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Soldbuch Anatomy Part II
By Eric Tobey

The following was taken from the Die Neue Feldpost newsletter & was done so with permission of the publisher.  We would like to thank him for his generosity as well as thank all those who have contributed to this article.  It is with their efforts, we are able to share this valuable research with the rest of you.

Pages 3, 4, and 5

Continuing from Part 1, this article will describe the entries made on the above-mentioned pages in the German Army Soldbuch (paybook).  As with the last installment, the "typical" entry is set in bold, underlined type.

This and the following installments are by no means a definitive work on this subject; it was during the preparation of this article that we began to fully realize the impossibility of completely describing every variation, with the nuances and inter-entry relationships too numerous to chronicle.  This does not mean that "anything goes" in Soldbuch contents, there were definite patterns and methods, and some of the weirder variations must have really made the Field Police suspicious!  Therefore, we have limited the description of the more unusual variations, and concentrated on the "typical" forms of entries.  If you have specific questions regarding Soldbuchs, you can write to us.

At the time this article was written, our study group contained 268 books.

 Page 3

This page is a record for any changes to pages 1 and 2, particularly changes in rank.  For example, each entry in the promotion block on page one should have a corresponding entry here showing the unit in which the man served and the signature, rank, and position of the certifying officer.  Often, the date on page 3 is a better indication of when the individual was promoted since the dates on page 1 are always the first of a month, regardless of when the promotion actually occurred.

There were two common terms the Germans used for rank changes, and they had distinctly different meanings.  Beforderung means "promotion" and refers to most rank changes, for instance to Gefreiter, Unteroffizier, or Leutnant.  Ernennung means "appointment" and this term was used for entry into positions that were not strictly "rank", but rather a "duty assignment".  Such "appointments" included Oberschütze (Oberpionier, Obergrenadier, Oberfüsilier, etc...), Fahnrich, Unteroffizier Bewerber, Hauptfeldwebel, etc...  Sometimes the "change" was simply indicated by the clerk as Dienstgrad, or with just the new rank.  See illustrations 1 and 2.

The Germans were fussy about terminology: in 3 books we examined, the original clerk had indicated a man's promotion to Oberschütze or Oberpionier as a Beforderung.  Later, someone else crossed this word out, wrote Ernennung above it, and in two cases, an officer initialed the correction!  See illustrations 1 and 2.

Another entry encountered on this page (4 books in our study) is a notation for replacement of a dogtag.  The entry in column two will read Erkennungsmarke, E-marke, or just EK, followed by the data on when and where the new tag was issued.  Not many replaced dogtags were documented in this way..

Illustration 1 (Soldbuch Page 3)

This book belonged to Leutnant Heinrich Erhardt of the 8th Panzer Division, who was killed early in 1945.

The first column are the laufende Nummern (consecutive numbers) assigned to each change.

The second column is entitled Art der Anderung (nature of the change), and this book shows a variety of designations used for rank changes: items number 1 and 2 pertain to Erhardt's promotion to Obergefreiter and Unteroffizier, and use the rather generic term of "Dienstgrad" to indicate a rank change.  Number three uses the correct term "Beforderung" for his promotion to Wachtmeister.  Number four refers to his Ernennung (appointment) to Reserve Offizier Anwärter (reserve officer candidate).  Number five records his promotion to Leutnant and uses Beforderung as this was a true promotion.  Incidentally, the use of ink-stamps for these terms was common only to schools; field units would have written these entries in by hand.

The third column tells which page the changes pertain to: rank is on page one, so the number "1" is entered here.

Column four indicates the date that the change was made.  This is normally closer to the actual date of promotion, since the dates listed for the ranks on page one will normally date from the first of a month.

Column five is the Truppenteil (unit) that made the change.  The last three rank changes for Erhardt occurred in an officer's course at an artillery school.

Columns six and seven are the Unterschrift (signature) and Dienstgrad und Dienststellung (rank and position) of the official making the change.  Number one was made by Heinrich's battery commander, while numbers 3 thru 5 were made by the adjutant of the school he was attending.


Illustration 2

Here is another example of page 3, this time from a book belonging to a Panzer Pionier named Wilhelm Stuhlmann.

