'Die Feuerwehr' - the trench newspaper of the Panzer-Grenadier-Division Grossdeutschland
In June 1944, after the fighting at Targul Frumos, the Panzer-Grenadier-Division Grossdeutschland were taken from the frontline and sent to Bacau, Romania for a rest. During the weeks that the men of the Division took their well earned respite, a new publication was passed through the spectrum of ranks, intended to pass information to the men and to increase morale: Die Feuerwehr.
Grossdeutschland Nachrichtenblatt newspaper
Die Feuerwehr, the trench newspaper of the Panzer-Grenadier-Division Grossdeutschland, had been tried previously in the form of a news sheet called ‘Nachrichtenblatt’, which was a one page, double sided print that appears to have come to an end after just three issues between 29th March and 11th May 1943. From the number of copies that were apparently printed, it would seem that this news sheet was not issued to each man, but to Officers and senior ranks who then relayed the information contained on the pages to their men. It appears that the ‘Nachrichtenblatt’ did not continue, probably due to the busy twelve month period that Grossdeutschland was about to enter, starting with the Battle of Kursk. In fact, the next rest period that Grossdeutschland would encounter would be at Bacau, when Die Feuerwehr appeared.
The first issue of Die Feuerwehr began with an introductory message from the Division Commander, Hasso von Manteuffel and contained articles of recent action involving Grossdeutschland, news from other theatres of the war and from home. Other features that appeared regularly included award announcements, puzzles and a variety of small articles written by the men themselves.
Another regular feature was the GD Echo, which recalled notable dates
and events from Grossdeutschlands past. The newspaper was usually eight
pages in total, sized roughly 310mm x 230mm and was printed approximately
two to three times per month until it reached issue number 32 in April
1945, which was a single double sided sheet distributed at Pillau, of
only 1000 copies. Pillau is considered to be the end of Grossdeutschland
as a formed fighting unit and appears also to be the end of the divisional
As for the people who were involved in the printing of Die Feuerwehr, the Kriegsberichter Zug (War Correspondent Platoon) had joined Grossdeutschland during 1942 and were responsible for the production of the newspaper. One of the most senior people on the editorial staff was Leutnant Heinz Thiel, who went on to be an active journalist after the war. Others include Unteroffizier Siegfried Arndt and a team of photographers. Any articles written by the men on the ground could be submitted through the internal postal system.
Despite having only been in existence for less than a year, Die Feuerwehr certainly made an impact amongst the men who read it. Gefreiter Walter Thomaschek, veteran of the 2nd Company, Armoured Reconnaissance Battalion, Grossdeutschland, recalls that after reading it, the men used it as toilet paper due to paper shortages.
I have no doubt that Die Feuerwehr was
indeed a popular publication, due to the fact that it remained in print
right until the end of Grossdeutschland itself.
Contributed by Karl Edwards.
Written with the grateful assistance of:
If you have anymore information regarding 'Der Feuerwehr' please get in touch.