours, which has been encouraged by the Nazis to some extent, appears to have a strong propagandist purpose. A sincere personal interest of the officer in his men is encouraged, the all-important requirement being that he must have their confidence. In case of death, the soldier's next of kin receive their first notification through a personal letter from his company commander, which is handed to them by the local leader of the Nazi Party.
b. POLITICS IN THE ARMED FORCES. Traditionally, all German military personnel is barred from all political activities including the right to vote. Hitler, when introducing general conscription, maintained this tradition in order to obtain the full support of the military and decreed that membership in the Nazi Party and all political activities would be dormant during the period of any man's active service. In the later stages of the war, however, serious reverses and the increasing danger of sagging morale caused the official introduction of politics into the German Armed Forces. This occurred progressively from the latter part of 1943 on, by appointment of National-Socialist guidance officers (NS-Führungsoffiziere) on all staffs, the organization of political meetings, and other efforts at raising morale, as well as through the merciless terrorization of wavering officers and soldiers by the "strong men" of the Waffen-SS.
c. AWARDS. A very extended and clever use has been made of honorary titles for units, medals and awards for individual achievements, and commemorative decorations for participation in outstanding combat engagements. It is significant, for instance, that because the German is basically averse to hand-to-hand combat, the golden close-combat bar was created in 1944, which is bestowed by Hitler personally at his headquarters, as the highest honor offered the German soldier. Himmler shortly thereafter created the golden partisan combat bar which he bestows personally at his headquarters. The requirements for winning either bar are extremely severe so that soldiers will do their utmost. Awards and decorations may be held to have acted as very important morale-builders for the German Armed Forces.
a. RANK GROUPS AND CLASSES. German soldiers are divided into the following four rank groups:
(1) Officers (Offiziere):
1st rank class: general officers (Generale).
(2) Musicians (activities suspended in November 1944).
(3) Noncommissioned Officers (Unteroffiziere):
1st rank class: fortress shop-foremen and horseshoeing
instructors (see table).
(4) Privates (Mannschaften). Figures 1 and 2 show tables of U.S. and German equivalent ranks.
b. OFFICERS. Nearly all German officer ranks correspond to U.S. Army ranks although their terminology differs for general officers, a Generalmajor being the equivalent of a brigadier general. The functions, however, do not always correspond. This is partly due to the fact that German wartime ranks are permanent, which makes it often impossible for German officers to be promoted to the higher rank which their wartime appointment actually would warrant.
c. NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICERS. The noncommissioned officer ranks are divided into two groups: the first group corresponds to the first three grades in the U.S. Army. There is no rank of first sergeant; rather, this is a position usually held by a master sergeant or technical sergeant. A corporal in the German Army functions as acting sergeant and normally is promoted to the rank of staff sergeant rather than sergeant; as to the latter rank, see paragraph e.
d. PRIVATES. There are three grades in the group which correspond to U.S. privates first class, and a soldier may be promoted from any of them to become a corporal. They may be described as chief private first class in administrative position (Stabsgefreiter), senior private first class who functions as acting corporal (Obergefreiter), and ordinary private first class (Gefreiter). A soldier cannot become chief private first class without having been a senior private first class. In most branches there are senior privates first class (Obergrenadiere in infantry, Oberkanoniere in artillery; the Oberjäger, however, in the light, mountain, and parachute divisions, is a corporal) and ordinary privates (Grenadiere, Kanoniere, etc.).
e. PROMOTION OF ENLISTED MEN. In most branches, a soldier cannot become a private first class without having been a senior private and he cannot become a corporal without having been at least an ordinary private first class (Gefreiter). Parachutists (Fallschirmjäger) may be privates to begin with, but the lowest rank provided for in their table of organization is corporal (Oberjäger), in lieu of a pay bonus. Otherwise, the designation (Ernennung) as senior private, which does not involve an increase in pay, is now automatic in principle upon completion of the basic training period. Promotions to any grade of private first class are dependent on time limits and merit, but not on tables of organization, as shown in the table above.
