Humor in the Wehrmacht

General WWII era German military discussion that doesn't fit someplace more specific.
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der alte Landser
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Re: Humor in the Wehrmacht

Post by der alte Landser » Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:03 am

“Ein Tornister voll Humor,” page 62

Fritz reports to the battalion surgeon for sick call. The doctor asks peevishly, "Would you report to me for this minor ailment in peacetime?"

"No, sir," replied Fritz, "I would call you to come make a house call."

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Re: Humor in the Wehrmacht

Post by der alte Landser » Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:48 am

VB-Feldpost #4 pg 71-72, “The Recruit.”

A lonely train station somewhere in the East. On the main track, a troop train rolls in and comes to a stop. The replacement battalion receives chow from the kitchen wagon. On the sidetrack sits another troop train — cheerful greetings. In one of the goods wagons sits a young soldier with blond hair, maybe twenty-three, with his legs hanging out the open door and playing a harmonica. He’s wearing a blue sweater and a red scarf wound round his neck.

A pair of Landser from the other train stands near him, and ask for some cigarettes, which he gladly gives them. “Thanks,” says one of the Landser, “That’s awful nice of you, play some more.”

“You sound good,” says the other Landser, “But you need a little more sentimental sound in your playing, give that thing here.” He then takes the harmonica and plays a passable rendition of “La Paloma.”

“That’s great!” says the young soldier on the train.

“Yeah,” says the Landser, “When you’ve been in the army as long as us, you’ll be playing like that, too.”

“Wow, how long have you guys been in, anyway?” asks the soldier on the train.

One of the replacements says proudly, “Two years, and I’m already a corporal. Don’t worry. You’ll make it. The time goes by faster than you think.” And then, “How many weeks have you been in?”

The soldier on the train thinks for a minute, and says, “Oh, about five years, give or take.”

“Five years!” The other replacement asks, “Wow, you must be a sergeant, huh?”

“Nope,” says the soldier on the train dryly as he suppresses a grin, “I’m a captain!”

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Re: Humor in the Wehrmacht

Post by der alte Landser » Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:04 am

“VB-Feldpost #3,” page 31 entitled “Tactical Question,” by Oberleutnant Lösch

In the home garrison about a year before the war, the plan of the day called for tactical application of assault against a bunker. The exercise was conducted with enthusiasm by the Schwadron under the watchful eye of the Rittmeister, a specialist in the art of close combat. By the numbers, each squad practiced every phase of the assault.

One of the assault squads had progressed to the point where they had breached the obstacles and were closed up on the mock-up of an enemy bunker. The Rittmeister froze the scenario and said, “Now, the assault element uses entrenching tool or rifle, and strikes the barrel of the machine gun sticking out of the gun port, thereby bending the barrel.

Then came the tactical question: “What does the enemy gunner then have to do?”

Under the strong influence of the peacetime army came the reply: “Sign a statement of charges for the damaged barrel, Herr Rittmeister!

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Re: Humor in the Wehrmacht

Post by der alte Landser » Sat Oct 24, 2009 10:25 am

“VB-Feldpost #3,” page 95 entitled “Dead End.”

The Unteroffizier asks one of his soldiers: “What would you do if you were in the woods under chemical attack, and your rifle was contaminated with Mustard Gas?”

Answer: “I would wipe it down with a decon wipe.”

Uffz.: “No more decon wipes are available.”

Answer: “Then I would rub dirt on it.”

Uffz.: The ground is contaminated. Anyway, dirt would get in the barrel.”

Silence.

The Uffz. asks another soldier.

He gives the correct answer: “Then I would pull some leaves off a tree and wipe down my rifle.”

“Right,” says the Uffz. and asks the first soldier, “Why didn’t you know the correct answer?”

So the guy replies, “But Herr Unteroffizer! I was in a pine forest!”

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Re: Humor in the Wehrmacht

Post by der alte Landser » Sun Oct 25, 2009 10:06 am

Here are a few funny stories from a book I got recently.


“Drei, Vier, ein Witz!,” page 111, “Good Eyes”

“Read what’s written on that eye chart on the wall,” said the staff doctor to the inductee.

“What chart?” asked the young man. “I don’t see any chart on the wall.”

