Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Wartime German songbook "Sing mit, Kamerad!"

This is a wartime German songbook that was distributed as a promotional item by an insurance company in Stuttgart. It's about 50 pages long. The stamp and notation on the title page of this book indicates it was property of a German Army unit during the war.

PDF Download

 There are 72 songs in this book. Of interest here is the fact that only the lyrics are included, there is no musical notation. Whoever compiled these songs assumed that soldiers would be familiar with them and know the melodies. Perhaps this may offer some insight into songs that were common and well-known to Wehrmacht soldiers.
The book includes the lyrics to the following songs:
A list of the 72 songs:

Als wir nach Frankreich zogen
Als wir jüngst in Regensburg waren
Am Brunnen vor dem Tore
An der Nordsee, an der Donau (Jawoll - das stimmt - Jawoll)
Auf dem Berg so hoch da droben
Auf der Heide blüht ein kleines Blümelein (Erika)
Auf der Lüneburger Heide
Auf die schwäb'sche Eisenbahne
Auf, hebt unsre Fahnen
Auf Wiederseh'n, mein Schätzelein (Heut' stechen wir ins blaue Meer)
Burschen heraus
Das ist nun einmal so (Wenn ein Soldat ein Mädel liebt)
Das schönste Blümelein, das ich kenn
Der Gott, der Eisen wachsen liess
Des morgens, wenn ich früh erwach'
Die blauen Dragoner
Die Ganze Kompanie (Stolz marschieren wir zu drei'n)
Drei Lilien, drei Lilien
Drunten im Unterland
Ein Heller und ein Batzen
Ein Schifflein sah ich fahren
Ein Tiroler wollte jagen
Engelland (Heute wollen wir ein Liedlein singen)
Es ist so schön, Soldat zu sein (Rosemarie)
Es steh'n drei Birken auf der Heide
Es war ein Edelweiss, ein kleines Edelweiss
Es wollte sich einschleichen
Flieg', deutsche Fahne, flieg'!
Frühmorgens wenn die Hähne kräh'n
Frühmorgens wenn die Sonn aufgeht (Tschingta, tschingta Bummtara!)
Hab mein Wage voll gelade
Heiss ist die Liebe
Heute geht's an Bord
Heute wollen wir's probieren (Westerwald-Lied)
Hoch auf em gelben Wagen
Ich bin ein freier Wildbretschütz
I bin Soldat
Ich sing mir ein Lied
Ich trag in meinem Ranzen...
Jetzt gang I ans Brünnele
In Sanssouci am Muhlenberg (Veronika)
Im Feldquartier auf hartem Stein
Im schönsten Wiesengrunde
Kennt ihr das Land
Liebchen ade! (Annemarie)
Liebling, wenn ich traurig bin
Lippe-Detmold, eine wunderschöne Stadt
Märkische Heide, märkische Sand
Mein Regiment, mein Heimatland
Morgen marschieren wir in Feindesland
Muss i den zum Städtele naus
Nur der Freiheit gehört unser Leben
Schwarzbraun ist die Haselnuss
Soldat sein, heist true sein
Soldaten sind immer Soldaten
Steh' ich in finst'rer Mitternacht
Tirol, du bist mein Heimatland
Und die Morgenfrühr, das ist unsere Zeit
Von den Bergen rauscht ein Wasser
Was glänzt dort vom Walde
Weit last die Fahnen wehen
Wenn alles grunt und blüht
Wenn alle Brünnlein fliessen
Wenn all untreu warden
Wenn die bunten Fahnen wehen
Wenn wir marschieren
Wilde Gesellen, vom Sturmwind durchweht
Wir marschieren alle in gleichem Schritt
Wo e' Klein's Hütt'le steht
Wohlan, die Zeit ist kommen
Wohlauf, Kameraden, aufs Pferd

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Internal stiffener material on German M43 field cap visors

Here are two well-used original M43 field caps. Authentication of these hats in general has become difficult for me but both of these came from  highly regarded dealers more than 10 years ago and were positively reviewed on WAF; I am extremely confident in stating that these are original wartime Wehrmacht field caps.