Promotions to the ranks of sergeant and master sergeant are not dependent on tables of organization; a corporal who has served the maximum time in grade without having been promoted to staff sergeant may be promoted to sergeant; having served the maximum time in that grade without having been promoted to technical sergeant, he may be promoted to master sergeant, as shown in table below.
After 4 months of service in a combat unit, privates of any rank who are squad leaders may be promoted to corporals and corporals who are platoon leaders may be promoted to staff sergeants, regardless of length of total service or service in grade.
Honorary promotions may be awarded for distinguished conduct in battle (posthumously to those killed in action).
a. TABLE OF BASE PAY. Every member of the German Armed Forces in active wartime service (except when a prisoner of war) receives tax-free war service pay (Wehrsold), paid to him in advance, monthly or at shorter intervals of not less than 10 days, by his unit paymaster. If he has dependents, he receives (also when a prisoner of war) family support payable direct to his dependents through the civilian authorities.
A professional soldier receives, in addition to war service pay (but also when a prisoner of war) the equivalent of his regular peacetime pay (Friedensbesoldung) consisting of base pay (Grundgehalt), quarters allowance (Wohnungszuschlag), and allowance for children (Kinderzuschlag), less a wartime deduction (Ausgleichsbetrag) which in the ranks from major upward cancels out the war service pay and in the lower ranks offsets it in part according to a sliding scale. This compensation is known as Armed Forces regular pay (Wehrmachtbesoldung); its recipients are not entitled to civilian family support. Payments, usually by check, are made by a local garrison administration in Germany (usually near the man's home) for two months in advance (until 1 January 1945 it was one month in advance) to the soldier's bank account or to his dependents, if any. These payments are subject to an income-tax deduction at the source according to a sliding scale based on the amount of pay and the number as well as category of dependents.
Professional Armed Forces officials (Wehrmachtbeamte) receive, in addition to war service pay, their peacetime salaries and allowances (Friedensgebührnisse), less a wartime deduction offsetting their war service pay as a whole or in part in the same manner as for professional soldiers who receive Armed Forces regular pay.
Non-professional soldiers from the rank of senior private first class (Obergefreiter) upward may apply for wartime regular pay (Kriegsbesoldung). They are then paid exactly like professional soldiers and consequently are not entitled to civilian family support. Therefore, soldiers with dependents will not make this application if the amount of their civilian family support is higher than their wartime pay would be.
Armed Forces officials who have no peace time salary receive war time regular pay without having to apply for it.
In the foregoing table, column 1 shows the Armed Forces regular pay (Wehrmachtbesoldung) for professional soldiers or wartime regular pay (Kriegsbesoldung) for non-professional soldiers in ranks from senior private first class (Obergefreiter) upward and for wartime officials. The amounts quoted represent the minimum base pay for single men without dependents before deduction of the income tax, which is shown in parenthesis at the minimum rate applying when the soldier has no additional income. All figures are quoted according to the most recent revision, on 9 November 1944, of the Military War Compensation Law of 1939. The pay rises for men with dependents according to a scale which provides for additional amounts up to 10 children. Column 2 shows the war service pay (Wehrsold) for all members of the Armed Forces, including officials, regardless of whether they are also paid under column 1 or not. The amounts are shown in U.S. dollars at the basic rate of exchange (1 Reichsmark equal to $0.40).
b. ALLOWANCES. All soldiers in ranks from general to private receive $0.40 daily as combat area, service compensation (Frontzulage). This is granted not because of the danger to life and limb but for the "more difficult living conditions". On trips taken in the line of duty, the soldier, regardless of rank, receives an allowance for overnight quarters and $2.40 per diem additional.
