Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Discussions on the role played by and situation of women in the Third Reich not covered in the other sections. Hosted by Vikki.
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kellysartin
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Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by kellysartin » 12 Sep 2002 01:02

I recently purchased this book, Osprey Men-at-Arms series title - Axis Cavalry in World War II. At the tail end of the section, " Training remounts " it says : " While the cavalry maintained intregal remount units, the training task for riders and horses in the mounted elements of infantry and artillery units, and for draught animals, fell to a rather unusual group. Due to a lack of qualified officers and NCO's in these units, German ladies who were well versed in riding and breaking horses, and ranging from teenagers to middle-aged, were employed for these tasks....THE HORSEWOMEN WORE THE STANDARD UNIFORM TUNIC OF THEIR HEADQUARTERS ( without rank ) RIDING BREECHES AND BOOTS. ( emphasis mine ) Have i read this correctly? Is this a minor error in the book? It has been my previous understanding that the National socialist and or conservative culture of Germany at that time was loathe to put women in milatary uniform, at least not without extensive modification/ feminization of that uniform. ( come to think of it , did Flak girls wear unmodified luftwaffe uniform? but thats a different question, and a different service. ) Is my understanding generally or specifically flawed here? If girls did wear basic army cavalry uniform, does anyone have PHOTOS?! I'm seriously salivating in anticipation here. Hmm, a teenager in ritterstiefel , up on a catagory RI Trakehner, in an army tunic with yellow waffenfarbe; now that is really delicious! yum, yum.

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Daniel L
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Post by Daniel L » 12 Sep 2002 09:03

It's probably true, they also used served in some flak units and signal troops. In Breakout in Normandy it says that women who possibly came from signal units served as vehicle drivers.

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Post by HPL2008 » 13 Sep 2002 23:43

Well, there is a mention of "Bereiterinnen", women with the job of training remounts as riding- and draught-horses, in Schlicht and Angolia's work on German Army uniforms and traditions.
Their uniform is described as being a single-breasted jacket of the same style as for female signals auxiliarys, stone-grey breeches with leather reinforcements and black riding boots. Since the originally worn sidecaps proved to be impractical, they were replaced with visored caps similiar in style to the M-43 field cap. There's a photo in that book as well, showing the single-breasted jacket with army eagle on the right side, a white blouse and the earlier side-cap in wear by a lady on horseback.
However, that book makes no mention of these women working for any field units, stating instead that they were employed by the "Military Districts' Riding- And Driving-Schools ("Wehrkreis-Reit- und Fahrschulen")
Standard auxiliary's jackets and employment at "Wehrkreis"-level: That's probably what they meant by "standard uniforms" and "headquarters".
Hope this helps.

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Re: Women in German Army Uniform?

Post by Heimatschuss » 06 Apr 2008 22:09

Hello,

time to add some photos here to stop the salivating after all those years. :)

Source of all pics: http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/forums/ ... p?t=122829

Best regards
Torsten
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Re: Women in German Army Uniform?

Post by Vikki » 09 Apr 2008 04:11

Great photos, Torsten!

I think the woman on the left in the third photo is wearing the civilian Riders' badge?

Below is the photo from Angolia and Schlicht that HPL2008 spoke of, though it doesn't show nearly the detail of the ones you posted! And it's interesting that in each of the pictures you posted, at least one of the women is wearing a tie, and there are mixed gray and white shirts under the tunics.

At the very least, not "the standard [male] uniform of their headquarters." :)

Best,
~Vikki
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Re: Women in German Army Uniform?

Post by Heimatschuss » 12 Apr 2008 18:29

Hello Vikki,

I think you are corrrect on the civilian Rider's badge. At first I thouhgt it was a general sports badge but under maximum magnification it has indeed more resemblance to the rider's badge.

Also noteworthy: Some of the horse breakers are wearing caps with an eagle insignium while it seems to be missing on others. Either this really is the case or their caps have dark eagle insignia like those you can sometimes see on Stabshelferin photos.

Best regards
Torsten

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Re: Women in German Army Uniform?

Post by Heimatschuss » 21 Jul 2009 18:41

Hello,

....THE HORSEWOMEN WORE THE STANDARD UNIFORM TUNIC OF THEIR HEADQUARTERS ( without rank ) RIDING BREECHES AND BOOTS.


