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The Wehrmacht Paper Chase
By Eric Tobey


The following was taken from the Die Neue Feldpost newsletter & was done so with permission of the publisher.  We would like to thank him for his generosity as well as thank all those who have contributed to this article.  It is with their efforts, we are able to share this valuable research with the rest of you.
 

German Military Documents up to Company Level

The German military seems to have had a mania for paperwork.  As one German veteran told us, "...sometimes I think we Germans tried to fight the war with papers, not bullets."

To give you an idea of just how much paperwork was associated with service in the Wehrmacht, this article will name the various books, sheets, forms, and documents found within an Army unit up to company size.  German Company staff personnel must have been very overworked people!

The documents listed here are mostly forms and books with an official name, use, and format.  There were many other small, hand- or type-written papers that could be found on the typical soldier, but since many of these followed no special formats (like some of the medical certificates), or were not very universal (like an engineer's fuse-timing chart), we have excluded them to keep this list as manageable as possible.  Although many of the documents which follow were found in all branches of the Wehrmacht, each branch had a certain variations of some, and others which were peculiar to them alone.  What we have presented here are documents generally found within the German Army.

 Documents kept on the Individual:

There were two pieces of documentation which were habitually carried by members of the German military: the Erkennungsmarke and Soldbuch:
 
1.  Erkennungsmarke (Identification Tag):
Not made of paper, but still an important piece of documentation.  The ID disk, of aluminum (early war), zinc or zinc alloy (mid to late-war), or steel (late war only) was supposed to be carried by every member of the German Armed Forces and worn by a string around the neck.  Despite the regulations, however, some soldiers kept them in their wallets, in their pockets, in their packs, or even lost them completely.  They were generally issued by the training unit that originally inducted the soldier, and only bore the name of the man's combat unit if he had lost his original tag and got a replacement from the field unit.  Click here for detailed information about ID tags.
 
2.  Soldbuch (Paybook):
Not only a paybook but an identification document, equipment inventory, and detailed service record book.  Carried by all soldiers in the left breast pocket.  Soldiers in some cases turned in their books temporarily, for instance if they were on patrol, doing duty in a secruity-risk station, or in the hospital.  Click here for information describing the entire book page-by-page.
  
 

There were also other identification documents which were occasionally carried by the individual soldier:


 
3.  Ausweiß (statt Soldbuch) (ID substitute for Soldbuch):
This was a temporary document to replace a lost or destroyed Soldbuch.  As its name implies, it was only a short-term document.
 
4.  Vorläufiger Ausweiß (Temporary Soldbuch):
Same as number 3, above, but laid out more like a 4 or 8 page Soldbuch without the cover.  Could also be entirely type-written.
 
5.  Ausweiß Nr..... (ID number ....):
This was a document printed on oilcloth, with a serial number.  It was meant to be used as a more secure form of identification than the Soldbuch for air crew, paratroopers, and other personnel who could be trapped and captured within enemy lines.
 
6.  Personalausweiß (Personal ID):
This was the certificate required by the Geneva Convention for medical non-combatants.  It gave them authorization to wear the red-cross armband, and was printed on white oilcloth with a red cross at the top.
 
7.  Truppenausweiß (Military ID):
ID certificate which was used in peacetime but was generally replaced by the Soldbuch upon mobilization in 1939.
 
 
There were a large number of different driver's licenses that could be found on the German soldier:

 
8.  Wehrmachtführerschein (Armed Forces Driver's License):
This was a gray oilcloth four-page certificate which was issued to all services in the same format.  They came with or without a photograph of the bearer.  If they were without a photo, a note printed on the spot for the photo would be exposed which stated: "only good in conjunction with a Soldbuch!", in which case the photo or detailed physical description in the Soldbuch served the same purpose.  Licenses issued before the advent of photos in Soldbuchs will therefore normally have a photo in them.
 
9.  Militärführerschein (Military Driver's License):
This was the pre-war version of #8, and was almost identical in layout and appearance.  A few were carried during the war.
 
10.  Militär-Fahrlehrerschein (Driver Instructor):
This document looks basically like #8 above, except it is printed on yellow oilcloth.
 
11.  Civilian Driver's License:
It is surprising at how many of these were carried by military personnel.  Apparently, they were carried over into military service.  They are generally laid out the same as the military ones and printed on oilcloth as well, but as many variations exist as there were municipalities that issued them.  Cars were rare in pre-war Germany (and even rarer during the war), so licenses were not common.
 
 
The German Soldier could also have carried any number of official orders, some of the more common of which would include:

 
12.  Marschbefehl (Travel Order):
This would have been more commonly in the possession of officers, NCOs, or vehicle drivers.  It would show the destination, route, units, and vehicles involved.
 
13.  Benachrichtigung:
This was a travel order given to a soldier when he was transferred from a training unit to a field unit.  Equivalent to a "Field Assignment".  Could also take the form of a "Kennzettel".
 
14.  Fahrbefehl Nr.... (Motorized travel order number...):
Order to travel by motor vehicle.  Shows the name of the driver, destination, reason for trip, and signature of the commanding officer.
 