Every member of the Armed Forces is entitled to free rations, quarters, and clothing; those who must or are allowed to take their meals outside receive $1.20 per diem as ration money. No additional allowance is paid for living quarters in view of the fact that this is already included in the regular pay, whereas soldiers who receive only war service pay are entitled to civilian family support. Clothing is free except for officers, who receive a one-time clothing allowance of $180.00 ($280.00 for those wearing the blue naval uniform) and a monthly upkeep allowance of $12.00. Soldiers contracting for professional service receive a cash bonus, known as Kapitulanatenhandgeld, of $120.00 (12-year contract) or $40.00 (4 1/2-year contract).
c. PENSIONS. Regular officers and professional soldiers are entitled to various benefits upon their discharge; the extent of these depends on length of service. They include lump-sum compensations, unemployment assistance, and, in some cases, pensions. Discharged professional noncommissioned officers are encouraged to go into civil service or agriculture; particularly in the latter case they receive substantial cash sums for the purchase or lease of land. All honorably discharged soldiers receive a mustering-out pay of $20.00.
d. LEAVES, ETC. Leaves and furloughs are classified according to their purpose such as recreation, convalescence, occupational, bombing, or emergency. Transportation is free, in principle. The considerable liberality regarding leaves that was practiced in the early stages of the war was radically curtailed under the strain of the later emergencies, which in 1944 led to their complete freezing, except, possibly, in the case of convalescents.
7. Categories of Officers and Other Personnel
a. REGULAR OFFICERS (aktive Offiziere). The small corps of regular officers inherited by the Nazi regime from the pre-1935 German Reichswehr was substantially increased, before the war, by the recall of all suitable retired officers, the absorption of many police officers, and the creation of new officers from volunteer officer candidates and suitable noncommissioned officers and privates from the regular ranks. At the beginning of the war, suitable professional noncommissioned officers were given temporary officer ranks (as "Kriegsoffiziere"), which were made permanent in 1942.
Special categories of regular officers are medical officers (Sanitätsoffiziere), veterinary officers (Veterinäroffiziere), and ordnance officers (Waffenoffiziere, commonly designated as Offiziere (W)).
After 1934, a number of First World War officers were recalled, mostly in administrative positions, as supplementary officers (Ergänzungsoffiziere) and designated as aktive Offiziere (E); the (E) has since been dropped and those who were qualified have been taken into the regular officer corps. Many officers who had been retired as "officers not in service" (Offiziere ausser Dienst—a.D.) as well as many regular officers eligible for retirement were designated as subject to active service in recalled status "at the disposal of a branch of the Armed Forces (Army, Air Force, or Navy)" (Offiziere zur Verfügung eines Wehrmachtteiles—z.V.). Retired officers designated z.V. were normally not recalled to active service before mobilization, but a number of them were appointed in peacetime to fill certain open officer positions as "officers recalled to service" (Offiziere zur Dienstleistung—z.D.). During the war, the designation z.D. has been used for certain officers whose qualifications are in doubt and whose final status (regular or reserve) is not determined. The designation of regular officers subject to retirement as z.V. continues in wartime, which means that such officers, immediately upon their discharge as regular officers, are retained in active service in recalled status in any position in which they may be needed.
b. GENERAL STAFF CORPS OFFICERS (Generalstabsoffiziere, Offz.i.G.). General Staff Corps officers are carefully selected and trained to represent the German General Staff Corps in both command and staff functions. On division staffs, as "Ia", they hold the position of operational chiefs of staff, and as "Ib" they are chiefs of the rear echelon. In the higher echelons, the intelligence and training staff sections are likewise in the personal charge of General Staff Corps officers.
c. RESERVE OFFICERS (Reserveoffiziere). The nucleus of the reserve officer corps consists of conscripts who because of their qualifications and performance during their first year of service were accepted in peacetime as reserve officer aspirants (Reserve-Offizier-Anwärter—R.O.A.), received special training in platoon-leadership during their second year, and were designated reserve officers after their discharge and subsequent recall for a four-week exercise period with their old unit. Suitable professional noncommissioned officers were made reserve second lieutenants upon being discharged at the end of their contractual period.
In wartime, there cannot be any reserve officer candidates of the peacetime type, as conscripts are not being discharged upon completion of a compulsory two-year service period; instead, qualified volunteers and suitable conscripts from the ranks are designated as reserve officer applicants (Reserve-Offizier-Bewerber—R.O.B.).
