Conscription age in the wehrmacht

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Jerry2021
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Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Jerry2021 » 14 Sep 2021 09:56

Hello everybody. I was wondering about the conscription age in the wehrmacht. The book Hitlers armies states that prospective soldiers were called up in a series of waves after completing service in the Hitler youth and the Reich Labor Service. Now it stated that people born in 1920 would be called up in 1940 but I've seen instances of people serving in the wehrmacht before that so did these people join underage? Also as the war progressed how much time did a german male spend in both the HJ and the RAD ? Were the time in service in these units shortned?

GregSingh
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by GregSingh » 14 Sep 2021 10:26

Pls. see post #1 here: viewtopic.php?f=50&t=212697
The first step to immortality is death.
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Jerry2021
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Jerry2021 » 14 Sep 2021 17:43

Hello Greg. The list that post contains was the one I'm talking about. It stated that people born in 1920 were called up in 1941 but I've see instances of men being in the wehrmacht before 1941 and being born in 1920 so was wondering as to did these people lie about their age and enlist or was enlisting before your call up date allowed?

Art
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Art » 14 Sep 2021 22:30

There was an option to enlist voluntary before obligatory conscription began. According to the law on military service of 1935 men were eligible for military service from the age of 18. Normally they were conscripted in the year when they turned 20, yet volunteers could enter service earlier:
http://www.verfassungen.de/de33-45/wehr35.htm

Jerry2021
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Jerry2021 » 15 Sep 2021 06:11

Thanks for the response Greg. Hope you don't me asking this unrelated question but as the war progressed was the service age or the time in service required in both the HJ and RAD lowered?

Peter89
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Peter89 » 15 Sep 2021 11:51

A very detailed answer can be found in the GSWW Volume V, p. 831-832.


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“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

LuckyStrike23
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by LuckyStrike23 » 15 Sep 2021 18:57

the youngest man in the ranks of Panzerregiment 1 on 01.09.1939 was born on 14.08.1921. I would think, he joined the regiment in October 1938. But actually, the years born in 1917/18 were drafted in 1938.

Jerry2021
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Jerry2021 » 16 Sep 2021 16:09

Thanks a lot sir those lists have been of great help.

Art
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Art » 16 Sep 2021 19:49

I wonder what the thing within the red rectangle means? Were older classes (Landwehr) called at mobilization but released from service later in 1940?
1.png
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Peter89
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Peter89 » 16 Sep 2021 22:02

Art wrote:
16 Sep 2021 19:49
I wonder what the thing within the red rectangle means? Were older classes (Landwehr) called at mobilization but released from service later in 1940?

1.png
I think so, yes.

The 1900-born age group was the last that received some military training in the Imperial Army. The intermittent line means "some" were called up, the dotted line means "individuals" were called up.

I think most of them were released after the Fall of France, and their use was reconsidered in 1943, by the time the 1883 generation became 60. Those between 50 and 60 were registered in 1943, but below 50, "some" were called up once again from 47-49 years old.

In 1940, those who were 40-43 years old, continued to serve (by 1943 they became 43-46).
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

Art
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Art » 17 Sep 2021 20:32

Peter89 wrote:
16 Sep 2021 22:02
I think most of them were released after the Fall of France
I wasn't aware of that. From the age distribution given in GatSWW it appears that 45 was a cut-off age for conscripted personnel in 1941.
2.png
That would mean a partial release of trained Landwehr personnel called with mobilization in 1939 (mostly men born in 1900 or earlier). The same source estimates their number as 1.2 million. It seems that those born before 1896 were fully released, those born in 1896-1900 - partly released.
The chart posted above also gives a distribution of RAD personnel by that moment (August 1941).
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Art
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Art » 18 Sep 2021 16:06

Also a similar chart giving age breakdown of the Wehrmacht as of November 1942:
https://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/32778/zooms/8

Age breakdown of Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine and Waffen SS as of November 1943:
https://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/33440/zooms/8

These data reveal considerable aging of the WM as the war progressed. In 1942 the number of men born in 1905 or earlier was 1,257,000 or 12.9% of the total, whereas a year later - 2,045,000 or 21%. On the other hand born in 1914 or younger - 5,318,000 or 54.5% in 1942 and 4,663,000 or 48% in 1943. That's despite conscription of young ages.