Both of these have cardboard internal stiffeners inside the visors. Through wear and use, the cardboard has broken up/crumbled and become very soft and pliable. It can be bent into any shape desired and will not hold its shape, returning to a generally flat, floppy, droopy position.

One of these caps has some insect damage to the underside of the visor, revealing some of this cardboard in the brim. It is a light tan color.

The typical coarse, loose texture of this type of wool is also noticeable here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Evaluating and Upgrading a Reproduction WWII German Field Blouse

At the time of writing (2019) reproduction WWII German field blouses have been reproduced by many manufacturers for more than 20 years. There are many options for new made uniforms and a wide variety of uniforms may be available on the secondhand market. This guide contains ideas for how to make any reproduction of a wool enlisted issue field blouse as realistic as it can be.
The first thing to evaluate is the insignia (if any) and how it is applied. Not all reproduction insignia are equal, and there are some terrible copies out there. Original issue-type shoulder straps were generally made out the same types of fabrics used for constructing uniforms. Pre-war straps were dark green and made out of a tightly woven, fairly smooth wool, the same stuff used for M36 tunic collars. Wartime straps were field gray. Pre-war shoulder strap piping was mostly wool, while rayon was predominant during wartime, though some wool piped wartime straps were produced. Look at photos of original straps to get an idea of what the piping should look like and how thick it should be. It was generally fairly narrow. If your shoulder straps have rope-thick piping, or are made out of a loosely knit wool/synthetic blend fabric, you should replace them.
Collar Litzen, in general, should be neatly machine applied. Der Erste Zug has a great guide on typical period application styles. Pay attention to the shape of the applied Litzen. See here for some wartime examples. The final pattern generic Litzen appeared in May, 1940, and are ideal for most wartime field blouses. The earlier generic Litzen from 1938, with dark green stripes, were normally factory applied on M36 and some M40 field blouses. The pre-1938 branch piped Litzen were usually only seen factory applied on M36 and earlier field blouse models.
Factory applied breast eagles were generally Bevo (machine woven) and were generally machine applied on wartime field blouses. Hand sewn eagles were common on pre-war uniforms, and some later field blouses did still have hand sewn eagles. Machine embroidered eagles on rayon backing appeared late in the war. Avoid eagles embroidered on wool or felt, these were a private purchase type, never applied at the factory, rarely seen on field tunics. Again, the 1940 pattern insignia (gray on field gray eagle) is ideal for most wartime field blouses. See this guide to determine what pattern of breast eagle would be most appropriate for the year in which your field blouse would have been made.
The next thing to look at is the buttons. The large pebbled buttons used for the front placket and pocket closures were made by many manufacturers and countless variations exist. They were made in aluminum, steel, zinc, and even Bakelite, and were painted in various shades. The size and appearance of the pebbling varied from manufacturer to manufacturer. Here are some typical worn wartime examples.
There are extremely good copies of original aluminum buttons currently being manufactured. Many reproductions being made today have pebbled buttons that are virtually perfect. But if your buttons are made of brass, or the pebbling is totally unlike that of originals, they should be replaced, either with originals or with better quality reproductions. Original buttons used on enlisted issue field blouses had a convex reverse with a shank for stitching to the uniform. Buttons with solid or flat backs should be replaced.
Look also at the small buttons. Here is some information about the types of small buttons originally used. Replace any colorful plastic buttons or plastic buttons molded to look like pressed paper buttons. Reproduction horn buttons are available, but small round black plastic buttons in the correct size may also be available at a local fabric store.
Look at the thread used to affix the buttons. Original button thread was thick stuff, here are some examples. If your buttons are sewn with thin garment thread, you need to re-stitch them with something that is more accurate and also stronger.
Look inside the front placket closure, behind the buttons, for size and manufacturer stamps like this.
All field blouses had these stamps when they were made. If they are absent, they can be added for extra realism. To measure your field blouse to determine the sizes with which it should be stamped, see here.
Some but not all field blouses had thread reinforcement stitches at the collar. These were hand done. It is easy to add this detail, if desired. Here are two different examples of these reinforcement bars, on an M40 and a M43 field blouse.

