TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[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.]



6. Medical Service and Installations

a. MEDICAL SERVICE. Within the Armed Forces the administration of the medical services and the use of the medical installations and facilities in Germany have been centralized to a high degree. In considering the medical organization of the Replacement Army it should be borne in mind that these facilities, to a varying degree, are also at the disposal of the other branches of the Armed Forces and of the Waffen-SS.

The Chief Army Medical Inspector (Heeressanitätsinspekteur), whose activities are supervised by the Armed Forces Surgeon General (Chef des Wehrmachtsanitätswesens), is stationed at the headquarters of the Commander of the Replacement Army but does not form part of his staff. He works through his own staff, the Army Medical Inspectorate (Heeressantitätsinspektion), which is part of the General Army Office (Allgemeines Heeresamt). He is the head of the medical services of the Field Army as well as of the Replacement Army. The Chief Army Medical Inspector is the superior of the medical personnel of the Army in disciplinary matters and questions concerning medical work. He decides on the assignment and promotion of medical officers.

Within the limits of the directives issued by the Armed Forces Surgeon General he has the following responsibilities:

Training of medical personnel.

Direction of the medical service including hygienic and sanitary measures in the Army.

Evacuation and hospitalization of casualties and the administration of all military hospitals.

Supply of drugs and medical equipment for the Army.

The permanent medical installations in Germany comprise medical units, hospitals, and supply installations which are all organized on a strictly territorial basis.

b. CORPS AREA SURGEONS. In the Replacement Army the channels of command go through the chief medical officers of the corps areas. These officers have a dual title. They are called deputy corps surgeon (Stellvertretender Korpsarzt) for orders which concern the troops and emanate from the deputy corps headquarters (Stellvertretendes Generalkommando), and corps area surgeon (Wehrkreisarzt) in all territorial matters which are handled under the authority of the corps area headquarters (Wehrkreiskommando). In this dual capacity they are on the staff of the corps area commander and head the IV b (medical) section of this staff. They are therefore subordinate to the commander of the corps area as well as to the Chief Army Medical Inspector. Within their territory the chief medical officers of the corps areas have the same functions and responsibilities as the Chief Army Medical Inspector.

c. MEDICAL UNITS. The corps area surgeons control the medical replacement battalions (Sanitäts-Ersatzabteilungen), one in each corps area, which train medical replacements for the Field Army. They also control the medical battalions (Sanitäts-Abteilungen), which during the war comprise all the medical personnel other than those in training, serving in the Replacement Army with units or in general hospitals. Each corps area usually has two or three medical battalions, which are designated by their headquarters town.

The medical battalions are composed of medical sections (Heeres-Sanitätsstaffeln) of varying size. The medical sections are the local sub-units of the medical battalions and generally can be found in every permanent garrison and every maneuver area. They are designated by the name of the garrison town.

The commander of the medical section is the local representative of the corps area surgeon and also serves as the garrison surgeon (Standortarzt) and head of the IV b section on the staff of the senior garrison officer. The garrison surgeon is therefore subordinate to the senior garrison officer as well as to the corps area surgeon. The garrison surgeon also controls the military hospitals in his area.

d. HOSPITALS. In peacetime all the larger garrisons had permanent garrison hospitals (Sandort-Lazarette). In addition there existed several Army tuberculosis hospitals (Lazarette für Lungenkranke des Heeres) and Army sanatoriums (Kurlazarette des Heeres).

In wartime all these hospitals are designated general hospitals (Reservelazarette). Thus the garrison hospitals became Reservelazarette, the tuberculosis hospitals Reserve-Lazarette für Lungenkranke, and the sanatoriums Reserve-Kurlazarette. In addition Army convalescents' homes (Heeres-Genesungsheime), general hospitals for prisoners of war (Reservelazarette für Kriegsgefangene), and other types were created.

Since the peacetime facilities were entirely inadequate for the wartime needs, a large number of civilian institutions and suitable buildings such as civilian hospitals, hotels, and schools were taken over and converted into general hospitals. The general hospitals are designated by the name of the town, and Roman numerals if there is more than one general hospital in the town—for example Reservelazarett Kassel III. If a general hospital controls wards in separate buildings these usually are called part-hospitals (Teillazarette). The capacity of a general hospital may vary anywhere from 100 to 1,000 or more beds.

The medical personnel of a general hospital belong to the medical section (Heeressanitätsstaffel) which is stationed in that particular town or district. They therefore are affiliated permanently with one of the medical battalions (Sanitätsabteilungen) of the corps area.

For the purposes of medical supervision, general hospitals, with an aggregate of about 5,000 beds in a given area of the Wehrkreis, are grouped together into general hospital districts (Reservelazarett-Bezirke) which are under the supervision of senior medical officers.

The majority of the general hospitals are equipped and staffed to deal with a fairly wide range of casualties and diseases, but a few of them specialize, such as general hospitals for blind soldiers or for soldiers with brain injuries. In the military medical organization, the main types of casualties and diseases are indicated by a system of code numbers, running from 1 to 21, in order to facilitate the distribution of casualties to those hospitals which are best fitted for their treatment.

For the purposes of evacuation and distribution of casualties each general hospital in a given area is subordinate to a transportation headquarters (Transport-Kommandantur), where a medical liaison officer handles all these questions. The distribution itself is based on daily reports from the general hospitals to their local distributing centers (Kranken-Verteilungs-Stelle) giving the number of unoccupied beds.

All general hospitals form part of the Replacement Army and therefore, as a rule, all soldiers sent to a general hospital automatically are transferred from the Field Army to the Replacement Army. At times, when the Theater of Operations has extended into Germany proper, this rule has been modified, so that soldiers who are sent to general hospitals in the corps areas near the combat zone are transferred to the Replacement Army only after having stayed in the general hospital for 8 weeks; this is the same period that applies to field hospitals.


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