Barracks and Camp
Kaserne und Biwak

By Erich Tobey--edited by Marsh

The pre-war German soldier spent most of his time in the Kaserne, but even the late-war recruit spent enough time there to become familiar with the nuances of Wehrmacht barracks routine. The following are some of the more important concepts for the reenactor to know:

German soldiers were quartered together in a room called a Stube. The number of men in the room varied according to the size of the room, but 6 to 12 would have been typical. The Stube had three common furnishings:

  1. Lockers--These were called a Schrank and they were similar to a wardrobe; they were issued one per man.
  2. A table for the occupants of the Stube along with a number of backless chairs, called Schemel which were issued one per man.
  3. Bunks or beds. Whenever possible, we will use the following standard for filling our lockers. «All non-period or non-authorized gear should be stored elsewhere, i.e. in your vehicle!»

For training, the recruits from a number of rooms were organized together in a Korporalschaft. A drill instructor (usually an Unteroffizier) was assigned to each Korporalschaft.

One man in each room was assigned as the Stubenalteste, or room elder. In a regular army unit, this man would have automatically been the senior Gefreiter or, lacking Gefreiters, the private with the most service time. For trainees, he may have been the oldest recruit, the first man in the room, or he may have been chosen at random. The Stubenalteste was given the responsibility of insuring that the Stube was clean and orderly, that cleaning details were parceled out, news was disseminated, etc.

In the German Army, the "officer of the day" was an NCO and was called the "Unteroffizier von Dienst." Common occupations while in the Kaserne included Unterricht (instruction), Revierreinigen (housekeeping), Waffenreinigen (weapons cleaning), Putz-und-Flickstunde (repair and cleaning of uniforms and equipment), and Appell (inspection).

The evening retreat in the German Army was called the Zapfenstreich.

For events that have barracks, we may implement some or all of these items. At the very least, you will need to bring the following to a barracks event:

  • One blue and white checked Blanket Sack
  • One blanket (a standard greyish colored WOOL blanket)
  • Two flat sheets, white
  • One blue and white checked pillowcase (or at least a plain white one)

A German field camp is called a Biwak (bivouac), and was commonly set up from various sorts of tentage, usually including the small Zeltbahn tent. Made of 4 Zeltbahns, this Zelt tent will sleep 3 men--the owner of the fourth Zelt being on duty. Zelts could also be buttoned together in different combinations to make larger tents.

Schrankordnung (Locker regulation): Clothing will be hung in the locker with buttons facing to the left; this exposes rank chevrons. The clothing will be hung with the heaviest garments on the left, the lightest on the right. For example: from left to right, overcoat, spare tunic, HBT tunic, shirt. The Tornister (or rucksack) is placed on top of the locker, on the left. The gas mask canister is stood on end on the right, and the helmet is placed on top of this. Personal effects and other items are stowed per direction of the Administrative NCO.