Originally, there were two age groups of reserve officers, those of the reserve class under the age of 35, designated as Offiziere der Reserve—O.d.R.), and those of the Landwehr reserve class above 35, designated as Offiziere der Landwehr—O.d.L. Both types of officers, collectively, were called "officers in inactive status" (Offiziere des Beurlaubtenstandes—O.d.B.). During the war, the designation O.d.L. has been eliminated, so that all reserve officers are O.d.R. as well as O.d.B.
d. ARMED FORCES OFFICIALS (Wehrmachtbeamte). Officials in administrative, legal, and technical service positions are a category peculiar to the German Armed Forces. They consist of civil service personnel performing functions within the Armed Forces and are recruited, in part, from former professional noncommissioned officers who became military candidates for civil service (Militäranwärter) at the end of their 12-year contractual period of active military service. Until 1944, none of these officials were classified as soldiers, but certain groups have now been converted into officers in the Special Troop Service (Truppensonderdienst—TDS). These are the higher administrative officers (Intendanten) in ranks from captain to lieutenant general; the lower administrative officers (Zahlmeister) in the ranks of first and second lieutenant, and the judge advocates (Richter) in ranks from captain to lieutenant general. It was also made possible for reserve technical service officials to become reserve officers of the motor maintenance troops if qualified.
In addition to regular Armed Forces officials, there are the categories of reserve officials (Beamte des Beurlaubtenstandes—B.d.B., also referred to as B.d.R.), officials in recalled status "at the disposal of the Army, etc." (Beamte zur Verfügung—B.z.V.), and officials appointed for the duration (Beamte auf Kriegsdauer—B.a.K.). These three categories are collectively referred to as supplementary Armed Forces officials (Ergänzungswehrmachtbeamte). Functionaries of the military administration in occupied areas (Militärverwaltungsbeamte) who are not civil service officials in peacetime are treated in the same manner as these three categories in matters of compensation.
e. SPECIALIST LEADERS. Certain positions in ranks from major to lieutenant and in all noncommissioned officer ranks except sergeant may be filled by specialists in foreign languages, propaganda work, and similar matters, who have been trained to fill such positions as "Specialist leader" (Sonderführer). They receive the pay applicable to the position they are holding, but only by virtue of their appointment to the temporary position and without the disciplinary powers vested in the rank.
f. NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICERS (Unteroffiziere). Professional noncommissioned
officers are under either a
g. WOMEN AUXILIARIES (Helferinnen). There are several women's auxiliary corps in the German Armed Forces, known as the corps of the headquarters auxiliaries (Stabshelferinnen); signal corps auxiliaries (Nachrichtenhelferinnen) of the Army, Air Force, Waffen-SS, and Navy; and antiaircraft auxiliaries (Flakwaffenhelferinnen) of the Air Force. All wear uniforms and are under military discipline, receiving free rations, quarters, and clothing. However, they are paid according to civil service rates and are not considered members of the Armed Forces. The ranks of their female leaders (Führerinnen) do not correspond to officer ranks. It is possible that they have been upgraded in status under recent total mobilization measures.
h. "CIVILIAN" SOLDIERS (Volkssturm). In October 1944, all German male civilians from 16 to 60 were made liable to emergency defense service under the Armed Forces in a national militia known as the "Volkssturm". They are distinguished by armbands and are stated to have military status. It is believed that they do not receive any service pay while in training but that they may be compensated when mobilized for combat away from their home area.
i. OTHER ARMED FORCES PERSONNEL (Wehrmachtgefolge). A distinction must be made between members of the Armed Forces (Wehrmachtangehörige) who may be either soldiers or officials (Beamte), and persons employed by or attached to the Armed Forces (Zugehörige zur Wehrmacht), who are collectively referred to as Armed Forces auxiliaries (Wehrmachtgefolge). The women auxiliaries described above, as well as the numerous Party organizations when they operate with the Armed Forces, are in this general category.
