U.S. Carbines in Germany and Austria

and the
U.S. M1 Carbine

The History

The American Occupation Zone The British Occupation Zone National Agencies Additional Info
Bavaria Berlin Lower Saxony Border Guard Accessories
Bremen Enclave Hessen Bundeswehr Oddities
Wurttemberg-Baden Labor Service Parts


The primary focus of the information on this website is the history of the U.S. M1 carbines used by Germany after the war. German use of the M1 carbine during the war has stimulated a fair amount of interest and, more often than not, is based on a series of photographs that are not what they appear to be. Courtesy of the Nazi propaganda efforts.

A web page devoted to this topic and discussion of all of the material discovered so far, can be viewed at the link below.

German use of the U.S. M1 carbine during WWII

Germany: May 8, 1945

Germany is roughly 137,847 square miles. It is smaller than Montana, but larger than New Mexico. On V-E Day (Victory Europe Day), spread throughout Germany, were over 1.6 million U.S. troops organized into 59 divisions, 15 corps, 5 armies, and 2 army groups.

In American custody, there were over 6 million enemy combatants that needed to be processed and war criminals identified. Hundreds of thousands of Allied prisoners of war were being released and repatriated. There were over 2.5 million displaced persons (DPs) that had been moved around Europe as forced laborers, and were now wandering homeless throughout Germany like gypsies. These, and other refugees, former political prisoners, and concentration camp survivors added to the crushing demand for food, clothing, and shelter. Add to this the German population of approximately 13 million, many of whom were also in need of the basic necessities for life.

Most of the major cities in Germany had sustained significant damage. Water, electricity, fuel for heat, and food were in very short supply, and working telephones were virtually non-existent. Germany's politically administrated infrastructure and support system had totally collapsed.

Many foreigners (including soldiers) sought revenge against the citizens of Germany, with resultant looting and violence. Individuals taking advantage of the lawlessness for personal profit (including soldiers) were a widespread problem. The Allied troops that were left to deal with this chaotic situation could not handle it alone. Fortunately, the Allies had anticipated these problems, and prepared for them prior to the end of the war. [Occupation Forces in Europe Series 1945-1946 & 1946-1947, Office of the Chief Historian, European Command, U.S. Army Forces Europe] [The U.S. Army in The Occupation of Germany 1944-1946 by Earl F. Ziemke]

U.S. Policy & Procedures for Public Safety

Government and public safety were the responsibility of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) G-5 Division (Civil Affairs). Its Public Safety Branch controlled the military police, which could be reinforced by allied forces if it became necessary. [FM 27-5 U.S. Army Manual of Military Government and Civil Affairs, FM 27-5]

To understand the history of the U.S. M1 Carbines used by Germany after WWII, and interpret the markings on these carbines, it is necessary to understand the Allied Occupation in general, the American Occupation Zone specifically, and the U.S. Office of Military Government (OMGUS) as they related to rebuilding the German political infrastructure and law enforcement.

Transition from Surrender to Occupation

The London Protocol between the Allied Governments, signed on September 12, 1944, declared that at the end of the war, Germany would be divided along historical and political boundaries into three occupation zones, one each for the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom. At the Crimean (Yalta) Conference in February 1945, it was decided that France would be given an occupation zone from portions of the American and British zones.

On the day the war ended, Allied Forces were spread all over Europe, and it took a number of months for them to relocate into their respective zones of occupation. During this time period, military government and policing continued to be handled by SHAEF's G-5 Division, which prepared the American Occupation Zone for transfer to the control of the U.S. Office of Military Government (OMGUS).

The commander of the military forces in each of the four occupation zones was designated that zones Military Governor and the sole representative of his nation on the Allied Control Council, the committee responsible for all of Germany.

Five different German political and geographical territories comprised the American Occupation Zone:

With the exception of Berlin, each territory (Land; and comparable to a U.S. State) was comprised of two or more political and geographical districts (Regierungsbezirke). Each district was made up of numerous, smaller Kreise (equivalent to U.S. counties) and Städte (cities).

For the purpose of re-establishing the German government, including police forces, the U.S. appointed five Land Military Governors, each with his own Office of Military Government (OMG). Each governor was subordinate to the overall commander of U.S. military forces in the American Occupation Zone, and separate from the chain of command for the American military forces stationed in each Land. Operationally, the two U.S. commands (government and military) within each Land worked side by side.