“Excellent, because there isn’t one! Qualified for enlistment.”



“Drei, Vier, ein Witz!,” page 94, “Chowtime.”

Somewhere in Macedonia, there was meat for lunch one day.

“What type of meat is that?” asked the company commander.

“Turkey, Herr Hauptmann!” replied the chief cook.

The commander joined the other soldiers in eating, and after a short rest pause, called his batman over to the Gulaschkanone. He said, “Peter, go saddle my turkey for me.”


“Drei, Vier, ein Witz!,” page 16, “It Doesn’t Pay to Know.”

It was in X-hausen and the company was standing at first formation. The Spieß swept his eyes across the ranks searchingly and then asked:

“Who out there has read about expeditions to the North Pole?”

Two soldiers raised their hands.

“Well, Krause, what have you read?”

“Peary: The Discovery of the North Pole, Herr Hauptfeldwebel!” replied the soldier smartly.

“And you, Meier?”

“Nansen: In Night and Ice, Herr Hauptfeldwebel!

“Outstanding men, outstanding! After formation, you two report to me for snow shoveling detail.”


“Drei, Vier, ein Witz!” page 118, “Fieldpost Letter.”

The parents of a young soldier were surprised to get a letter from their son. Instead of writing about the tough training and hard life of a recruit, their son wrote the following: “I’m sleeping great, and I have a soft, cushy bed in my own room. I have a pitcher of cold water on the nightstand, and a chess board right next to my bed. I eat all my meals in bed, and get to read newspapers and magazines all day long, plus I get to listen to the radio whenever I want to.

P. S. I have the measles too.”

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Re: Humor in the Wehrmacht

Post by B Hellqvist » Sun Oct 25, 2009 12:19 pm

Thanks for posting those stories! I think that much of the humor is lost because of the changing culture. Jonathan mentioned Monty Python, which is still quite funny, but was a real revolution 35+ years ago, as it challenged much of the morals back then. It is all a matter of cultural context. Remember that Germany was (and still is, to some extent) class-conscious, and that people from different Länder liked to poke fun at each other (i.e. regional stereotypes). Compare with Bill Mauldin's "Willie and Joe" cartoons, some of which are hilarious, while other don't work as well (or at all) for a 21st century reader not familiar with WW2 front life. I checked a booklet with Swedish WW2-vintage soldier's humor, and while some of the jokes still worked, others showed their age. As Tom said, this thread has done a lot to humanize the German Landser, and I look forward to next installment. :)

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Re: Humor in the Wehrmacht

Post by der alte Landser » Sun Oct 25, 2009 1:22 pm

Excellent observations you've made. The class distinctions in some of the German humor are very funny in context, but don't make much sense if the reader isn't aware of the various ranks and how conscious Germans are of them. A good example is the story about the philosophy professor in the beer garden, (The Smiling Private) which is on page four of this thread. Part of the humor arises from the fact that the private is also a professor, jobs which are at either end of the hierarchy of class and status. It's fascinating stuff.

And without a doubt, there is a lot of very funny humor which just doesn't translate. Here's a good example, which illustrates how much of the German military humor is regionally based. It comes from from “Drei, Vier, ein Witz!,” page 106, “Brotzeit:

Eine bayrische Kompanie marschiert durch eine ein französisches Dorf. Sie macht kurze Rast vor einer Wirtschaft.

"Sö Madam!" rief ein biederer Landser, "ham S' nix zum Essen? A Bier zum Beispiel?


Here's another one that wouldn't seem very funny if it was translated.

“Drei, Vier, ein Witz!,” page 104, "Verständigung."

An der Westfront war es. Irgendwo in der lausigen Champagne bittet ein norddeutschet Landser seinen bazrischen Kameraden um leihweise Überlassung eines Spatens.

"Ist guat," sagt der Bayer, "da host'n, aba wannst ferti bist, gibst'n zruck."

"Versteh' dich nicht!" sagt der Norddeutscher.

"Wenn fini, dann retour!" entgegnete da der Bayer, und sie verstanden sich.

