Manteuffel Kaserne During the War Years - Part II
The history of Manteuffel Kaserne during the war years is fairly well
documented. The barracks was used as the training center for the 13th
Medical Replacement Battalion. In pre war years, this unit existed as
a training company but with the huge expansion of the army to support
the war, it was expanded to battalion size and moved to Bad Kissingen.
One source also finds a second medical training battalion in Bad
Kissingen, however, this may be an error, no other evidence places the
unit in the area during the war. The barracks also had small
administrative offices to support the local draft board and a military
supply purchasing agent.
Click on the icon
below to open the album
training cadre of the 13th Medical Training Battalion pose for an
early war photo at Manteuffel Kaserne.
German infantry divisions were built up and supplied with replacement
personnel on a regional basis; this was somewhat similar to the US
Army National Guard and Reserve system. By grouping recruits and
draftees as much as possible from one region, an instant bond was
formed between both new personnel and "old hands" within the unit.
Once established divisions deployed to the front, training battalions
moved into the vacated barracks to provide replacements to both active
units and new divisions under construction at the major training
areas. Within this regional system, certain barracks took on
specialized training roles. Bad Kissingen was located in military
district - Wehrkreis XIII, the immediate regional HQ was in Nurnberg.
Manteuffel Kaserne, once the staff of the 13th Medical Battalion
arrived, assumed the mission of training field medical personnel. Upon
completion of training, these men most probably were then assigned to
the twenty - eight infantry divisions raised from the north central
portion of Bavaria during the course of the war.
It appears purely coincidental that Bad Kissingen, with its high
density of doctors and clinics in support of the Kur industry of the
town, should become the home of a training unit for medics. No links
have been found between the civil side of medicine and the activities
at the barracks. Perhaps the limited training areas of Reitersresen
had something to do with the decision, perhaps many of the reservists
with medical backgrounds recalled to duty to flesh out the 13th
Battalion staff were working in the clinics and spas in the Bad
Kissingen area, perhaps the decision was just a staff plan at a
distant headquarters that seemed to make sense at the time. As of yet,
there is no conclusive evidence.
Beyond stray photographs that occasionally turn up, we have four
excellent visual sources from this period, all photo albums assembled
by officers and enlisted men stationed at Manteuffel Kaserne.
Photography and creating souvenir albums were enormously popular
pastimes in Germany and while they may not always tell a complete
story, nevertheless, they provide fascinating glimpses into military
life in Bad Kissingen during the war years.
Album 1 was assembled by a soldier receiving training at Manteuffel
early in the war. We never learn his name or fate and the captions add
only sparse information but the images provide a wealth of detail into
the days of a medic trainee. As expected, the first part of training
consisted of basic soldier skills: marching, marksmanship, gas mask
confidence exercise and field medic training.
Then, the soldier moves to a military hospital in Amberg for classroom
training and experience in a clinical environment. After a period of
time, he returns to Manteuffel to apparently wait for orders to report
to his gaining unit. Interestingly, during this brief second stay, the
soldier and his friends must live in the former Kradschutzen motor
shops; all of the barracks space is occupied by the next rotation of
soldiers beginning training. The final photo in the album finds the
soldier who took the pictures and his friends at the Bad Kissingen
Bahnhof, waiting for the train to take them to their next assignment
and into the war.
The second album was built by trainees and staff as a gift to Captain
- Doctor Michel, a staff officer and company commander in the 13th
Medical Training Replacement Battalion in celebration of his 34th
birthday. The photos detail the life of the 2nd Company as they go
through basic training as supervised by this officer. No written
explanation accompanies the individual images but professional
captioning did divide the album into broad sections. As with the first
album, we have no idea what became of the Doctor, however, the album
provides a counterpoint to the enlisted life as seen in album 1. Of
note, often the last image contained in albums of this period was the
official death notice or photograph of the field burial site of the
soldier if he died during the war. Neither album contained such
Album 3 records the events of a single day, 22 November 1941, for the
officers and senior NCOs of the 13th Medical Training Battalion. On
that day, these men participated in a “ hunting ride “ - a horse
mounted steeple chase followed by a formal reception. The album has a
beautifully hand drawn image of a military rider and horse in mid jump
and a brief title. The photographs were not captioned but the events
of the day are easy enough to follow. In all probability, several
copies of this album were probably produced as souvenirs for the
participants. The man who received this particular copy did not
identify himself through words or markings on any of the images.
The final album of the collection recalls the variety stage show put
on by the men of the training unit in November 1943 as a fund raising
effort for the German Winter Aid charity campaign. The album,
assembled as a formal gift to the battalion commander was
professionally photographed and captioned in a beautiful rendering of
old German script with a rhyming scheme in keeping with the comedy of
the stage presentation. The Boys in the Band, found in the Hidden
Story section, tells the story of this event. Follow the icon to view
the full collection of images and rough translations of the captions.
Revised Dec 2006