The Heer Soldbuch - Equipment & Medical Records

 

Pages 6 and 7
These two pages were presented as a double spread containing a table of basic clothing and equipment that was issued to the soldier. At this point there is a difference between the first and second pattern books.

Pages 6&7 of World War 2 German Army Soldbuch

The first pattern states that this is ‘Issued Clothing and Equipment’ and is a single table with the items issued listed across the top. The first column is to record the Grund (reason) that the items were being recorded, which would usually have a unit listed here to show when they were first issued. Other reasons for being recorded could be Geprüft (check), Versetzung (transfer), or Abstellung (discharge). The second set of columns is to record the day, month and year that the items were being recorded. The columns that follow are for the items listed across the top, where the quantities of each item are entered. It is very clear that the list of items did not cover everything that could be issued, so extra pages (6a, 6b, 6c, etc) were produced to solve this problem, which listed further items and blank spaces for any other items that could be entered individually. These extra pages were then pasted onto the page in a manner that enabled the extended table to be folded in and out. The new problem that this solution created was that the final column on the original table was now no longer visible. This final column was for the Truppenteil (unit) responsible for issuing the equipment and showed the signature of the official doing the recording to confirm that the information was correct.

The second pattern was very similar and now stated that it was a ‘Record of Clothing and Equipment’. The pages now displayed a double table, increasing the number of items and a few blank spaces for items not already listed. Examples of items that may be entered here could be Taschen Lampe (pocket torch), Kradhandschuhe (motorcycle gloves) or Gemaschen (gaitors). The first column, only on the upper section of the table, was now for the Truppenteil (unit) issuing the items. The date of issue was now recorded in the final column, on the lower section of the table, along with the initials of the person issuing the items and the initials of the soldier receiving them. This column is headed Namenzeichen (initials) and Datum (date). In practice it appears that only the official making the record of the items signed his initials. Across the bottom of the page there was a foot note which states that items not pre-printed on the list are to be entered in the empty boxes and that items already printed could be altered if required to be more accurate to the items actually issued.

The entries made on these pages would be made by an official from the equipment stores. If items that were listed were not issued or recorded, they were supposed to be marked as not present, but in practice it appears that this rarely happened and they were left blank.

In cases where soldiers were wounded and checked into a Lazarett (Military Hospital) a record would often be listed of the kit that was bought in with the casualty. As many of the items of clothing and equipment issued to the soldier would not actually be with him at the time he was wounded, it can appear that a lot of items have been lost, when in fact they were simply not on his person when admitted to the hospital.

With regard to the actual items listed, most of them when translated are self explanatory, while others are not or incorporated other items as part of a set, rather than list each piece individually. Moving through the list some which may need further explanation are:

Kragenbinde
(collar band)
This is an item that is not used very often in the modern age, but in the past was very common. It is a detachable collar, separate from the shirt or tunic, which usually buttons into place inside the collar of the main garment on the inside so that it sits against the neck of the wearer.
Kopfschützer
(head toque)
This is a head warmer which is akin to a large sock, open at each end so it could be pulled over the head and down to the neck. It could be worn either around the neck, as a form of scarf, or pulled up so it also covers the head and ears, like a balaclava.
Fuβlappen
(foot wraps)
These were a square piece of cloth, measuring approximately 40cm x 40cm, issued as an alternative to socks. They were wrapped around the feet and were harder wearing than socks. Some soldiers preferred to wear either foot wraps or socks, but some would wear both in the winter for extra warmth.
Leibbinde
(body band)
The body band was a belly warmer. It was a cloth fleece band that was fastened around the abdomen as an undergarment to provide extra insulation and warmth for vital organs in extreme cold weather.
Tornister (gefechtsgepäck) (Back pack (combat pack)) This included the tornister (back pack) and the gefechtsgepäck (combat pack). The combat pack consisted of the gurtbandtragegerüst (A-frame) and beutel zum gefechtsgepäck (bag for the combat pack).
Packtasche
(pack bag)
This is the saddle bag that was issued to cavalrymen, which could be attached to horse saddles, bicycles and even worn on the cavalry Y straps. It is probable that this would also have covered the reitergepäck (riders pack), which was similar.
Zeltausrüstung
(tent equipment)
This not only covers the zeltbahn (tent or shelter quarter) itself, but also the zeltleine (tent guy rope) zeltstöcke (tent pole sections), zeltpflöcke (tent pegs), and zeltzubehörtasche (tent accessories pouch). Each soldier was meant to be issued with 1 shelter quarter, 1 guy rope, 1 pole section and 2 pegs
Koppel mit zubehör (belt with accessories) This was for both the koppel (belt) and the koppelschloss (belt buckle). It is likely that it further includes the Y straps, known as koppeltragegestell mit hilfstrageriemen (belt supports with auxiliary straps) which were later re-named in 1940 koppeltragegestell für infanterie (belt supports for infantry) and aufschiebeschlaufen supplementary belt loops. For soldiers not in the infantry the issued Y straps would be without the auxiliary straps, which could be either the koppeltragegestell für kavallerie (belt supports for cavalry) or the trageriemen für patronentaschen (support straps for cartridge pouches).