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Re: Humor in the Wehrmacht

Post by der alte Landser » Mon Oct 26, 2009 9:21 am

Forum member Zepp sent me this one. This is a true story from a Norwegian volunteer, who related it to Zepp.

A Norwegian volunteer sat on a train somewhere in Germany near the end of the war.
The German civilians in the compartment gave him a lot of flak, accusing him of prolonging the war by serving in the armed forces and so on.

Finally, the Norwegian got tired of it, and replied: "Yeah sure, Adolf and I are the only two!"

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Re: Humor in the Wehrmacht

Post by der alte Landser » Mon Oct 26, 2009 9:53 am

“Lachendes Feldgrau”, pgs 145-146 “Springtime with the Gebirgsjägern

A Gebirgsjäger platoon was conducting field training in the high alpine region somewhere in Norway.

“Imagine,” says the lieutenant, “you’re on duty in a hut 2000 meters high. Everywhere around you, the snow lies deep and crusted-over. The hut is completely covered with snow, and can’t be seen, even from the air. Suddenly, the west wind begins to blow, the snow melts, torrents of water run down into the valley, the alpine meadows down below start to turn green. In short — Spring is coming. Jäger Moisel, as leader of the field sentries in this situation, what would you do?”

Jäger Moisel clicks his heels together, ponders for a bit, imagines the melting snow, and the fresh Spring, then replies: “Herr Leutnant, I would jump for joy!”



“Drei, Vier, ein Witz!,” page 107, “Bad Air.”

The bunker has a poorly functioning ventilation system. The air is sticky and the smell is just terrible. For some reason, the ducts aren’t pulling enough fresh air down, and the new Hauptmann orders that a ventilator be installed.

The engineers carry out the task to the Hauptmann’s satisfaction. But the next day, the air is stuffy again and there’s a foul smell in the air. He learns that the soldiers have turned off the ventilator.

“Why did you shut off the air supply,” he asks.

An alte Hase replies, “It was getting too drafty in here, Herr Hauptmann!”

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Re: Humor in the Wehrmacht

Post by der alte Landser » Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:33 am

“Drei, Vier, ein Witz!,” page 37, “The Exact Number.”

One day, 20 German pilots showed up at the Pearly Gates. They had all fallen in aerial combat and now demanded entrance into heaven. But Saint Peter rejected the pilots.

“I can only let five of you in here,” he said sternly.

A highly decorated major tried to convince Peter to allow in all the airmen. After all, they were Kameraden, and it was either everyone or no one.

Saint Peter looked at the major with a fatherly gaze, and said, “I know, I know, I would gladly let all of you in. But we only let in the number specified in the latest Wehrmacht news report.”



VB-Feldpost #4 pg 57, “Big Shots.”

One of the Kameraden has been in the army for a long time, but still hasn’t been promoted to Gefreiter. His friends ask him why he’s still a private. The alte Hase grins and replies:

“Why would I want to be a Gefreiter? They always shoot at big shots first!”

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Re: Humor in the Wehrmacht

Post by Me-109 Jagdfleiger » Tue Oct 27, 2009 11:10 am

More Great Stories as always landser :[]
:up: Prost! :beer:
Jonathan
Cheers Jonathan,
Only the spirit of attack borne in a brave heart will bring success to any fighter aircraft, no matter how highly developed it may be.

— General Adolf Galland, Luftwaffe.

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The Cemetery Ghost

Post by der alte Landser » Wed Oct 28, 2009 4:47 pm

Hello Jonathon, and thanks very much for the kind sentiment. Here is a cute story that sort of fits with Halloween right around the corner. This is a longer story and it passed the "funny test" with my son.

VB-Feldpost #1, “The Cemetery Ghost,” pgs 10-13 by Gefr. K. G. Bernhardt

We’d occupied a rest position in Oellville. It was a tiny place with narrow alleys, old and ugly buildings with chipped plaster. The obligatory manure pile in front of every door fit right in the picture. Our squad was assigned to one of the farm buildings. Although the place smelled ripe, our main objective was to rest and recuperate. It felt good to finally have a roof over our heads, and a soft mattress for our weary bones.

