Verpflegung des Soldaten (Rations of Wehrmacht Soldiers)

“Verpflegung des Soldaten” (Rations of the Soldiers)
Translated by Nadine Wichmann

A) Rations in Peacetime 

Sample menu- 1936

Monday- Lunch: 20 grams rice soup, 130 grams beef goulash (and 20 grams of fat), 1500 grams boiled potatoes, 200 grams of salad with oil and vinegar. Dinner: 10 grams coffee, 50 grams Schmalz (from pig fat), 100 grams leberwurst.

Tuesday- Lunch: 20 grams “Griesssuppe”, 140 grams roasted veal (and 20 grams of fat), 1500 grams boiled potatoes, 200 grams peas and carrots. Dinner: 2 grams of tea with 50 grams of sugar, 50 grams butter, 100 grams cheese.

Wednesday- Lunch: 20 grams noodle soup, 140 grams of meatballs (and 20 grams of fat), 1500 grams boiled potatoes, 200 grams spinach with bacon. Dinner: 10 grams of coffee, 50 grams of margarine, 3 eggs.

Thursday- Lunch: 20 grams rice soup, 140 grams of roasted pork (and 20 grams of fat), 1500 grams boiled potatoes, one pickle. Dinner: 10 grams of coffee, 50 grams Schmalz (from pig fat), 100 grams bacon sausage.

Friday- Lunch: 30 grams dried vegetable soup, 140 grams roasted beef (and 20 grams of fat), 1500 grams boiled potatoes, 200 grams Kohlrabi. Dinner: 2 grams of tea with 50 grams sugar, 50 grams of butter, 100 grams Edamer cheese.

Saturday- Lunch: 170 grams bean soup, 800 grams potatoes, 120 grams lean smoked bacon. Dinner: 10 grams coffee, 50 grams margarine, 1 tin sardines in oil.

Sunday- Lunch: 20 grams milk soup, 140 grams pork cutlets (and 20 grams of fat), 1500 grams boiled potatoes, 200 grams applesauce. Dinner: 20 grams hot chocolate (with 50 grams sugar), 50 grams butter, 100 grams sausage.

For breakfast, each soldier had 10 grams of coffee. The amount of coffee, tea, etc. is the amount of the raw product, not the prepared food. The amount of soup- rice, etc.- is the amount of ingredient put in the soup; additional meat, broth or spices could be added. In addition, each soldier got 750 grams of bread daily with breakfast and dinner, as well as butter, marmalade or other spreads.

The rations for the whole day cost 1.35- 1.50 RM.

Remarkable by today’s nutrition standards is the lack of fresh fruit, and the low amount of salad and dairy products.

B) Rations in War

Daily Ration: Verpflegungssatz der Wehrmacht- Feldration

a) Cold Rations

-750g bread
-150g fat (separated into 60-80 grams butter, Schmalz, or margarine for spreading and 70-90 grams lard or vegetable oil for preparing a warm meal)
-120g sausage (fresh or in cans) or tinned fish or cheese
-up to 200g marmalade or artificial honey
-7 cigarettes or 2 cigars

b) Prepared as Warm Rations

-1000g potatoes or partially substituted with
up to 250g fresh vegetables or
up to 150 grams dried vegetables
125g bread or pastry, rice, “Gries”, barley etc.
– up to 250g fresh meat
– 15g ingredients (salt, spices etc.)
– 8g bean coffee and 10g ersatz coffee (or tea)

And depending on availability eggs, fruit, chocolate etc.

For Comparison:

The rations for the civilian population at the end of 1939:

Bread: 340 grams (average user) 685 grams (heavy worker)
Meat: 70 grams (average user) 170 grams (heavy worker)
Fat: 50 grams (average user) 110 grams (heavy worker)

Converted to Calories per Day:

Average user 2570 cal.
Heavy worker 4652 cal.

Wehrmacht average 3600 cal., field ration about 4500 cal. Same today for the Bundeswehr.

The numbers for the average user according to the ration card sank in Winter 1942/43 to 2078 cal. Winter 1943/44 1980 cal., Winter 1944/45 1670 cal., and finally 1945/46 1412 cal. daily. The ever-increasing malnutrition had negative effects on the results of military physicals starting at the end of 1942, for people born in the year 1924.

The daily calorie values for normal users in the occupied territories at the end of 1943 were:

Baltic region 1305 cal.
Belgium 1320 cal.
France 1080 cal.
Netherlands 1765 cal.
Poland 855 cal.

Eiserne Portion:

Two full sets of these rations, which were secured by special packaging so as not to spoil or be damaged, were carried with the field kitchen for every soldier. The full iron ration was:

250g hard Zwieback (bag)
200g preserved meat (tin)
150g canned soup (either concentrated soup or vegetable sausage)
20g coffee, ground and packaged

Every soldier in action on the front was given a small iron ration from this stock, which could only be eaten when ordered- however, this was soon found to be an impossible order. The shortened iron ration consisted of 250g hard zwieback and 200g tinned meat and was kept in the bread bag or Tornister.

Rations in the Reality of War

For those on the front line in combat, the ration was usually issued 24 hours in advance, under cover of darkness.

“At dusk, the men in their positions awoke from their mole-like lifestyle. Carrier troops went to the rear, to pick up food and mail. The latter was generally at least 2 weeks old. For warm rations, there was mostly a canteen of coffee and a mess kit of thick soup. The cold rations were a half loaf of bread, a few spoonfuls of margarine and artificial honey, as well as 150g of meat and cheese. Everyone had to decide for himself how to use the rations over the next 24 hours.” -W. Felten, 65. Infanteriedivision

The aforementioned rations were mostly the same for front-line soldiers even to the end of the war, except in special circumstances (i.e. when surrounded). With the exception of the 6. Armee at Stalingrad, no Soldat who was with his unit starved to death.

However, with the Ersatzheer, starting in 1944, there was a clear decrease in the quality of the rations. The amount was the same, but meat and fat were being replaced with more potatoes and dried vegetables.

In contrast with all other armies of WWII except the Red Army, the Wehrmacht had the same rations for officers and enlisted men. This rule was, almost without exception, obeyed in all units up to the level of Korps staffs. Although there were some exceptions, especially during the retreats of 1944.