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Wehrmacht Schreibstube living history

Living History Posted on Wed, March 13, 2019 10:21PM

Photos from WWII reenactment events in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Ohio, USA, December 2018-March 2019.

Modern equivalents to WWII paper

Living History Posted on Sun, November 04, 2018 10:47PM

You can’t have a Schreibstube, without paper.

I collect many different types of wartime paper items including Feldpost letters, identity documents, passes, ration and personal kit item packaging and other ephemera from the war years. Paper used during the war came in a wide variety of textures, colors, and thicknesses but there are characteristics that I associate with wartime paper in general. Materials shortages necessitated the use of even things like potato stalks in German paper, it was different from most paper commonly used today. Most commercially available modern paper is made differently from what was used in the first half of the twentieth century, in general. Modern paper is brighter and smoother whereas wartime paper was often rougher, with a slightly mottled appearance. Of course there were exceptions to this, smooth paper did exist back then.

Having a Schreibstube necessitates

having a variety of different kinds of paper for different documents and purposes. I have found it very difficult to source exact modern equivalents for wartime paper, but I have been able to amass a lot of usable paper that looks close enough to fall generally within the very wide range of what was used. To reiterate, you are looking for paper that is not bright white, and that has some texture. One thing I do from time to time is go to an art supply store and look at sketch pads. There are a lot of different types of these pads available and many have usable paper. I will also look at stationery and try to find nice paper with subtle watermarks, or without watermarks, or various kinds of natural colored or off-white stock for specific projects.

One thing you can keep an eye out for is paper with a high recycled content that has not been bleached to bright white. Paper and envelopes in “Recyclinggrau” color, that may be available in Germany, look great.

If you look at pads of “kraft” paper, or colored “construction paper,” you may find usable stuff for making envelopes, small passes or ID documents, or other specific purposes. Here in the US, dollar stores often have sketch pads with thin newsprint type paper that is great.

Newsprint in general is very good to have and is widely available in pads. The issue with this is that it doesn’t stand up to fountain pen ink, which will bleed and feather. So newsprint alone is not suitable for all purposes.There is paper that is marketed today specifically for fountain pen use.

A lot of these pads of paper are 9” x 12” which is ideal as you can cut that down to the DIN A4 size that is and was standard in Germany.

Lastly, keep an eye out for actual vintage paper. In antique shops and thrift stores you can sometimes find old typewriter paper or old notebooks. Even small notebooks can yield great paper for typewritten Soldbuch inserts or other small documents. And old books may have blank end pages that can be utilized.

At the Gap

Living History Posted on Tue, January 26, 2016 01:22PM

I’m leaving today for the event at Fort Indiantown Gap, PA, and won’t be back until Sunday. I can’t ship any orders until next week. Sorry for the inconvenience.

The Schreiber Impression in Living History: a guide for beginners

Living History Posted on Sat, August 08, 2015 02:17AM

I’ve been having a busy summer and the new In Trenches web shop is still not ready for its debut. In the meantime, I wanted to post this new article. Every reenactment group needs a clerk to issue identity documents and other paperwork. This article is a guide for people interested in this unique specialty impression, it contains tips for how to get started and ideas for the practical application of this skill in a living history context.

Schreibstube, Fort Indiantown Gap PA January 2015

Living History Posted on Wed, February 04, 2015 05:18PM

Some photos from a Schreibstube. This was a collaborative effort between people from different groups. Larger versions of these photos here.

Paperwork for a living history impression

Living History Posted on Tue, January 06, 2015 04:35PM

I am often asked what would constitute an ideal set of paperwork for a first-person persona in reenacting. My answer is always that the best paperwork that a reenactor can carry
is paperwork that he understands and that he can relate to his persona. The
Soldbuch is the crux of personal paperwork and knowing what is written
in there and what everything means is a key step in a first person
impression. The flap in the back of the Soldbuch is a good place to keep
things like period photos, most are small and fit in there easily.
Anything that you can understand and explain and build a story around
will be better to carry than even perfect reproduction paperwork if you
don’t know what it means or how it relates to the character you

the realities of war, there were an endless number of variables regarding
what paperwork was carried. There were regulations, of course, but these
regulations seem to have been more or less widely disregarded, and much
of what was actually carried on a day-to-day basis seems to have
depended heavily on such variables as personal preference, unit or type
of unit, area of operations, etc. It seems like there were few hard and
fast rules as to what was carried and what was not, what was retained
and what was discarded. The Wehrpass was not supposed to have been
carried by the individual soldier but some soldiers went into captivity
carrying these so this must have happened at some times, for some
reasons. I have a Wehrpass of a man from Hamburg who was a prisoner of
the Americans, the book contains a wide variety of smaller IDs and
paperwork including a certificate attesting that the man’s Soldbuch was
destroyed by enemy action, this may be why he held on to the Wehrpass.
Having said all that, here are my personal conclusions based on my
studies of more or less untouched paperwork groupings. Others may have
come to different conclusions.
As stated, this was the basic individual ID and is the cornerstone of
personal paperwork from a reenactment perspective. Some soldiers were
issued Merkblaetter which were small leaflets about topics including gas
warfare and various ailments, these leaflets were supposed to have been
glued into the Soldbuch but the majority of original Soldbuecher,
including many books issued early on and carried throughout the war on
all fronts, do not have these (even when other various documents are
still associated with the Soldbuch) and so their issue was either rather
limited or the mandate to keep these in the Soldbuch was widely

