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The SANI Impression, Part II
By Marcus Jurado

As was mentioned in my previous article (The Sani Impression), there is little written English documentation on the various details of German field medical personnel. One aspect of this impression that is very difficult to find documentation on is the proper paperwork and identification used by these brave souls. 

It appears that the Heer Sani, those that were trained by the Werhmacht, carried much different identification than those that were civilian trained, i.e. the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (DRK). As was mentioned in The Sani Impression, Sanitaters were trained soldiers as well as medical personnel, meaning that they too were supplied appropriate military paperwork. Therefore, these individuals would have been issued a Soldbuch with all the appropriate items filled out. The key difference in the Sani’s soldbuch would be that their rank would be noted in the appropriate medical rank, i.e. a Sanitatssoldaten (medics) or Kranketrager (orderlies).

(Heer Soldbuch)

Another important difference to note between the Sani identification and the soldaten’s would be the addition of a Personalausweis. This document was carried in order to document the bearer’s permission to wear the Red Cross symbol. This is the item that provided protection for the sani under the Geneva Convention. These papers supplied just a couple pieces of basic information (name and date issued) about the Sanitatssoldaten or Kranketrager, and an official’s signature. The documents were printed on a linen fabric early in the war, later turning to a linen card stock around 1941-1942, and eventually being printed on simple card stock around 1943. This additional piece of documentation was placed in the Sani’s soldbuch with any other vital paperwork. 

(Heer Personalausweis – permission to wear the Red Cross, note the fabric appearance of the edges)

The other form of medical identification often seen in collections is the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (DRK – German Red Cross) booklets. These small 4 page documents were issued by the civilian branch known as the Red Cross. Most of these individuals worked behind the lines and served in hospitals as nurses and doctors. However, as the war rolled along, many were pulled from these safe zones and moved to the front to help repopulate the medical ranks on the front lines. The military personnel that served with the DRK were mostly associated with the SS, as that branch was not a part of the Werhmacht, and therefore had to supply its own medical personnel. These booklets were more like a soldbuch than the Personalausweis. It included information as to name, rank, unit, birth date, town of origin, and featured a photo with official stamps. This document could act as solitary identification or be used in conjunction with an SS soldbuch. These identification papers were not only issued to the doctors and medics, but to the nurses that were serving the DRK as well. Following are a couple of examples of DRK Personal-Ausweis’.

(Cover of a DRK Personal-Ausweis from my personal Collection)

(The two inside pages of the above DRK Personal-Ausweis, note the rank is listed as DRK – Aid, and the photo is of an Heer Soldat)
(Another example of the inside pages of the DRK documentation, note that this is for a DRK nurse)

Although there appears to be delineation between the DRK and Wehrmacht medical personnel, there surely were exceptions to the rules on who carried what type of I.D. As can be seen in the first DRK Personal-Ausweis, there were individuals from the Wehrmacht that were issued DRK identification, and probably served on the front lines later in the war as Heer Sani’s. However, we must also acknowledge the fact that the DRK and the Wehrmacht were two entirely different entities and trained their personnel separately. It is safe to say that as the war drug on and the medical staffs took their casualties, that there was a dire need to supplement the numbers. This is more than likely where the lines began to become intertwined and DRK staff members started serving as military medics.

(DRK Emblems)

These details only become important to us in our portrayals of Sanis as we begin to explain what types of papers we are carrying during living histories, tacticals etc…. Hopefully it has become apparent that we should have a biography that can explain why we may be carrying a DRK document, yet we are serving in the Wehrmacht. The safest bet is to be sure to always have the Heer Personalausweis, in addition to any other paperwork you are carrying.

Until recently it was nearly impossible to find high quality reproductions of these documents done on the appropriate material. However, now there is a vendor that is making these available to us on both linen card stock as well as the early war linen material. You can obtain these identification documents through Matt Dipalma at:



- Geneva Convention, 1929
- Yahoogroups: 1S-Kompanie: German WWII Medical Reenactors



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