This is a typical example of this page -- the main reason we have included it is because of the correction to entry number 1, to illustrate the importance of the two terms for promotion.  On Jan. 30, 1944, Stuhlmann was appointed to Oberpionier, and the person who did the entry mistakenly wrote abbreviations for Beforderung zum Oberpionier.

In October, he was promoted to Gefreiter, and of course the term Beforderung was correct for this.

In March of 1945, he received a Beforderung to Obergefreiter.  The clerk who entered this one also caught the mistake made in entry #1, and crossed out "Bef." and wrote the correct term Ernennung above the line.

For some reason, this last entry was also stamped with the unit's seal, which was not usually done.

This particular example is very typical in the amount of ink-stamped versus hand-written entries.  A typical page 3 will have few stamps on it, except for an occasional unit name or officer's title.

A few books used this page to record clerical or procedural errors corrected on pages 1 and 2, but such entries are rare.  Among such entries are corrected listings for blood type (1 book), corrected occupations (2 books), changed birthdate (1 book), and transfer of unit (1 book).

 Page 4

This was the most important page for the opposing soldiers who captured Soldbuchs, and is still one of the most important pages to collectors and researchers today.  The primary information on this page is the soldier's current unit and the affiliated replacement unit for him.  If German troops had any time before surrendering their book, this page was often ripped out and destroyed; such Soldbuchs can be found today (and oh, what a bitch to research!).

With the great number of transfers and unit-renamings that occurred within the career of a long-service soldier, this page is often completely full.  A notation at the bottom of the page states that the unit data could be continued on page 17, which was laid out much like this page.

Item #23 is the latest competent Wehrmeldeamt (recording office, often abbreviated W.M.A.) or the corresponding Wehrbezirkskommando (recruiting sub-district office, often abbreviated W.B.K.) that each WMA controlled.  This is often the same one listed in the first part of the man's Wehrnummer (See item #8 in Part 1).  Here is a list of W.B.K. in the Third Reich:

Wehrkrise I (East Prussia)

Königsburg I-II Tilsit Gumbinnen
Treuberg Bartenstein Braunsberg
Allenstein Lötzen Zichenau

Wehrkrise II (Pommerania, Mecklenberg, & a bit of Brandenburg)

Stettin I-II Swinemünde Stargard
Greifswald Stralsund Köslin
Stolp Kolberg Neustettin
Deutsch-Krone Woldenberg Schwerin
Rostock Parchim Neustrelitz
Wehrkrise III (Brandenburg)

Berlin I-X Frankfurt a.d.Oder Küstrin
Landesberg / Warthe Crossen / Oder Lübben
Cottbus Potsdam I-II Neuruppin
Eberswalde Bernau Perleberg
Wehrkrise IV (Saxony, eastern part of Thuringia, & some of Czechoslovakia)

Dresden I-III Pima Bautzen
Zittau Kamenz Meissen
Grossenhain Leitmeritz Böhmisch-Leipa
Reichenberg Leipzig I-III Naumberg / Saale
Halle / Saale Altenburg Eisleben
Bitterfeld Wittenberg Grimma
Döbeln Chemnitz I-II Freiberg
Annaberg Zwickau Auerbach
Plauen Glauchau Teplitz - Schönau
Wehrkrise V (Württemberg, Hohenzollern, southern Baden, Alsace after 1940)

Stuttgart I-II Schwäbisch - Gmünd Schwäbisch Hall
Heilbronn Esslingen / Neckar Ludwigsburg
Horb / Neckar Calw Karlsruhe
Pforzheim Rastatt Offenburg
Ulm Tübingen Ehingen
Ravensburg Sigmaringen Rottweil
Donaueschingen Konstanz Freiburg im Breisgau
Lörrach Strassburg Mülhausen i. Elsass
Thann Kolmar Schlettstadt
Zabern Hagenau
Wehrkrise VI (Westphalia, Lippe, northern part of Rhine Province, Eupen-Malmedy after 1940)

