Video Tutorial – German Unit Research
This is a post for a video tutorial on German Unit Research using the Captured German Records at the US National Archives. The video walks you through the steps I take when researching a specific unit.
Since it is difficult to find late war unit information in the division records, you will need to determine the order of battle for the unit we are researching. This will give you the units to which your research subject was subordinated to. In this video I used the 183rd Volksgrenadier Division as my example. In the video, I mention that you could find this information at the AxisHistory.com site but that is not the case. There you can only find the OOB for the division itself. Here are the NARA Ordering Guide and Order of Battle for Ob West that I mention in the video.
Once you know the Corps, Army and Army Group that your unit was assigned to you can search in the specific guides for records that might pertain to your unit or division. You can find the guides here (center page): NARA Guides
For my use I typically look for Ia (Operations Branch) records. These will have daily logs as well as documents for unit assignment, status reports from assigned units and many other types of documents. Record the publication and rolls you need and then look for them in the NARA Roll Index to see if they are readily available: NARA Roll Index
If you can’t find what you need here you can request the rolls you are looking for in the Axis History Forum. The Archives section has several pinned posts for this purpose. As a last resort you can order the needed rolls from NARA itself. The following video might be helpful if you have not ordered from them before.
This is an old video and I don’t think it mentions the option to receive files via download. However, it is not an instantaneous download so you are still waiting several weeks for the files to be processed and made available. I have used this option since it became available and I prefer it to the DVD, especially since every 5th DVD I received seemed to have some sort of issue with it.
Once you have the rolls at hand then its just a matter of going through them document by document looking for relevant information. The rolls that I reviewed for this video were for the 81st Army Corps, T314 R1591-97.
If you are interested in the 7th Army train logs mentioned in the video see this blog post here: Blog Post
Hope you found this information useful. You can download other documents mentioned in the video below. Also, if you are interested in orders of battle documents for the whole German Army by year, they are available below in the Related Products section.
US National Archives & Records Administration – T314 R1591-97