 
There were a large number of miscellaneous military papers as well...

 
15.  Besitzzeugnis:
The small half-sheet document authorizing the possession of a decoration or special insignia.  When carried by the soldier, they were usually carried inside the Soldbuch.
 
16.  Bescheinigung:
This means "certificate", and may refer to almost anything.  Sometimes refers to the award of a decoration (like #15), an official "atta boy!", or official statements (so-and-so worked for me...).  Could also be the equivalent of a pass.
 
17.  Empfangbescheinigung (receipt):
This is a receipt normally given out when certain items of equipment were transferred from person to person.
 
18.  Ausweiß für die Truppe:
Long printed slip to be made out by a medical officer.  Shows the holder's name, rank, and unit, and officer's signature.
 
19.  Meldeblock (message form):
Message and sketch pad.  NCOs and officers had a pad of these in their map cases, and individual sheets could be found on soldiers as well.
 
20.  Wachbuch (Guard Book):
This was commonly found on non-commissioned officers, and shows time of watch, name of guard, and object or place to be guarded.
 
21.  Merkblatt:
Printed instruction sheet, one or more of which usually are found inside the rear cover of the Soldbuch.  Many kinds: anti-chemical warfare (the most common), recognition and prevention of malaria, VD, and frostbite.  Others gave soldier's information on how to behave during their leaves in Germany and abroad.
 
22.  Erklärung (Certificate of Aryan Descent):
A certificate that tells what percentage of Jewish blood the holder has.  One strange thing here: most of them are not signed or notarized by anyone.  Rare for an official German document!  Although they could be occasionally found on the soldier, the more common place to file one of these was at the company office, with the man's Wehrpaß and other records.
 
23.  Schießbuch (shooting record book):
Score book for small arms.  Often tucked inside the Soldbuch.  Early war versions are actually a small, 6, 8, or 12-page book.  Late war "books" were actually just a 4-page paper folder.
 
24.  Laufzettel (checklist):
These small sheets were usually given to a soldier upon transfer into or before transferring out of a unit.  Their purpose was to ensure that the soldier visited every official or department before being deemed fully integrated into a unit or ready to leave.  Basically, it consisted of a list of titles followed by a place for the officer or NCO to put his initials.  There would have been and entry for the unit CO, the Spieß, medical NCO, anti-gas NCO, supply room clerk, etc...
 
25.  Feldgendarmerie Tagebuch (Daybook for Military Police):
This was a small 34-page book carried by every MP to record the performance of his duty.  Every entry gave the time, place, persons, and reason for intervention.
 
26.  Freischwimmerausweiß (swimming certificate)
 
27.  Kriegurlaubschein (Military Leave Pass):
Issued much like our own Army's passes.
 
28.  Entlausungsschein (De-lousing certificate):
Also called the "E-schein", this small document testified that the soldier was de-loused.  Presentation of one of these was often required along with a leave pass if the soldier wanted to board a train home from the Eastern Front.
 
 Documents found on Vehicles, Weapons, and Equipment:

Some of the following documents, although they were supposed to be kept with the vehicle or piece of equipment, were also occasionally carried by the soldier in charge of it.
 
29.  Kraftfahrzeugschein (Vehicle registration):
A green-linen, four page folder.  Contains the number of the license plate and data concerning the vehicle, together with the Feldpost-number of the unit which owned it.
 
30.  Begleitheft für Kraftfahrzeuge (Vehicle data sheet):
Printed form containing technical data on the vehicle.
 
31.  Vorläufiger Kraftfahrzeugbrief (temporary vehicle data sheet):
Temporary form of the above, and normally typewritten.
 
32.  Kraftfahrzeug Stammrolle (vehicle roster):
Printed form containing a list of motor vehicles belonging to a unit.  This document had to be kept by all units having motor vehicles and was sometimes found at unit HQ instead of on a vehicle.
 
33.  Bestandliste für Kraftfahrzeuge:
A bound book, similar in purpose to the Kraftfahrzeug Stammrolle, but handwritten.
 
34.  Betriebsstofftagebuch (daily fuel record):
Also called the B.-liste or Tankliste.  Listed the vehicle by license plate number, and the amount and date of fueling.
 
35.  Ersatzteilliste (spare parts list):
Printed manual on vehicle spare parts, with illustrations and detailed technical specs.
 
36.  Rohrbuch (gun-barrel record):
Was attached to every crewed gun of whatever caliber or type, or was carried by the chief gunner or technical official.  Listed the dates that rounds were fired, the number and types of rounds, and the unit that fired the piece.
 
37.  Berichtigungsheft:
A handwritten booklet containing info. on the performance of a weapon, name of the unit, and roster of the crew.  May also include an accessory list.
 
 Documents kept at Squad Level:

 
38.  Gerätebuch (Equipment List):
This small book was one of the few documents kept at squad level and was normally carried by the noncommissioned officer in charge.  It contained a list of equipment which the squad was responsible for, outside of equipment normally issued to individual soldiers and therefore listed in their Soldbuchs.  Such equipment would include bikes, radios, AT projectors, telephones, etc..  Such books were more common to squads which possessed a large amount of specialized equipment.
 
