Reenactors interested in the finer details of an impression often ask what would constitute an ideal set of paperwork for a first-person persona. The answer is always that the best paperwork that a reenactor can carry is paperwork that he understands and that he can relate to his portrayal. The Soldbuch is the crux of personal paperwork and knowing what is written in there and what everything means is a key step in a first person impression. The flap in the back of the Soldbuch is a good place to keep things like reproductions of period photos, most are small and fit in there easily. Anything that a reenactor can understand and explain and build a story around will be better to carry than even perfect reproduction paperwork if one doesn't know what it means or how it relates to the character being represented.
the realities of war, there were an endless number of variables regarding
what paperwork was carried. There were regulations, of course, but these
regulations seem to have been more or less widely disregarded, and much
of what was actually carried on a day-to-day basis seems to have
depended heavily on such variables as personal preference, unit or type
of unit, area of operations, etc. It seems like there were few hard and
fast rules as to what was carried and what was not, what was retained
and what was discarded. The Wehrpass was not supposed to have been
carried by the individual soldier but some soldiers went into captivity
carrying these so this must have happened at some times, for some
Having said all that, here are our conclusions based on
studies of more-or-less untouched paperwork groupings. Others may have
come to different conclusions.
ID DOCUMENTS: Soldiers were issued many different kinds of lesser ID
documents which were issued right down to Kompanie level in some cases.
This category can include things as simple as small signed and stamped
paper scraps attesting that the soldier belonged to a particular unit,
as well as various kinds of photo IDs such as the military
driver's license or the Dienstausweis, and all kinds of passes and
DOCUMENTS: Some have stated that award documents were to be kept in the
Soldbuch. Based on our studies, we do not believe that award documents
were carried in the Soldbuch most of the time. No doubt they were
carried in the field for a period immediately after issue, but the
official entries in the Soldbuch would seem to make carrying the
associated documents redundant.
FROM HOME: Regulations stipulated that letters from home were not to be
carried in the field to deny the enemy any intelligence contained
therein. In reality, soldiers did keep and carry these, sometimes
accumulating large numbers of them when circumstances permitted. Feldpost was second only to ammunition in the
supply system, and getting mail from home was an important feature of the
life of the Landser.
EPHEMERA: We find lots of stuff in paperwork groupings that were intended to be
discarded but that were kept for whatever reason. A page from a
calendar, a little piece of newspaper, a blank form or a receipt for hay
or for cabbage, perhaps these were used as bookmarks, perhaps they had
some personal significance known only to the soldier, or maybe it was
just pocket trash. Some companies would even send advertisements in
various forms to soldiers at the front and sometimes the recipients
would hold on to these.
STUFF: Many soldiers seemed to have carried documents related to their
civilian lives, even when these documents would seem to have been
useless at the front. Insurance cards, post office box receipts,
paperwork regarding bank accounts, or similar stuff.
paperwork that you can carry is limited only by your imagination. We
have held many untouched paperwork groupings as carried by German
soldiers and have never found one loaded with Reichsmarks and porn as
carried by so many reenactors. It is far more common to find a couple of
plain-looking pictures, a local provisional ID or travel permit,
perhaps a letter from home or a certificate relating to the soldier's
civilian life, and a scrap of paper with seemingly random notes, their
significance lost to time.