Münster Coesfeld Paderborn
Bielefeld Herford Minden
Detmold Lingen Osnabrück
Recklinghausen Gelsenkirchen Dortmund I-II
Arnsberg Soest Iserlohn
Bochum Herne Hagen
Düsseldorf Neuss Krefeld
Müchen - Gladbach Wuppertal Mettmann
Solingen Essen I-II Duisberg
Moers Oberhausen Wesel
Köln I-III Bonn Siegburg
Aachen Jülich Düren
Wehrkrise VII (Upper Bavaria, southern part of Lower Bavaria, and Schwaben)

Müchen I-II Pfaffenhofen Starnberg
Rossenheim Traunstein Weilheim
Augsburg Kempten Landshut
Pfarrkirchen Ingolstadt
Wehrkrise VIII (Upper and Lower Silesia, part of Czech., East-Upper Silesia & Teschen area)

Breslau I-III Oels Brieg
Glatz Waldenburg Schweidnitz
Mährisch - Schönberg Zwittau Troppau
Jägerndorf Wohlau Liegnitz
Glogau Sagan Görlitz
Bunzlau Hirschberg i. Reisengebirge Trautenau
Kattowitz Königshütte Loben
Rybnik Teschen Bielitz
Oppeln Neisse Neustadt i. Oberschlesien
Cosel Gleiwitz
Wehrkrise IX (western part of Thuringia, part of Hessen, part of Hessen-Nassau)

Kassel I-II Marburg / Lahn Hersfeld
Siegen Wetzlar Fulda
Giessen Frankfurt a. Main I-II Offenbach a. Main
Aschaffenburg Friedberg Hanau
Weimar Sangerhausen Gera
Rudolstadt Mülhausen i. Thüringen Erfurt
Eisenach Gotha Meiningen
Wehrkrise X (Schleswig-Holstein, Oldenburg, Hamburg, Bremen, Lübeck, & northern Hannover)

Neumünster Rendsburg Schleswig
Kiel Eutin Lübeck
Hamburg I-VI Bremen I-II Stade
Wesermünde Oldenburg i. Oldenburg I-II Aurich
Nienburg / Weser Lüneburg
Wehrkrise XI (Brunswick, Anhalt, Lower Saxony, and southern part of Hannover)

Hannover I-II Braunschweig Goslar
Hildesheim Hameln Göttingen
Celle Magdeburg I-II Stendal
Burg bei Magdeburg Halberstadt Dessau
Wehrkrise XII (southern Rhine Province, part of Hesse - Nassau, part of Hessen & Saar - Palatinate, Lorraine & Luxembourg after 1940)

Koblenz Trier I-II Neuwied
Kreuznach Wiesbaden Limburg / Lahn
Mainz Worms Darmstadt
Luxemburg Mannheim I-II Saarlautern
Saarbrücken St. Wendel Zweibrücken
Kaiserslautern Neustadt a.d. Weinstrasse Ludwigshafen
Heidelberg Metz Diedenhofen
St. Avold Saargemünd
Wehrkrise XIII (Upper, middle, and lower Franconia, the upper Palatinate, northern Lower Bavaria, part of Czechoslovakia)

Nürnberg I-II Fürth Bamberg
Bad Kissingen Würzburg Ansbach
Coburg Bayreuth Bad Mergentheim
Tauberbischofsheim Regensberg Passau
Straubing Weiden Amberg
Eger Kaaden Karlsbad
Mies Marktredwitz
Wehrkrise XVII (Upper & Lower Austria, Burgenland, Vienna, part of Czech.)

Wien I-IV Melk Zwettl
St. Pölten Krems / Donau Znaim
Wiener Neustadt Baden bei Wien Nikolsburg
Linz Steyr Weis
Ried Krummau
Wehrkrise XVIII (Tirol, Voralberg, Salzberg, Styria, Carinthia, upper Carniola, lower Styria, & areas of Yugoslavia)

Graz Spittal / Drau Klagenfurt
Judenburg Leoben Leibnitz
Fürstenfeld Marburg / Drau Cilli
Krainburg Innsbruck Bregenz
Wehrkrise XX (Danzig, the Polish Corridor, the Elbing area of West Prussia)

Danzig Neustadt i. Westpreussen Preussisch Stargard
Marienwerder Graudenz Bromberg
Wehrkrise XXI (Wartheland, better known as western Poland)

Posen Lissa Hohensalza
Leslau Kalisch Litzmannstadt
Wehrkrise Böhmen und Mähren (Bohemia & Moravia)

Prag Budweis Brünn

The next three blocks record the military units applying to the holder.  Normally, all but the pertinent entries in these blocks will be crossed out.