It should be noted that these pages only listed accountable items of uniform and equipment. Other items would have been classed as expendable and therefore not recorded, such as unit insignia.

 

Pages 8 of World War 2 German Army SoldbuchPage 8
This page was intended to record ‘Special Clothing Notes’. There are various types of entry that could be made here, which could include the issue of specific types of camouflage uniforms, clothing exchange notes due to wear or battle damage, lost articles of clothing or private purchased clothing officially recorded to be in the owners possession. Items recorded as lost could be recorded as lost in battle or lost due to negligence. Where any items were recorded as lost, the relevant entry on the previous page should be amended accordingly in red. Other times this page may even register the testing of the owner’s gas-mask. All entries made on this page were required to be signed and dated by an authorised official.

In first pattern books this page may record serial numbered items that would need to be accounted for. This could include weapons, binoculars, marching compass, etc. This being the case, it would not take long for the page to fill up, so when the second pattern was introduced it was designed to have specific pages for these types of equipment. The pages were numbered 8a, 8b, 8c and 8d.

 





Page 8a-8d

Pages 8a – 8d were ‘Proof of Possession for Weapons and Equipment’. These pages do not appear in the first pattern book. They were produced for the second pattern book and were designed to record more specific items of equipment, rather than the general items of kit listed on pages 6 and 7. These would include weapons, serial numbered items and role specific equipment, such as tools for the Pioneers. It may also include a personal piece of equipment that was not military issue, but required to be recorded, such as an officers own pistol.

Pages 8b & 8c of World War 2 German Army Soldbuch

Pages 8a and most of 8b had weapons and equipment pre-printed on them, but pages 8c and 8d left the boxes blank so that the specific equipment could be written in by hand as required.

The first column recorded the type of weapon or equipment. The second column recorded the manufacturer model if necessary, such as what type of rifle had been issued, for example ‘k98’ or ‘Stg44’. The third column noted any serial number for these items.
The next column recorded the date it was issued to the soldier and the last column was for the initials of the official making the entry. The actual translation refers to this person as the ‘equipment manager’ who would most likely be the equivalent of a ‘Quartermaster’.
As always, any entries that were no longer accurate or valid should be crossed through but were to remain legible. Examples of other entries that could be added to the empty boxes could be Losantin (Skin decontaminant), Gasplane (Gas Cape). The testing of the owners gas-mask is often also recorded here. Private purchase pistols for officers may also be recorded.

 

Page 9 of World War 2 German Army SoldbuchPage 9
Inoculations were recorded on page 9, with four main types of inoculation recorded in sections a), b), c), and d). Any other vaccinations that may have been administered were recorded in section e). Each section was divided into two rows of six boxes, with the top row in every section showing the date the inoculation was given. The second row varied for some sections.