I think this is actually a translation error. What the horse-breakers did wear (according to the usual sources like Angolia & Schlicht) was the standard uniform of the staff auxiliaries (Stabshelferinnen). Someone obviously thought staff = HQ, et voilá, you get something in print that never existed.

Here's another pic of what I believe to be a late-war female horse-breaker.

Bereiterinnen 4.jpg
Source: http://www.ebay.de auction no. 130216185920

According to the breast eagle she must be Army (Heer) or Navy (Kriegsmarine). The grey eagle only very vaguely visible on the peaked cap would indeed match that of Heer Stabshelferinnen.
Two other elements I've never seen before:
a) Her jacket collar has some kind of bright piping which would coincide with the green-white piping of the staff auxiliaries.
b) On her left upper sleeve there seems to be a horizontal bright stripe. Could this be a rank insignium used by horse-breakers? That of course would mean that rank differences amongst them existed. It's known that such bars were worn by Marinevorhelferinnen on the left upper sleeve. It was also intended that in the unified Wehrmachtshelferinnen Corps Wehrmachtshelferinnen-Vorhelferinnen should use horizontal stripes on the lower left sleeve but so far there is no photo evidence that the Wehrmachtshelferinnen rank insignia were ever used. It may just be dirt like in the rest of the photo (I've cleaned the uniform except for this object) but all other dirt seems to be circular while this is elongated. And if you magnify the pic around the bar there's a horizontal area of dark grey as if the 'stripe' is on an oblong patch. A feature you often see in Flakhelferinnen rank insignia for example. Strange thing.

Best regards
Torsten
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maguire_michael
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Re: Women in German Army Uniform?

Post by maguire_michael » 24 Jul 2009 16:44

Awesome photos indeed...

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Re: Women in German Army Uniform?

Post by Heimatschuss » 25 Jul 2009 22:01

This picture also gave me a hard time:
Bereiterinnen 5.jpg
Source: http://www.ebay.de auction no. 310132856207

She's wearing a Luftwaffe jacket (note the eagle) with the short early-war tie for Luftnachrichtenhelferinnen (Luftwaffe signals) or Flugmeldehelferinnen (plane spotters). Never heard of the Luftwaffe employing horsewomen at all, especially not early in the war. So most likely just a female auxiliary wearing a mix of private and service items when off duty.

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Torsten
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Re: Women in German Army Uniform?

Post by Heimatschuss » 31 Jul 2009 16:13

Hello,

found an article by a Major Radke dealing with the female horse-breakers here http://forum.panzer-archiv.de/viewtopic ... n&start=36 . As it may be of general interest I've translated it.

Autor: Major Dr. Radke

Zur Geschichte der Bereiterinnen

In der zweiten Hälfte des Krieges, als die Frontformationen einerseits jeden qualifizierten Uffz. und Soldaten brauchten, andererseits aber auch Reit- und Zugpferdematerial - nicht zuletzt infolge der großen Verluste in den vorangegangenen Kriegswintern - vermehrt benötigte, entschloß sich zu Beginn des Jahres 1943 die Abt. Reit- und Fahrwesen (Insp. 3) im OKH Frauen und Mädchen, die im Umgang mit Pferden Erfahrung hatten, als sogen. Bereiterinnen einzustellen. Dadurch wurden zahlreiche Offz. und Uffz., die als Remontereiter beim Stammpersonal der Wehrkreis-Reit- und Fahrschulen (bis Ende 1938 Remonteschulen) eingesetzt gewesen waren, für die Frontverwendung frei.

Friedensmäßig gab es außer der Heeres-Reit- und Fahrschule Hannover, sp. Krampnitz, die Wehrkreis-Reit- und Fahrschulen Lyck (I), Demmin (II), Beeskow (III), Oschatz (IV), Aalen (V), Warendorf (VI), Dillingen (VII), Militsch, Bez. Breslau (VIII), Gardelegen (IX), Soltau (X), Großenhain (XI), Babenhausen/Hessen (XII), Bamberg (XIII), Schloßhof /Niederösterreich (XIV) mit ungefähr je 450 Pferden. Sie waren für die Ausbildung der Remonten als Reit- und Zugpferde für die Infanterie und die besp. Truppenteile des Heeres zuständig, während die Kavallerie ihre Remonten selbständig bei den einzelnen Regimentern im Kriege in den Remonteschwadronen der Ersatztruppenteile, heranzog.