The block identified as Item #24 in the illustration contains Ersatz (Replacement) units in which the holder actually served.  The first unit in this block will normally be the unit that inducted and possibly provided basic training to the soldier.  This induction unit name is usually stamped in, except in very early-war books.  If there are any more entries in this block, it usually indicates that the man received advance training or was transferred into that particular training unit as an instructor.  In replacement books, this block is often totally empty.  For most books, however, every entry in this block will be crossed out, unless the man was actually serving in a training unit when the book closed. 

Illustration 3 (Soldbuch Page 4)

Here is a good example for an individual whose book was filled out correctly and who was not transferred around a great deal. 

This book belonged to Adolf Raas, who died as a member of the Großdeutschland division in February of 1945.

Item #23 is the latest competent Wehrmeldeamt, in this case Wiener-Neustadt -- Adolf was an Austrian.

When Adolf was inducted by Stammkompanie III. Ers. Btl. Gren. Ers. Reg. Großdeutschland; this unit was put in the top space in Item #24 under "Ersatztruppenteil" (replacement unit).  Note how his Stammrollenummer follows a common pattern, with the last two digits indicating the date of his entry - 1943.

Next, he was transferred to a "training" unit, which by regulations was listed under "field units" in Item #25: 12th (Combat Engineer) Training Company, Grenadier Replacement Regiment "GD".  The replacement unit responsible for this group was now entered on the top line in Item #26 at the same time: Ers. Brig. (mot) GD (Replacement Brigade (motorized) GD) located in Cottbus.  The induction unit would have been crossed off at the time that these entries were made.

Adolf was then sent for special training to the school listed on line C of Item #24.  Since he was actually part of this unit and schools were Ersatz organizations, the school was listed here and the old training unit in Item #25 was crossed off.  Adolf's own replacement unit was still Ers. Brig. GD, however, so this entry in Item #26 was not changed.

Adolf was sent to the front in 1944 in a transport pool from the GD training organization called Marschkp. Pz. Pi. E. u. A. Btl. GD. The school heading was crossed out, the new unit written in, but his responsible Ersatz unit in Item #26 stayed the same.

When he arrived at the front, Adolf was put into the 1st Kp, Pz. Korps. Pi. Btl. GD.  The Marschkompanie entry was crossed off, and so was the old responsible Ersatz unit, since the Ersatz unit responsible for Adolf's new unit was Pi. Ers. u. Ausb. Btl. GD.  This new Ersatz unit was written in below the old one.  His new combat unit was also entered on line B in Item #25.  Later, he was transferred to the Second Company of the same Engineer battalion, so his previous unit was crossed off.  The Ersatz unit stayed the same.  At this point, anyone reading this book would know that Adolf was currently a member of 2./ Pz. Korps. Pi. Btl. GD, and his affiliated Ersatz unit was Pz. Pi. Ers. u. Ausb. Btl. GD in Cottbus.

The far right-hand column contains the Truppenstammrollennummer (unit roster number) for the soldier.  Oftentimes this number takes the form of two series of digits separated by a slash, i.e.: 284/44.  For numbers written like this, the first number is the man's serial number in the unit, or in this example, the 284th man entered on the muster roll.  The second number is the date of entry, or in this case, 1944.

Item #25 is the block containing units of the Field Army in which the owner has served (or is serving).  These should be in chronological order, but the man may have served in Ersatz units for intervening periods.  Entries which are no longer valid should be crossed out (although this was not always done), and the last entry gives the holder's present unit.  Ausbildungs (Training) units, even though they belong to the Ersatz Army, will usually be found in this block (see the example in illustration 3), as this is specifically prescribed by regulations.  Much of some soldiers' actual basic training was received in Reserve units (especially in the period 1941-1943), which were also entered here under "Field Units".  The far right-hand column in this block contains the man's Kriegsstammrollennummer (war roster number) in each unit.  This number is the Field Army equivalent of the unit roster number detailed above and is similar in content.  Look at the numbers in this column closely: If this number is identical in two successive units, it means that the first unit has changed its name or has been converted.