Section a) was for Smallpox. The second row recorded whether the inoculation was a successfully given (erfolg), by either noting ‘ja’ (sometimes ‘+’) or ‘nein’. If the soldier had already been inoculated against smallpox prior to enlistment, it would be noted as administered. Every soldier would have at least one recorded entry for this vaccination, which appears to have been administered within the first three months of enlisting for service. Follow up vaccinations were given after four years.

Section b) was for Typhoid and Paratyphoid, which each soldier was given almost immediately after he had enlisted. Typhoid Fever should not be confused with Typhus, which is called Fleckfieber in German and is a different disease. The second row recorded the volume of the dose given in ‘ccm’. It was normally given in three separate doses, separated by seven day intervals. The first dose was ‘0.5’, with the next two doses being ‘1.0’. Follow up inoculations were required approximately at yearly intervals at a single dose of ‘1.0’. Very often the same medical official would have made all three of the initial set of entries as well as the first entry in section a), but not always.

Section c) showed inoculations against Dysentery. It appears that although this was a common inoculation to be given, it was not given to every soldier. The second row recorded the volume of the dose given in ‘ccm’. Some entries show single doses, but others show a series of doses. The volume of dose varies from ‘0.5’ to ‘1.0’ and where a series of doses is recorded, they could be one day or seven days apart. This leads to the conclusion that it is likely that it was only given if it was necessary, whether the soldier contracted Dysentery himself or maybe there was an outbreak among the soldiers unit and it was administered to avoid him contracting it. With regard to the volume of dose, the only pattern noted is that the very first dose is of ‘0.5’ and any follow up doses, whether individual or part of a series, are of ‘1.0’.

Section d) vaccinated the soldier from Cholera and seems to be very similar to entries for Dysentry, where not every soldier required it. Again, the second row recorded the volume of the dose given in ‘ccm’ and these doses do not follow any pattern, in terms of when they were given, how often they were given or how much was given. The only point to note is that, as with Dysentery, the very first dose is of ‘0.5’ and any subsequent doses, whether individual or part of a series, are of ‘1.0’.

Section e) is very rarely used, if ever. It was intended to record any other types of inoculation that the individual soldier may have required at some point.

Another entry that appears regularly is the T.A.B. inoculation. This only seems to have appeared during the early part of 1944 and is apparently a combined vaccine used to produce immunity against the diseases typhoid, paratyphoid A, and paratyphoid B. The entry seems to appear in either section b) or section d), with it often being recorded as ‘T.A.B. Chol’, but sometimes simply ‘T.A.B.’. Over the years there have been numerous vaccines to combine typhoid, paratyphoid and cholera into a single application, such as the CTAB vaccination, which are often driven by military requirements. It is likely that this is what the T.A.B. inoculation is and as a result would explain why it could appear in either section. As with the inoculation for Typhoid, it would be an annual requirement and would have replaced the normal Typhoid vaccine.

It is often seen that the most often applied vaccine, Typhoid, would be the first section to be completely filled. When this happened there were two ways this could be dealt with. The first was to paste in a new section over the old one or even a whole new page. The second way was to use boxes in another section which was not being used by blocking off the section from its original intended use with thicker line and marking it where the new use started with ‘b)’ on the upper row.

With regard to volumes of any vaccines given, it appears that initial doses are often 0.5ccm and then subsequent doses are 1.0ccm. This is likely to be due to the soldier needing a lower first dose to allow the body to get used to the inoculation. Once the body was accustomed to whatever had been administered, a stronger dose could then be given. The volumes of any inoculations do not appear to be reduced down to 0.5ccm after one of 1.0ccm has been given.