Ab 1939, nach der Umbenennung der Wehrkreis-Remonteschulen in Wehrkreis-Reit- und Fahrschulen, wurde auch ihr Aufgabengebiet erweitert. Sie waren zuständig für die Heranbildung von Reitlehrern für die unberittenen Truppen und schulten in Kurzlehrgängen Regiments-, Bataillons- und Abteilungskommandeure, sowie Kompanie- und Batteriechefs für die Abnahme von Reit- und Fahrberechtigungen, außerdem hatten die Schulkommandeure die Reit- und Fahrausbildung aller Truppen des Korps, außer des Kavallerie-Regiments des jeweiligen Korps, zu überwachen. Infolge des erhöhten Pferdebedarfs im Kriege mußte die Ausbildungszeit für die Remonten verkürzt werden. Vielfach wurden die jungen Pferde schon nach fünf- bis sechsmonatiger Ausbildung an die Ersatztruppenteile abgegeben. Das erforderte eine noch systematischere und intensivere Ausbildung von Pferden und Bereiterpersonal, so daß besonders den neu eingestellten Bereiterinnen eine außerordentlich schwierige Aufgabe erwuchs.

Es war durchaus keine Ausnahme, wenn eine Bereiterin 8 bis 10 Remonten und 1 bis 2 weitere Schulpferde am Tage zu reiten hatte und dann noch im Einfahren dieser Pferde eingesetzt wurde. Der Dienst war auch außerhalb der Reit- und Fahrstunden soldatisch streng. Wie die Soldaten unterstanden die Bereiterinnen der Disziplinarstrafgewalt ihres Schwadronschefs. Auf Einhaltung des Zapfenstreichs wurde streng geachtet. Selbst Arreststrafen und Ausgangsbeschränkungen sollen durchaus nicht selten ausgesprochen worden sein, wobei dann die " 3 Tage" mangels geeigneter Arrestlokale manchmal auf der Schreibstube abgesessen wurden. Obwohl die Bereiterinnen aus allen Bevölkerungsschichten kamen, waren sie wohl zum größten Teil Soldatentöchter, die sich schnell in die soldatische Umwelt einlebten. Nach einer strengen Prüfung im Reiten und im sonstigen Umgang mit Pferden wurde ein Dienstvertrag abgeschlossen. Die Bereiterinnen erhielten die kleidsame Uniform der Stabs- und Nachrichtenhelferinnen, allerdings mit Stiefeln, lederbesetzter Reithose und Sporen - was von ihnen sehr wichtig genommen wurde - das goldgelbe Paspol an den Dienstmützen anstelle der zitronengelben "Kavallerie-Fehlfarbe" der "Blitzmädchen". Die steingrauen Uniformjacken waren einreihig und zweireihig, der lange steingraue Tuchmantel hatte nach Art der Kavalleriemäntel hinten einen langen Reitschlitz. Zwischen 10 und 20 Bereiterinnen waren bei jeder Wehrkreis-Reit- und Fahrschule eingesetzt.

Quelle: Deutsches Soldatenjahrbuch 1967 / 15. Deutscher Soldatenkalender, S. 258ff



Translation:

Mjr. Dr. Radke

On the history of female horse-breakers

In the second half of WWII when on the one hand frontline units needed each qualified NCO and enlisted man available and on the other hand the demand for riding and draught horses grew, particularly after the heavy losses in the previous winters, the Abteilung Reit- und Fahrwesen [Department of Riding & [Coach] Driving] (aka Inspectorate 3) of the OKH decided in the beginning of 1943 to hire women and girls experienced in handling horses as so-called Bereiterinnen (horse-breakers). This way numerous officers and NCOs that had been employed as remount riders in the staffs of the Wehrkreis-Reit- und Fahrschulen (till end of 1938 Remonteschulen) could be freed for frontline assignments.

