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. Production, Acceptance, and Distribution of Equipment* and Ammunition

[The term "equipment" refers to the group of materials handled by equipment depots and equipment parks, in contrast to the individual equipment (Ausrüstung des Mannes) and clothing handled by clothing depots.]

a. DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT. This is primarily the responsibility of the Army Ordnance Office (Heereswaffenamt). In particular, its Weapons and Equipment Manufacture Group (Amtsgruppe für Industrielle Rüstung) includes ten sections dealing with the main categories of equipment and known as armament sections one to ten (Waffenrüstungsabteilungen 1-10). The Ordnance Office also has a Research Branch (Forschungsabteilung) and a Development and Testing Branch (Amtsgruppe für Entwicklung und Prüfung). In addition, the Ordnance officer coordinates the activities of numerous army-owned and semi-private research institutes and experimental stations throughout the country. Suggestions for design and development are also received from all the technical branches of the Army.

b. PRODUCTION. On the production side the Ministry for Armament and War Production has, through its regional Armament Inspectorates, a decisive influence on the selection of firms, coordination of armament orders with other orders, labor questions, and scheduling and supervision of production.

c. ACCEPTANCE. The testing of weapons, equipment, and ammunition, and their acceptance at the armament factory is the responsibility of the Army Acceptance Organization (Heeresabnahmewesen), which is a branch of the Army High Command/Army Ordnance Office (OKH/Heereswaffenamt). There is one Acceptance Inspector (Abnahmeinspizient) in each corps area who acts through acceptance commissions located at the factories.

d. DISTRIBUTION OF EQUIPMENT AND AMMUNITION TO ARMY UNITS. After acceptance at the factories, the flow of equipment and ammunition to field and home units may take a number of routes:

By way of equipment and ammunition depots.

By way of equipment parks.

Direct from the factory.

Through SS depots.

Through special Armed Forces High Command (OKW) depots.

2. Main Army Equipment and Ammunition Depot Organization

a. ORGANIZATION. The agencies responsible for most of the storage, issue, and repair of equipment and for the storage, issue, and salvaging of ammunition belong to a separate branch of the Army, the Ordnance Branch (Feldzeugwesen). The branch is headed by the Chief Army Ordnance Officer (Feldzeugmeister), who works through his staff, the Ordnance Inspectorate (Feldzeuginspektion) in the General Army Office (Allgemeines Heeresamt). From the Ordnance Inspectorate the chain of command leads through three regional commands, called Ordnance Groups (Feldzeuggruppen), with headquarters in Berlin, Kassel, and Munich, to the Ordnance Headquarters (Feldzeugkommandos) which are at the level of the corps areas but not affiliated with the latter. There is one Ordnance Headquarters in each corps area, where it controls a varying number of equipment and ammunition depots. The Ordnance Headquarters is the lowest controlling agency for the storage and issue of equipment and ammunition, and it is important to note that below this level equipment and ammunition are handled by two separate types of depots. The Ordnance Headquarters is designated by the number of the corps area. It and the depots it controls are not, however, part of the corps area organization, although the auditing of their books is done by the Corps Area Administration.

In addition to the Ordnance Headquarters designated by the corps area numbers, there exist an Ordnance Headquarters XXX, which is in charge of a great number of subterranean ammunition depots in central Germany, and a special Tank Ordnance Headquarters (Panzer-Feldzeugkommando), created in 1943 in order to centralize the supply of all types of armored fighting vehicles and their spare parts throughout Germany.

b. EQUIPMENT DEPOTS. Army Equipment Depots (Heereszeugämter or HZa) and Army Branch Equipment Depots (Heeresnebenzeugämter or HNZa), controlled by the Ordnance Headquarters, handle weapons, tanks, tank spare parts, motor transport, assault boats, radio apparatus, anti-gas equipment, bridge materials, special clothing, concrete mixers, and manuals, as well as many other articles. They do not furnish ammunition, fuel, rations, clothing (other than special types), medical and veterinary equipment, horses, or most types of individual equipment.