 Documents at Platoon Level:

 
There are presently no known documents which were specifically kept at platoon level.
 
 Documents at Company Level:

 
39.  Kriegstammrolle (Personal Service Record book):
A loose-leaf binder-style roster book containing a Kriegstammrolleblatt for every man in the company.  Incidentally, the style of binder books used in the German military are still in general usage in Europe: they are characterized by a "finger hole" in the spine to facilitate pulling the book from a tightly-packed bookshelf.
 
40.  Kriegstammrolleblatt (Personal Service Record Sheet):
A very important one-page sheet on which all pertinent personal data for an individual was listed.  There were slightly different forms for officers and enlisted men.  When a man entered a unit, a sheet was filled out for him and put in the book.  When he left the unit for some reason, it was notarized and sent back to the man's respective conscription office in the interior.
 
41.  Wehrpaß (military registration book):
This small book is well known to most collectors and reenactors.  It was kept by the individual until enlistment, then exchanged for a Soldbuch.  It followed the man from unit to unit until he was discharged (when it was given back to him), or he was killed, when it was eventually sent to the family as a momento.
 
42.  Strafbuch and Auszug aus dem Strafbuch (Punishment book and extract sheet from the punishment book):
The Strafbuch is the unit record book of punishments, and it stayed with the company, of course.  The Auszug was a one-page extract from this book that detailed the soldier's infraction and punishment, and was forwarded along with the Wehrpass if a man was transferred to another unit.
 
43.  Personal-Nachweiß:
A four-page printed folder containing service history on a soldier.
 
44.  Beurteilung:
An efficiency report, used particularly in the case of officer candidates.
 
45.  Kompanieliste:
Typewritten company roster.  Names, ranks, and unit components.
 
46.  Kompanieaufteilung:
Typewritten company roster showing distribution of duties.
 
47.  Verwendungsliste:
Similar to above.
 
48.  Erkennungsmarkenverzeichnis:
Record of all ID disks for members of the company.  Click here for a more detailed description of this item.
 
49.  Soldbuchverzeichnis:
Record of all Soldbuchs for members of the company.  Laid out basically like #46, above.
 
50.  Auszahlungliste:
Pay record (printed folder) kept by the company Rechnungsführer (accountant).  Incidentally, pay was not normally distributed or audited on the company level.  The basic unit for issuance of pay was at battalion staff level where the paymaster was located.
 
51.  Truppenkrankbuch:
Record of wounds and illnesses of members of the unit.
 
52.  Velustmeldung:
List of causalties in the company.  A casualty report also followed the soldier, along with his "crime sheets" and Wehrpaß
 
53.  Veränderungsbuch:
A printed book in which is kept a record of all changes pertaining to personnel, such as furloughs, sickness, transfers, and rations.
 
54.  Kriegsstärkenachweisung:
A printed table of authorized organization and equipment for the unit, issued by the High Command.
 
55.  Soll- und Iststärkemeldungen:
Statements of table-of-organization strength compared with actual strength.  These are submitted at prescribed intervals and take many different forms, depending on the type of unit and the orders of higher authorities.
 
56.  Tagesmeldung (Morning strength report)
 
57.  Formblatt für Anforderung von Gerät:
Printed form for requisitioning equipment.  Shows ordering unit and supplying unit, with proper shipping addresses of each, as well as description and quanties of equipment ordered.
 
58.  Empfangsschein-Nr ....:
Printed form for receipt for equipment.  Shows sending and receiving unit and description of equipment.
 
59.  Waffen- und Gerätenachweiß (Record of weapons and equipment)
 
60.  Bestandsliste:
Inventory of articles on hand and record of changes.
 
61.  Bestandbuch G.u.M.:
Inventory of equipment and ammunition.
 
62.  Kriegsausrüstungsnachweisung:
Tables of basic allowances.  Numbered similarly to Kriegsstärkenachweisung.
 
63.  Kriegstagebuch (War Journal):
In this important document, which is kept by every unit and staff having a separate table of organization, all significant activities and events are recorded.  Eventually, it is sent back to the Army Archives Office as a permanent historical record.
 
64.  Eingangsbuch:
Folder containing typewritten and mimeographed communications from higher echelons.
 
65.  Brieftagebuch:
Printed form for recording incoming and outgoing mail.
 
66.  Posteinlieferungsbuch:
Field-post record of the receipt of parcels.
 
67.  Correspondence Files:
These are kept in a variety of forms and contain communications between the unit commander and outside civilian and military agencies and persons.
 
68.  Verwendungskarten:
These were large cards, made out for an individual and used to describe his training and potential employment in a unit.  Normally kept with a man's other records in the company office, but sometimes found on the individual.

 


Sources:
- The Exploitation of German Documents, Military Intelligence Division, War Department, Washington, DC. 1944.
- Distribution of German Military Documents, 1st Army Intelligence Summary, 1944.
- Sample documents or document copies provided by: Barry Smith and Vince Milano.

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