Pages 10 and 11
These pages were quite different when it came to how they were used in reality. They were intended to contain Optometry details for the soldier, so that specifications for eye-glasses could be referred to if necessary. It would seem that these pages were rarely filled in and sometimes even contained other medical information not linked to the eyes at all, such as dates and medical units carrying out physical examinations or taking x-rays.Page 10 & 11 of World War 2 German Army Soldbuch

The details originally meant to be recorded began with the date that the eye examination was carried out. It then recorded measurements which indicated what size of frame should be used for mounting the lenses into. At the top of the opposite page the size of the pupil diameter was measured in mm for each eye.

The main table then recorded measurement details of the soldiers required lens prescription for each eye, giving both positive and negative measurements. These prescriptions for eyeglasses are measured as BKE, a unit of optical power (Diopters). These measurements start at zero with four quarters to a dioptre, which will increase at 0.25 increments. The higher the number meant a stronger prescription.

The first column in the table measures the Sphere in BKE – the horizontal curve of the eye’s lens. This would be a number between -10 and +10 and shows how strong the lenses need to be for magnification.

The second and third columns measure astigmatism, showing values for Cylinder and Axis, which deals with refraction. These two go together, so if you have a Cylinder value, you will also have an Axis value and vice versa. The ‘Cylinder’ (second column) measures the vertical curve of the eye’s lens, again in BKE. This would be a number between -4 and +4. The ‘Axis’ (third column) indicates the degree and direction of the astigmatism, showing a degree value between 1 and 100.

The details on these pages would be required should the soldier loose his glasses or need the lenses is in his glasses replaced, but as already mentioned, they were rarely seen to contain any information as originally intended. Note that soldiers requiring glasses were not permitted to join Groβdeutschland.

Pages 12 and 13
Whenever the soldier was admitted to a military hospital, the details were recorded on these pages. The first column was for the name or location of the hospital, which more often than not was entered using a stamp. This was followed in the next two columns by the date that this took place, with the day and month being recorded separately from the year.

Pages 12 & 13 of World War 2 German Army Soldbuch

The fourth column recorded the illness, injury or other reason why the soldier was being admitted. The nature of this could be either written in or entered using a code number system which had pre-designated ailments which would be more common. Here is a list of what the code numbers in the system referred to:       

1. Typhoid, Paratyphoid
2. Dysentery
3. Tonsillitis
4. Cholera
5. Smallpox
6. Measles, Scarlet fever, Diphtheria
7. Influenza
8. Typhus, Spotted fever
9. Malaria
10. Tuberculosis in the lungs
11. Tuberculosis in other organs
12. Other contagious diseases
13. Sexual disease - Gonorrhea
14. Sexual disease - Syphilis
15. Sexual disease - other
16. Glandular diseases
17. Blood disorders
18. Pneumonia
19. Other breathing organ complaints excluding Tuberculosis
20. Teeth and gum diseases
21. Stomach and intestinal sickness
22. Other digestive complaints
23. Kidney problems
24. Non-sexually transmitted genital problems
25. Skin and connective tissue problems
26. Nerve and mental problems
27. Eye problems
28. Ear problems
29. Bone and joint disorders
30. Muscle and joint disorders
31. Wounds and sickness due to enemy action
31a. Bullet wounds
31b. Hand-grenade, mortar, artillery (shrapnel)
31c. Burns
31d. Bombing or other air attack
31e. Ariel combat
31f. Tetanus
31g. Sepsis or Gangrene
32. Sunstroke (or other heat related illnesses)
33. Frostbite (or other cold related injuries)
34. Accident or self mutilation (34a-g are as for 31a-g)
34h. Plane crash
34i. Suicide (including attempt or self inflicted wound)
35. Birth defects and weaknesses
36. Suspected of faking illnesses



Sometimes illness or injury may have been recorded using the old Reichswehr number code system which apparently ran from 1 – 196, but this was more common in the Kriegsmarine. Therefore, if a soldier was admitted to a Marinelazarette for treatment, the old codes may sometimes be found instead of the code numbers listed above.