Although the depots normally handle a great variety of items, they sometimes concentrate upon particular types. For example, air reconnaissance has revealed large concentrations of motor transport at the Chemnitz HZa and large artillery stores at the Berlin-Spandau HZa. It is known, however, that these centers also hold large stores of equipment which cannot be seen from the air. When depots specialize in only one type of equipment, they have their specialties incorporated into their names. This group includes the Army Tank Equipment Depot (Heerespanzerzeugamt or HPZa) at Magdeburg-Königsborn; the Army Branch Tank Equipment Depots (Heerespanzernebenzeugämter or HPNZa) at Frankfurt an der Oder, Naumburg, Bielefeld, Breslau, Oppeln, Kassel, Altengrabow, and Olmütz; the Army Signal Equipment Depot (Heereszeugamtnachrichten or HZaNachr) at Berlin-Schöneberg; and the Army Branch Signal Equipment Depot (Heeresnebenzeugamtnachrichten or HNZaNachr) at Wien-Strebersdorf (Vienna).

In addition to their storage functions, the HZa and HNZa adjust and test newly arrived materials and repair damaged equipment. Several of the HNZa are engaged almost entirely in repair functions, and most equipment depots maintain ordnance, signal, and engineer equipment servicing sections for inspecting newly manufactured equipment and repairing damaged equipment. Specialization in items repaired may occur: thus the tank equipment depots repair tanks and armored vehicles which have been so badly damaged that they cannot be repaired in the field.

The equipment depots are staffed by officers and noncommissioned officers of the Ordnance Branch who control the workers, usually civilians or soldiers serving a prison sentence.

An Army Equipment Depot is divided into two parts: the storage depot (Lager) and the workshop (Werkstatt). The storage depot is subdivided in departments (Bezirke), each of which specializes in one type of equipment. Depending on the type of equipment handled, the workshop will have separate sections like an arms workshop (Waffen-Werkstatt), an optical instruments workshop (Optische-Werkstatt), etc.

The Army Equipment Branch Depot is organized along the same lines as the Army Equipment Depot.

Associated with equipment depots are the Armed Forces depots attached to motor transport manufacturers. The main function of these is to facilitate transfer of vehicles from factories to equipment depots.

As the number of HZa is relatively limited and as they are perhaps the largest supply depots within Germany, they have been heavily bombed by Allied air forces. Despite much damage, the HZa have shown great recuperative powers. The importance of many HZa, however, has diminished, while that of the HNZa has increased through the dispersion of stores among the smaller supply centers.

List of known Army Equipment Depots
(branch depots not included):
Corps Area    Installation    Location
XVIIIHZaHall (in Tirol)

c. AMMUNITION DEPOTS. Army Ammunition Depots (Heeresmunitionsanstalten or HMa) and Army Ammunition Branch Depots (Heeresmunitionsnebenanstalten or HMNa) are the main German centers for the storage and issue of ammunition. Frequently they concentrate upon particular types of ammunition; for example, the HMa at Münsterlager, Celle, Dessau, Augsburg, and Neu Ulm are probably principal centers for the storage of chemical warfare ammunition.

In addition to storing and issuing ammunition, the HMa and HMNa participate in its production by assembling and filling shells and by manufacturing fuzes and other accessories.

Like the equipment depots, the ammunition depots are staffed by personnel of the Ordnance Branch. Employees include civilians, soldiers, prisoners of war, and large numbers of foreign laborers. An HMa usually has the following departments:


Manufacture (filling and packing of shells)


Personnel administration

Motor pool

Because of the large number of well distributed ammunition depots, many of them underground, Allied air attacks have not interfered materially with their functioning. But the increased number of foreign laborers employed by these depots undoubtedly has lowered their productivity.

d. AREA OF DISTRIBUTION. Generally a depot is allocated a definite geographical distribution area. The depot may be the exclusive German distributor of a particular item, or it may be merely the exclusive distributor within an allotted area. Thus the Ulm HZa distributes types of engineer equipment to all areas, while it issues Czech small arms to less than half of the corps areas. In addition, a depot may be assigned to a particular army for the supply of materiel replacements and the repair of its damaged materiel.

