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"German Abbreviation Help, Please" Topic

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Comments or corrections?

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2017 7:14 a.m. PST

I can't figure out the following:

Ia an Abt a battalion?

I assume Kp is a company. Is that correct?

P.Pnr.Btl (panzer pioneer battalion?)
Vs.Tr (transportation?)

Thanks for your help.

Rich Bliss17 Jul 2017 8:12 a.m. PST

Rad Kp would be a wheeled company, referring to a Armored Car company from a reconnaissance battalion.

And, yes, Abt is a abteilung, or battalion.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2017 9:10 a.m. PST

Abt is a abteilung, or battalion.

The word "abteilung" is not actually "battalion". Rather, is is a word more similar to "detatchment" in English.

In most cases an Abt. can be seen as a battalion. And so it is often transcribed that way. But some caution should be retained when applying it too broadly.

It carries an implication of a deliberately independent role, rather than a level in hierarchy. While most Abt.'s were in fact at the battalion level, there were Abt.'s that were not at the battalion level.

Or so I understand. Not a native German speaker, nor a veteran of German military service, so I will defer those who are.

(aka: Mk 1)

Personal logo Jeff Ewing Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2017 9:29 a.m. PST

"Nach. Abt." is "Intelligence unit." The German word being abbreviated is "nachrichten."

LtJBSz Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2017 9:35 a.m. PST

Pzab or PzAbw is antitank
Nach. is signals
This link is to a PDF from an Army publication from 1943
PDF link

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2017 9:41 a.m. PST

Mark 1 matches my understanding on abteilung--detachment; often of roughly battalion size, but not necessarily so. (You can see them quite a bit smaller, especially when we're talking recon units. But if you get larger than battalion, they're usually Kampfgruppe or Brigade and then the commander's name.) There seems to be a connotation of "improvised" or "provisional" about abteilung, and you rarely see it in book TO&E. Some serious treadhead correct me on this, but the only case which comes to mind is that some of the independent panzer brigades on 1944 have an "aufklarungs abteilung" (recon detachment) listed.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2017 3:47 p.m. PST

The panzeraufsklarung abteilungenen (armored reconnaissance detachments [battalions])in the DAK in 1941 & 1942 were battalion level formations in the German panzer divisions and at the corps level.

The other writers are correct in that some abteilungen would be smaller or improvised units.


79thPA Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2017 3:57 p.m. PST

Thanks to all so far. It would have been a lot easier if they just spoke English.

Personal logo Cardinal Hawkwood Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member17 Jul 2017 5:52 p.m. PST

Ja, es wäre einfacher.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP17 Jul 2017 6:30 p.m. PST

I don't know what you just called me, but I know what it sounds like.

Personal logo Cardinal Hawkwood Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member17 Jul 2017 8:02 p.m. PST

Yes ,it would have been easier

donlowry20 Jul 2017 7:12 a.m. PST

I thought "nachrichten" meant "signals."

"Vs. Tr." would probably be "Verfügungstruppe," literally "dispositional troops" i.e. troops at the personal disposal of the commander.

Starfury Rider20 Jul 2017 7:22 a.m. PST

Well as the microphone is back on…

Bataillon is the direct equivalent to Battalion in British/US usage. In the German Army it was used as a unit designation by the Infantry (all types, including Panzer Grenadiers) and Pioneers.

Abteilung tends to be translated as unit or detachment, neither of which is much use in gauging their potential strength or size. Abteilung was used more widely than Bataillon, as in by the Fast Troops (Panzer, Panzer Reconnaissance and Anti-tank), Artillery (including Nebelwerfer and Flak troops) and Cavalry. When used by these arms Abteilung is again a direct equivalent to a Bataillon. It will almost always be a unit that divides into Company/Squadron/Battery subunits.

For some reason I have it stuck in my head that Abteilung was used in the interwar period as a means of obfuscating the true size and strength of German units, but that may be 'fake news' on my part. I'm not familiar with Great War era German terminology to know if it was a long established practice.

My papers are a little buried at the moment but I think the Panzer Brigade recce was simply a Zug (Platoon) using the same format as that for a Tiger Battalion (Abteilung). The use of Brigade by the Germans in 1944-45 I think is credited as being a deception tool, as the Assault Gun Brigades were the same Assault Gun Battalions used previously, while Panzer Brigades were a pairing of reduced strength Panzer and Panzer Grenadier Battalions.

Re the original post, Rad can mean wheeled as in wheeled armd cars or bicycles. Panzer is shortened to Pz rather than just P, as in Pz Pi Btl (Panzer Pioneer Battalion).


Starfury Rider20 Jul 2017 8:58 a.m. PST

Nachrichten translates along the lines of information or news. As it refers to troops working line and radio equipment I go with signal/communication as well. It does get termed as 'intelligence' in some sources, but the closest German unit to Br/US Intelligence Corps troops is I think the Frontaufklarung.


deephorse20 Jul 2017 1:35 p.m. PST

I think that Vs. Tr. is most likely to be Versorgungstruppen, the supply/logistics/maintenance troops.

I would have posted this some time ago had it not been for the block on the likes of me.

donlowry21 Jul 2017 7:52 a.m. PST

as the Assault Gun Brigades were the same Assault Gun Battalions used previously

Assault gun brigades were artillery units, divided into batteries of (IIRC) 6 guns each. I believe the brigade also included a small infantry element and various support types.

Assault gun battalions were probably panzer or panzerjager units, organized into kompanies and zugs.

Starfury Rider21 Jul 2017 10:05 a.m. PST

Assault gun units have quite a varied history.

The Artillery arm did start with six-gun Btys and I think it was after 1940 that these were concentrated into Battalions (Abteilung) with HQ, Staff Bty and three firing Btys. 1942 going into 1943 a Stug was added to each Bty and the Bn HQs for a 22-gun unit, and there was a larger strength format with 10-gun Btys (three Pls each of 3 guns and a HQ gun).

Mid-1944 the Artillery Assault Gun Brigade was a HQ (1 gun), Staff Bty and three gun Btys (HQ with 1 gun, two Pls each with three 7.5-cm guns and one Pl with three 10.5-cm guns). That was still 31 Stugs but was now termed a Brigade. I'd forgotten there was a larger strength model, which added one gun to each Pl and Bty HQ and two more to Bn HQ for 45 guns.

The Panzer Grenadier and various types of Panzerjager did use Stugs, and they also filled up gaps in Panzer Bns proper.


Murvihill24 Jul 2017 9:43 a.m. PST

It's my understanding that in German "Batallion" referred specifically to a 5-company formation, while abteilung was used for formations with more or less than 5 companies. Since the 5 company formation was obsolete virtually all German battalion sized units were called abteilung. As a generic term, abteilung could mean anything up to and including an army.

No, I can't remember where I read it (one of the disadvantages to a cluttered mind)

Starfury Rider24 Jul 2017 10:59 a.m. PST

That doesn't really hold true for what I know of German organisation. Infantry Battalions were three Rifle and one MG Company (later Heavy Company) pretty much universally from 1937 onwards, while Pioneer Battalions were three or sometimes two Companies. I don't know if it might have been inherited from earlier eras, Napoleonic systems tended to be even numbers of Line Companies if I recall, and I won't pretend to be familiar with Great War organisations.


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