8. Personal Documentation
a. SERVICE RECORD (Wehrpass). The basic personal record of the members of the Armed Forces is their service record. This is a book of passport size issued to them at the time of their first physical examination for military service. It contains a complete record of their pre-military service in the German Labor Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst), their military status at all times, and all their military activities until the expiration of their liability to military service. This book is in their personal possession only while they are in inactive status, and is retained at their company headquarters as long as they are on active service. In exchange for it, as soldiers, they carry on their person a pay and identification book issued to them at the time of their first induction.
b. PAYBOOK (Soldbuch). The paybook of the German soldier is his official means of identification and contains, in addition to personal data, a record of all units in which he has served and their replacement affiliations; his clothing and equipment record, inoculations, hospitalization; his promotions, pay rate group, payments received from units other than his own, decorations, furloughs, and other data pertaining to his person or his active service. The paybook contains both the soldier's military registration number (Wehrnummer), under which his service record was issued to him before his actual induction, and the inscription and number on his identification disc (Beschriftung und Nummer der Erkennungsmarke).
c. IDENTIFICATION DISC (Erkennungsmarke). The identification disc which the German soldier wears around his neck consists of two halves, both with identical inscriptions. It is issued to him by the unit (normally at company level) into which he is first inducted; both the name of that unit and the serial number under which the disc was issued to him are inscribed on it, as well as his blood type. Any unit, however, may issue a disc to a member who has lost his original one, with its own name and a new serial number.
d. UNIT ROSTER SHEET (Kriegsstammrollenblatt). Every Field Army unit and those units of the Replacement Army which are of Field Army or training type keep an individual roster sheet on every one of their members, containing the record of the individual's service in the unit. This sheet is to be closed upon the termination of that service and then forwarded direct to the soldier's home recruiting station (Wehrersatzdienststelle), where his basic military records are kept. There are two different forms: one for officers and officials of all ranks, the other for enlisted men.
e. BASIC MILITARY RECORDS. At the time of the first physical examination when the service record (Wehrpass) is issued to the soldier by his recruiting sub-area headquarters (Wehrbezirkskommando), the latter opens a corresponding basic military record book (Wehrstammbuch) for him, together with an accompanying health record book (Gesundheitsbuch) and a classification card (Verwendungskarte). His military registration card (Wehrstammkarte), which was made out by the police authorities as part of his military registration record (Wehrstammblatt), is pasted inside the front cover of the Wehrstammbuch. Actually, this card is an open envelope with the soldier's registration record on its face and containing a police report (Polizeibericht) on his conduct prior to registration.
f. MILITARY REGISTRATION NUMBER (Wehrnummer). This is determined at the time the Wehrpass is issued to the soldier; in other words, while he is still a civilian. He retains it permanently, regardless of whether he is in active service or not, as his identifying number with the authorities which administer the conscription laws. It normally consists of the following five elements (although there are some variations):
Name of the Wehrbezirkskommando.
Last two digits of the year of birth.
Number of military registration police precinct (in certain larger cities, number corresponding to first letter of family name).
Serial number of the conscription (or volunteer) roster sheet (Wehrstammrollenblatt).
Number indicating registrant's place on that sheet (from 1 to 10).
g. UPKEEP OF MILITARY RECORDS. The basic military records accompany the soldier to his first induction unit, but upon his transfer from it are returned to and kept at his home recruiting station (Wehrersatzdienststelle), which normally is a recruiting sub-area headquarters (Wehrbezirkskommando) for officers or a subordinate military reporting office (Wehrmeldeamt) for enlisted men. The soldier's unit roster sheets, which are closed and forwarded to his home recruiting station upon his transfer from one unit to another, are filed in the inside rear cover pocket of his Wehrstammbuch. Since the autumn of 1944, the transfer into the Wehrstammbuch of entries from these or other documents that are received for filing in the pocket has been suspended until after the war; it is planned that the entries then be made from the Wehrpass, which is kept up at all times by the unit in which the soldier is serving.
