German Peoples Army & Diplomatic & Government Officials


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184. Volkssturm: NSDAP Political Leader (Gemeinschaftsleiter in Ortsgruppe).
185. Volkssturm: Volkssturm Brigade Medical Officer.
186. Volkssturm: Volunteer Youth, 1944, Germany.

Of all the measures taken to mobilize with speed the last manpower resources of the German nation, the most extreme was the creation of the Volkssturm, a national militia, designed to supplement the defence of the homeland. A proclamation by Hitler announcing the formation of a German Volkssturm was broadcast by the German Radio on 18th October 1944, the date of the anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. It stated that in all Gaue of the Greater German Reich a German Volkssturm comprising all ablebodied men from the ages of 16 to 60 not already in the Armed Forces and able to bear arms was to be set up. This Volkssturm would defend German soil with all weapons and all means in so far as they were suitable to that purpose. Gauleiters were entrusted with the establishment and command of the Volkssturm and in this task they were to be assisted by the most capable organisers and leaders of the National Socialist Party, the SA, the SS, the NSKK and the HJ. SA Chief of Staff Wilhelm Scheppmann was appointed as inspector of Rifle Training and NKSS-Korpsführer Erwin Kraus was to be inspector of Motor Technical Training. Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Replacement Army was made responsible for the military organisation, instructors, equipment and armament of the Volkssturm and Reichsleiter Martin Bormann was responsible for recruitment and political leadership. All members of the Volkssturm were classed as 'Soldiers under the Army Code' for the duration of their service which was to take place locally wherever a given area was threatened. Orders issued in this proclamation did not effect the affiliation of the Volkssturm members to other organisatlons. Service in the Volkssturm had priority over duty in all other Party orgamsatlons. The Volkssturm was to be sent into the field according to Hitler's instructions issued by the Reichsführer-SS. All military by-laws concerning this decree were issued by Reichsführer-SS Himmler and all political by-laws by Reichsleiter Bormann. As far as the Party was concerned the creation of the Volkssturm served a dual purpose. Firstly it strengthened the defences of the Reich, although in fact in many instances it proved to be more of an incumbrance, and secondly with the plot against Hitler's life still very fresh in the Party's mind it kept a large part of the population so thoroughly under military control that any incipient revolt against the Party at this late stage would have had a hard time thriving. Although each Gauleiter was charged with the leadership, enrolment and organisation of the Volkssturm within his district, the largest Volkssturm units tended to correspond to the next smallest territorial sub-division of the Party organisation - the Kreis. Through the card index system carefully kept by each Political Block Leader, the Party was well aware of the possible service potential of every male in Germany. However, the value of this levy 'en masse' was little more than an exgresslon of the national will. The fighting ability of thess Volkssturm units was practically nil. Lack of adequate weapons, ammunition and time for proper training, with units receiving only afew days and with some only a few hours instruction had its effect on morale. The desertion rate was high, both to the Allies and with many of the members drifting home when the opportunity prssented itself. Fanatics did exist within the ranks and these tended to be members of the Hitler Youth. Enthusiasm for the Volkssturm was almost non-existent even amongst the Volkssturmm~nner themselves and especially from the regular troops and the civilian population. Opinion was that if the German Army could not stop the Allied advance into Germany what hope did the civilian Volkssturm have! Volkssturm personnel were expected to furnish their own uniforms with even civilian, sports and working clothes bring permitted. The only standard mark of identification being the wearing of an arm band, asserted by the Party to officially make the Volkssturm members a part of the Wehrmacht. The official issue arm band is shown being worn in No. 185. Other variations existed and these too are illustrated. Since practically every German had some sort of uniform the problem of supplying uniforms was not a great one. The SA brown uniforms were to have been dyed a different colour in order to prevent any possible equation of the Volkssturm to a purely SA organisation. This, however, does not seem to have been done. Despite the legality of civilian clothes being worn together with an officially issued arm band efforts were made to supply uniforms to those who had none and where possible to try and arrive at a semblance ofa standard uniform for a given unit. Practically anything was used including old italian Army overcoats, Police uniforms stripped of insignia and even Imperial German uniforms. Army tunics with the national emblem removed were pressed into use. Rank insignia where it existed consisted of a matching pair of black collar patches with white metal pips arranged in the following pattern: without pips for Volkssturmmann, one pip for Gruppenführer, two pips horizontally for both Waffenmeister (Ordnance master) and Zahlmeister (Paymaster), three pips diagonally for Kompanieführer, Ordonnanceoffizier and Adjutant and four pips in a square pattern for Bataillionsführer. Pips were sometimes mounted directly into the collar of the garment without the use of collar patches (Fig. 185). There was no remuneration for service in the Volkssturm, except when a member was taking part in actual combat. This together with the lack of a complete official uniform caused a great deal of disgruntlement throughout the Militia. Many of the members felt that they were assuming the duties of soldiers but with none of the privileges.

