Sunday, June 23, 2019

Operation to Combat Partisans

Translated original report from October 1942, includes a list of weapons and clothing found in a partisan camp.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

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.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Mess Kits- Wehrmacht and Postwar Comparison

I took some photos to compare an original pre-war aluminum Wehrmacht mess kits, with some postwar versions. The most important thing to understand is that there are postwar mess kits that are identical to real ones, as well as some that are very close, and some that are more different.
In the above picture, in the top row, the one on the left is an original pre-war German Wehrmacht mess kit. The one on the right is a postwar Austrian mess kit. It has a postwar maker and date stamp, and the lid of the mess kit is perhaps a fraction of a centimeter taller than the original (although this varies somewhat from maker to maker on originals). Visually, without inspecting the markings, the mess kit itself is indistinguishable from the pre-war Wehrmacht model. The paint is the wrong color. Stripped and repainted, in my opinion, this is perfect for use.

There are two other postwar styles that are identical to the pre-war Wehrmacht kits, that I do not have to show: some 50s dated German ones, some of which were made by some of the same factories that made them for the Wehrmacht; and postwar Romanian issue mess kits.

Back to the group picture, the second row: on the left is a Soviet mess kit from the 50s. This is very nearly identical to the first Wehrmacht model, with two exceptions. I have included photos that show these differences in detail. Firstly, it has three rivets instead of two, holding the handle on to the top part. It also lacks the three small impressed measuring lines that were on the front of the bottom half of the kit. The most common wartime Wehrmacht model also lacked these measuring lines, but these had a steel handle on the top part, instead of the prewar aluminum handle. Original used and issued kits are very often found mismatched, even when they appear to have been used that way during the war; it's not at all implausible that a soldier in the war could have used a wartime "bowl" and a pre-war "lid." There were no Wehrmacht kits with three rivets on the handle; whether or not this difference renders this type unsuitable for reenactment is subjective.

On the right in the group photo, in the second row, is a "Frankenstein" kit put together with a postwar East German NVA bottom, and a postwar West German police lid. The East German kit had a lid with no strap retaining loop, which in my opinion is visually and functionally so different from the Wehrmacht kit to render it unsuitable for reenactment use. The bottom, on the other hand, is very close to the Wehrmacht type. The difference is on the cast attachment fittings for the wire bale. The Wehrmacht type is riveted on with two small rivets. These rivets are not visible on the East German one. The exact size and appearance of the rivets varies on Wehrmacht kits, but they are always there. The top of this "Frankenstein" kit is a from a postwar West German kit. The bottom is in my opinion not suitable for use, and I will show it later, but the top is identical to pre-war Wehrmacht issue, except for the markings. I used to use this "Frankenstein" kit myself, before I found a postwar Austrian one to use.
Of the four types of mess kits previously described, we would allow any of them to be used in Sicherungs-Regiment 195, though we discourage use of original kits as they are historical objects with a collectible value, and we cook with ours over fires and use them at every event; I would cringe to subject an original war relic to that kind of abuse. The mess kits on the bottom row in the group photo have parts that I would not allow to be used in my unit. On the left is a Russian one, a type used from the 50s into at least the 80s (probably even later). This has the aforementioned three rivets on the handle, on the top. On the bottom part of this kit, the attachment fittings for the wire bale are totally different from the Wehrmacht versions. This difference on the bottom part is too obvious for me to regard it as usable. On the right in the bottom row, is the postwar West German police kit lower half. This also has the Russian style bale attachment fittings.
Where to find these? Quantities of postwar Romanian and Austrian mess kits pop up on eBay from time to time. I keep an eye on the various Facebook sales groups where reenactors sell items that are no longer needed, as there are many of these mess kits in circulation. I also look at Soviet buy/sell/trade pages where the Russian ones that I regard as usable (with the German type bale fittings) come up every so often.

Monday, January 7, 2019

WWII German Recipes for Buckwheat Groats

Buckwheat groats are a staple grain in Russia. They are healthy and delicious. Where I live, in the USA, there are Russian specialty grocery stores that offer several brands of buckwheat groats.
Wehrmacht personnel fighting on the Eastern Front during WWII had to learn to eat local food that was available, including buckwheat groats. The following recipes were distributed by the supply section of the 281. Sicherungs-Division, in an order dated December 12, 1941.

Buckwheat Groats (Stew) Ration size 100 g

120 g fresh meat
80 g buckwheat groats
125 g fresh vegetables
125 g potatoes
5 g onions
Season with salt

     Trim some fat from the meat, fry it and set it to the side. Dice the meat, fry it, add the finelty chopped onions and fry together for a short time. Add the washed groats, together with water (45 parts water to 1 part groats). Boil for about 1.5 hours. Peel and chop the vegetables, peel the potatoes and slice or dice, add to the pot and cook until done. 
     The finished dish can be seasoned with salt with yeast extract or seasoning, or thickened with soy. 
     The flavor of the stew can be improved by using wurst broth instead of the water.

Fried Dumplings (or "Falscher Hase") Made with Buckwheat Groats 

60 g fresh meat without bones
20 g buckwheat groats
10 g grated Zwieback
10 g whole soy
5 g onions
10 g fat (from supplies or slice from the meat)
Season with salt and pepper or substitute marjoram for the pepper or savory.

