German presidential election, 1932
"Well known people answer the questions why not Hindenburg but Hitler"

  Reisepass (Passport)

 There were four different  versions of standard Reisepässe or passports. The earliest type (Type 1) had a Weimar eagle on the front cover but Nazi eagle and swastika stamps on the inside. By May of 1936, the standard Reisepass (Type 2) had the Weimar eagle replaced with the Eagle and swastika between the words Deutsches Reich and ReisepassLater, (Type 3) the Eagle and swastika had been moved to the top of the front cover and there was a passport serial number stamped all the way through the front and back covers and the internal 32 pages. (Type 4) did away with the perforated numbers and had the passport number printed at the bottom of the front cover and on each subsequent page making it much more difficult to counterfeit. They were all identical in that each page had a page disclosing background, they all contained the same data, and all were issued by the Polizeipräsident or Head of the Police.

 Standard Reisepass (Type 2)


The Kennkarte was the main identity card in use during the Third Reich era, first introduced in July 1938. They were normally obtained through a police precinct and had the corresponding issuing office and official’s stamps on them. Every German citizen was issued one and was expected to produce it when confronted by officials. After the outbreak of WWII, Germany began issuing Kennkarten to citizens of conquered countries.

An extremely high percentage (probably as high as 98% ) of the Kennkarte or Civilian National Identity Document issued by the police in the Third Reich were of the tear-resistant, (once folded), gray "leinen" type  containing a front and back cover and two inside pages. That type of Kennkarte was replaced late war with a new 8-page Paper version.


Standard  (once folded), gray "leinen" type Kennkarte


Other Examples in my Collection 


Late war 8 Page Paper Kennkarte  

8 page Paper Kennkarte issued to Alma Nenner, issued on the 8th September 1945, Note that because the war had ended paperwork was in very short supply so they used what was available, the Rubber stamps have had the Swastika removed but no attempt has been made to remove them from the front or inside cover.


 The Wehrpass was issued when a man was registered for military service. At this point the personal details would be filled out, photo attached, a basic fitness examination undertaken and its result recorded in the Wehrpass. Note that even if the man was not fit for military service he would still be issued with a Wehrpass. After initial registration the Wehrpass would be given to the owner for safekeeping. When the individual was subsequently called up for military service (or RAD service) the Wehrpass would be handed to the unit for administrative. It was usually held at company level and administered their.

The type, frequency and quality of the administrating the Wehrpass depended on the individual unit. In general, early in the war Wehrpass  were updated frequently. As the situation deteriorated the frequency and detail with which a Wehrpass was administered tended to decline. This is especially evident from 1943 onward, where updates seemingly only occurred when the man left the unit, be it through injury, death or transfer. With full scale retreats in progress on all fronts one can imagine that the updating of unit records was often the last thing to be considered. As such, lack of entries in a Wehrpass does not necessarily reflect the amount of combat an individual saw.

If an individual were killed in action the Wehrpass would be forwarded to the next-of-kin as a keepsake. Note that more often and not the  Wehrpass was not always completely updated before being sent. As such an individual might be entitled to awards not entered in the Wehrpass . On a similar note the official designation of battles and operations his unit took part in (this was generally on a divisional level) might take months. This also applies to individuals who were wounded and subsequently discharged. In this case the Wehrpass would be given to the individual both as form of identification and a record of his military service.


 Mid war Wehrpass

 Late war Wehrpass


Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten (Membership Book)

(Steel Helmet, League of Front Soldiers) 

 The Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten (Steel Helmet, League of Front Soldiers) was founded by Captain Franz Seldte (a Western front veteran who had lost an arm in the Battle of the Somme), his brothers Eugen and Georg, and a dozen comrades of I.R. 66 on 25th of December, 1918. promoting the spirit of comradeship and supporting the economic demands of the returning soldiers in neglect of social differences and party loyalties

It was not until January 1933 when finally Franz von Papen forged a DNVP/NSDAP coalition that took over power on January 30, being installed as the Cabinet Hitler.  The Stahlhelm was integrated into this coalition, Seldte being named Labour Minister. Though the Stahlhelm’s leader now held a most influential position, it quickly turned out that the organization was in fact facing the most miserable situation ever.  As Hitler overpowered his conservative would-be masters and initiated the process of the Gleichschaltung, soon the SA’s right wing paramilitary rivals were targeted, too. The Wehrwolf was absorbed into the SA, it’s leader Fritz Kloppe being made SA-Standartenführer. The Jungdeutscher Orden, which continued to criticize the Nazis, was prohibited and dissolved. The situation of the Stahlhelm seemed much better because of its size and its leaders position as a member in Hitler’s cabinet.  Once the other Combat Leagues had been eliminated, increasing pressure was put on Seldte, who joined the NSDAP in late April.  His situation did not improve, and Seldte subsequently offered to resign, but Hitler rejected the offer.  Seldte was made SA-Obergruppenführer in August. Three months later the Stahlhelm was subordinated to the SA, and – after two years of a miserable shadow existence – formally dissolved in 1935.

    Copyright © 2015 by Matt Bentley

All rights reserved. This Website or any portion thereof

may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever

without the express written permission of the person Named above