We’d turned into quite the warriors. Aesthetics meant nothing, and we’d left our civilian “I” behind somewhere in Germany long ago while stowing our personal clothes. And we learned that our quarters came equipped with a hen house, whose scrawny inhabitants we nursed in the hope of fresh eggs. To us, like all soldiers, the next meal was all-important. Fresh eggs were as good a thing as arriving in the lobby of the soldier’s heaven.

Our quarters, in any case, may or may not have been exactly comfortable, depending on the individual. But there was general agreement that the “Villa Hocus Pocus,” as we later christened it, was downright eerie. This place wasn’t ten paces away from the village graveyard, which was much larger than any small village should have warranted. Unfortunately, our vehicles were all parked in the meadow next to the graveyard. And that, of course, meant nightly guard duty. Otherwise, the locals would have stripped our vehicles bare.

Now, experienced soldiers aren’t easily alarmed by graves, or anything of the sort. But, as luck would have it, we had Jupp with us… always telling his ghost stories. And he really believed in spirits, and the power of the invisible, but all-powerful and secret Otherworld. He knew everything about magic, to the point that some of the guys thought he was cracked. But, as his buddies, we in the squad really didn’t take him seriously.

It so happened that our squad came up for guard duty at the vehicle park on our fifth night in Oelville. As luck would have it, Jupp was assigned to the shift between 2300-0100. We decided to have a little fun with him, and warned him not to try and commune with the spirits of departed Frenchmen. After all, we said, the enemy was still the enemy! Most importantly — and difficult — we kept straight faces. Jupp took it all in earnestly with the demeanor of a man who understood the Otherworld and its’ workings.

The night was black and eerily quiet. In the sky, dark and forbidding clouds towered high. From time to time, the moon would appear through rips in the cloud cover, casting fantastical strips of light and dark. From off in the distance, the rumbling of the front could be heard, dully echoing across the land.

Jupp walked his guard post lost in thought, as befitted a supposed magician of the dark sciences. His gaze was down, and he never cast a glance at the tall, cement crosses in the graveyard. Thirteen times he looped around the vehicle park, counting each round. And then he jumped involuntarily while passing the graveyard. The bell on the church steeple tolled twelve times — midnight. He paced on, each step falling as the bell struck until the graveyard was behind him.

Suddenly a sound from the graveyard! Jupp stopped in his tracks and unslung his rifle, heart beating out of his chest. Holding his breath, he peered intently between the crosses. And then, another sound; groaning, hollow and eerie. Jupp stood there a long while, his mind in overdrive as he swallowed down a nameless fear. Finally, he knew what he had to do! This was definitely a lost soul, trapped between this world and the next. Perhaps it would reveal itself to him.

As the eerie groaning broke out again, Jupp decided to make contact. His voice shaking, he tried to sound as manly as possible under the circumstances: “Spirit, what do you want?”

But the spirit refused to answer. “Perhaps it doesn’t know German,” Jupp thought to himself. Yes, that was it! This had to be a French soul that he’d encountered. Using his best French, Jupp called out loudly, “Monstre, qu’est-ee-que vous desirez???!”

After long seconds, a deep voice replied darkly, as if out of the grave: “I need some toilet paper.”

I’d like to mention that Jupp swore off all attempts at contacting the Otherworld after this. As a matter of fact, he turned all his attention to this world the very next day. And we never heard another peep from him about the subject, and most especially not about the spirits that inhabited graveyards. But, whenever we mentioned the “Villa Hocus Pocus,” Jupp’s face turned bright red, and he would immediately switch to another subject.
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Re: Humor in the Wehrmacht

Post by Tom Houlihan » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:40 pm

That sounds like a Boy Scout stunt!!! Wish I'da thought of it!!
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Re: Humor in the Wehrmacht

Post by der alte Landser » Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:01 am

Hi Tom: Yeah it does. You can almost hear the other guys in the squad figuring out how they were going to set Jupp up. It would be interesting to know if the Germans practiced the sort of practical jokes we played in the US Army. (You know — sending guys out hunting for the key to the turret travel lock, looking for boxes of grid squares, and that kind of stuff.)

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Re: Humor in the Wehrmacht

Post by Tom Houlihan » Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:04 am

Left handed monkey wrench, keys to the sea chest, 500 feet of flightline, bucket of propwash...
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