Tracing German Erkennungsmarken.
One of the most personal of items belonging to any combatant is their dog tags or hundemarke in the singular term for the German during WW2.
It is therefore not surprising that one of the most frequent requests to the site is for assistance in identifying the owner of German identity discs when they are either found in the fields or acquired by someone curious to know a little more about their latest addition.
Above left is an example of a response from the Deutsches Dienstelle in Berlin in response to German dog tags being sent to them. In the case of all the Erkennungsmarken shown on this page they were found at the site of one of the huge POW compounds set up by the US Army near the Rhine in 1945. In these compounds many thousands of former enemy forces were forced to live in the most primitive of conditions, the numbers of prisoners simply being too many to administer. At above right are just five of the many items uncovered and the fate of the owners is explained below.
The letter continued thus:
"The fate of the following Erkennungsmarken owners can only be made possible if it can be proved, beyond reasonable doubt, that these items were found associated with human remains".
For the wearers of the following EM:
3./Infantry Ersatz Battalion 423, stammrollnummer 1119
2./Infantry Ersatz Battalion 358, stammrollnummer 5939
Stab/Infantry Ersatz Battalion 380, stammrollnummer 50
Reiter Ersatz Squadron 15, stammrollnummer 644
These are still listed as missing or have been notified as dead.
Unless you are a living relative of a former Axis combatant then it is no longer possible to obtain a more detailed response from the German authorities.
The letter continued:
"The wearers of the Erkennungsmarken with the legend 138 RAD 4273 and 2054 Bad Voskau could not be determined".
WW2 Battlefield Relics would always recommend that if any German identity tag fragments or complete items are discovered whilst out walking the battlefields or former prisoner of war camps in mainland Europe or North Africa that, if there is any evidence of human remains then the German Authorities should always be contacted.
If there are no obvious remains associated with the tag they can still be returned to the Deutsches Dienstelle in Berlin, with a letter saying where and when they were found. In the case of the letter above the items were checked by them before being returned to the finder.
We are always pleased to assist in deciphering German Erkennungsmarken when asked to do so. We have also helped other battlefield archaeologists in arranging for German soldiers who have been found on battlefields to be returned to Germany for burial and for their families to finally have closure on the fate of a long lost family member.
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