# Did German soldiers receive pay after the Allied invasion?

The German war machine was well organized, the logistics were quite accurate and I can only imagine that they also were quite on time with wages payment before the Allied invasion in France.

My question is: Did German soldiers receive pay after the Allied invasion of France in June 1944?

A deeper question is: Did German soldiers that survived the world war receive pay for their services and, if they did, what government payed them?

• Why do you think D-Day would be the point in the war where German soldiers might stop receiving their pay? It's not as if the German war effort wasn't in total disarray well before that date. (Smelling the usual "western bias" at play.) – DevSolar Feb 20 '18 at 15:36
• As for pay, the Reichsmark was mostly meaningless post-war, as most things were available on coupons only. A pack of cigarettes was (black market) currency, RM wasn't. By 1948, the Reichsmark was history. – DevSolar Feb 20 '18 at 15:40
• From the wording of your question, I wonder if you believe that the Wehrmacht soldiers were kept enlisted after WWII and during the Allied occupation of Germany, am I right? – SJuan76 Feb 20 '18 at 22:37
• @Mech_Engineer: I figured you'd be thinking that. Be aware that, while the US sees Operation Overlord as "the big thing", and it certainly was an unprecedented achievement, from the point of view of the German government it wasn't "the big turning point". Germany lost as many troops in Stalingrad ('42/'43) alone as they lost fighting the western Allies throughout the whole war -- Europe and North Africa combined. By June 1944, Goebbel's speech about "total war" was 16 months old... – DevSolar Feb 21 '18 at 9:17
• Long story short, I would recommend you edit the question so that it asks whether German soldiers received pay right up to the end of the war, and if not, when pay stopped -- without referring to any particular "turning point". – DevSolar Feb 21 '18 at 9:45

I think that D-Day could be a point were the government decided to direct all funds into the war effort as in weapons, food, etc.

If you are a totalitarian state in a total war setting, money is not that important.

In a market economy with other factors yes, paying salaries has effects in production. People want to buy new things, and capitalists/individual workers direct their effort to produce the things the public wants (food, clothing, building, enterteinment, transport, etc.) diverting that workforce and production means away from more "war-friendly" production.

But in Germany in 19441, things were not like that.

It would not matter how many "money" the public had, Porsche or Volkswagen could not have decided on their own to stop producing military equipment in order to sell more private vehicles. And even if you were a company that had no direct orders about what to produce, you would not have access to the raw materials, and your workers would have been subject to conscription.

Some consumer goods were produced, of course, as people needed food, clothes and other basic stuff, but those would have been rationed so more pay would not have helped.

Of course as the war advanced and less and less goods were available to the public, that did lead to the logic inflation, as items at "official" price became scarce and black market did flourish; in a sense you could say that the state did cut the soldiers pay by creating the conditions for this scarcity and inflation, but without the public face loss of actually reducing the soldiers'pay slip.

And of course, DevSolar is right that "the turning point" was not D-Day and that a more relevant refence would have been the defeat at Stalingrad and the German reaction to it; if you want more precision the Sportpalast speech on 18 February 1943 is routinely quoted as the beginning of total war by Nazi Germany.

1And in fact almost all other countries involved, including those that were way more liberal and less in danger than Germany in 1944 did also enact rationing and government control of the economy in order to support the war effort.

• This is actually incorrect. Hitler and the Nazis cared more about the comfort of war and public opinion than the democracies or the communist states... This is why the Nazis ran a gun and butter economy all the way to 1943 (consumer economy dropped by just 3% in the first 3 years of the war). Even during total war, they didn't allocate their resources in a very sensible way, devoting a lot of resources on multiple lines of advanced research, refusing to standardize on a small number of decent fighting platforms, and continuing the transportation of people to the death camps... – sofa general May 24 at 14:36

Yes, the German soldiers were being paid after June 6, 1944.

Consider the case of the Merkers mine, where most of the gold reserves of Germany, plus a lot of looted artwork and precious metals, plus a substantial amount of printed Reichsmark and the plates to print them, had been moved not long before the Reichsbank in Berlin (the normal repository for Germany's financial reserves) had been destroyed by bombing. Third Army overran this area and were told about the contents of the mine by French and Polish workers who had moved the contents into the mine. This prompted considerable interest from high command.

Eisenhower and Patton were touring the mine, guided by Col Bernard Bernstein, deputy chief of the financial division of SHAEF, who had been detailed to supervise the safeguarding and inventorying of the mine.

Bernstein also showed the generals the art treasures, plates the Reichsbank used for the printing of the Reichsmark currency, and the currency itself. While they were looking at the latter, a German official said that they were the last reserves in Germany and were badly needed to pay the German army.

