Attention is called to the several ways by which German PWs may be identified
by the examination of records found on their person.
a. Identity Disks
These are of three types, viz.--
(1) Those showing the man's present unit (comparatively rare);
(2) Those showing the man's Ersatz (replacement training) unit (most common;
(3) Those bearing the number, but not the APO number. This is a new
kind of disk of which, the report states, nothing more is yet known.
The soldier is issued his identity disk by the unit to which he is first
assigned. This accounts for the preponderant number of disks showing an
Ersatz unit, for the majority of men called up since the first stage of the war
would be untrained, and would therefore be assigned to a depot unit for training.
On the other hand, the trained reservists mobilized on the outbreak of
war, or previously, would normally be assigned direct to a field unit, whose
designation would therefore appear on the identity disk issued to them.
b. Mobilization Regulations Concerning Identity Disks
"Every member of the Army will be issued an identity disk by the unit
to which he belongs, or to which he is assigned on the first day of
mobilization, or to which he may be sent during the course of the war."
Members of the Frontier Guard (Grenzwacht), home security
units* (Sicherheitsbesatzung), and the militarized personnel
of the semi-military construction corps (Todt Organization) were
issued an identity disk before the war. It bore the Roman number
of the Corps Area (Wehrkreis) and a serial number.
c. Replacement of Lost Disks
It is worth noting that a soldier who has lost his original disk is issued
a new one, which is stamped with the designation of the new issuing unit
d. Pay-book (Soldbuch) and Identity Certificate (Truppenausweis)
The German pay-book contains so much information, especially about
the soldier's present unit and previous units, that pay-books may be withdrawn
from soldiers engaged in specific operations. Flying personnel are not allowed
to carry their pay-book on war flights. During the operations at
Bardia, Sollum, and Halfaya, the example of the German Air Force was followed
generally, and pay-books were withdrawn from the army personnel engaged and kept
with the company records together with the Wehrpass (a book containing
the permanent military history of the individual). Instead of the pay-book a
temporary certificate of identity was carried, giving the following particulars:
(Provisional Personal Identification Certificate)
(A) Inhaber ist der (Bearer is)
Dienstgrad, Name, Zuname.
(rank, first name, surname)
(B) Geb. am (Date of birth)
(C) Wohnhaft in (Home address)
(D) Am _ _ _ _ _ auf afrikanischem Boden eingetroffen (Arrived on African soil on - [date])
||_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
The certificate was signed by the company commander and was stamped
with the APO number. Identification was therefore possible in most
cases. The certificate was typed on any piece of paper. When folded it
was much the same size as the pay-book.
*Such as police, Gestapo, etc.