American Sergeant examining Walther Mkb.42(W) rifles
(similar in appearance to the StG44)

German Disarmament

Immediately upon surrender, German military and paramilitary organizations (police included) were to deposit all of their arms, ammunition, and other war-fighting equipment in dumps or depots guarded by their own personnel, pending transfer of these locations to allied control. As soon as the temporary military government (SHAEF's G-5 Division) took control of an area within the American Occupation Zone, US troops relieved the Germans guarding the weapons. German citizens were then ordered to surrender all firearms, ammunition, and other weapons. Searches of homes and businesses within various areas soon followed. [Occupation Forces in Europe Series 1945-1946, Office of the Chief Historian, European Command, U.S. Army Forces Europe]

The U.S. Army Ordnance Department was charged with examining, inventorying, and disposing of the German and Axis weapons. To accomplish this task, Ordnance established a central weapons control/processing center in each Land. These processing centers became known as the Waffenamt, the German term for a weapons control and processing organization. From 1945 until 1948, the Waffenamt in each Land was run by the Americans of the U.S. Army Ordnance Department.

In 1949, these weapons control/processing centers were turned over to the German government at the Land level. By this time, the German weapons had been disposed of. The weapons within these facilities were the American weapons that had been used to arm the German police forces during the turbulent 1945-1949 period. These facilities became known to the Germans as the Waffenamt of the Land they served (i.e. Bayern Waffenamt for Bavaria). The centers went through several administrative changes as the German government re-organized itself at various times, but remained as the Waffenamt for the Land they served. [personal communications with Gerhard Ortmeier, historian, prior instructor at the Bavaria Police Academy, & author for Deutsche Waffen-Journal, Feb-May 2008]

Re-Organizing the German Police in the American Occupation Zone

The German police had previously been organized and administrated on a national level. To avoid the dangers associated with a nationally controlled police force, American policy mandated that the police be re-organized on a local level, and modeled on American law enforcement.

This met resistance from the Germans, because decentralized police forces required over 200 agencies, each with its own infrastructure and management, training and equipment requirements, etc. The Germans considered this a wasteful duplication of manpower, resources, and finances. Hence, the five Offices of Military Government (OMGs) were forced to negotiate with the local Land public officials on the best way to accomplish the goal of rebuilding the German police. The subsequent compromises, between what was mandated and what was practical and feasible, resulted in each Land having somewhat different policies and procedures.

Cities (Städte) and counties (Kreise) with a population of 5000 or more were to form their own police agencies. The police administration and officers were subservient to the local elected public officials in the area they served. These elected public officials were responsible for providing personnel, training, equipment, funding, and other necessities for their police force.

Rural towns and counties with a population under 5000 were the responsibility of the respective State (Land). The Americans referred to the Land police agency (the Landpolizei) as the Rural Police. Historically, the German equivalent to a rural police had been the Gendarmerie. However, the Gendarmerie had been disbanded at the time of the surrender.

Border police, forest police, railway police, and others were separate forces subservient to the public administrators of the agency which they served.

Re-Arming the German Police

In the months after the end of the war, lawlessness was rampant in Germany. By the time the U.S. Office of Military Government assumed responsibility for civil affairs in October 1945, SHAEF's Public Safety Branch had recruited over 22,000 German police officers, but they had no uniforms, no means of tactical communication with one another, no transportation, and none were armed. Without weapons, the police who tried to intervene in violent crimes often joined the ranks of the victims. [Public Safety, Law, and the Courts, The United States in Germany, 1944-1955 by Harold Zink; D. Van Nostrand, (1957)]

Subsequently, on November 6, 1945 the Allied Control Council passed Directive Number 16, entitled Arming the German Police. [Documents on Germany under Occupation, 1945-1954 by Beate Ruhm Von Oppen (1955)]

6 November 1945 CC, Official Gazette, No. 3, 31 January 1946, p. 18
The Control Council directs as follows:
1. The German police should be armed as speedily as possible in order that it may be able to take an active part in the maintenance of law and order. It should be re-armed under the following conditions.
    a. It should not have completely automatic weapons or any weapons other than pistols, revolvers and truncheons, with the exception of the rural police and the frontier control police who may be issued with carbines.
    b. The re-arming of the German police shall be carried out by the issue of fire-arms manufactured outside Germany in order to facilitate the control of fire-arms and munitions in German hands, and eliminate any justification for the continuance of German manufacture of fire-arms or munitions.
    c. All weapons issued to the German police shall be distinctively marked in order to facilitate control of same.
    d. No police services shall be re-armed before de-nazification and removal of all personnel hostile to the military government of Germany. Moreover, the police personnel will not be re-armed until after they have been trained in their duties. Before issue of arms a Public Safety officer shall guarantee and certify the efficiency of the training and the competence thereof justifying such rearmament. Control will be established over the procurement and distribution of police fire-arms and ammunition by means of requiring written accountability from each police agency. The loss of any weapon must be immediately reported to Military Government by the German police in writing.
2. Pending the supply and issue of fire-arms of non-German manufacture the German police may be issued with any suitable weapon in the absence of those specified in para. 1 (b) above.

Issuing distinctively marked non-German weapons was fairly simple, and planning for de-nazification and police training had been done before the war ended. However, implementing that plan, given the chaotic circumstances in the months after the war, was anything but simple. Necessity had demanded that 22,000 officers be put in place before de-nazification. Purging the Nazis from these ranks was going to take months.