If you have an M36 or M40 field blouse, you may have to add the small hooks inside for the ends of the internal suspenders. There were two of these, one on each side, in front. See here for information on these. You may also add additional thread reinforcements on either side of the openings for the internal suspenders used with these field blouse models, you can see the reinforcement stitching in this photo.

Any field blouse, regardless of how close it is to an original, can be let down by bad insignia or buttons. And making sure that all the small details are as they should be, can help elevate even a lesser quality copy. Once you have all the details correct, the next step is just to wear it, or weather it if you prefer.

1940 pattern generic Heer Litzen (collar tabs)

This final pattern of generic Heer Litzen was introduced in May, 1940. These photos show an assortment of original examples. These were made in varying sizes, with central stripes in light gray, dark gray, tan, or blue-gray, with similar variations to the background color as well, and variation in the relative sizes of the graphic elements. These photos don't show the entire original range of variation. The many manufacturers who made these were simply not able to make them all the same, for all the millions that were made 1940-45.

Songbook "Lied der Front" (Song of the Front) 1940


Anyone who has ever worn the gray tunic knows the power of the soldiers’ song. He knows, what mysterious power is hidden in such a song that can, for a whole Kompanie, a Bataillon, after great exertions, lift them back up again and prepare them for new achievements. But he also knows how the soldiers’ song, powerful and yearning, funny and serious, can improve so many nice evenings in barracks or in quarters, in the field or in the training area. The whole many-sided life of... a soldier is reflected back in these songs. And then he might grab paper and sheet music and forge lyrics and melody together, that arise from soldierly experience. Many such songs have been carried over into the body of songs of the German people, and become collective property. We remember the many soldiers’ songs of the World War, when often nobody knew who wrote them or who gave them melody. They were sung and carried on from one end of the front to the other. This one or that one would add something to them, set them to one or another tone, and in this way such songs became true communal products of the front.

It is for this reason that, a few weeks after the beginning of this war, I made the decision to request soldiers to submit the songs and melodies of this war to the greater German broadcast agency, so that they wouldn’t be lost, and over the etherial waves could very quickly become communal property of all German soldiers and the homeland. This request was met with surprising success, and once again showed how much musical power is in the German people. There are again great composers, and great poets, who nevertheless understand how to sing in the spirit of the people.

The continually surprising success of this request proved me right. There were not thousands, rather tens of thousands of submissions, all of which were seen and checked by the editors and our coworkers. And the results, that were added to German song in this way, has contributed some very valuable achievements to the treasury of songs of the German people.

Volume 1 of this song book has already achieved record sales of more than a million copies. Volume 2 is not far behind, and the publishers and printers have their hands full trying to fill all the requests. Now volume 3 and others in the series will be sent out, so that the new soldiers’ songs can be carried in every bunker and trench, every airfield and patrol boat, and so that you, Kameraden, can truly take part in these songs.

On behalf of the greater German broadcast agency:

Alfred-Ingemar Berndt
Principal and Leader of the Broadcast Department of the Reich Propaganda Ministry
currently a Leutnant in a schweren Panzerjägerabteilung"

Three volumes total were produced, the link is to a PDF of all 3 volumes.