3. Corps Area Equipment Park Organization

a. GENERAL. The corps area parks complement the equipment depots in the handling of motor transport, engineer equipment, and anti-gas equipment, and form the principal centers for the distribution of horses, veterinary equipment, and medical equipment. Requisitions for repairs reach the parks from both home and field units. Primarily, a park is responsible for servicing its allotted area; usually it also is charged with the supply and maintenance of designated units of the Field Army.

b. MOTOR TRANSPORT PARKS. The Home Motor Transport Parks (Heimatkraftfahrparke or HKP) received damaged or impounded vehicles such as motorcycles, trucks, and staff cars, but do not handle tanks and armored vehicles, or any newly manufactured vehicles. There are several such parks in each corps area, controlled by the Home Motor Maintenance District Headquarters (Heimatkraftfahrbezirk) of the corps area.

Most of the vehicles repaired belong to the Wehrmacht and the SS; but vehicles from semi-military and civilian agencies are also repaired. The HKP vary widely as to the number of vehicles repaired daily and the average number held. At Berlin, where there are three HKP, each may hold as many as 1,000 vehicles and repair 30 daily. Most HKP, however, hold 60 to 100 vehicles and have a daily repair average of probably less than ten vehicles. Since many of the vehicles received are damaged beyond repair and must be scrapped or cannibalized, the daily repair averages are not as inefficient as may appear upon initial glance.

A typical HKP includes a reception point where vehicle defects are inspected, a large number of workshops, and final inspection points where vehicles are either dispatched to units or sent back for further repair. Frequently there are branch administrative offices (Zweigstellen) and workshops located as far as 40 miles from the Main Office (Hauptstelle). The number of HKP in a corps area varies greatly: at one time Corps Area VI was known to have nine HKP, while Corps Area V had only four.

Supplies of spare parts and tires are procured from Central Spare Parts Depots (Zentralersatzteillager or ZEL) and Tire Depots (Reifenlager) which are controlled by the HKP, or direct from factories.

c. MEDICAL PARKS. The Berlin Main Medical Park (Hauptsanitätspark) and the Corps Area Medical Parks (Wehrkreissanitätsparke)—one per corps area—receive all types of surgical apparatus, drugs, bandages, and dispensing equipment from factories and hold them for distribution to hospitals within their corps areas and to Medical Collecting Parks (Sammelsanitätsparke). The latter are subsidiaries of the Corps Area Medical Parks and serve as collecting points for medical supplies to the field forces. In certain cases the Main Medical Park and Corps Area Medical Parks may deliver their supplies direct to the field forces.

The Main Medical Park in Berlin occupies a special position as it holds critical drugs and hospital supplies for distribution to Corps Area Medical Parks and Medical Collecting Parks. In addition it tests newly developed pharmaceutical preparations and medical equipment and furnishes the Corps Area Medical Parks with "standard" samples of medical equipment. The Main Medical Park is subordinate to the Chief Army Medical Inspector, and the Corps Area Medical Parks are subordinate to the Corps Area Surgeons; there is thus no chain of command leading from the Main Medical Park to the Corps Area Medical Parks.

There is also a group of Medical Booty Collecting Points (Sanitätsbeutesammelstellen) that are centers for the collection of captured medical equipment. This is sorted and tested prior to shipment to the medical parks for distribution.

Although the medical parks participate in the repair of damaged medical equipment, it is very likely that much of the recovery work is done by the manufacturers.

d. VETERINARY PARKS. Veterinary supplies are procured through veterinary parks. The Army Main Veterinary Park (Heereshauptveterinärpark) is directly subordinate to the Veterinary Inspector. It is the central procurement agency for veterinary equipment. Upon orders from the Veterinary Inspector the Army Main Veterinary Park will supply the Home Veterinary Parks (Heimatveterinärparke) with veterinary equipment either directly or by ordering it for these parks from commercial manufacturers. Horse-shoeing equipment is always ordered from civilian factories.

