Insert pages for the Soldbuch

Every soldier in the Wehrmacht was issued a paybook and identification document called the Soldbuch. Original Soldbücher commonly had additional pages pasted in to record things for which the book had no space. Here are a few which we have reproduced and used.

EQUIPMENT ISSUE

The first pattern of Soldbuch as made and issued in 1939 had a very limited amount of space on pages 6 and 7 to record the items a soldier was issued. The pre-printed item list omitted many basic items issued to nearly every soldier, such as ammunition pouches, clothing bags, or the Zeltbahn, and there was very little space provided to add these in, and no space for the many other items often recorded on these pages, such as Gamaschen or special clothing items. To fix this problem, later patterns of the Soldbuch had many more items pre-printed on these pages, along with more space to record items not present in the list. However, very many books were made and issued with the first batches in 1939, and stocks of these early books continued to be issued throughout the war. To update these books, and also to add more space in cases where these pages were filled with entries after years of service, a wide variety of inserts were made to be pasted into the Soldbuch. Some were fairly close copies of the equipment issue pages in later pattern books, others were more elaborate fold-out inserts. The equipment issues and checks were fairly frequent for many soldiers, these were conducted when a soldier was transferred, deployed to the field, or at various times when equipment reissues took place. In any Soldbuch that was carried for a few years by a soldier who saw field service, it is typical to find at least one of these inserts
 
 
This page would be pasted at the top onto the top of page 7 in the Soldbuch, then folded in the middle with the lower half folded up and over the upper half, to enable it to fit neatly in the book (you can see the crease from the fold on the line that says “Portepee” in the scan). This particular insert shown in the scan was issued in 1945 and was the last of multiple inserts pasted onto these pages of a Soldbuch issued in 1939. I have reproduced this insert and attached it as a PDF, it is sized to be printed on A4 paper as it is slightly more than 11 inches long. If you want to print it out but don’t have A4 paper, you can get some larger sized sketch pad paper and trim it to size, 8.3″ x 11.7″.
 
SOAP RATION 
 
Soap was carefully rationed and controlled in WWII. It fell under the auspices of an authority called the “Reichsindustriestelle fuer Fettvrsorgung” that controlled soap production and supply. Soldiers in the field may not have been issued soap and if they were it may not have been recorded. But soldiers in the rear- in training, garrison troops, convalescents, etc.- were issued soap and very often these issues were recorded in the Soldbuch, either with a myriad of stamped or handwritten entries, or as here, with a special insert page. This particular soldier was serving as a POW camp guard in Germany during the time indicated on this soap issue insert. 

The insert is printed on both sides and folded in the middle to make four pages. It is loose in the book, it may have been glued in at one time. Only one of the four pages has entries. Both sides are exactly the same.

 
Soap ration insert PDF

To fill this out please refer to the scan of the original. The first column is the date of issue, the next column is to indicate the month for which the samp was issued. The next three columns are for different types of soap: “Einheitsseife” which was an all-purpose soap suitable for whatever purpose, shaving soap, and “Kernseife” which was a type of soap with no natural glycerin that could have been used for washing. The last column, “Zusatzmenge,” was for recording additional soap issued. The last two columns are used here for the signature and rank of the soldier receiving the soap, in this case “Mauermann Gefr.”

This insert can be used in any Soldbuch for any branch. One exception might be officers as presumably they had to buy their own soap. Virtually every soldier at one time or another was stationed in the rear even if only during recruit training. The original was printed on thin natural-colored paper.

 
SCHIESSLISTE
Since at least WWI if not earlier, marksmanship training was recorded in a document called the Schiessbuch. During the war, the Schiessbuch was at least partially supplanted by a number of inserts intended to be pasted in the Soldbuch.  
 
 

 
This example was printed on typical wartime paper and had a sort of green overprint that was probably intended to serve as an anti-counterfeit measure. The purpose of this insert was to record the “shooting class” of the soldier for each training session but as you can see, here, it was just used to record scores. We have reproduced this document, but without the green overprint.
 

Blank stationery for Feldpost military mail

     The link between German soldiers serving in the Wehrmacht and loved ones at home during the war years was the military mail system, Feldpost. Feldpost was regarded as crucial for morale and in Wehrmacht supply lines, it was regarded as a higher priority than any form of supply with the exception of ammunition. Many millions of letters were sent through the Feldpost system during the war. Writing and sending letters and receiving news from home through the mail was an experience common to virtually every Landser.
     An immeasurably vast array of paper and envelopes were used for Feldpost during the war. By 1944 paper was often in short supply and old envelopes were being turned inside out for reuse. Stationery from occupied countries like France and Italy was used, in all sizes and colors. Most envelopes were made from a rough natural-colored paper, brown and blue paper was also common. Soldiers were issued or could buy plain paper and envelopes and also pre-printed letters and cards formatted for Feldpost mailing. We have reproduced a number of these, below are links where these can be downloaded in PDF format, ready to print.
     These first two are simple postcards. They were printed on one side only, the address side. The other side was blank and would be used for the message. These were printed on thin, flimsy card stock that was easily creased.