In peacetime there were besides the Heeres-Reit- und Fahrschule [Army School for Riding & [Coach] Driving] in Hanover (later Krampnitz) the Wehrkreis-Reit- und Fahrschulen [Military District Schools for Riding & [Coach] Driving] in
Lyck (I)
Demmin (II)
Beeskow (III)
Oschatz (IV)
Aalen (V)
Warendorf (VI)
Dillingen (VII)
Militsch, Breslau district (VIII)
Gardelegen (IX)
Soltau (X)
Großenhain (XI)
Babenhausen/Hesse (XII)
Bamberg (XIII)
Schloßhof /Lower Austria (XIV)
[Roman numbers: No. of military district]

with about 450 horses each. Their task was the training of remounts as riding and draught horses for the infantry and the horse-drawn Army units, while the cavalary trained their remounts independently for each regiment in the remount squadrons of the replacement units.

Since 1939 when the Wehrkreis-Remonteschulen [Military District Remount Schools] were renamed into Wehrkreis-Reit- und Fahrschulen [Military District Schools for Riding and [coach] Driving] their scope of tasks also broadened. They were now responsible for the training of riding instructors for all non-mounted troops and in short courses taught regimental COs, Battalion COs as well as company and battery COs the qualifications necessary to take exams in riding and driving themselves. Additionally the school commanders had to supervise the riding and [coach] driving lessons of all units of the individual Corps except for the cavalary regiment. Due to the increased need for horses in the war the training time of the remounts had to be shortened. In many cases the young horses were delivered to replacement units after just five to six months of training. This required an even more systematic and intensive training of horses and horse-breakers so that the newly hired female horse-breakers faced an exceptionally difficult job.

It was absolutely no exception when a female horse-breaker had to ride 8 to 10 remounts plus another 1 or 2 school horses per day and then still had to proceed with the [coach] driving lessons for these horses. Their life was governed by military rigor outside of the riding and driving lessons also. Like the soldiers the female horse-breakers were subject to the disciplinary authority of the squadron commander. Observing the beating of the tattoo was strictly enforced. It's said that even arrest fines and leave cuts were not that seldom in which case the legendary '3 days' had to be spent in the company office due to the lack of an appropriate detention cell. Though the female horse-breakers were drawn from all levels of society the major part of them may well have been soldiers' daughters which integrated quickly into the military environment. After a rigorous examination in riding and other horse-handling they received a labour contract. The female horse-breakers received the attractive dress of the staff and signals auxiliaries though with boots, leather-reinforced riding breeches und spurs - which was very important to them - the golden yellow piping on the service caps instead of the lemon yellow one of the Blitz maidens which, from the eyes of the cavalary, was just plain suit. [The grammar is not entirely clear in the German original. There seems to be missing something. It remains unclear what especially mattered to them, the spurs or the piping.] The stone-gray uniform jackets had one or two button rows, the long stone-gray cloth coat had a long riding slit on the back according to cavalary style. Between 10 and 20 female horse-breakers were employed by each Wehrkreis-Reit- und Fahrschule.

References:
Deutsches Soldatenjahrbuch 1967 / 15. Deutscher Soldatenkalender, pp. 258

So Kelly may not have been all that wrong with his phantasies about the horse-breakers wearing yellow Waffenfarbe though only in the cap piping.

Best regards
Torsten

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Re: Women in German Army Uniform?

Post by Heimatschuss » 08 Aug 2009 17:50

Hello,

a bit more translations. This time from a just released autobiography of a female horse-breaker who worked in the Wehrkreis-Reit- und Fahrschule in Bamberg.

Translation:

Annegrete Schwenck

Away from home and back again
In Bamberg
Autumn 1944 - March 1945

In autumn 1944 I heard they were looking for young girls to train remounts for the Wehrmacht so that soldiers would be freed for frontline duty. I saw that as an opportunity to get away from home once, do more riding again and additionally do something significant for the war cause. I applied for this job and was accepted by the Wehrkreis-Reit- und Fahrschule in Bamberg after passing an an entrance examination there in October.

On Nov. 4th, 1944 when the last potatoes had been stored in the barn I went on my journey with a heavy suitcase and full of expectations. After changing trains six times I reached Bamberg in the evening just when an air-raid alert was sounded.