The Home Veterinary Parks, numbering one in each corps area, and the Army Main Veterinary Park receive veterinary equipment such as shoeing equipment and veterinary medicines from the manufacturers and issue it to units and horse hospitals, besides repairing and salvaging damaged veterinary equipment received from units.

e. HORSE PARKS. Young horses purchased by the Army are sent to Army Remount Depots (Heeresremonteämter) for their maintenance and training until they are suited for field use. They are then delivered direct to corps area riding schools, to home units, or to Home Horse Parks (Heimatpferdeparke) which forward horses to Field Army units.

As the occupied territories formerly furnished most of the horse replacements for the German Army, their loss will greatly aggravate the already noticeable animal shortage at a time when the German Army is becoming increasingly dependent on horse transportation.

f. OTHER PARKS. A sizeable number of Home Engineer Parks (Heimatpionierparke) have been reported functioning within the corps areas, supplying home and field units with engineer equipment. In addition, there are at least five special Home Fortress Engineer Parks (Heimatfestungspionierparke), which supply fortress engineer units; a number of Home Railway Engineer Parks (Heimateisenbahnpionierparke); and a few Gas Defense Equipment Parks (Gasschutzgeräteparke).

4. Clothing and Individual Equipment Supply Organization

a. PROCUREMENT AND ADMINISTRATION. Procurement of raw materials is the special function of the Armed Forces Clothing and Equipment Procurement Office (Wehrmachtbeschaffungsamt Bekleidung and Ausrüstung) at Berlin. The raw materials are then issued to the clothing depots of the three branches of the Armed Forces and the SS which manufacture, store, and issue clothing and various items of individual equipment. In addition, damaged, captured, or impounded clothing may be sent to the clothing depots for repair and reissue.

In the Army the highest administrative echelon is a section in the staff of the General Army Office (Allgemeines Heeresamt/Stab/Bekleidung) which issues all directives on clothing and equipment. It controls the work of the Army Clothing Depots (Heeresbekleidungsämter or HBA). Within each corps area the supply of clothing is directed by Section E (Sachgebiet E) of the Corps Area Administration (Wehrkreisverwaltung). Thus for all practical purposes the normal Army Clothing Depot is subject to a dual control.

b. CLOTHING DEPOTS. One or more Army Clothing Depots are generally found in each corps area. These HBA receive raw materials from which they manufacture clothing, insignia, shoes, tents, canteens, blankets, and other items of individual equipment. They exercise control over Testing and Repair Sections (Verwaltungsund Instandsetzungabteilungen), which repair damaged clothing, and Army Clothing Dumps and Branch Dumps (Heeresbekleidungslager und Nebenlager), which assist in the forwarding of clothing to the field forces.

Specialized types of clothing depots include Collecting Points for Winter Clothing (Sammel-Stellen für Winterbekleidung), Army Clothing Repair Workshops (Heeresbekleidungsinstandsetzungswerkstätten) which presumably do not handle newly manufactured clothing, and Clothing Processing Centers (Durchschleusungsstellen) which are believed to be centers to which reinforcements requiring refitting are routed before their departure for the front. In addition, rations depots may store and issue clothing for certain areas.

c. AREA OF DISTRIBUTION. The HBA issues clothing and individual equipment to units within its assigned territorial area. Many HBA are also responsible for the supply of particular armies in the field; to facilitate the transfer of clothing to field units, issues may be made to Army Clothing Dumps and Branch Dumps which in turn issue clothing and individual equipment to field units.

5. Rations Supply Organization

a. GENERAL. The German Army depends for its transportation to a large extent on horse-drawn vehicles; forage is therefore considered to be of equal importance to human rations, and the supply of both is handled by the same agencies. In the following description of the supply organization the term rations includes forage as well.

b. PROCUREMENT AND ADMINISTRATION. The over-all planning of rations and the laying down of policies for the procurement and organization of supplies is done for all branches of the Armed Forces at the Rations and Procurement Group (Amtsgruppe Verpflegung und Beschaffung) of the Army High Command/Administration Office (OKH/Heeresverwaltungsamt). At the same time the Rations and Procurement Group directs the supply of rations to the Field Army and to the Replacement Army. Regional control of supply is exercised by Section C (Sachgebiet C) of the Corps Area Administration.