So, yes, the soldiers were being paid in Reichsmark right up until the monetary reserves of Germany were captured.

• While this is interesting, I am afraid it misses the point. Gold reserves are not directly related to the money that is being paid out to soldiers. What is paid out is basically just paper (or, with bank transfers, not even that; but they were not paid in bank transfers). – 0range Feb 26 '18 at 21:44
• If you read the account, you find two things: that a great deal of paper currency was also found at Merkers, with more found at the bombed railway station (an attempt to relocate it), and that a Wehrmacht officer indicated that this included the army's payroll, indicating that they were still being paid. – tj1000 Feb 27 '18 at 2:39
• Alright, thanks for clarifying. I would suggest to emphasize the bit about the printed Reichsmark in the mine being needed for paying the army a little more. As it stands, the post may lead to the impression that gold reserves and where they were hidden is somehow related to the question. – 0range Feb 27 '18 at 4:03

The German state always cared for its soldiers and veterans. The soldiers were paid for as long as possible (long after June 44), receiving regular soldier's pay ("Wehrsold"). After the war they, and/or their relatives, received pensions and other benefits as soon as possible, as long as possible and as widely as possible, even exploiting loopholes in legal definitions; running contrary to publicly emphasised politics.

As for the regular pensions of regular Wehrmacht soldiers, the Allies – now after the war having the last word on everything regarding Germany until 1955 – had differing opinions on and arguments about that:

Colonel Gomme-Duncan: Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that these officers and men earned their pensions as soldiers before the war, and surely in every sense of justice are entitled to them? We should not expect the Germans to take away the pensions of our men. (15 March 1948 → Commons Sitting → Germany)

But the general agreement was reached that soldiers were entitled to pensions.

The actual pay during the war for active personnel was never in question at the time, from neither side.

After D-Day soldier's pay continued orderly and well into the last weeks of 1945. Although, as much as the organisational structure of Reich and Wehrmacht crumbled near the end, pay in terms of money became increasingly less useful.

Even though money was loosing utility near the end of the war and shortly after the capitulation, the Wehrsold was paid out with meticulous reliability. "As long as possible" mentioned in the introduction to this answer means, that as long as soldiers were attached to their organisational structure, Wehrsold was paid. This might be read as "right until the end in May 1945". In reality Wehrsold was paid even after that point:

Showing that some individuals were paid for up until October 1945. This is no fluke. Although not the norm this applies to quite a number of soldiers. For this particular individual it was:

It finally surrendered to US troops near Vienna, Austria on May 5, 1945. It is possible that Woditsch was part of this division, if he joined them after recovering from his illness or injuries in time, and, if he survived the war, ended up as a POW of the Americans. Interestingly, he was still paid a salary of 36 Reichsmark in October 1945, indicating that he survived the war.

You might wonder how a soldier got his regular pay even after May 1945. The organisational structure of the Wehrmacht was not immediately and completely dismantled everywhere! After the unconditional surrender in the second week of May 1945 the German head of state Karl Dönitz continued a German government in Flensburg, very weakened and de facto without any much territory to control, trying to negotiate with the allies over some details. This ended only on May 23rd when all remaining troops surrendered and together with the officers were captured as prisoners of war.

The mystery of continued payments even after May 23rd, 1945 is explained in how British and Americans organised the adminstration of their "Disarmed Enemy Forces" (DEF) or "Surrendered Enemy Personnel" (SEP). After the Fall of Berlin English and American forces corralled German soldiers, but left them with a certain degree of self-administration. In the American sector:

Ende Mai […]. Die Militärkommission der 6. USArmy Group […]. Die enge Zusammenarbeit blieb also gewährleistet. Das war um so nötiger, als sich das Schwergewicht nun zunehmend auf die Geldversorgung verlagerte. […] Die Militärkommission überließ daher Verfahren und Verantwortung für die ordnungsgemäße Durchführung dem Oberbefehlshaber Süd […] Sie stellte als Grundbetrag 200 Millionen Reichsmark (RM) in Aussicht, von denen die Hälfte auf einem Girokonto der Deutschen Reichsbank – so hieß sie damals ja noch – in München für unbaren Geldverkehr und als Reserve verbleiben sollte, während die anderen 100 Millionen RM der Leitende Intendant für die notwendigen Zahlungen zu eigener Verfügung erhielt. Damit konnte zunächst der Wehrsold, auf den ja auch für die den Kriegsgefangenen rechtlich gleichstehenden Entwaffneten ein Anspruch bestand und dessen Zahlung, je nach der Kassenlage der Einheiten, seit dem 10. Mai eingestellt worden war, wieder gezahlt werden.
(Summary: after the payments had stopped after May, 10 in 1945, the Americans ordered money transfers and authorised local authorities to distribute the money to the soldiers who still had a legal claim on the money.)
(From: Kurt Nothnagel: "Die »Dienststelle Fritsch« Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Versorgung der entwaffneten deutschen Wehrmachtangehörigen in der amerikanischen Besatzungszone, 1945-1947", Militärgeschichtliche Zeitschrift, Volume 21, Issue 1, 1977.)