187. German Diplomatic and Government Officials: Reichsaussenminister Joachim von Ribbentrop, 1939, Summer Undress Uniform.
188. German Diplomatic and Government Officials: German Ambassador von Ribbentrop, 1938, State Ceremonial Evening Dress.
189. German Diplomatic and Government Officials: Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, 1941, Winter Full Dress.

The German Foreign Office, located at 74 to 76 Wilhelmstrasse, Berlin, was the official residence ofJoachim von Ribbentrop. He had been the German Ambassador accrcdited to the Court of St James from 1936 to 1938. From 1938 to 1945 he was Germany's Foreign Minister. In this latter capacity he was responsible for greatly expanding the sphere of his ministerial interests. He established new branches in the Foreign Office which dealt with such matters as public information, legal, cultural, economic and political affairs. This increase in internal ministerial and external diplomatic matters resulted in two classifications of personnel, Foreign Office Diplomats and Governmental Officials. The role of the Diplomatic Corps was the maintenance of international dialogue at governmmral level, the discussion with diplomats ofother nations on all matters concerning treaties of international importance, the representation of German interests and the interests and welfare of German nationals living abroad. Government Officials were responsible for the administrative system of the Reich. There were fifteen ministeries operating under the Nazi regime: 1) Ministry of the Interior, 2) Foreign Affairs, 3) Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, 4) Finance, 5) Justice, 6) Economics, 7) Food and Agriculture, 8) Labour, 9) Armaments and War Production, 10) Science and Education, 11) Ecclesiastical Affairs, 12) Transport, 13) Post and Telegraph, 14) High Command of the Armed Forces, and 15) Air. Each of these was headed by a Minister assisted by one or more Under-Secretaries. Ministries were sub-divided into departments (Abteilungen) usually under a Ministerial Director (Ministerialdirektor) . These departments were in turn broken up into sections (Unterabteilungen) which were in charge of Sub-Directors (Ministcrialdirigen ten) . Ministerial Councillors (Ministerialräte) and other officials and civil servants comprised the staffs of the component parts of the ministries. All persons employed within these ministries wore uniform. Most senior members, usually at Ministerial and Under-Secretarial level, were permitted to wear civilian clothing when on duty at those times that did not require formal uniformed attire. All lesser officials and civil servants were obliged to wear their uniform for work at all time. The lower echelons naturally wore the uniform of the organisation from whence they came and not a Government Official's uniform. The basic colours used for uniforms worn by Diplomats and Governmental Officials were dark blue-black and light-grey, (see also the section on Eastern Territories Officials, Nos. 1~3, 194). The light-grey uniform (Nos. 189 & 191) was authorised only to be worn by Ministers and Officials attached to the führer's Headquarters, and Officials serving in Military High Commands. In the Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia the grey uniform was worn only by the State Secretary, the Under State Secretary to the Reich Protector and all 'Oberlandräte' - administrative officials in the area of the Protectorate. The same grey uniform was permitted to be worn by the Governor-General in Poland (Generalgouvernement) , his Deputy and all his district chiefs. Colours were employed on dark blue-black uniforms to distinguish Senior Ministerial members as belonging to certain Ministries. Used as a foundation to the shoulder straps, as piping to the long trousers and as facing colours to the greatcoat, light-grey was used by General, Internal,Financial and Special Administrative personnel. Justice Department administrative personnel wore wine red, Postal and Telegraph officials orange-red and Transportation personnel light red. Senior officials of the highest levels of authority were further distinguished from other lesser officials by having silver cording piped around the edge of their tunic and greatcoat collars (see No. 212). Four distinct pay groups of Diplomats and Government Officials existed, each permitted to wear their appointed insignia of his pay group on his uniform. A horseshoe shaped wreath of silver coloured oak leaves or plain bands of silver surmounted by an eagle and swastika emblem were worn on the left cuff of the tunic or greatcoat (Nos. 188, 190, 192). Contained within the wreath was an arrangement of silver 'stars' which, depending on the number used being none to four, indicated administrative position. Other systems for indicating much the same information existed at different times (No. 191) and at the beginning of the war von Ribbentrop took to wearing an elaborate arm badge in gold showing a German eagle and swastika resting astride a globe representing the world all surrounded by a golden wreath of oakleaves (No. 189).


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