nurses at the front

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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nurses at the front

Post by j.klinsmann » 04 Jul 2012 15:36

Hi Everyone

many thanks for looking at my post, I really need some help for my wife

Did Nurses at the front, wear coveralls or kielhosen other than standard white apron or front schwester type grey uniform

did they wear a type of combat clothing ?/

what im trying to do is get some pics fro my wife as we belong to a re enactment society

Very Kind regards to all who look and hopefully post

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Re: nurses at the front

Post by Heimatschuss » 08 Aug 2012 22:12

Hello Jurgen,

sorry to disappoint you but in general nurses didn't serve at the front as something like 'combat medics'.

The only exception I've encountered so far where nurses were part of a frontline unit according to the official organization scheme was a Volkssturm unit from Stettin called HJ-Bataillon Murswiek or HJ-Alarmbataillon Murswiek. While its' companies were staffed largely by Hitler Youth boys with an occasional seasoned soldier amongst them each company also had a medic team of four BDM-Führerinnen. Their job was not only tending the wounded but also advising the boys on doing their laundry and mending socks (Nemitz, 2000, p.27). So it wasn't a duty very glamorous (though on a second thought, advising die-hard Hitler-Youths on how to mend their socks is a task even more heroic than throwing yourself in front of a T-34 with an anti-tank mine :lol: ). I've visited the book only via GoogleBooks, it doesn't seem to contain any info on their uniforms.

According to regulations nurses were not to be employed in field hospitals below corps level, i.e. 50 or 60 kilometers behind the frontline at least. In case of a massive enemy breakthrough they could get in danger though. A number of nurses were trapped in the Stalingrad pocket and had to be flown out. We have a thread on them here ... s#p1273957.

A similar situation could arise when one of Germany's allies changed sides suddenly. I've seen an account somewhere of two sisters, Countesses Pia and Toto of Praschma that went MIA in summer 1944 in NE Romania. They were Red Cross nurses in the area of the reformed 6th Army and were last seen in the company of one of the corps commanders after the front collapsed. Their trace then disppears just like that of the general. (See nos. 81. and 82. of this genealogy index for example

With the collapse of the Reich gathering speed in 1945 such cases became more frequent because an evacuation of all hospitals became less and less feasible. On the other hand there were some cases when female volunteers joined combat units. Here's something about a girl from Cologne who served in the Volkssturm as a medic: ... 69#p983369 ... 78#p968578

There's a similar case mentioned somewhere in von Ahlfen (1998). A local nurse joined an infantry unit in Silesia in Feb./Mar 1945 and even participated in several counter-attacks, winning the Iron Cross. No details on her unfortunately, not even a name or a reference.

If it was a regular situation one can assume that till early 1945 nurses in a combat theatre did wear normal female DRK items, i.e. a grey costume, a work smock with blue and white stripes or the grey work dress. See the chapter on Red Cross uniforms in Angolia (1995) for details. There were two b/w photos on Ebay though years ago showing a group of Red Cross nurses on the Eastern front that wore jackboots (or wellingtons perhaps), overalls of blue or dark grey colour and the typical white caps. They were visiting a tank unit. I have the pics somewhere on the harddrive of my old computer but don't have access to that at the moment. If needed I can post them here when I'm back home.

I've also seen some accounts of Luftwaffe-Helferinnen and Heer-Nachrichtenhelferinnen stationed in Northern France and Belgium in Aug/Sept 1944 that were simply transferred to hospital duty because the regular personnel couldn't cope with the very high number of casualties any longer. They simply kept the uniforms they had. For another example see the Helferin in centre of this photo ... 3#p1281263. On a similar note during the retreat from SW France a number of Heer-Nachrichtenhelferinnen removed the Heer eagle and and the rank insignia from their tunics and simply posed as Red Cross personnel since the basic costume was the same. Having some sick at hand surely made their appearance even more convincing.

After early 1945 it's anything goes if you're willing to accept scenarios of moderate possibilty: German Red Cross (DRK) uniforms, NSV uniforms, dress of free-lance nurses, habit of religous orders involved in tending sick, BDM or even a hodgepodge of male items like Maria from Cologne.


von Ahlfen, Hans
Der Kampf um Schlesien 1944 - 1945.
8th ed., Motorbuch Verlag; Stuttgart; 1998

Angolia, John R.
In the Service of the Reich.
James Bender Publishing; San José, (Ca.); 1995

Nemitz, Werner
Kriegsende eines HJ-Volkssturmsoldaten.
Books on Demand, Norderstedt, 2000

Best regards

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Re: Nurses at the front

Post by nobodyofnote » 09 Aug 2012 05:26

I won't republish this photo, but you can find it in this message here: ... 5#p1703347

It is often said she is a Swedish nurse with Nordland, but I've read other discussions that she was an auxiliary or even a civilian. The claim is made due to the fact of a first aid kit placed next to her in the rear of the half-track. If she could be identified that would settle the debate once and for all.

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