The last remnants of the Wehrmacht were only dissolved in December 1945 and the Wehrsold stopped.

Returning to the pensions, still paid out: The currently official stance on pension claims and benefits is:

Die Zeit als Kriegsteilnehmer bei der deutschen Wehrmacht wird nach der Vollendung des 14. Lebensjahres als Ersatzzeit anerkannt.
(The time as a war participant in the German Wehrmacht is recognized after the completion of the 14th year of life as a time eligible to count for a pensions claim; the time in the army counts as compensatory for regular work time with associated contributions to the pensions fund.)
Info from an answer to a request to the official pensions institutions in Germany)

After 1956, every deed anyone did by order of the German Reich in officially recognised organisations or institutions was bureaucratically classified as regular work, eligible for pensions, even without the claimants having paid into the funds of solidarity otherwise required for that.

For more details on how and when pensions to soldiers were agreed upon and came to be paid after the war, cf.
Alaric Searle: "Wehrmacht Generals, West German Society, and the Debate on Rearmament, 1949-1959", Praeger Frederick: Westport, 2003.
The above is exclusively for West-Germany and unified Germany after 1990. The GDR handled things a little differently, and less generous. For these details:
Johannes Frerich & Martin Frey: "Sozialpolitik in der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik", De Gruyter: Berlin, Boston, 22014. (Some extracts on GBooks, p24f.)

1: This version of the answer was self-censored by the original author of this post due to popular request. A more detailed explanation is found in version 15 in the edit history. Do not go there and read that version if you are easily offended.

• It's a simple yes/no question. But no occasion can be missed to push one's own agenda about Germans – matcheek Feb 20 '18 at 22:02
• @matcheek A "simple" one word answer is no good SE answer. I doubt you seek this kind of non-answer on your questions. If you can point to factual inaccuracies, or other shortcomings, in this answer, please do. – LangLangC Feb 20 '18 at 22:05
• This answer seems more focused in denouncing the GFR (and GDR) politics after WWII than in answering the OP question. I while I personally agree that the leniency, largesse and wilfull ignorance shown by German authorities towards many WWII criminals is deplorable (and there were some situations even worse than those mentioned here), I feel that answers should try to A) try to be answering the question and B) have a tone as neutral as possible (while I aknowledge the emotions that these situations may raise). – SJuan76 Feb 21 '18 at 0:03
• @SJuan76 Thx for feedback. A) Doesn't it answer the questions? Pay was paid for as long as possible (long after June 44), and pensions as soon as possible, as long as possible and as widely as possible, even exploiting loopholes in legal definitions; running contrary to publicly emphasised politics. b) I maybe tone-deaf to an extant on that rudeness register, but what is non-factual and biased in this answer? Honestly, show me and will update to try to be more "neutral". – Of course, you're by policy entitled and by me invited to edit… – LangLangC Feb 21 '18 at 0:12
• ...and the quote and surrounding verbalization would be quite OK in an answer that had a more neutral general outlook. Yours, on the other hand, dismisses the whole pension system as something to "keep the old folks quiet and support the status quo" in the second paragraph. That's (part of) what I meant when I called your answer "rather opinionated". Your defensive posture here in the comments just reinforces that impression. – DevSolar Feb 21 '18 at 16:45

It is my understanding that while the regular Wehrmacht soldiers were generally entitled to pay and pensions, members of the SS and Waffen-SS were not. The SS was declared a criminal organisation during the Nuremberg trials and so all payments and service was stopped at that point. Conscripts, after 1943, were exempt from the declaration of criminal activity.

Stein, George (2002) [1966]. The Waffen-SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War 1939–1945. Cerberus Publishing. ISBN 978-1841451008.

• Plz read Law 104, Mar 5, 1946 (changed 23 Oct 1947 (902), 29 Mar 1948 (922), 31 Mar 1948 (923), 31 Jul 2016 (RGBl-1607131-N24). And perhaps this or that or this to read in contrast to WP – LangLangC May 24 at 8:34