Lied der Front

Monday, October 28, 2019

Evaluation of Reproduction WWII German Wool Uniform Items- Cut and Tailoring

For some years, I evaluated reproduction WWII German wool uniform items, and reenactor claims and opinions about them. In the end, my conclusion was that at the time of writing (2019), the products of any of the major suppliers generally fall within the wide original range of size and manufacturer variation seen on surviving original uniforms. In this sense, it is my opinion that with regard to cut and tailoring, virtually any of these products (generally speaking) are usable for reenactment purposes that require uniforms that are extremely close to the originals. The only currently manufactured uniforms that I regard as completely unusable are those made out of incorrect materials- specifically, those made by a manufacturer or manufacturers in China from a thin, almost shirt weight wool/polyester blend fabric with a noticeable synthetic sheen. To explain how I came to this conclusion, I will elaborate on my methods of evaluation.

1. Challenges of Evaluating Reproduction Uniforms

Firstly, I should note that there exist many challenges to evaluating reproduction uniforms. Foremost among them, when it comes to field blouses, is the matter of sizing. Original field blouses were sized five different ways, so a field blouse with a given chest length could be long or short, with longer or shorter sleeves, a bigger or smaller collar, and the length from the collar to the belt hook holes could vary independently of the total length. Most manufacturers of reproduction field blouses size these based on chest size only. This fact makes it very hard to make exact 1:1 comparisons between any single original field blouse, and a reproduction counterpart. Even if the chest sizes are the same, the collar could be bigger or smaller, the sleeves longer or shorter, and that could still be perfectly OK as it is simply a sizing feature.

Another major challenge is the range of variation seen on original examples with regard not only to materials, but also cut and tailoring. There was a time when I strongly believed that all wartime uniforms were subject to very strict tailoring controls. This is in fact not the case, and I came to this completely wrong conclusion based on reviewing a sample size of originals that was too small, and also on original documentation that indicated how things should have been- though this was not as things actually were. I believe that the wide observable range of variation seen on original uniforms is largely a result of simple manufacturer variation although there may have been other variables as well.

A further challenge to evaluating reproduction uniforms is the fact that most of the larger manufacturers have produced various runs of garments over time and these runs are different from each other. As an example, the maker At the Front started off making their own uniforms, then sold Sturm uniforms with added insignia and size/maker markings, then offered in-house made "Texled" uniforms in both custom and off-the-rack versions, then finally had their own proprietary brand of imported uniforms. So when someone describes an At the Front field blouse, it could be any of a number of garments that differ from each other in very significant ways. Similarly, the manufacturer Sturm/Mil-Tec released many discrete runs of uniforms with different tailoring details, materials, hardware, etc. And smaller makers, who may have made items on a cottage industry or even totally bespoke custom basis, may have made one garment that is dimensionally perfect, and another that I would judge to be short of the mark, based on a number of factors including customer specifications.

2. The Original Range of Variation

It is immediately apparent to even a casual observer with access to even a very small sample of original uniform pieces of the same type, that there exists a tremendous range of variation among them. One can see major differences in the size and shape of pockets, the size and shape of collars and lapels, the waist taper and sleeve shapes. Even small details such as buttonhole size, the size and construction of belt hook holes, or the stitch count of seams, can vary dramatically from one example to the next. I have previously shared some information on these variations, some specific examples:

M43 Tunic Collar and Sleeve Shapes
Pocket Sizes and Stamped versus Actual Measurements

In truth I really can't say with absolute certainty that these variations are not the result of different patterns being supplied to various manufacturers of the same item. But in any case there can be no doubt that these variations exist, and need to be accounted for when evaluating reproductions.

3. 1:1 Comparisons with Originals, and "What is Best"

As mentioned above, simple 1:1 comparisons between original and reproduction uniform components may be of far less value than one would assume, because a single original example cannot take into account the range of variation. If someone had access to, for example, 10 or 20 original M43 field blouses, he could buy two very different-looking reproductions from different manufacturers, and make the case that one or the other is correct, and the other not, or the other way around, by selecting the original that happened to most closely resemble one or the other- when in fact, both garments could be equally right! The wide range of original variation makes it nearly impossible to say that one maker or another is "the best." If one maker is offering a near-perfect copy of one style, and another is offering a near-perfect copy of another style of the same garment, there is no way to say which is "best." In fact, many original photos show men in the same unit wearing a range of subtly different versions of the same stuff. For a reenactment group, it may be regarded as important to reflect these subtle variations in order to appear more realistic. In such a scenario, using items from a range of suppliers will achieve the desired result far more than looking for a "best" which can never really be said to exist, as criteria for evaluation are largely subjective.

