TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



Certain uniformed organizations of the Party in addition to those described above may also be regarded as potential auxiliary units to the German military forces. They have been encountered performing important functions of a quasi-military nature in the occupied countries and will all, without exception, be called upon for either combat or supporting duties in the defense of any part of Germany proper under immediate military threat.

The National-Socialist Party itself (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—NSDAP) has an elaborate hierarchy of central, regional, and local headquarters with departments for all its manifold interests at all levels. Through this apparatus it is able to keep a close watch on all aspects of German life and all the activities of the citizens. Its High Command (Reichsleitung) at Munich includes bureaus (Ämter) which more or less parallel the Ministries of the national government in Berlin. The heads of the principal activities are called Reichsleiter, of whom some 16 now exist. These, together with the Gauleiter who head the 43 Party regions (Gaue), constitute the top leadership of the Party. Under them are vast numbers of Party functionaries known as political leaders (Politische Leiter), who have their own complicated system of ranks and uniforms and are well suited to organizing and guiding resistance within Germany.

To train the corps of political leaders in Nazi ideology and methods the Party has established a system of special schools, including four "castles of the order" (Ordensburgen) for highly select students and a large number of regional and district training "castles" (Gau- and Kreis-Schulungsburgen).

When the Volkssturm was created in October 1944, responsibility for recruiting and organizing it locally was vested in the Gauleiter. This is the first occasion on which the Party authorities as such have been entrusted with a function which is primarily military in nature.

Besides its regular regional and functional subdivisions the Party includes four special branches (Gliederungen)—the SA, SS, NSKK, and HJ—and a number of affiliated formations (angeschlossene Verbände), each of which is a self-contained organization with its own particular mission, regional structure, ranks, uniforms, and significance to the war effort of the nation. Since these have not been discussed in the previous sections they are dealt with briefly below.

1. Storm Troops (Sturmabteilungen SA)

These are organized on a pattern similar to that of the SS. The highest regional subdivision is the Gruppe, which is divided into Standarten, or regiments. As the oldest semi-military organization of the Party, the SA is designed as the Party's instrument for the training and indoctrination of its members and for supporting its domestic political aims in public. Membership in the SA is voluntary. Leading SA personalities for a time entertained hopes of an eventual merging of their organization with the Armed Forces. so as to create a "Brown Army" under their personal leadership. At the same time these leaders hoped to demand stronger revolutionary action by the Party in keeping with the anti-capitalistic tendencies inherent in the SA, which has always drawn its members chiefly from the lower middle-class and the lower bureaucracy. These tendencies were forcibly destroyed in the purge of 1934, in which Himmler played a leading part. From then on the SS, previously an organization within the SA, grew steadily in power and the SA sank into relative political unimportance. Since 1943 a rejuvenation of the SA has taken place, largely under the auspices of the SS.

Since 1939 the SA has made a substantial contribution to the German war effort through its assigned responsibility for military training preceding or following the period of regular military service. It also trains those who were rejected by the Armed Forces for physical reasons. In 1944 the SA was entrusted with the task of teaching every German marksmanship, and with the forming of the Volkssturm in October 1944 the SA became responsible for its rifle training.

The bulk of the pre-war members of the SA were drawn into the Army, whose 60th Panzer Grenadier Division is composed mainly of SA men and carries the name "Feldherrnhalle" in honor of the most elite peacetime regiment of the SA.

2. National-Socialist Aviation Corps (Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps—NSFK)

This organization incorporated the existing associations for aviation into one Party-controlled organization in April 1937. The mission of the NSFK consists in pre-military training of prospective members of the Air Force, post-military training of its reservists, and general furthering of air-mindedness among the German people. Particularly outstanding have been its efforts in the development of the use of gliders. Its regional organization, like that of the SA, is based on Gruppen and Standarten. Membership is voluntary and excludes simultaneous membership in the SS, SA, or NSKK.

3. Hitler Youth (Hitler-Jugend—HJ)

All German youths between the ages of 10 and 18 belong to this organization of the Party, which is charged with their thorough pre-military training and political indoctrination. Pre-military training has been greatly expanded in the course of this war. For this purpose about 300 Wehrertüchtigungslager (military fitness camps) were installed, beginning in 1943. Participants in these training courses were subsequently incorporated into the Armed Forces and especially into the Waffen-SS, whose 12th Panzer Division bears the name "Hitler-Jugend". Graduates of the HJ become eligible for Party membership. They may either choose a career as Party functionaries (Politische Leiter) or may join the SS, SA, NSKK, or NSFK.

Girls belong to a branch of the HJ known as the League of German Girls (Bund Deutscher Mädel—BDM) and join the Party Women's Organization (NS-Frauenschaft) upon reaching the age of 21.

The HJ for boys is divided into the Hitler-Jugend proper (for boys from 14 to 18) and the Deutsches Jungvolk—DJ, for boys from 10 to 14. Its regional organization is based on Gebiete, which are further divided into Banne, Stämme, Gefolgschaften, Scharen, and Kameradschaften.

Units of the HJ have been committed to "war employment" (Kriegseinsatz), discharging such duties as fire fighting and air raid protection. They have also been widely employed to help with the harvest and as conductors, mail clerks, postmen, and street cleaners as well as for salvage activities and collections for war charities. Since 1943 most members of the HJ have had to serve as antiaircraft auxiliaries (HJ-Luftwaffenhelfer and HJ-Marinehelfer), performing many functions in the antiaircraft batteries, which relieve older men for combat duty.

Bazooka battalions (Panzerschreckabteilungen) have recently been formed from HJ personnel. Close liaison between the HJ and both the Armed Forces and the Waffen-SS is maintained by means of specially appointed liaison officers. The elite of the HJ is used in its special Patrol Service (Streifendienst), which combines all the tasks of a junior SS and police force. The members of this group are most unscrupulous and are used as raiding squads and informers. In Poland they formed pursuit detachments (Rollkommandos) serving under officers of the SS Death's-Head Formations.


[Back] Back to Table of Contents

Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Contact:
Copyright 2003-2005, All Rights Reserved.