Although all rations depots procure a proportion of their supplies direct from local producers, they draw most of them from the Higher Rations Stores (Ersatzverpflegungsmagazine or EVM) to which they are subordinate. In procuring rations for distribution, the EVM purchases food from all parts of the corps area in which it is located and arranges for the exchange of goods with other corps areas. In many instances procurement of a particular rations component, such as flour or fodder, may be delegated to one of the depots subsidiary to the EVM.

c. RATIONS DEPOTS. While in peacetime the troops purchased their rations mostly through commercial channels and only bread and forage were procured from the Army bakeries and rations depots, in wartime the supply of rations from Army depots has become the rule. To fulfil this task, the Higher Rations Stores or EVM were formed at the outbreak of war from many of the already existent Army Rations Main Depots (Heeresverpflegungshauptämter or HVHA).

The most important type of rations depot is the EVM. The EVM control Army Rations Main Depots (HVHA) which in turn control Army Rations Depots (Heeresverpflegungsämter or HVA) and Army Garrison Rations Depots (Heeresstandortverwaltung Verpflegungsabteilungen). Although the number of such installations in a corps area varies, one corps area is known to have two EVM, three HVHA, nine HVA and at least 12 Army Garrison Ration Depots. There are probably 40 EVM in Germany, 36 of which are listed below.

The echelon of the depot generally determines its size and stock. Each EVM is expected to maintain stock sufficient for one month's rations for 300,000 men; this would amount to over 10,000 tons of food. An HVHA retains food reserves of perhaps 3,000 tons, while an HVA usually stocks several hundred tons. An EVM almost invariably has a bakery and good rail facilities; lower echelon depots may lack bakeries and may have only road connections.

The rule as to size of depots is not inflexible. A large share of the stores normally retained by the EVM may be divided among HVHA and HVA for additional protection from air raids and to facilitate the loading of rations trains. In other instances, Army Garrison Rations Depots handle more stores than HVHA or HVA of the same corps area due to abnormal troop concentrations in their particular garrison areas.

While specialization is not typical of the rations depots, since both human and animal rations are found in all types, a limited number of HVHA and HVA tend to have concentrated stores of a particular rations component. As an example, one HVHA, now captured, maintained a reserve of thousands of tons of oats in addition to its stores of troop rations. In certain farming districts Fodder Collecting Points (Rauhfuttersammelstellen) specialize in the collection and storage of forage.

List of known Higher Rations Stores (EVM):
 Corps Area      Location   
IXFrankfurt am Main

d. AREA OF DISTRIBUTION. The depots maintained by the Army supply food and forage to Army, SS, and Air Force units present in their localities. Naval units generally are supplied by Naval Rations Depots (Marineverpflegungsämter). The process of local supply is relatively simple, as units contact the nearest rations depot and thereafter automatically are attached to a depot for their supply of rations. If a depot finds itself unable to provide full rations to all units in its area, it receives assistance from other depots in the corps area.

In addition to supplying local needs, the EVM are the principal centers for the supply of rations to the Field Army. Ordinarily, a group of EVM becomes responsible for the rations supply of a particular army; then the EVM must make certain that the army has about 10 days' supply of rations on hand at all times, based upon an estimate of the probable rations strength prepared by the army 28 days in advance.

Lower echelon depots may become involved in the supply of the field armies in a number of ways:

(1) When an HVA or HVHA is delegated to assist the EVM in storage of field army rations.

(2) When an HVHA is assigned the function of procuring and storing a particular component of the ration for the entire corps area.

(3) When any of the depots located in the theater of operations are turned over to a field army to be used as an Army Rations Depot (Armeeverpflegungslager).