The day after Directive 16 was issued, a very limited number of Italian Carcano carbines and pistols, many without ammunition, were provided to the public officials for their police officers. [In the American Sector of Germany by Ralph Unruh]

The Issuing of Arms

In February 1946, the German police forces were deemed sufficiently organized, trained, and operating effectively. This allowed the U.S. Office of Military Government (OMGUS) to assume the role of overseer, while turning law enforcement operations over to the various German police agencies.

Weapons for the police had been collected at the American-managed central weapons control/processing center (Waffenamt) in each of four Länder (Lands). (Berlin was the exception and will be discussed in a future article). These weapons were the .38 caliber S&W Victory Revolver, the .45 caliber M1911A1 pistol, and the U.S. M1 Carbine. The U.S. revolver was totally foreign to a police culture that had always carried semi-automatic pistols, but they considered the M1911A1 too heavy and unwieldy. The M1 Carbine, however, was a welcome replacement for the Carcano, or no gun at all. The only source of ammunition for these weapons was the American military. [Beginnings of the Police in Bavaria, under the Americans, 1945/46, Bavaria Army Museum, Ingolstadt]

Understanding the Markings

Allied Control Council Directive 16 ordered that the weapons be distinctively marked, but had not specified the markings, nor where they should be placed. In the American Occupation Zone, the markings and location were left up to each of the five Land Offices of Military Government (OMG). The result was five different sets of markings and locations. The markings specified by each OMG were only a minimum requirement.

In March 1946, the weapons were marked accordingly, then transported by the U.S. Public Safety Officers to each of the agencies within their jurisdiction. Once a carbine, pistol, or revolver was delivered to the police agency, that agency could add additional markings as desired, including the stamping of digits from the serial number on various parts of the carbine. Further markings will be covered on the pages devoted to the different Lands and their police agencies.

OMG Bavaria
The type of police agency, in English, was marked on top left rail of the receiver (to the left of the bolt).
  • Bavaria Border Police
  • Bavaria Forestry Police
  • Bavaria Game Warden
  • Bavaria Municipal Police
  • Bavaria Prison Guard
  • Bavaria Rural Police

OMG Berlin
The Berlin star was marked on top of the receiver rear sight platform, forward of the rear sight. Example at right has been recreated digitally. No additional markings were used.

OMG Bremen Enclave
not yet known

OMG Hesse
The U.S. manufacturer's name and serial number were ground off and replaced with the Hessen crest on the rear bevel of the receiver. On this example, a replacement serial number was stamped on the receiver.

OMG Württemberg-Baden
These carbines were marked with the initials WB on the trigger guard (some are also marked atop the recoil plate) followed by:

LP if the Landpolizei (Rural Police), followed by the inventory number assigned by the Landespolizei.

S if a StadtKreis (greater metropolitan area), then a 3 or 4 letter Stadtkreis identifier.

    WB-S-ESS (Esslingen)
    WB-S-HLBN (Heilbronn)
    WB-S-MAN (Mannheim)
    WB-S-STG (Stuttgart)

Württemberg-Baden had 7 Stadtkreise and 28 LandKreise (rural counties). The term Stadtkreis was peculiar to only the State/Land of Württemberg-Baden, and is no longer used.

Weapons Training, Maintenance and Ownership

Initial training in the operation, use, and maintenance of the weapons was provided to designated trainers in each police force by the American OMG Public Safety Officers. All further training was conducted by these designated trainers.

Between 1945 and 1949, it was the responsibility of each police agency to inventory, maintain, and service its own weapons. With the formation of the West German government in May 1949, all control of the weapons was turned over to the new German government of each Land (State), which now had its own Waffenamt (Ordnance Department) to assume responsibility for the weapons.

Total Weapons to the German Police
American Occupation Zone, 1946-1949
(excluding Berlin)
 M1 CarbinesHandguns
Bremen Enclave1,0441,721

[OMGUS Civil Administration Division, Bad Nauheim, 08 Sep 1949, Semi-Annual German Police Personal & Equipment Report as of 30 Jun 1949]
[Bavaria Waffenamt inventory report to the OMGB Public Safety Branch 25 Apr 1948]

By the end of 1949, all Länder (States) except Bavaria had reimbursed the Americans for the weapons that had been provided. Bavaria's weapons were paid for in 1955. Cost varied from Land to Land, ranging between 7.46 - 9.68 Deutsch Marks ($24.59 - $31.90) per M1 Carbine and 6.99 Deutsch Marks ($23.04) per handgun. [Bayerns War Baby by Gerhard Ortmeier, DWJ Magazine, December 2007, pp. 65-69]

Eventual disposition of the weapons was at the Land level and will be discussed on the pages devoted to each Land.

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