Towards the end of World War II
, with the situation for Germany
worsening as the Allied and Soviet Armies
encroached on all sides, the defense
of the homeland became a priority. This led to the creation of the Deutscher Volkssturm
, or German
, in September
This was similar to the British Home Guard of the early war, and obliged any German males between the ages of 16 and 60 to register for service.
Tactical command fell to the Wehrmacht during combat actions, but the organization and administration fell to the Nazi Party under local gauleiters, with Heinrich Himmler as overall commander. Unit organization was similar to regular infantry formations, with ranks being equivalent.
The only piece of official uniform was an armband worn on the left arm. There were several patterns of armbands but all were lettered 'Deutscher Volkssturm Wehrmacht'. Most members wore whatever cast-off items they could scrounge from the other services, including the army, the party, and dyed civilian articles. Arms were similarly haphazard affairs, with older rifles and the Panzerfaust being the most common weapons. A German knockoff of the British Sten Gun was created but very few were actually produced or issued to these ersatz troops.
Most of these young boys and old men ran off, or were killed within minutes of entering combat. Many were used in futile counterattacks, as cannon fodder, in the last days of the war, and many others were captured and became prisoners of war before they even realized what was going on. The entire organization is now seen as a wasteful exercise by a desperate and fearful government at the end of its rope.