Many field units had their own unit-name ink-stamp, so the unit name can be stamped instead of written in.

The block labeled Item #26 records the units of the Ersatz Army which are affiliated with the respective field or certain training units shown in items #24 and #25.  Each entry is made by the field unit when the man joins it and therefore almost always in the same kind of ink and the same handwriting as the corresponding field unit entry in Item #25.  Except in the initial event when this Ersatz unit corresponds with the inducting unit, these Ersatz names will be hand-written.  After all, it would be illogical for a field unit to have a unit-name stamp with any other unit's name on it.

The right-hand column contains the Standort (location) of the Ersatz unit.

 Page 5

This page is a record of the soldier's next-of-kin.  Item #27 is the soldier's full name.  This entry is often useful if the researcher cannot read the name as written on pages 1 or 2.  

Below this item are three blocks for the names and addresses of the designated next-of-kin.  Normally, only one block will be filled in, unless the soldier changed his next of kin after the book was opened.  For instance, if a man got married after he was drafted, both his parents (entered first) and his wife (entered after he was married) will be listed.  See illustration 4.  If a man was married when the book was issued, then the entries in the "wife" block will be the only thing on the page.

Item #28 is the name and address of the man's wife (if he has one).  The woman's name was written with her first name, followed by her maiden name preceded by "geb." meaning "born", indicating a maiden name.  See illustration 3.  If the man was single, "ledig" or "led." was written in this block somewhere.

Item #29 is the name and address of the soldier's mother and father, including the father's occupation.  The mother's name was written in the same fashion as a wife's would be: first and maiden-name.

The circles with numbers in them are quite useful for the researcher, especially if he cannot find the man's hometown on a map.  These numbers are the German equivalent of our zip code, as the following table describes:

A Note on German Addresses:
The Wohnort is the town, the Kreis location was used as a more specific location in the case of small villages (See Part 1).

Sraße-Hausnummer means street and number, so a typical entry here would read Bahnhofstrasse 23.

"Zip Codes", when used, took the form of numbers in a circle (see text).

1 - Gau Berlin

2 - Gau Mark Brandenburg and from Gau Pommern, the urban regions of Schniedemühl and areas of Arnswalde, Friedeberg (Neum.) and Netzekreis

3 - Gau Mecklenberg

4 - Gau Pommern

5a - Gau Danzig-Westpreußen

5b - Gau Ostpreußen

5c -  Reichskommisariat Ostland

6 -  Gau Wartheland

7a - Generalgouvernment (Poland)

7b - Reichskommisariat Ukraine

8 - Gau Niederschlesien and from Gau Sudetenland (Ost), the area of Grulich

9a - Gau Oberschlesien

9b - Gau Sudetenland (Ost)

10 - Gau Sachsen, Gau Halle-Merseburg and from Gau Thüringen, the region of Altenburg

11a - Gau Sudetenland (West)

11b - Protektorat Böhmen and Mähren

12a - Gau Wien, Gau Niederdonau, Gau Steiermark

12b - Gau Kärnten, Gau Oberdonau, Gau Salzburg, Gau Tirol-Vorarlberg

13a - Gau Bayreuth, Gau Franken, Gau Mainfranken

13b - Gau München-Oberbayern, Gau Schwaben and from Gau Bayreuth, the district of Niederbayern

14 - Gau Württemberg-Hohenzollern

15 - Gau Thüringen

16 - Gau Hessen-Nassau, Gau Kurhessen

17a - Gau Baden

17b - Parts of Gau Baden: Elsaß

18 - Gau Westmark

19 - Gau Magdeburg-Anhalt

20 - Gau Osthannover, Gau Südhannover-Braunschweig

21 - Gau Westfalen-Nord, Gau Westfalen-Sud

22 - Gau Düsseldorf, Gau Essen, Gau Köln-Aachen, Gau Moselland

23 - Gau Bayreuth, Gau Franken, Gau Mainfranken Gau Weser-Ems and from Gau Osthannover, the regions of Bremervörde, Wesermünde, Verden (Aller), Rotenburg (Hannover) and Osterholz-Scharmbeck as well as from Gau Südhannover-Braunschweig, the regions of graffschaft, Hoya, and Diepholz

