By SebastiŠn Bianchi

Throughout the Third Reich period the Wehrmacht bestowed on its members a very detailed set of identity documents and licenses.  The military system was influenced by a German national tradition of comprehensive (and often redundant) documentation, a tradition that the Nazi infrastructure took to new levels.  Because these document contained essential information, a certain degree of familiarity with them is key for collectors and historians of the period.   It is not the goal of these pages to cover these papers items in great depth, but rather to introduce the main documents and the roles they fulfilled. 

By the middle of the 19th century, the German Imperial Army had instituted the Identity Tag (Erkennungsmarke) and the Military Pass (Militarpass), to identify and record careers of military men.  The rearmament decrees of the 1930ís expanded on this foundation.  In particular, the May 1935 Defense Law (Wehrgesetz) and March 1936 Decree Concerning Recruitment and Conscription (Verordnung Ueber die Musterung und Aushebung) added to the repertoire of identity documents, with the last decree including the institution of a Wehrpass that contained more information than any similar document had in the past.

As the Wehrmacht grew so did the documentation system , and after September 1939, the importance of personal documentation increased as they played both and identity and security role.  The losing of onesí documents in the Wehrmacht was reprimanded, and the failure to produce key documents on demand could prove a dangerous practice.

 

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