We female horse-breakers were housed in the old barracks in twin rooms. My roommate had made the sparsely equipped room a bit more comfortable with blankets, horse pictures and books. The next morning I was fitted out with a uniform because we were 'civilian employees entitled to wear uniform'. They gave me a blue-grey uniform jacket, grey shirt blouses, a black tie, an uniform coat and a soldier's cap. Riding breeches and boots for me were to be made to measure. In the afternoon I already had to ride regular horses. That's horses which already had completed their training and on which we got riding lessons each day. I was lucky that I had brought my own riding habit with me.

At the Wehrkreis-Reit- und Fahrschule in Bamberg there were about 400 horses, most of them 4 year old remounts from Trakehnen that were fresh from the paddock. About 80 soldiers and officers and 20 female horse-breakers were to train these horses for war service. A larger number of Hungarian and Romanian horse keepers had to clean the horses and stables. For the feeding German NCOs were responsible, saddles and bridle were to be cleaned by the individual rider. The school had three riding halls and a very large riding yard. Our daily schedule began at 7 o'clock in the morning with breaking in the young horses. Till noon each of us had to ride five or six horses for three quarters of an hour. We received the horses already saddled up.

It was always the same beasts that were allocated to each of us. Mine were called Bote, Bogumiel, Bianka, Bluff, Bodo and Bräutigam and I got along with them quite well because at first it was only important to keep in the saddle while the horses were moved in a walk or trot. After they had learned that lesson we tried to ride them in dressage style which was much more difficult. An experienced sergeant gave the commands and we 'ladies' were not really handled with kid gloves though always addressed politely. The greatest problems occured when the horses were to be accustomned to battle. To do so one of the instructors fired into the air with a carbine several times. That frightened not just the horses. Actually they got used to this quicker than me. Often officers of the highest ranks came to riding hall to look and asked how the female horse-breakers were doing.

In the afternoon after a two-hour break we had driving lessons. That was very boring but we had to learn handling the reins according to the 'Achenbach' method before we were allowed to to drive outside, first with the drag and then with various wagons. After that we rode the regular horses for an hour to improve our seat. Finally we cleaned our saddles and snaffles and combed the horses' manes and tails. Then time till supper was just sufficient to wash and change clothes.

We female horse-breakers had our own mess hall. Our food was monotonous and not particularly much. Especially we missed fruit and sweets. Often in the stable we stuffed our pockets with dried turnip chips that we ate in the breaks. It was said that this made the teeth white and shiny.

Despite the demanding work I was in town on my own or with some other girls frequently. Sometimes we even went our in our riding kit. Our commander had forbidden to do so as he feared anyway that male environment and men's work would make us coarsen. We in change regarded us as something special. And we were right about that because there were just 120 to 140 female horse-breakers in the German Wehrmacht scattered across six Military District Schools for Riding and Driving. We attended restaurants and wine bars, discussed professional matters with our male colleagues, ate and drank - if something was available- and were always politely escorted back to the gates of the old barracks. Most of the Sundays when we needn't do service we spent looking for cafes where cake was still served. This way I got to know beautiful downtown. Only for the Bamberg horseman I looked in vain. Forprotection against bombs the statue had been walled in. When the weather permitted I reconnoitered the surroundings on a borrowed bicycle.

In February the heavy air-raids against Nuremberg and Würzburg started. Some bombs hit Bamberg too. When Würzburg was burning we saw the nightly glow of the fire in the sky. Of course we had orders to go to the air-raid shelter during the ever increasing number of alerts. But I remember that I frequently stayed in bed though with a bad feeling. I was simply too tired.

Already in mid-February we could move our horses in the open. That was a great change after the monotonous service in the riding hall. Instead of the boring drag equipment we now steered the train horses on the riding yard and even in town. On such an occasion a terrible accident occured. The horses of one wagon shied away and ripped the vehicle ahead with such force that one of our female comrades standing on rear of the wagon crashed onto the cobblestone so unfortunately that she was dead immediately.

Despite we knew that the war i.e. the American army was coming closer each day service went on as usual. Even commander's riding on Sunday afternoon where the best female and male riders were allowed to ride the better horses and even trained a quadrille continued unabated. Short courses for ensigns and young officers still took place too.