The Wehrersatzdienststelle is the home recruiting station of all Germans who are subject to conscription and therefore is responsible for all members of the German Armed Forces, including volunteers, regardless of whether they serve in the Army, Air Force, Navy, or Waffen-SS. The Wehrstammbuch of naval personnel, however, is kept by their own home base replacement units. It does not contain any unit roster sheets (Kriegsstammrollenblätter), as these are replaced, in the Navy, by a conduct book (Führungsbuch) for enlisted men which follows them from unit to unit, as does their Wehrpass. The health record book (Gesundheitsbuch), which otherwise is kept at the Wehrersatzdienststelle together with the Wehrstammbuch, is in the personal possession of naval personnel as is, of course, their paybook.
Before 1944, the classification card (Verwendungskarte) was used for entering the soldier's training record and was forwarded to his first field unit for inspection, to be returned within 3 days to the home recruiting station. Since the autumn of 1944, the card has not been sent to the field; but the same purpose is served by the detailed training record sheet (Ausbildungsnachweis), introduced in 1943, which the soldier, upon his transfer to the field, carries in the pocket of his paybook; it is supposed to be destroyed by the field unit, but this is not always done.
Records peculiar to the Waffen-SS are the SS basic record card (SS-Stammkarte), which follows the soldier from unit to unit as does his Wehrpass, and the SS control card (SS-Überwachungskarte), which is kept by his SS replacement unit and never follows him into the field.
h. OFFICER RECORDS. Officers, in addition to the basic records described above have a personal record folder (Personalnachweis). In the Navy, which has no unit roster sheets for either officers or enlisted men, the officer's Personalnachweis takes the place of the enlisted men's Führungsbuch. Otherwise, the officer's Personalnachweis normally is kept in several copies, which may be found at the replacement unit of his peacetime unit; at the corps area headquarters (Wehrkreiskommando); at the Army Personnel Office (Heerespersonalamt); or in the case of reserve officers at their recruiting sub-area headquarters (Wehrbezirkskommando).
In case of discharge or death, one copy is in all cases forwarded to the Armed Forces Welfare and Pension Office (Wehrmachtfürsorge und Versorgungsamt) accompanied by the officer's medical record papers (Krankenpapiere).
i. PUNISHMENT RECORDS. An individual excerpt from the unit punishment book (Auszug aus dem Strafbuch) is forwarded upon the transfer of an enlisted man, together with his Wehrpass, whereas the punishment record of an officer appears in his character and efficiency report (Beurteilungsnotiz). In the event of a disciplinary reduction in rank, the soldier's Soldbuch, Wehrpass, and Kriegsstammrollenblatt are closed by his unit and forwarded, for filing in the Wehrstammbuch pocket, to his home recruiting station, which issues a new Wehrpass. The unit itself issues a new Soldbuch at once, and a new Kriegsstammrollenblatt is opened which, in the case of a former officer, must be of the enlisted man type. The reduction is entered only on the closed Kriegsstammrollenblatt. The records of a degraded regular Air Force officer must be requested from the Air Force Personnel Office. In the Navy, the Personalnachweis of a degraded officer is closed, the reduction having been entered on it, is sent to his home recruiting station, and is replaced by an enlisted man's Führungsbuch; whereas the Führungsbuch of a degraded noncommissioned officer is continued after the reduction has been entered. In no case is the reduction entered in either the old or the new Soldbuch or Wehrpass.
j. TERMINATION OF SERVICE. The Wehrpass is given to the soldier upon his honorable discharge from active service, even when such a discharge is temporary (e.g. for occupational reasons). In the latter case, his Soldbuch is returned to him in exchange for the Wehrpass when he is recalled to active duty. Otherwise, the Soldbuch and all other basic military records remain on file at his home recruiting station. Discharged soldiers are given a discharge certificate (Entlassungsschein).
In case of death, all basic military records of the soldier are filed by the home recruiting station except his Wehrpass, which is given to the next of kin. A report on his death and burial, together with the broken-off lower half of his identification disc and a description of the grave, is sent to the Armed Forces Information Bureau for War Casualties and Prisoners of War, which is the only agency authorized to handle inquiries. However, the Waffen-SS had its own information bureau.
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