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I have often wondered how the death or injury of a soldier was reported along the chain of command all the way back to the family. From the moment a soldier was killed who was informed and how was it reported? 

There was a brief discussion about this on AHF and it seems that the first the family would know about someone being killed would be when they received a letter from the man's Company Commander - no priest or political representative turning up to inform them, no telegram from a central issuing authority that coordinated such things (think of the Mel Gibson film We Were Soldiers where the taxi driver delivers the telegrams) but the postman delivering a letter straight from the front. I suppose with the losses being sustained such local people couldn't be spared for the time it would take to get around to see everyone but I am surprised that there did't seem to be some sort of central authority in each district (Wehrkreis) responsible for breaking the news. Such Wehrkreis level units did perform admin tasks with regards to the deceased soldier whereby they would forward on the man's Wehrpass and any associated paperwork to the family but this could be weeks or months afterwards.

So, can anyone shed any light on how the man's unit reported the death and the chain that information followed from Division upwards to whatever authority and then down the chain to the family? Loss lists for units do exist so the men were reported officially but to who, and then who did the next link in the chain report it to?

This example for a Johann Merkle from Pionier-Kp 707 seems to show the report was passed to the Ersatz Unit in Ingolstadt but would it of been passed up to Korps level, then Army Group level for them to send back to the Ersatz unit or would it of bypassed them all and gone straight back to the home based depot?




At the other, family, end the following items would seem to be the course of how they would receive news of the man's death and subsequent arrangements but a letter from the Company Commander being the first news just seems to bypass official channels, if such channels existed, although I have no doubt that it is how a lot of families found out about the death of a loved one.


First, the letter from the Kompanie-Chef reporting the death..



This was then followed a whole 5 months later by the sending via the local Wehrmeldeamt of the man's Wehrpass to his family (so where did they get the authority from to know to do this?):


This was followed by his Death Certificate and related paperwork 6 months after his death:





And if possible the unit would send a photo of his field grave:


For completeness, here is his entry in the Volksbund and a photo of his grave today.


Edited by hucks216

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