March 1945 started with wonderful springtime weather, anemones and primulas were already blossoming. But the news - just a few - that reached us sounded more and more threatening. On March 25th the first US tanks made it to Aschaffenburg. I could not imagine what would happen to us. on Easter Monday a curfew was imposed. Our superiors
started to prepare a retreat. The horses that were to pull the train wagons and officers' coaches received horseshoes for their first time. To shoe the riding horses there was not enough time. Maybe there was a lack in horseshoes also. The train wagons were loaded with the field kitchen, provisions for men and horses, tools, spare harnesses and extra goods. One wagon was to carry the most essential luggage of the male and female riders. Each rider got handed out two saddle bags, a flask, a mess kit, a 'woillach' (a wool blanket) and a tent sheet. Any other personal belongings were stored in the cellars of a brewery.

References:
Annegrete Schwenck
Von zu Hause fort und wieder zurück. Tagebuchaufzeichnungen von Annegrete Schwenck.
Books on Demand, Norderstedt, 2009
pp. 6 - 17


Original text:

Annegrete Schwenck

Von zu Hause fort und wieder zurück
In Bamberg
Herbst 1944 - März 1945

Im Herbst 1944 hörte ich, dass junge Mädchen gesucht wurden, die Remonten für die Wehrmacht einreiten sollten, um Soldaten für die Front frei zu machen. Das war für mich die Gelegenheit, auch einmal von zu Hause fortzukommen, wieder mehr zu reiten und außerdem etwas "Kriegswichtiges" zu tun. Ich meldete mich für diese Tätigkeit und wurde von der Bamberger Wehrkreis Reit- und Fahrschule angenommen, nachdem ich im Oktober dort eine Aufnahmeprüfung bestanden hatte.

Am 04.11.1944, als die letzten Kartoffeln in der Scheune waren, machte ich mich mit einem schweren Koffer und voller Erwartungen auf die Reise. Nach sechsmaligem Umsteigen erreichte ich Bamberg am Abend, gerade bei Fliegeralarm.

Wir Bereiterinnen waren in der alten Kaserne in Zweibettzimmern untergebracht. Meine Zimmergenossin hatte die kärglich eingerichtete Stube mit Decken, Pferdebildern und Büchern ein wenig wohnlicher gemacht. Am nächsten Morgen wurde ich eingekleidet, denn wir galten als "Zivilangestellte, berechtigt zum Tragen einer Uniform". Man gab mir eine blau-graue Uniformjacke, graue Hemdblusen, einen schwarzen Schlips, einen Uniformmantel und eine Soldatenmütze. Eine Reithose und Reitstiefel sollten für mich nach Maß angefertigt werden. Schon nachmittags musste ich Stammpferde reiten. Das waren Pferde, die schon dressurmäßig geritten waren und auf ihnen bekamen wir jeden Tag Unterricht. Da war ich froh, dass ich mein eigenes Reitzeug mitgebracht hatte.

An der "Bamberger Wehrkreis Reit- und Fahrschule" gab es etwa 400 Pferde, die meisten von ihnen vierjährige Remonten aus Trakehnen, die frisch von der Koppel kamen. Etwa 80 Soldaten und Offiziere sowie 20 Bereiterinnen sollten diese Pferde für den Kriegsdienst ausbilden. Eine größere Zahl ungarischer und rumänischer Pferdepfleger mussten Pferde und Ställe sauber halten. Für die Fütterung waren deutsche Unteroffiziere verantwortlich, die Sattel und Zaumzeug hatte jeder Reiter selbst zu putzen. Die Schule hatte drei Reithallen und einen sehr großen Reitplatz. Unser täglicher Dienst begann um 07.00 Uhr morgens mit dem Zureiten der jungen Pferde. Bis mittags musste jede von uns fünf bis sechs Pferde eine dreiviertel Stunde lang reiten. Die Pferde wurden uns gesattelt übergeben.