     Here are 3 folding letters. These were generally gummed around the edges so they could be sealed, like the flap of an envelope. This first one was printed on thin, light brown paper.
     This one was printed on thin gray paper. The area that was gummed was marked on the front, to open the letter the recipient could trim off the gummed part.
     This last one was probably a type that soldiers had to purchase. There is a motivational quote from the author Ernst Jünger on the back: “Courage is the living fire that armies weld.” It was printed on better paper than the others, smooth, with a slight blue tint.
     Of course, printing out the blank stationery is the easy part of having realistic mail for living history. Filling out the letters is more of a challenge. To help with this, here is a quick guide on how the addresses were written on Feldpost letters. The images are scans of letters in a member’s collection. Firstly, some letters written from home to soldiers.

     These letters were sent to soldiers by other soldiers serving in different units.

     Here are some letters home, written by soldiers. Note that in the addresses, the town or city name is the second line in the address, the street address is the third line- the reverse of the way this is done today.

     People in the 1940s wrote with fountain pens or with simple dip pens. Ink was in short supply and people used what was available, mostly black, blue or blue-black, sometimes watered down to save ink. For soldiers in the field, the most common writing instrument was probably a simple pencil.

What color were Heer wool uniforms?

     Wool uniforms issued to most soldiers in the wartime German army were to be made of “Feldgrau”-colored wool uniform cloth. The actual range of fabric color used for wool uniform fabric was vast. Early in the war, bluish-green predominated for field blouses. As the war progressed, this color shifted to grayish-green, to greenish-gray and eventually to brown. But there was always a lot of variation in these shades and there were countless exceptions to these generalities. Blue and steel-gray Italian fabrics were also widely used after 1943.
     Below is a photograph of uniform jackets from a member’s collection. With the exception of the tailor-made NCO field blouse at top left and the officer service blouse directly below it, all of these are issue uniforms.

Zeltstock 01

     The Wehrmacht-isse “Zeltbahn” shelter quarter was issued as part of a set of gear called Zeltausrüstung- tent equipment. According to the German military regulation HDv 205/1, the Zeltausrüstung consisted of one Zeltbahn 31, one Zeltleine 92 (tent rope), one Zeltstock 01 (tent pole) and 2 Zeltpflöcken 29 (tent stakes). Many collectors and reenactors today want to have 3 of each of these but that is not how these were issued and it makes little sense as it takes 4 poles and a minimum of 4 stakes to erect a tent.
     Notice that the Zeltausrüstung does not include a bag for the pole and stake. The 1895-pattern Tornister as used in WWI and then through the 1930s by civil, political and paramilitary organizations did have a bag for tent accessories that strapped into two loops inside the pack. WWII-issue packs did not have these loops inside and did not include a tent accessory bag, these were not general issue items in the Wehrmacht. Presumably it was not considered necessary to issue a bag for the purposes of holding the rope, 1 pole and 2 stakes.
     Here are some original examples of the Wehrmacht-issue Zeltstock 01 tent pole, from a member’s collection.

          The poles are marked with various maker markings and dates. This maker used a script logo inside a triangle, these are from 1940 and 1941.

     This early pole is faintly stamped “WEGA 35.”

     These are stamped “W.T.E. 42” and “ggl 41.”

     Another typical marking. “H.W.H. 1938.”

     Each pole is 37 centimeters long. It takes four poles to make a tent. Four poles together measure approximately 134 centimeters long. I say approximately because there is some variation in how the poles fit together, even with these original examples. The poles in the pictures below are fit snugly together, much more of the ferrule fits into the socket in the top picture.

     These poles were copied by other armies after the war and these post-war copies are available as surplus today. Both Norwegian and French poles can be found that look almost identical to the Wehrmacht type. Unfortunately, the length of these poles is not exactly the same as the German originals. The Norwegian poles (which are often marked “Haeren”) are slightly longer; the French poles (unmarked) slightly shorter. Here is a comparison.

     In Sicherungs-Regiment 195 we avoid using original wartime items which are in most cases now fragile and no longer suitable for field use. For our tents, we construct poles consisting of 3 Norwegian poles and one French pole. When the poles are assembled, the fact that one is slightly shorter is virtually unnoticeable. The 2.5 centimeter difference in the French pole makes up for about half of the extra 6 centimeters that result from using the 3 longer poles. Considering variations in how original poles fit together, plus terrain and other variables, this difference is negligible. Here are some pictures of how an original tent looks erected with original poles.

     In the reality of WWII, the Zeltstock 01 was not always used. Sometimes the soldiers would simply cut a sturdy branch to the correct length.