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.]



1. Introduction

Certain militarized organizations have developed from independent or Party formations to full-fledged partners of the Armed Forces. In the field, when they operate directly for the Armed Forces, they are described as attached to them (Wehrmachtgefolge); but they also per-form many supply, construction, policing, and training tasks of military importance when not actually associated with military units.

2. Labor Service

The German Labor Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst—RAD) arose from a Party organization set up in 1931 and known as the NS-Arbeitsdienst for the purpose of easing unemployment. It grew in importance with the rearmament of Germany, and a law in 1935 made service in the RAD, now separated from the Party and made into a State organization, compulsory for all young Germans. The strength of the RAD in 1939 is estimated at 360,000 men; it is now considerably less. The RAD is a Supreme Reich Authority with the same status as the Ministries. It has nevertheless maintained its strong ties to the Party, documented by the position of its chief, the Reichsarbeitsführer, as a member of the High Command (Reichsleitung) of the Party.

The mission of the RAD in peacetime consisted in the creation of jobs, the performance of public works, the revival of interest in the dignity of manual labor, and above all the physical hardening, disciplining, and political indoctrination of its members.

The RAD has its own regional organization based on 40 Arbeitsgaue which contain numerous groups (Gruppen) and detachments (Abteilungen). A detachment normally consists of about 200 men.

The work done by the RAD was of substantial military value even in peacetime. It helped to build fortifications and formed the nucleus of the construction battalions of the Army and Air Force at the outbreak of war. Such battalions, which were originally formed by the outright conversion of RAD groups, had an average strength of 2,000 men and consisted of four construction companies and three construction columns. These units prepared the way for the work of the engineers and did the pick and shovel work under them. During the Polish campaign the work consisted of road and railway repair work and of construction of airfields. In addition they brought up supplies, collected and sorted captured equipment, and helped with the harvest. In December 1939 the RAD reverted to its original form and continued to carry out its wartime duties under its own commanders and under RAD rules and administration. By 1943 the RAD men were completely militarized. In addition to the shovel work, they were employed to lay minefields and man fortifications and were taught antitank and antiaircraft defense. In 1944 such employment became more general while conditions inside Germany necessitated the use of the RAD to operate antiaircraft batteries, fight fires, clear bomb damage, and build temporary quarters for the bombed-out.

Units remaining in the field or finding themselves in German areas which became parts of the fighting front were often incorporated into the Wehrmacht without further ado.

3. Todt Organization

The Organisation Todt (OT) was first formed by the late Dr. Todt in 1938 to build the western defenses known in Germany as the Westwall. In wartime its Einsatzgruppen (Work Groups) were employed as construction units in almost all defensive construction works, especially those in France, Italy, and the Lowlands. The OT cooperates closely with private firms in its missions for the Wehrmacht and employs increasing numbers of foreign laborers. Its liaison with the Army is maintained through the fortress engineer staffs (Festungspionierstäbe). The transport system of the OT is maintained by the NSKK (see below). The German personnel of the OT is armed in order to be prepared for any surprise attack while working on the building site. Most of the men belong to age groups which are expected to have received military training during the last war. Refresher courses are held.

4. Nazi Party Motor Transport Corps

The Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrkorps (NSKK) was organized under its present title in 1931 to increase the mobility of the SA (Brownshirts). After 1933 the NSKK turned to the training of drivers for the eventual use of the Armed Forces.

As a branch (Gliederung) of the Party, the NSKK has its own regional organization which is divided into Motorobergruppen and further into Motorgruppen. Membership is on a voluntary basis.

Since the outbreak of war the NSKK has fulfilled three important functions. It has organized pre-military training in the motorized branch of the Hitler Youth, it has provided an auxiliary transportation service in the communications zone in support of the Armed Forces, and it has trained tank crews for the Army. For the transport function NSKK units were organized as four separate brigades (Brigaden).

With the forming of the Volkssturm in October 1944 the NSKK became responsible for its automotive training.

5. Technical Emergency Corps

The Technische Nothilfe (TN), often referred to as the Teno, is a branch of the Order Police (Ordnungspolizei). It is a corps of engineers, technicians, and skilled and semi-skilled specialists in construction work, public utilities operation, communications, metal salvage, and other related fields.

Most of its members are men over military age. General requirements are those of the SS and Police.

Founded in 1919 as a strike-breaking organization the TN was retained after 1933 as a force of the state to cope with emergencies and dangers to the public. Incorporated into the police in 1937, the TN continued to perform its original mission in wartime. In addition, units of the TN were employed in construction and repair work and in many other technical tasks with the Armed Forces. Portions of these units have been incorporated into the Army as technical troops (Technische Truppen), which have since lost their identity as TN units entirely. TN units are known to have performed engineer functions for SS-Polizei units which were employed in defensive tasks in forward echelons.

6. Volkssturm

Founded by Hitler in October 1944, this national militia organization represents an ultimate effort to mobilize all available manpower for employment in total war. It includes all German men between the ages of sixteen and sixty who are not in the Armed Forces and who are able to bear arms. The members of the Volkssturm are described as soldiers for the duration of their employment, which is to take place locally wherever a given area is threatened. The Volkssturm has the mission of reinforcing the active strength of the Armed Forces and defending German soil to the last. It is recruited under the auspices of the Party, whose formations join in providing its cadres and officers. The leadership in the Party regions is assigned to the Gauleiter, the rifle training to the SA, and the automotive training to the NSKK. Beyond that all installations and institutions of the Party serve to form and train the new units. Himmler, as Commander of the Replacement Army, is responsible for the organization of the Volkssturm and for ordering its mobilization and employment in any particular area.


[Back] Back to Table of Contents

Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Contact:
Copyright 2003-2005, All Rights Reserved.