4. Objective Measures of Evaluation

There are, of course, ways to create objective criteria for evaluation as well. When measuring original uniforms and comparing them to originals, I have chosen to look at ratios and proportions, as these are what constitute the "cut" of the garment. For example, we can look at breast pocket size as a ratio of the chest size and this will enable us to determine if the proportions of the chest pockets are within the original range no matter what size reproduction tunic is being evaluated. Over time, I made dozens or hundreds of measurements of very many aspects of a range of original uniform items and looked at proportions and ratios of various measurements as compared with reproductions from a variety of suppliers. Even though I could never claim that the small sample of originals that I worked with, was in any way representative of the full and total original range of variation, I could not find any measurements on the reproductions that I studied, that fell outside of the measured original range by more than a tiny percentage that amounted to a small fraction of an inch.

5. Evaluating Reenactor Consensus Opinions, Myth and Lore

I will give an example of an oft-repeated piece of reenactor lore that could not be proven by comparison with originals, and that is the assertion that Sturm/Miltec field blouses have "suit coat shoulders." I measured very many aspects of the shoulders and arm holes including the shoulder size compared to the chest size, the diameter of the arm holes, the distance across the upper back at the narrowest point, etc., then compared all of these numbers to the other measurements, then compared the resulting ratios to the measurements of a number of Sturm/Miltec reproduction field blouses- and found no measurable difference. There is a lot of reenactor myth and lore about collars and sleeves and other aspects of cut and tailoring and I was not able to verify ANY of these claims. I believe that some of them were rooted in dealer sales pitches and some of them were just things people made up, that sounded believable.

6. Conclusion - A Correct Uniform

So what then is the reenactor to do, if consensus opinions are worthless and no "best reproduction" can be said to exist? The reality is that the fit of a reproduction garment, and the type of insignia and quality and manner of insignia application, in almost all cases will have greater bearing on the realism of a uniform part, than who made the garment. Different makers of off-the-rack uniforms offer different interpretations of the original cut- some are longer, some have more waist taper, etc. Reenactors should either seek out well-fitting uniforms,* or get uniforms that they can have tailored to fit properly. Ordering a custom garment made to your own size specifications is also possible. Insignia application is a large subject of its own but all reproduction insignia are absolutely not created equal, and clumsy or improper application can spoil the look of even perfect reproduction insignia. In the end, it's my opinion that a hyper-focus on tiny facets of material culture tends to detract from what I feel are more important understandings of the human beings who wore these things, their culture, language, and the history of what they were a part of.

* For information on how these things were supposed to fit the wearer, please refer to
Wehrmacht Regulations on the Fit of Uniform and Equipment Items

Friday, September 27, 2019

How to measure a reproduction Wehrmacht field blouse to create correct size stamps

Every German field blouse was stamped inside with 5 different size measurements as follows:

-Back length
-Collar size
-Chest size
-Overall length
-Sleeve length

 Not every reproduction field blouse has correct size markings- many are unmarked. I make size stamps for my uniforms because I think it is a detail that adds realism. To find out how the actual measurements of a garment corresponded with the stamped sizes, I measured 5 different unaltered original Heer enlisted issue wool field blouses. I then took this small sample and looked at the numbers. There was no exact ratio that always held true. This may be because the garments were worn and may have stretched or shrunk with use or over time. Or, it could be a result of manufacture variation. Based on this quick survey, I came to make size stamps for my uniforms based on the following formula. Note that all sizes are in centimeters.

