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by Robert Frey

Re-Printed from “Die Nationale Volksarmee –

Journal for the Society of East German Militaria Collectors, #14, Winter 1996-97


The identity discs {dog tags} of the NVA trace their heritage at least to the First World War. Figure One illustrates the first type of ID disc that was worn in the beginning of the war. It bears only the organization I.R. {infantry regiment}, the number {30}, the Company {8 C}, and the number assigned to the soldier by the regiment {752}. These tags were worn on a cord around the neck, often woven in the colors of their particular State within the German empire. Most men, however, carried their tag either in the left inside breast pocket, attached to their suspenders, or in a leather bag used as a pocketbook and hung around the neck.

The second type, Figure Two appeared, later in the war and was serrated so that it could easily be broken in two, leaving one half with the body and the other half to be retained by the proper authorities. It also contained a great deal more Information, beginning at the top with the soldiers name {Karl Frey}, address {BERLIN ADLER STR 15}. Date of birth {111 90}, and finally the unit designation {SACHS.UL.REGT.NR12 } Sachen Uhlan Regiment number 12. This type was also worn on a cord.

Figure Three illustrates the type of ID disc worn by German troops during the Second World War. These discs generally show only the individual's number which was assigned by his unit {305}, the unit designation and its number {Bau Kp 2/44}, Construction Troop, and the soldiers blood group {A}.

The identity numbers shown in Figure Four was used by the NVA and as can be seen is somewhat different than the earlier types. NVA discs indicate the date of birth {14 03 42}, the military district {4}, and the serial number assigned to the individual. The reverse contains an entry area for the RH factor but no blood group was shown on the example that was provided. It would be assumed that this would have been included. There are also four serrations on the NVA discs rather than the three that had been used since WWI.

The exact method of wear is uncertain, but examples currently on the market may be found in the configuration shown in Figure Five. The disc is attached by a light cord to a raindrop pattern pouch that has a waterproof heavy plastic type liner inside. The Wehrdienstausweis {Military Service Identity Book} fits into this liner pocket and may have been worm in this manner. It should be noted however that the cord is of a very light weight material and may not have held up to field Service. Also this manner of wear would have been somewhat cumbersome. The Navy middy has a sewn in pouch at the "V" of the neck that serves the same purpose as the rain pattern pouch.

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