When Researching Your Novel Scares You: Daily Life in the Third Reich
Propaganda photo of the Volkssturm. This civilian militia appears
to be well armed, but in fact borrowed their weapons from a regular
army unit and had to give them back after the parade. The Volkssturm
received castoff uniforms or no uniforms at all. The most appropriate
uniform would have been a big bulls-eye on their chest
I’m in the process of researching one of my upcoming novels, Volkssturm, about the German civilian militia formed in October 1944. The Volkssturm called up all able-bodied men aged 16 to 60 who weren’t already in uniform. It also brought in some women. Most of these people weren’t particularly fit, or had been working in essential jobs such as armament factories and had been made redundant due to chronic shortage of material and Allied bombing. Even those who remained in essential jobs often served in local Volkssturm units charged with protecting their home area. The idea was to launch “total war” against the Allied invaders and save the homeland from devastation. We all know how well that worked out.