-Back length: Measure from the base of the collar straight down the back to the level of the bottom of the bottom belt hook hole, and add 1 to this measurement.
-Collar size: Measure the inside of the collar from the hook to the eyelet, and use this exact number.
-Chest size: Button the field blouse, measure from armpit to armpit across the front, double this number, then subtract 8.
-Overall length: Measure from the base of the collar to the bottom edge of the skirt in the back, and add 3.
-Sleeve: Measure from the seam at the top of the soldier straight down to the bottom sleeve edge, and add 1.

There exists a chart that purports to show the original range of sizes for each measurement based on chest size. For making the stamps on my own uniforms I have not referred to this chart, preferring to stamp these according to the sizes that they actually are.

For reference, here are the measured and stamped sizes for each of the 5 tunics.

Tunic 1 (M43)
Back length: Measured 41, stamped 43
Collar: Measured 42, stamped 42
Chest: Measured 98, stamped 92
Length: Measured 69, stamped 72
Sleeve: Measured 64, stamped 64

Tunic 2 (M40)
Back length: Measured 40, stamped 41
Collar: Measured 40, stamped 41
Chest: Measured 98, stamped 90
Length: Measured 65, stamped 68
Sleeve: This tunic has repaired sleeve ends.

Tunic 3 (M40)
Back length: Measured 40, stamped 41
Collar: Measured 41, stamped 41
Chest: Measured 98, stamped 90
Length: Measured 65, stamped 68
Sleeve: Measured 58, stamped 61

Tunic 4 (M43)
Back length: Measured 45, stamped 43
Collar: Measured 39, stamped 40
Chest: Measured 88, stamped 88
Length: Measured 71, stamped 72
Sleeve: Measured 63, stamped 64

Tunic 5 (M43)
Back length: Measured 43, stamped 43
Collar: Measured 43, stamped 43
Chest: Measured 105, stamped 96
Length: Measured 71, stamped 72
Sleeve: Measured 61, stamped 62

Friday, August 16, 2019

Soviet "Kotelok" cook-pot mess kits

Three types of Soviet "Kotelok" military issue cook-pot mess kits. Soldiers on both sides of the Eastern Front made use of this piece of Soviet gear.
On the left is a pre-war model from 1927, made of aluminum, unpainted. This was a battlefield relic that was extensively restored, using argon welding and epoxy on the outside, with a new wire handle.
At center is a wartime model, made of steel. The exterior has green paint, while the inside retains traces of a bright finish. A variety of tinned and enameled steel pots were manufactured during WWII.
On the right is one from 1951, made of tinned steel, painted green, darkened with soot from use.
Aluminum melts at 1200 degrees F. It is possible to melt a pot like this with an extremely hot campfire. When I cook with this, I suspend it above the coals, and I always make sure there is food or water inside before I start cooking with it.
Steel has a higher melting point - but tin melts at only around 400 degrees F. It's very easy to reach this temperature with a wood fire, the heat of which is hard to control. When using the tinned steel version for cooking, you have to be very aware of this. The last time I cooked with the tinned steel kit, I had it 3/4 full of water, suspended well above the coals of my fire, and I still melted a very small amount of tin from the pot's rim. I have seen tin flowing inside these when placed directly on a heat source and used for roasting or frying.
Any style of Kotelok is handy for eating out of but for actual cooking, in my opinion, the aluminum version is clearly superior.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Some drinking cups of the Eastern Front

Left to right:
-German interwar paramilitary canteen cup, same as WWI style, holds 300 mL
-Pre-WWII and early war Wehrmacht aluminum canteen cup, holds 375 mL
-WWII Soviet enameled steel cup, holds 380 mL
All of these are metal and can be used to heat water for warm beverages or for shaving.
In the reality of war, German soldiers used Soviet cups and vice-versa.
Postwar or reproduction equivalents of all of these exist.
From a utility perspective, the WWII German canteen cup gets my vote for being most useful, with the best combination of volume and durability. At the time of writing, Hessen Antique has good reproductions for a cheap price.

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.