     Cook the groats with water (5 parts water to 1 part groats) until you have a firm mass, allow to cool. For meat, take if possible a mixture of half pork ad half beef, and finely grind it in a meat grinder together with the raw onions. 
     Mix the meat and groats together well, add salt, pepper, soy and grated Zwieback as a binder. Marjoram or savory, if used, should be used very carefully. After mixing well, it is recommended to put the mixture through the meat grinder again. The purpose of this is to achieve maximum mixing of the ingredients, which is of particular importance.
     Roll the dumplings (or for "Falscher Hase, the pieces) in grated Zwieback and fry in hot fat.

Bread Spread Using Buckwheat Groats
40 g fresh meat
20 g buckwheat groats
20 g soup greens
10 g sunflower seed oil
5 g onions
Season with salt and pepper

     Cook the groats with water (5 parts water to 1 part groats) until you have a firm mass, allow to cool. For cooked meat, take if possible a mixture of half pork ad half beef, and finely grind it in a meat grinder together with most of the raw onions and soup greens. Mix the meat and groats together well. Fry the rest of the onions in the sunflower seed oil until brown, add to the mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
     If the spread is a little too thick, add some water or sausage broth. The completed mixture yields 120 g.

     The Wehrmacht cookbook "Östliche Speisen nach deutscher Art" has a whole chapter on buckwheat groats:


     Possibilities for use: Buckwheat can be used for soup, porridge, dumplings, risotto, groats, and sweet dishes.
     In addition, buckwheat is a great substitute for potatoes in stews. Cook the buckwheat in the stew 30-40 minutes.
     Buckwheat thickens when it soaks. In general 20-30 g per person is sufficient.
     Buckwheat is a good way to extend ground beef in recipes. 
     In this manner dry buckwheat can be made into a thick porridge: 
     The ratio is 300 g buckwheat to 1 liter water.
     The cooled buckwheat is thoroughly mixed with the ground meat.
     Per person, you need:
          50 g meat
          20 g buckwheat
          65 g water

     Taking into account losses in cooking, it yields about 120 grams.

     Making Grützwurst with Buckwheat
     50 g meat with bones, 20 g dry buckwheat
     Cook the meat until tender. Soak the buckwheat in the broth to make a thick porridge. The ratio is 200 g buckwheat to 1 liter broth. The cooked meat is ground and mixed in with the groats. Season as usual.

Buckwheat Soup 

     Cook 20 g buckwheat and a finely chopped onion in a little fat. Peel and dice a medium potato, finely chop 100 grams vegetables and add them to the fat, cook briefly. Add 1/3 liter water, bring to a boil, add salt, cook until done.

Buckwheat Risotto

     Fry onions in fat, add buckwheat and cook together very briefly. Add liquid (ratio: 3 parts liquid to 1 part groats), bring to a boil, cook on low heat until done. After cooking, mix in some grated cheese or cheese powder.

Buckwheat with Beef or Mutton

     Dice and brown the meat. Add finely chopped onions, up to 100 g buckwheat, 1 teaspoon tomato paste, cook together briefly. Add water (1 part buckwheat to 2 parts water), bring to a boil and cook until done.

Buckwheat Groats with Tomatoes

     Peel and quarter tomatoes and fry in a little fat. Make the buckwheat groats as described above, 10 minutes before being done, add the tomatoes.


     Buckwheat groats with vegetables:  instead of tomatoes, use finely chopped and fried vegetables.
     Buckwheat groats with fried bacon cubes: Mix fried diced bacon into the groats. The bacon could also be sprinkled on the groats when serving.

Buckwheat Dumplings

     Make a mixture of 1 liter buckwheat flour, 30 grams wheat, salt and a little warm milk.  Beat into a thick dough and leave 2 hours in a warm place. Make dumplings using a spoon covered in flour. Drop into boiling salt water, cook uncovered until done. Serve with brown butter or some fried fruit.

Fried Dumplings with Buckwheat

     Stir 1 part buckwheat into 2 parts boiling water. Bring to a boil, cook on low heat until done, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool and put through a meat grinder with 1 small onion. Mix together with ground meat (1 part buckwheat to 1 part meat). Season with salt and pepper, form into dumplings with wet hands, fry in oil.

Fried Buckwheat Cakes

     Soak 75 g buckwheat in 1/4 liter buttermilk to form a thick porridge. Add salt, fried onion, very little garlic, chopped parsley, 50 g flour. Mix all together and add more buttermilk if too thick. Form into little cakes, fry in hot fat. Meant as a side dish to meat dishes, or in a sauce can also be a main course.

Vegetable Stew with Buckwheat 

     Dice meat, brown in hot fat. Add 50 g buckwheat and up to 500 g finely chopped vegetables and fry together briefly. Add 1/2 liter water, bring to a boil, add salt, cook until done. Season.

Sweet Buckwheat Groats 

     Add 1 part buckwheat to 2 parts boiling milk. Add sugar, lemon peel, a little cinnamon, and cook on low heat until done. If too thick, stir in more milk. Serve cool or warm with fruit sauce or fried fruit. Note: Vanilla, vanilla sugar or vanilla powder are also good for seasoning this.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

WWII German Army M43 Tunic Collar and Sleeve Shapes

Comparison photos showing 5 unaltered original enlisted issue wool Heer M43 tunics. This first photo shows the collar and lapel shape. To take these photos I unbuttoned the top button and held the collar open as if it were pressed open. Many differences are readily apparent. Sometimes the collar extends past the lapel, sometimes the lapel is wider than the collar. The relative widths of the collar and the angles of the various shapes are very visibly different.
This photo shows the sleeve shapes. I laid the sleeves as flat as I could to show the shape. They are not all the same. There is a persistent reenactor legend about "curved sleeves." I'm not sure what is meant by that- but see for yourself.