6. Fuels and Lubricants Supply Organization

a. GENERAL. Because of the critical condition of German fuel supply, the collection and distribution of fuel have largely been retained by the Ministry of Economic Affairs through its Central Petroleum Office. Both the Central Petroleum Office and the Armed Forces High Command exercise authority over the WIFO (Economic Research Company), which is the organization responsible for the administration of depots supplying fuel to the armed forces.

b. PROCUREMENT. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, in collaboration with the Armed Forces High Command, establishes the proportional allotment of fuel to the Armed Forces and to civilian users. The refineries, producers, and importers then are directed to ship supplies either to the WIFO Depots or to air force, naval or commercial storage depots.

c. TYPES OF DEPOTS. The main WIFO depots controlled by the Central Petroleum Office consist of Main Strategic Depots (Zentralhauptlager), which are usually underground, and of Main Transit Depots (Zentralumschlaglager), which store supplies for transshipment. In addition to supplying the largest share of fuel received by army fuel depots, these depots handle a portion of the fuel used by the Air Force and Navy. The Main Strategic Depots have storage capacities ranging into hundreds of thousands of tons of oil. For this reason the Allied air forces have bombed them with great consistency. The importance of the Main Transit Depots has decreased since the cutting off of Rumanian petroleum imports.

The smaller WIFO depots, controlled by the Armed Forces High Command, consist of Army High Command Fuel Supply Depots (OKH Nachschubtanklager) and subsidiary Army Fuel Supply Depots (Heeresnachschubtanklager). These depots are directed solely to the supply of Army units. Very likely, commercial storage depots situated in the Theater of Operations have been converted into WIFO depots of this sort.

Not controlled by WIFO are the depots situated near the producing plants (Marschtanklager or Fuel Replacement Depots) which send fuel supplies to the depots mentioned above as well as direct to the Field Army.

7. Waffen-SS Supply Organization

a. RELATION TO ARMY SUPPLY. While the Waffen-SS is generally self-sufficient in its Zone of the Interior supply, it depends upon the Chief of Army Equipment for most of its tanks, self-propelled guns, and other heavy equipment and for the repair of many of its vehicles. Indeed, Waffen-SS units have a higher priority on heavy equipment than do army units. To what extent the SS reciprocates by supplying army units has not been determined.

b. SS DEPOTS. Of the SS depot centers; Oranienburg is the most important as it contains the Main SS Equipment Depot (SS-Zeugamt), the SS Central Distribution Center (SS-Zentralzulassungstelle), the SS Signal Equipment Depot (SS-Nachrichtenzeugamt), and an SS Motor Transport Depot (SS-Kraftfahrzeugdepot). Other important SS depot centers are Berlin, Dachau, and Prague. Since the SS depots supply the other branches of the SS as well as the Waffen-SS with rations, clothing, and certain types of equipment, they cannot be considered as purely military depots.

8. Transportation

All military transportation by rail or on inland waterways comes under the direction of the Chief of Transportation (Chef des Transportwesens) at the High Command of the Armed Forces (OKW). He works through a chain of transportation headquarters which are usually subordinate to the Army but act for the whole of the Armed Forces. The activities of the transportation headquarters cover the occupied territories as well as Germany.

The Transportation Headquarters (Transport-Kommandanturen) are regional liaison offices of the Armed Forces with the German State Railways (Deutsche Reichsbahn) and the authorities controlling the transportation on inland waterways. The Transportation Headquarters are located at the seat of a Railway Directorate (Reichsbahndirektion) and control the area of one or more Railway Directorates.

The Transportation Headquarters are the basic units through which all military agencies must deal if they require rail or water transportation for units, freight, or casualties. The Transportation Headquarters make the transportation facilities available and issue orders as to how and when they are to be used.

The staff of the Transportation Headquarters is organized into:

Section Ia: Troop movements for the Armed Forces
Auxiliaries of the Armed Forces
Transportation of prisoners of war

Section Ib: Freight for the Armed Forces
Armament goods
Armed Forces travel

Section IVb: Hospital and convalescent trains

Subordinate to the transportation headquarters are railway station headquarters (Bahnhofskommandanturen) and officers stationed at inland harbors (Hafenoffiziere). These headquarters and officers are stationed there for the maintenance of order and as liaison officers with the local railway and harbor officials.


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