Es waren immer dieselben Tiere, die eine jede von uns zugeteilt bekam. Meine hießen Bote, Bogumiel, Bianka, Bluff, Bodo und Bräutigam und ich kam ziemlich gut mit ihnen zurecht, denn zuerst kam es nur darauf an, im Sattel zu bleiben, während die Pferde in Schritt und Trab bewegt wurden. Nachdem sie diese Lektionen gelernt hatten, versuchten wir, sie dressurmäßig zu reiten, was viel schwieriger war. Ein erfahrener Wachtmeister gab die Befehle und wir "Damen" wurden nicht gerade mit Samthandschuhen angefasst, wenn auch immer höflich angeredet. Die größten Schwierigkeiten gab es, wenn die Pferde an den Krieg gewöhnt werden sollten. Dazu schoss einer der Ausbilder mit dem Karabiner mehrmals in die Luft. Das erschreckte nicht nur die Pferde. Sie gewöhnten sich allerdings schneller daran als ich. Oft kamen höchste Offiziere zum Zusehen in die Reithalle und um sich zu erkundigen, wie sich die Reiterinnen bewährten.

Am Nachmittag, nach zwei Stunden Pause, hatten wir Unterricht am Fahrgerät. Das war sehr langweilig, aber wir mussten die perfekte Zügelhaltung nach Methode "Achenbach" lernen, ehe wir zuerst mit der Schleppe und dann mit verschiedenen Wagen draußen fahren durften. Danach ritten wir eine Stunde lang die Stammpferde, um unseren Sitz
zu verbessern. Anschließend putzten wir Sattel und Trensen und kämmten unseren Pferden Mähnen und Schweife. Die Zeit bis zum Abendessen reichte gerade zum Waschen und Umziehen.

Wir Bereiterinnen hatten einen eigenen Essraum. Unsere Verpflegung war eintönig und nicht besonders reichlich. Vor allem fehlten uns Obst und Süßigkeiten. Oft stopften wir unsere Taschen im Stall mit getrockneten Rübenschnitzeln voll, die wir während der Pausen aßen. Es hieß, sie machten die Zähne weiß und glänzend.

Trotz des anstrengenden Dienstes war ich abends allein oder mit einigen anderen Mädchen oft in der Stadt. Manchmal gingen wir sogar in unserem Reitzeug aus. Unser Kommandeur hatte das zwar verboten, weil er sowieso fürchtete, wir würden in der männlichen Umgebung und bei der Männerarbeit verrohen. Wir dagegen empfanden uns als etwas Besonderes. Und damit hatten wir auch Recht, denn es gab in der Großdeutschen Wehrmacht nur 120 bis 140 Bereiterinnen auf sechs Reit und Fahrschulen verteilt. Wir gingen in die Restaurants oder Weinstuben, führten Fachgespräche mit unseren Reiterkameraden, aßen und tranken - wenn es etwas gab - und wurden stets höflich zum Tor der alten Kaserne zurückgebracht. Die dienstfreien Sonntage verbrachten wir meist auf der Suche nach Cafes, in denen noch Kuchen serviert wurde. Auf diesen Wegen lernte ich die schöne Altstadt gut kennen. Nur den Bamberger Reiter habe ich vergebens gesucht. Er war zum Schutz gegen Fliegerbomben eingemauert worden. Wenn es das Wetter erlaubte, erkundete ich die Umgebung auf einem geliehenen Fahrrad.

Im Februar begannen die schweren Luftangriffe auf Nürnberg und Würzburg. Auch auf Bamberg fielen einige Bomben. Als Würzburg brannte, sahen wir den nächtlichen Feuerschein am Himmel. Bei jedem der immer häufiger werdenden Alarme sollten wir natürlich in die Luftschutzkeller gehen. Aber ich erinnere mich, dass ich oft, wenn auch mit ungutem Gefühl, im Bett liegen blieb. Ich war einfach zu müde.

Schon Mitte Februar konnten wir unsere Pferde im Gelände bewegen. Das war eine herrliche Abwechslung nach dem eintönigen Dienst in der Reithalle. Statt des langweiligen Fahrgerätes lenkten wir nun Wagenpferde auf dem Reitplatz und auch schon in der Stadt. Dabei passierte ein fürchterliches Unglück. Die Pferde eines Wagens scheuten, rissen das Gefährt heftig nach vorn, und eine unserer Kameradinnen, die hinten auf dem Wagen stand, stürzte so unglücklich auf das Straßenpflaster, dass sie sofort tot war.

