Nehring's Soldbuch Story
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.
papers of the 272nd Volksgrenadier Division were
discovered recently in the Harz mountains in Germany,
and among them were documents which once belonged to Füsilier
Kompanie 272. A Soldbuch was part of these
records, and this book has an almost unbelievable
relationship to the book that was featured in Die Neue
Feldpost #2 which belonged to a Grenadier of the 980th
in Issue #2, Horst was issued his Soldbuch from Inf.
Nachr. Ers. Kp. 208 on June 28, 1944. If we can
imagine the line of recruits receiving their
Soldbuchs, then the fourth man in front of Horst was a
young man named Harald Nehring.
Harald's Soldbuch was number 1961, Horst's was 1965.
Probably that same day, and possibly in that same
line, they received their dog tags; Harald's was #5996,
Horst's was #6000. Given the small size of a
Nachrichten Ersatz Kompanie and the general
similarities between the two men, it would not be too
great a leap of the imagination to see them as
acquaintances or even friends. At any rate, this
is Harald's story as gleaned from his Soldbuch; any
further conjecture must be left up to the reader!
born on January 27th, 1926 in Oldenburg to a salesman
named Rudi Nehring and his wife Marthe. By 1944,
the family lived in Jüterbog which was a small city
of between 5,00 and 10,000 people located about 50 km
south of Berlin. On June 28th, 1944, Harald was
inducted into the Wehrmacht and was described as a
"student" who was about 5' 7" tall, of
stout build with blonde hair and blue eyes. At
the time of enlistment he would have been 17 years
the entries in the book concerning Harald's training
period in INEK 208 are the same as that recorded in
Horst Swenssen's book, and can be found here: Horst
In fact, the handwriting for the various
entries is the same! One notable difference is
the uniform worn by Harald in his Soldbuch photo;
whereas Horst was wearing a modified M43 with
dark-green collar, Harald is wearing what appears to
be either an M43 or M40 with the earlier pattern (grey
on dark green) breast eagle. Another interesting
fact is that both men were photographed in open
collars, with their collar liners plainly visible!
this Soldbuch were also several additional papers
which were missing from Horst's book. Harald's
shooting record lists four seperate rifle shoots: one
on July 15, 1944 when he shot a 29 in shooting class
II, the second shoot was on July 29, when he shot a 25
in shooting class I, the third on August 20 for a
score of 32 in class II, and the last was on September
3 when he shot a 24 in shooting class 99.
September 16th, which probably marked the end of his
training period, Harald was given a 10-day leave to
visit his home in Jüterbog. On September 28,
shortly after returning to INEK 208, he was issued a
small document called a Laufzettel.
The purpose of this small sheet was to insure that
Harald was processed by every one of the specialized
sections which would prepare him for his transfer to a
field unit: clothing stores, weapons locker,
records office, training unit commander, chemical
warfare section, etc... As he was processed by
each of these sections, the responsible NCO or officer
would initial the appropriate blank. On
September 29th he visited the clothing and equipment
stores (his visit was serialized as number 6266, and
Horst's was number 6265; the two men probably went
together!) of GEB 338 and was found to possess the
(without any pins or poles)
September 29th, he visited the Chemical Warfare NCO
and underwent a Gasraumprobe or Gas-room test.
He is also noted as having one M38 Gasmask
numbered 428, 1 Gas-sheet, 2 first-aid
dressings, and one container of anti-gas skin
salve. These had been issued on July 9th.
It is most
likely that Harald, Horst, and several others were
sent to Volksgrenadier Division 272 immediately after
these preparations were complete. Horst was
assigned to Grenadier Regt. 980, and Harald was
assigned to Füsilier Kompanie 272, where he
was the 165th man place on this unit's rolls. On
October 5th, 1944, he underwent another clothing and
equipment audit which was basically the same as the
one above, with the following changes: one extra pair
of drawers, an HBT uniform, one extra shirt, and an
extra pair of low-quarter boots.
26th, he was issued the following pieces of gear:
serial number 446,
bayonet, number 1382
chemical warfare and first-aid items listed before
were not deleted, so these items were also part of his
kit. Thus equipped, he left for the Hürtgen
forest with his unit in mid-November.
distinguished himself in action during an Allied
attack on Dec. 13th. Among the papers is an
order which reads:
Füsilier Nehring was detailed as a HQ
platoon runner. During an attack on
Dec. 13 west of Zweifallkammer on Giesenheck,
he was entrusted with carrying messages to
the line platoons. On his way back, he
unexpectedly came upon an enemy position
which was not yet dug out. This he
disposed of with a hand grenade. One
American was wounded, the other gave himself
up...Füs. Nehring is worthy of receiving
the Iron Cross Second Class.
probably during this action or shortly after that
Harald was slightly wounded by shrapnel, for his
Soldbuch records his admission to Kriegslazarett 2/612
on Dec. 15. He was sent back to his unit on Dec.
Christmas Eve, an order was signed by the Company
Commander (Oberleutnant Kolb) which promoted Harald to
Gefreiter. This order was retroactive to Dec. 1,
and the promotion was noted in Harald's Soldbuch on
Christmas Day, 1944.
29, Oberleutnant Kolb noted the award of the EK II in
the modest success which Harald experienced during his
brief career as a soldier, it all came to naught on
January 5th, 1945. It was on this date during
some fierce fighting over some bunkers in the Westwall
(or "Siegfried Line") that Harald lost his
life. The casualty sheet for him listed the
cause of death as "burning", and it appears
that he may have been among the 20 or so men who were
caught inside bunker #24 when it was assaulted and
destroyed by the Americans. German records state
that phosphorous was used in addition to demolition
charges in the assault on this bunker, and the
incendiary material was probably the agent which
killed Gefreiter Nehring. On Jan. 20, a letter
was written to his father which read:
It is my sad duty to inform you that your
son, Gefreiter Harald Nehring, was killed in
action, true to his oath to Führer, People,
and Fatherland, on January 5, 1945 near
Simmerath about 15 km west of Gemünd in the
enemy counterattacked the positions which
the Company had won, and in the close combat
which resulted, your son found his death.
It may be a comfort
in your grief to know that your son did his
utmost and best in the fight for the
preservation of the German Reich and People.
Burial was carried
out in the Divisional cemetary in Gemünd.
You have my sincere condolences.
Hauptmann u. Kp. Chef
half of Harald's dogtag was broken off and
paper-clipped to the inside of the front cover of his
Soldbuch (see illustration), and on Jan. 29th, the
Spieß (Hauptfeldwebel) of the Kompanie recorded his
EK II with award document
1 pair scissors in case
1 change purse
items were to be sent home to Harald's father in Jüterbog.
Harald was buried in row 18, grave 2 in the
previously-mentioned cemetary in Gemünd.
research material like this provides a curious blend
of conflicting emotions. While being happy over
finding such a treasure trove of information, a person
is simultaneously saddened with the realization of the
tragedy of war. When you look at Harald's
picture, you eventually realize that there is no
chance that this person is now some gentle old
pensioner puttering in his garden and recounting his
days with nostalgia; in fact, the young face you look
at had less than a year to live. And this is
just one of many...