Peter89
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Peter89 » 18 Sep 2021 17:38

Yes, I think so. From GSWW:
II. The Wehrmacht Manpower Situation
at the Outbreak of War

1. REPLACEMENT OF OTHER RANKS

BY 1 September 1939 the German Wehrmacht had mobilized some 4,556,000
men. This exceeded the call-up capacity of the imperial contingency army,
which in August 1914 had called some 3,822,000 men to the colours.1 A comparison
of numerical strengths alone, however, leads to no conclusions as to
the capacity of the troops. A comparison of the quality of the reservists immediately
available on the outbreak of war, on the other hand, shows up a crucial
weakness of the Wehrmacht in the sector of personnel provision.
The peacetime army of the imperial period could call on some 3 million
reservists. With the greater initial strength of the wartime Wehrmacht, a
reserve of approximately 3.8 million men was available to the Wehrmacht leadership.
Whereas the imperial contingency army had a homogeneously trained
reserve available, whose activation was entirely dependent on age, the personnel
situation of the Wehrmacht reflected a set of negative conditional factors,
caused on the one hand by the demographic situation of the Reich, and on
the other by political developments since 1919. General conscription was only
four years old in September 1939.The 1914–17 year-groups could be regarded
as being trained on peacetime lines, though it had to be remembered that a
proportion of these would not be discharged until September 1939, having
completed their two-year military service (see Diagram III.II.1). The drop in
the birth rate caused by the First World War affected these particular yeargroups,
from which, by comparison with pre-war years of birth, in some cases
up to 50 per cent fewer conscripts per year were available (see Diagram
III.II.2).
On the other hand, there were incomparably more able-bodied men in the
year-groups 1901–13, untrained, in accordance with the provisions of the Versailles
Treaty (‘white’ years). In order to fill the manpower gaps in the wartime
forces, even at the beginning of the Polish campaign it was necessary to fall
back on the world-war year-groups 1894–1900, whose age (39–45) and training admitted
of only limited service in the field. From 1936 onwards the
Wehrmacht leadership tried increasingly to provide short-term training for
members of the ‘white’ year-groups. However, with only a three-month
training period it was impossible to give these conscripts more than the most
essential basic military knowledge. They were therefore put into Reserve II,
together with the vast majority of the short-term trainees under 35 years of age
(see Diagram III.II.3).2 Up to the outbreak of war, however, most members of
the ‘white’ year-groups remained untrained, as shown in Diagram III.II.4. In
military memoirs written after 1945 the lack of trained reserves at the outbreak
of war in 1939 was also evaluated as a sign of the resistance of the military leadership
to the preparations for war by the National Socialist regime.3 But it
should not be forgotten that the infrastructure of Wehrmacht real estate and
the training personnel available before the outbreak of war and in the war’s first
stages were by no means adequate to deal with the simultaneous training of
several year-groups.4

How drastically the lack of trained reserves made itself felt on the outbreak
of war is illustrated by a set of figures produced by Military District VII
(Munich), which reflects the overall picture already described on the basis of
an area of broadly rural character (see Diagram III.II.4).We see that at the start
of the Polish campaign the wartime Wehrmacht did have adequate reserves in
the age-group 35–45, and hence for the lines of communication, local defence
units, and covering units. On the other hand, there were no appreciable
replacements for the fighting troops in the 18–35 age-group. In order to
increase the already small supply of conscripts in the age-groups with low birth
rates, it was decided to call up even those who were only partly fit for the
Wehrmacht, to reduce the call-up age from 20 to 19, and finally to call up two
year-groups on one call-up date.5 If the numerical strength is now compared
with the quality of the replacements according to age and state of training, the
severe lack of manpower in the Wehrmacht on the eve of the Second World War
becomes patently obvious (see Diagram III.II.5).
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Sid Guttridge » 18 Sep 2021 18:38

Hi Peter89,

You quote, ".....the severe lack of manpower in the Wehrmacht on the eve of the Second World War becomes patently obvious".

That rather depends. Germany had nearly twice the population of France, its next biggest adversary in 1939, and a higher birth rate. As a result it was recruiting two conscripts to every one Frenchman. In only 3 years of conscription it could already field almost as many divisions as France, twice as many of them "active". I would suggest that the French would not have considered that there was any "severe lack of manpower in the Wehrmacht on the eve of the Second World War" and the relative situation was only going to get rapidly relatively worse for them.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Conscription age in the wehrmacht

Post by Art » 19 Sep 2021 10:26

I believe, the problem was not a lack of manpower, but a lack of trained manpower. Since German conscription only started in 1935, the available resources of trained reservists in 1939 were fairly limited. Potentially there was a large pool of physically fit men below 40, but they needed military training and that took time.

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