Note: A common mistake made when dealing with inoculations and diseases is the translation of Typhus from German to English, which most sources get wrong. Typhus in German means Typhoid and Paratyphus means Paratyphoid. These two diseases are caused by the salmonella bacteria, which is ingested via contaminated food or water. These are unrelated to what we know as Typhus, which is known in Germany as Fleckfieber and is a form of Spotted Fever, which are both caused by the Rickettsia bacteria, carried by ticks, fleas and lice.

Moving onto page 13, the next column was for the signature of the person who was sending the soldier for medical care. The next two columns were used to record the date that the soldier was dismissed from the hospital, again with the day and month being recorded separately from the year. When the soldier was dismissed the next column recorded any notes regarding his condition. This could often be abbreviated, some examples of which are shown:

k.v. kriegsverwendungsfähig (fit for combat duty)
g.v.F garnisonsverwendungsfähig Feld (fit for limited duty in the field)
g.v.H garnisonsverwendungsfähig in der Heimat (fit for limited duty back home)
V.f.g Verfügung zur Truppe (ordered back to unit)
Laz.zg Lazarette zug (hospital train)
verl.- verlegt - (moved to...)
z.u. zeitlich untauglich (temporarily unfit)
bed.k.v. bedingt kriegsverwendungsfähig (fit for limited combat duty)
a.v. arbeit verwendungsfähig (fit for work)
w.u. wehruntauglich (unfit for military service)


The final column is for the signature of the person authorising the soldier’s dismissal from hospital.
It is very often found that each entry on a single line of these pages would have been made by different medical officials. Separate lines are even more likely to be filled in by different medical officials as multiple hospitalisations are likely to have been at different hospital locations and on different dates.


Pages 14 and 15
These two pages were originally intended to record any personal effects taken along with the soldier into hospital if he was wounded. The top of the pages indicated that the nature of such things would be ‘money, important paperwork, personal valuable articles and such’, which would be stored securely until the soldier was discharged. In reality these pages were very rarely filled in as they were originally intended and page 14 is often found to be blank or it may record any medical examinations made.

Pages 14 & 15 of World War 2 German Army Soldbuch

Page 15 however was often found to have a standard alternative use. The printed text at the top of the page was usually crossed through with a straight edge, confirming that the original intention of the page had been changed. This page was often found to be used to record periodic security checks. Each time the owner and his Soldbuch were checked, the entry made would follow a set format. On the left of the page a round unit seal would be stamped in, with the Soldbuch owners Truppen- or Kreigs- Stamm Rolle Nummer written in below it. This would match the relevant number recorded on pages 4 or 17 at the date the security check was made and would be written as ‘Kr.St.R.Nr’ or ‘Tr.St.R.Nr’ along with the actual number.

To the right side of the page the official carrying out the security check would record the date (written or stamped) followed by his signature and then his rank and position (again written or stamped). Sometimes the location that the check was made will also be recorded by using a stamp in the centre of the page that would overlap the edge of the unit seal. The location was not always recorded, but if it was it usually indicated that it was a hospital or Ersatz location away from any frontline positions.

When any further security checks were made, they would be separated from the previous check by the use of a line ruled in using a straight edge.

 

Pages 16 of World War 2 German Army SoldbuchPage 16
Although this page was intended to record any dental work undertaken, it is another page that does not appear to have been filled in very often, so most Soldbuch references state that this page would be left blank. Occasionally, however, this page is found to be filled in.

The text at the top of the page was to record the Dental Station and the date that the treatment was carried out. A very simple diagrammatic representation of teeth was then available to record details for each tooth, with eight positions for each of the upper and lower, left and right teeth. The use of a ‘+’ was to show a missing tooth and an ‘O’ to show any replaced teeth. Below this were spaces for the Dentist and for the Troop Physician to sign.

Moving down the page there are three spaces to record any treatment made and the Dental Station where this was carried out.
At the bottom of the page is a space for any special remarks, with an example given of any soldiers own dentures and how to record details.







Page 1 - An Introduction Page 2 - Soldiers Details Page 4 - What You Got For Doing Your Duty

 

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