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Deciphering the Kriegsstrkenachweisung (KStN)

By John Winner April 2011

The Kriegsstrkenachweisung or KStN is a chart showing the theoretical make up of a certain unit in the German military during the years of the Third Reich. KStN's were often changed during the course of their existence so you must take care when researching the makeup of a certain unit. Most KStN's in books and other forms of media will be referred to by number and year. The example that I will be using here happens to be "KStN 1176 (fG) 1.11.1944". At first looking at one of these charts can seem overwhelming, but hopefully I will be able to help you to unlock the secrets seemingly locked away in these charts, I will first start with a basic overview of the charts layout. These charts can be layed out either vertically or horizontally on the page. You will first notice that they are layed out in columns and lines. Every line is numbered, that is the easy part, so I will concentrate on the columns. Before I get into that I will mention the large box in the upper left of the chart which tells you what unit is being described. It will be given in long form and then in abbreviated form. These charts can be full of German military abbreviations, I suggest getting a guide to decipher them. A good one is German Military Abbreviations, Special series No. 12, MIS 461 by the Military Intelligence Service of the US War Department.

Now the columns: Nr. der Zeile: this one is pretty self-explanitory, line number. Stellengruppe: this column is used to denote the rank of soldier within the unit. I will go more in depth about the Stellengruppe system later. Hauptspalte: translates as main column, this column holds information such as vehicle types, soldiers duties in the unit and so on. Kopfzahl: this is the headcount of soldiers in the unit. It is broken down into four parts: a) Offiziere (officers) b) Beamte (officials) c) Unteroffiziere (non-commissioned officers) d) Mannschafften (enlisted men) Waffen: this counts the weapons used by the unit described. It is broken into four parts: e) Gewehre, Karabiner rifles, carbines f) Pistolen (Masch.Pist) pistols (machine pistols) g) s.M.G. (le.M.G.) - heavy machinegun (light machinegun) h) besp. (unbesp.) Geschtze und Werfer horse-drawn (non horse-drawn) guns and launchers

Fahrzeuge: this count all the vehicles used in the unit (can differ from chart to chart) i) besp. (unbesp.) Fahrzeuge [Wasserfahrzg.] - horse-drawn (non horse-drawn) vehicles [water vehicles] k) Krad (Krad mit Seitenwg.) [Kettenkrad] motorcycle (motorcycle with sidecar) [tracked motorcycle] l) Personenkraftwagen (Lastkraftwagen) [Gleisketten-Lkw.] - cars (trucks) [tracked carrier, unarmored] m) Zugkw. (Vollketten-Schlepper) [Radschlepper] prime mover (fully tracked carrier) [wheeled carrier] n) gp. Vollketten-Kfz. (gp. Halbkett.Kfz.) [gp. Rderkfz.] - armored fully tracked vehicle (armored half-tracked vehicle) [armored wheeled vehicle] o) Fahrrder (Anhnger) [Eisenbahnfahrzeug] bicycles (trailers) [railway vehicle] When reading these columns you must take care to read them correctly. For example, in the column labeled Krad (Krad mit Seitenwagen) [Kettenkrad], the numbers in the column will be able to denote the three types listed. A number with no brackets would be just motorcycles, inside ( ) would be motocycles with sidecar, and inside [ ] would be Kettenkrad. Now I will attempt to explain the Stellungruppe system (rank group system). This system works somewhat like a pay grade system. The different groups had different duties, relating to command of units of certain sizes. The system groups are layed out like this: "A" Group (Oberbefehlshaber) Generalfeldmarschall Generaloberst "F" Group (Kommandierender General) General der Infanterie General der Kavallerie General der Artillerie and so on "D" Group (Divisionskommandeur) Generalleutnant Generalstabsartz Generalstabs-... and so on "I" Group (Infanterie, Artillerie, Brigadekommandeur) Generalmajor Generalartz General-....and so on "R" Group (Regimentskommandeur) Oberst Oberstartz Oberst-...and so on "B" Group (Battaillonskommandeur) Oberstleutnant Oberfeldartz

Oberfeld-....and so on Major Oberstabsartz Oberstabs....and so on "K" Group (Kompaniefhrer) Hauptman Rittmeister Stabssrtz Stabsveterinr Stabsmusikmeister Stabs-...and so on "Z" Group (Zugfhrer) Oberleutnant Oberartz Obermusikmeister Oberzahlmeister Ober-...and so on Leutnant Assistenzartz Musikmeister Assistenzzahlmeister Assistenz-....and so on "O" Group (Oberfeldwebel) Stabsfeldwebel Obermeister Hauptfeldwebel Hauptwachtmeister Oberfeldwebel Oberwachtmeister Musikleiter Feldwebel Wachtmeister Beschlagmeister Feuerwerker Brieftaubenmeister "G" Group (Grupenfhrer) Unterfeldwebel Unterwachmeister Unteroffizier Santittsunteroffizier Obergefreiter Besclagsschmiedobergefreiter "M" Group (Mannschaft) Gefreiter Oberschtze Oberreiter Schtze

Grenadier Jger Reiter Pionier .....and so on Now that we have all of that information we can figure out what is on this partial KStN.

First, what type of unit are we dealing with. In this case it is: schwere Panzerkompanie "Tiger" (freie Gliederung) (trans. heavy armored company "Tiger" (free outline)). As a side note freie Gliederung units did not have supply and baggage vehicles. Those vehicles were organized into Versorgungs-Kompanie. Next onto line 1. This denotes a section of the unit. Here the Gruppe Fhrer or group leader (aka. Command Zug). Line 2 denotes the highest ranking officer in the group the Kompaniefhrer (zugl. Kommandant). He is in group "K" of the Stellengruppe system probaly with the rank of Hauptman (or equivalent), we move along the line and see that he is counted as an officer and is armed with a pistol. Lets move down to line 6. We see that this line is ranked as "G" and counted as 2 Unteroffiziers. This means, of course, that there are two of them and they are not issued a weapon, the reason is clear when we translate the duty in the Hauptspalte column as gunner. So these two men are the gunners for the tanks. Down to line 12 we see looking across that there are 2 Kradmelder (dispatch riders) armed with 2 rifles/carbines. We notice the [2] in the line this tells us that the vehicles are [Kettenkrad] by compairing it with the column title.

Lets move down to line 15/16. We can see that there are two different vehicles mentioned, both filling the same function. So the Zug would be outfitted with one or the other. Now we look further along the line and see that column "n" says there are two fully tracked armored vehicles. Column "f" tells us each vehicle has a machine pistol in it. column "g" tells us it is armed with 2 light machineguns. And column "h" tells us that each vehicle is armed with one non horse-drawn gun/launcher. From what we know about Tiger tanks this is of course correct. Further down the chart it goes on to describe 1. Zug. The chart continues onto another page not shown here. You will also notice line 17 gives us the totals of the first section. Each section is followed by a line of totals for that section, and at the end of the chart is a line for the units total. I hope this has helped you with reading these charts If you have any questions I can be reached at