ID DOCUMENTS: Soldiers were issued many different kinds of lesser ID
documents which were issued right down to Kompanie level in some cases.
This category can include things as simple as small signed and stamped
paper scraps attesting that the soldier belonged to a particular unit,
as well as various kinds of photo IDs such as the military
driver’s license or the Dienstausweis, and all kinds of passes and
DOCUMENTS: Soldiers do seem to have retained various kinds of travel
documents such as the Dienstreiseausweis or the Wehrmachtfahrschein even
when the travel was completed, for whatever reason. There were also
documents that permitted soldiers more or less free travel in specific
areas for specific purposes, these also seem to have been retained.
There were also passes to enter certain cities, some of these were valid
only for a specific occasion, others were valid for longer periods.

DOCUMENTS: Some have stated that award documents were to be kept in the
Soldbuch. Based on my studies, I do not believe that award documents
were carried in the Soldbuch most of the time. No doubt they were
carried in the field for a period immediately after issue, but the
official entries in the Soldbuch would seem to make carrying the
associated documents redundant.

FROM HOME: Regulations stipulated that letters from home were not to be
carried in the field to deny the enemy any intelligence contained
therein. In reality, soldiers did keep and carry these, sometimes
accumulating large numbers of them when circumstances permitted. I feel
that these are a must; Feldpost was second only to ammunition in the
supply system, getting mail from home was an important feature of the
life of the Landser.
STUFF: By this, I mean really personal. Many soldiers carried small
booklets in which they would record addresses. Keeping records of mail
sent and received was also common. Some soldiers kept journals in these
small notebooks. They seem to have been very common. Photos of loved
ones were also carried by very many soldiers.

I find lots of stuff in paperwork groupings that were intended to be
discarded but that were kept for whatever reason. A page from a
calendar, a little piece of newspaper, a blank form or a receipt for hay
or for cabbage, perhaps these were used as bookmarks, perhaps they had
some personal significance known only to the soldier, or maybe it was
just pocket trash. Some companies would even send advertisements in
various forms to soldiers at the front and sometimes the recipients
would hold on to these.

STUFF: Many soldiers seemed to have carried documents related to their
civilian lives, even when these documents would seem to have been
useless at the front. Insurance cards, post office box receipts,
paperwork regarding bank accounts, or similar stuff.

paperwork that you can carry is limited only by your imagination. I
have held many untouched paperwork groupings as carried by German
soldiers and have never found one loaded with Reichsmarks and porn as
carried by so many reenactors. It is far more common to find a couple of
plain-looking pictures, a local provisional ID or travel permit,
perhaps a letter from home or a certificate relating to the soldier’s
civilian life, and a scrap of paper with seemingly random notes, their
significance lost to time.

Schreibstube display, Fort Taber, New Bedford MA 2013

Living History Posted on Mon, June 24, 2013 09:07AM

Some pictures of a Schreibstube display from the 2013 Fort Taber D-Day commemoration can be found here.

Display, Collings Foundation WWII Weekend October 2012

Living History Posted on Thu, October 18, 2012 04:25PM

Some photos from a Schreibstube display. Larger versions of these photos here.

Small field desk set-up

Living History Posted on Tue, September 18, 2012 10:28AM

A small field desk set up at Odessa NY, September 2012.

Schreibstube display, Fort Taber, New Bedford MA

Living History Posted on Tue, June 12, 2012 10:27AM

Here are some pictures from a small display at the annual D-Day
commemoration at Fort Taber in New Bedford, Massachusetts, June 2012. Fort Taber is a 19th century
fort that is not that much different from fortifications made in Europe at
the same time and later used by the Wehrmacht as munitions depots and for
other purposes. This vignette depicts the work stations of a Hauptfeldwebel and Schreiber in
the Kompanie-Schreibstube.

folding table is stocked with supplies for filling out the Soldbuch. The
field desk has binders and also some small boxes to keep supplies
organized. On top of the
field desk is a wooden box containing the Wehrpaesse for the Kompanie, and a 1935
typewriter. Field
desk with binders.

Work station with stamps and stamp stands, period type bakelite and metal stamp pads, pens, ink, a
small rocker blotter, pencil tin, etc.Two
work stations facing each other seems to be a common feature in
Schreibstube photos.

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