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Einzelheiten des Landsers
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.

Even though these items were not part of the Landser's issued minutae, these lowly objects deserve some research because they were a common part of any soldier's possessions.  After examining a half-dozen or so wallets with documented German wartime usage, it was surprising how little they differed in design.  Details of three of them will provide a good sampling of the basic variations.

Examples of Wallets:

The wallet shown in figure "A" is made of black artificial leather.  It is 9-1/2 inches long and 7 inches wide when laid out flat.  It thus becomes about 4-1/8" by 7" when folded.  

The lining is brown cloth.  The pocket with the flap is open on both ends, and the other end contains a total of three large pockets and two smaller side-by-side pockets sewn on top.

Figure "B" shows a wallet made of a thin, light-brown colored leather material that displays a "pigskin" grain.  Opened up and laid flat, it measures 8-1/4" by 5-7/8".  Folded, it measures about 4 by 5-7/8 inches.  The lining is made of very thin pieces of the same material.  The flap on the one end covers the opening of a pocket which extends the entire length of the wallet.  There are also two short pockets opening to the center of the wallet on this same end.

The other end contains one small pocket close to the top and two larger ones underneath, all of which open to the center.

Figure "C" shows a specimen made of thin black leather and measures about 10-1/2 by 6 inches when laid flat.  Unlike the first two, this example has a flapped pocket which opens to the center of the wallet.

It also has one small and two large pockets on the other end, all of which also open towards the center.

Wallet Contents

One very interesting observation was made by a Briton who had the opportunity to examine the contents of hundreds of German prisoners' wallets, probably in 1944 or 1945.  The types of photographs found therein "came in three sets, as it were: snapshots of Mutti (Mommy) and Inge, obscene postcards, and photos of floggings and executions."1  Incidentally, this observation also gives some credence to the theory that there actually was a more widespread knowledge of atrocities, at least among members of the armed forces.

The wallet in Figure "B" contained the following: handwritten words to a Spanish/German song, a number of photos, mainly of the soldier, his buddies, and various females, an envelope for negatives, a calling card for what appears to be a brothel, a Nazi postage stamp, a program for a "Summers-Night Feast", a military pass issued by the Paris HQ, and four postcard-sized photos, one of which was a photo of a Knight's Cross recipient.

Wallet "C" contained among other things the soldier's Soldbuch, and an Iron Cross Second Class which the soldier stated he had not had time to send home as he intended.

Carrying the Wallet

Wallet "B" fits nicely into the breast pocket of a tunic, and it is possible that it was carried there.  Wallet "C" was described by the soldier himself as always being carried in his back pocket.2  This same wallet was also struck by a shell splinter which was stopped by a combination of hitting the wallet, Soldbuch, and the medal.  To this lucky Landser, this wallet was no lowly piece of personal impedimentia; it was a godsend!

 


Sources:
1.   The 12-Year Reich by R. Grunberger, Holt, Reinhart & Winston 1971, page 41.
2.   Wenn alle Bruder Schweigen, pub. by Munin-Verlag 1975, page 543. 
 

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