“Sicherungs-Regiment 195” is a WWII German reenactment unit that is passionate about making the past come alive through living history. Our goal is to recreate a historical place and time as precisely as possible. In contrast with most reenactment units, we do not portray a front-line infantry unit. Instead, we seek to recreate the average, day-to-day, mundane experiences of the common German second-line security soldier in WWII.
What Were Sicherung Units?
Sicherung units were tasked with security duties behind the front lines. They conducted operations against partisans and provided local security for rail and road supply lines. These units were comprised of very diverse groups of people from every background. They were mostly reservists, including many soldiers who were over 30 years old. Some had minor illnesses that made them unfit for front-line duty. In the reality of war, many Sicherung units found themselves in front-line combat roles. Some were quickly destroyed, while others performed quite well. Often Sicherung units were equipped with obsolete, or captured equipment. Overall, their equipment and training was often substandard. Vehicles were rare.
Why Reenact Sicherung?
The diverse nature of Sicherung soldiers makes this type of unit easy to recreate. Virtually any reenactor, regardless of age, or physical condition, can present a convincing Sicherung impression. The wide range of missions that Sicherung troops were tasked with exactly mirrors the types of activities we can realistically recreate in the field. We can be deployed as static guards at a critical road intersection, or as a patrol on the move. We can function as garrison troops, recreating the daily lives of the many soldiers tasked with occupation duties. We can perform administrative duties, or protect communications. In the field, we can perform security, or observation duties. We can even deploy, if necessary, as front line combat soldiers.
We present a mostly field-based impression of Sicherung troops circa 1943-44. Elements of Sicherung-Regiment 195 served in both the Eastern and Western Fronts during the war. This offers us limitless options as to what can be recreated- from occupation duty in a French town, to field operations in the Russian winter. Each member is expected to acquire a basic infantry kit, which forms the backbone of our individual impressions. Medals and awards are not “earned” but are also dictated by the individual impression. We do not wear any valor or bravery awards.
We have an absolute hardcore attitude about authenticity. Everything used at an event should be authentic to the time. As we portray a rear area unit, we do not necessarily need to sleep on the ground in the open (though we will, if the scenario dictates). And although Sicherung units wore the same insignia as regular infantry units, they did have greater variation in uniforms and equipment. We will, however, never allow historical variation to be an excuse for using modern creature comforts that were not available in WWII, or for using things that are outside the realm of historical probability. Modern anachronisms are simply not tolerated. Cameras used to document our activities are the single exception to this rule.
Rank and Awards
We object to the rank-heavy impressions of many reenactment groups. We have no officers, and portray enlisted soldiers exclusively. Our unit commander has the rank of Obergefreiter. Members new to us join at the lowest enlisted rank and after meeting unit requirements are promoted to Gefreiter; further promotions are not possible. We do not issue “awards,” and believe that any decorations worn should be based on the historical impression being portrayed, not real-life experience or someone’s time as a reenactor. Members at the rank of Gefreiter are welcome to choose one decoration from a list of common and typical awards worn by enlisted soldiers in WWII, to add detail to an impression where appropriate; wearing no decorations is welcome and encouraged.
What Kind of Events Do We Do?
We focus on immersion events that portray field-based rear-area scenarios. During these events we attempt to recreate the typical, daily lives, of Sicherung soldiers. These immersions often include skills training in what would have been learned by the people we represent. This includes anything from how to man a checkpoint, to building a trench system. We conduct inspections, learn rifle drill, and march using German commands in an attempt to carry on the traditions of the Wehrmacht. At these events, we reenact in the first person, to create a feeling of time travel, or “This is what it may have been like.” We also attend public displays, to share our passion with interested people, though we do not participate in any public “battles,” as these are never realistic. Our mission at such events is to spark an interest in history through our interactive displays.
What Kind of People Do We Have?
Reenactors interested in the thrill of tactical battles should look elsewhere. Our members are mostly experienced reenactors looking for a more cerebral experience. Members are free to belong to other groups, and to participate in whatever events of ours they please. We believe that if an event is worth doing, it is worth doing right, and our scenarios require planning and preparation before each event. Because of this, we expect every member to be an active part of the pre-event preparation process. Simply showing up the day of the event, and expecting to be told what to do, will not work with us. We will never be the biggest unit, and we would not want to be. We believe that there is a place for everyone in WWII reenacting, but maybe not in this unit.