24 - Gau Hamburg, Gau Schleswig-Holstein and from Gau Osthannover the regions of Land Hadeln, Stade, Lüneburg, and Harburg as well as the city of Cuxhaven


Illustration 4

This book belonged to Ulrich Kralin, who served through most of the war as a paymaster before being retrained as an infantry officer, commissioned a Leutnant, and died of shrapnel wounds received in March 1945 as part of Grenadier Regiment 122.

The top block on this page is slightly unusual because they attempted to put the man's rank on the line (normally just the name appears), and an attempt was made to upgrade the title when he was promoted to Oberzahlmeister.

Originally, Ulrich was single, so ledig was written on the second line of block #1, and his father was listed as the next of kin in block #2.  His father, Julius Kralin, was a retired teacher (entered under Stand oder Gewerbe), who originally lived in Charlottenburg.  No mother was listed.

His father moved at some point in time to Altruppin / Mark so the Charlottenburg address is crossed out.  Ulrich got married sometime during the war, so ledig was crossed out and his new wife's particulars were written in.

Following the specified "first, maiden-name" format, Mrs. Erhardt was thus put down as Käthe geb. (born) Göhlinghorst.  She originally lived in Berlin, but eventually moved to Number 2 Bülowstraße in Jüterbog / Alteslager.


Illustration 5

Here is a more typical version of page 5, also from the book belonging to Wilhelm Stuhlmann (see illustration 2).

The man's name (written in the wrong order) and initial rank was written on the top line, and no attempt was made to change the rank, even though Stuhlmann was eventually promoted up to Obergefreiter.  The rank designation was not supposed to be there, anyway, so it was ignored after it was initially put in.

He was single, so his father was picked as next-of-kin.  Wilhelm was named after his father, who lived at Schlosstrasse 36 in Wuppertal - Barmen.  The clerk who filled this address in had one of those silly empty-circle stamps, which he used and filled with the zip code "22", which corresponded with a section of Western Germany that included Wuppertal - Barmen.

The only unusual things about this page are the omissions: many times, the term ledig (single) is found in the block used for entry of a wife's data, and Stuhlmann's father's occupation is not listed.

There are a number of books in which the clerks filling out these addresses did a rather peculiar thing.  Some of them had a rubber stamp that was nothing more than an empty circle, which they would stamp in the book, then handwrite one of the zip-code numbers inside it.  See illustration 5.  Talk about a mania for rubber stamps!  Most of the "zip code" numbers are entirely handwritten, circle and all.

Sometimes the researcher will notice small "crosses" drawn in entries on this page.  Such crosses indicate that the person indicated is deceased, and the cross is often accompanied by a date which indicates the date of death.  Some books record the death of both parents on the same date, often corresponding with a recorded bombing raid on the city mentioned in the address.  Not much imagination is needed to figure out what happened to these families.

Item #30 records some other person designated as "next-of-kin".  A note at the bottom of the page says that this block is only to be used when neither 1 or 2 (wife or parents) are filled out.  The heading for this block translates as "Relations or Fiancée".  These could include brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, legal guardians, or any other person close to the soldier.  For some reason, a man's fiancée was rarely actually put in this block.  Perhaps the soldier did not want bad news to be brought directly to her, or perhaps wartime romances were short!  The most plausible explanation for this is that until a man was actually married, he would have preferred to keep his family as his next-of-kin.  The only example we have seen of a fiancée being entered here was in the case of a soldier who was engaged but whose parents were both deceased when his book was open.  His bride-to-be was entered as next of kin.  Whether her name would have been moved to the "wife" block when they were married is unknown: this particular soldier was killed shortly after reaching the front.


- The Exploitation of German Documents, Military Intelligence Division, War Department, Washington, DC. 1944.
- Information or books provided by: Barry Smith, Rich Clement, Vince Milano, Marchall Wise, Al Becker, Sal Marmon, and Kenny Watlow.



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