Zwar wussten wir, dass der Krieg, d. h. die amerikanische Armee, mit jedem Tag näherrückte, doch der Dienst ging weiter wie gehabt. Sogar das Kommandeursreiten am Sonnabendnachmittag, bei dem die besten Reiterinnen und Reiter die besseren Pferde reiten durften und sogar eine Quadrille einübten, fand weiterhin statt. Auch Zeitlehrgänge für Fähnriche und junge Offiziere wurden noch abgehalten.

Der März 1945 begann mit herrlichem Frühlingswetter, Anemonen und Primeln blühten schon. Die Nachrichten - wenige nur - die uns zu Ohren kamen aber klangen immer bedrohlicher. Am 25. März 1945 waren die ersten US-Panzer bis Aschaffenburg gelangt. Ich konnte mir nicht vorstellen, was aus uns werden sollte. Am Ostermontag wurde
Ausgangssperre verhängt. Unsere Vorgesetzten fingen an, eine Absetzbewegung vorzubereiten. Die Pferde, die Trosswagen und Kutschen für die Offiziere ziehen sollten, wurden das erste Mal beschlagen. Für das Beschlagen der Reitpferde reichte die Zeit nicht. Vielleicht gab es auch nicht genug Hufeisen. Die Trosswagen wurden mit Feld-
küche, Verpflegung für Mensch und Tier, Werkzeug, Ersatzgeschirr und Marketenderwaren beladen. Ein Wagen war für das allernötigste Gepäck von Reitern und Reiterinnen vorgesehen. Jeder Reiter bekam zwei Packtaschen, eine Feldflasche und Kochgeschirr und einen "Woillach"*, das war eine Wolldecke, und eine Zeltbahn ausgehändigt.
Alles was wir sonst noch an persönlichen Habseligkeiten besaßen, wurde in den Kellern einer Brauerei eingelagert.
* (Woillach = Pad und Decke, mehrere Schichten nehmen die Reibung weg)


Best regards
Torsten
Last edited by Heimatschuss on 13 Aug 2009 22:12, edited 1 time in total.

Stephan
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Re: Women in German Army Uniform?

Post by Stephan » 08 Aug 2009 22:00

Heimatschuss wrote:...
Despite we knew that the war i.e. the American army was coming closer each day service went on as usual. Even commander's riding on Sunday afternoon where the best female and male riders were allowed to ride the better horses and even trained a quadrille continued unabated. Short courses for ensigns and young officers still took place too.

March 1945 started with wonderful springtime weather, anemones and primulas were already blossoming. But the news - just a few - that reached us sounded more and more threatening. ..



This is a little OT but quite interesting. The training and everyday work was completely as usual as late as february-march 1945... I presume it was so also in other places too where they had not open war activities.

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Vikki
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Re: Women in German Army Uniform?

Post by Vikki » 18 Aug 2009 04:51

Stephan wrote:This is a little OT but quite interesting. The training and everyday work was completely as usual as late as february-march 1945... I presume it was so also in other places too where they had not open war activities.


The same thought had occurred to me, Stephan, and a little surprise that regular activities were going on that late.

This is fascinating information, Torsten! Of course the information about the uniforms, the Helferinnen's status as "civilian employees entitled to wear uniforms", and Schwenck's observation of the end of the war are valuable details. But of course, I also find her comments on the equestriennes' duties and the details of stable life and routine fascinating. :D

A little OT as well, but below, some photos of the Trakehner she mentions to accompany her account. From Pferde und Reiter in aller Welt by A.R. Marsani and Major a. D.W. Braun (Berlin: Wilhelm-Limpert Verlag, 1939)

Best,
~Vikki
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Vikki
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Re: Women in German Army Uniform?

Post by Vikki » 18 Aug 2009 04:53

A couple more from the same source:
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Re: Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)

Post by Vikki » 18 Aug 2009 05:25

By the way, I've changed the title of this thread from "Women in German Army Uniforms?" to one that better reflects its content: "Female Horse-breakers (Bereiterinnen)".

Best,
~Vikki

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