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In Trenches News and Updates

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59 and senile, drafted into the Wehrmacht

Original PaperworkPosted by Chris Pittman Tue, June 11, 2013 09:51PM

The idea that German soldiers were all young men in their teens and early 20s is based more on an idealized caricature than historical reality. As the war dragged on, manpower shortages became so acute that many men previously passed over for medical reasons were called up to serve. The average age of the German Army in 1944 was 32; in Normandy, the average age in some gun crews was 45, some of the men were over 55. Of course, not all of these older fellows were assigned to combat duty. For every German soldier at the front, there were three in the rear, performing logistical or administrative tasks, on occupation duty, in training units, or home guard units, etc. As the front line came closer to Germany, many of these men found themselves in combat zones. I uploaded some scans of a Soldbuch I have for a 59-year-old draftee and WWI veteran who was assigned security duties in a Landessch├╝tzen unit. When he was released from the POW camp after the war he was judged to be malnourished, senile and unfit for any duty. A far cry from the supermen of wartime propaganda and post-war legend.

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Small Personal ID documents

Original PaperworkPosted by Chris Pittman Sun, December 30, 2012 02:17PM

ere is a very simple form of an original personal identity document. These are small typewritten documents that affirm that a soldier is a part of a particular unit (in these cases, one for a security unit and one for a headquarters unit). The first example is on thin paper, the size is about 10 x 7 cm. The second is on red card stock. The measurements of this one are about 8 x 7 cm.

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Lots of new stamps on the way!

Original PaperworkPosted by Chris Pittman Mon, December 19, 2011 09:48PM

I have bought a lot of original paperwork lately, these pictures show just a portion of the pile of material that has landed on my desk recently. I've been really busy scanning and studying these, there is an almost overwhelming amount of information here. I've learned a lot and am happy to announce that I will be offering a second sheet of Soldbuch stamps in 2012, all exact copies of original stamps in these documents.

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Artificial leather Soldbuch cover

Original PaperworkPosted by Chris Pittman Fri, May 27, 2011 04:34AM

Some people have asked me about the gold foil embossed Soldbuch envelopes offered by a number of vendors. I believe this is a fantasy item that never existed during the war. A similar envelope was used in some cases with the Wehrpass- but unlike the Wehrpass, which would be kept on file by a soldier's unit, the Soldbuch was carried daily as an identity document and an envelope of this sort seems rather impractical. There were of course a variety of protective covers for the Soldbuch, ranging from self-made covers of paper or fabric to private-purchase items like this one, of artificial leather, and maker marked by "Hermann Roloff Militaerartikel" in Mannheim. The Soldbuch itself belonged to Unteroffizier Kurt Mueck, who was considered not fit for field service and who worked in a Wehrmacht recruiting office in Kattowitz. The black protective cover shows wear from use but the national eagle and the word "Soldbuch" are still visible.


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98 Feldpost letters from a family

Original PaperworkPosted by Chris Pittman Thu, October 28, 2010 04:44PM
I've been buying lots of WWII German Feldpost letters to study for my reproduction mail project. Last week I got this group of nearly 100 letters all from one family. The letters are written to or from soldiers in a variety of units including Jaeger-Bataillon 3, Panzer-Aufklaerungs-Abteilung 103 and NSKK-Transport-Korps Speer. Some of the letters are more legible than average and there is a lot of interesting information in these. For my ongoing project, there are a lot of different kinds of stationery (folding letters and cards) that I will be able to copy.

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Soldbuch of Uffz. Franz Sanz

Original PaperworkPosted by Chris Pittman Tue, October 26, 2010 04:31PM
I wanted to show this Soldbuch from my collection because of a few interesting details. The first thing you might notice is the variant cover which is made out of a smooth card stock and has different graphics from the more common bark-textured stock. Another feature I want to point out is the lack of a photo. Prior to November 16, 1943 there were no photos used in Heer or Luftwaffe Soldbuecher (the Kriegsmarine had been using photos since 1941). The original regulation from when photos were introduced dictated that photos must be in the books by April 1, 1944 for Ersatzheer units and Dec. 31, 1944 for field units. However, for one reason or another, many soldiers never got the pictures entered into their documents before the war ended. Sanz was born in 1912 and the Soldbuch was issued to him in 1939. He served through the whole war with Gebirgs-Artillerie-Regiment 94 and was awarded the Ostmedaille, Iron Cross 2nd Class, Black Wound Badge and the Romanian Commemorative Medal for the Crusade Against Communism. Gebirgs-Artillerie-Regiment 94 was part of the 4. Gebirgs-Division which spent the war fighting on the Eastern Front. He survived the whole war and surrendered to the victorious Russians at the end but sadly Sanz (like so many others) did not survive the brutal and inhumane conditions typical in Russian prisoner of war camps. He died on October 9, 1945 in a camp in Kherson, Ukraine and is buried as an unknown soldier along with more than 20,000 other German soldiers in the war cemetery at Sevastopol.

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