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Wehrmacht Hospital Trains, April 1945

The Wehrmacht operated hospital trains (Lazarettzüge) that were used both as field medical facilities and medical transportation. As Germany neared collapse in 1945 aerial reconnaissance revealed a number of these in use, suggesting the dire situation facing the Army (Map).

On 9 and 1o April 1945, seven trains were identified in Germany and, northern Austria, offering a near-synoptic look of the train’s locations and activities. For example, on 10th, hospital trains were seen at Weiden, Schwandorf, Regensburg and Ravensburg, all in southeast Germany. The train at Weiden was composed of 19 cars plus six medical boxcars (employed later in the war) in a separate section (Graphics 1 & 2); 11 other probably out-of-service cars were in the Weiden rail maintenance area. Other trains seen on the 10th included an eight-car train at the station at Schwandorf, a 13-car train arriving Regensburg from the south and a 21-car train was at Ravensburg station. A day earlier, a 19-car train was in the Leipzig-Paunsdorf classification yard and two separate trains composed of 9 and 10 cars were at the station at Chemnitz-Limbach; elsewhere, a set of 13 cars was observed at Neumunster, in northern Germany.

Also in April, hospital trains were identified in the vicinity Halberstadt and Bad Wilsnack In central and northern Germany, respectively. On 8 April a hospital train was at a siding 13 km west of Halberstadt and on the 13th another was headed east in the direction of Bad Wilsnack—the site of a major hospital. On the 14th, a 15-car train set was identified at a siding in southeast Berlin. In Austria, a total of 45 hospital cars were in the main rail yard at Linz on 1 April (Graphic 3).

Locations of other hospital trains:
• Meschade (25 March)
• Prague (25 March)
• Potsdam 24 March)
• Eberswalde 24 March)
• Hanover/Lehrte (21 March)
• Dresden (15 March)
• Braunschweig (7 February)
• Bergen-Belsen (16 September 1944)

It is noteworthy that all of the train sets were smaller than the specified Wehrmacht complement of 37 E-30 hospital cars (according to Lexikon der Wehrmacht). In addition, most of the cars in maintenance facilities remained there for some time suggesting they were out of service. Locomotives were also affixed to trains at Weiden, Regensburg, Schwandorf, and Chemnitz-Limbach. The train at Ravensburg was likely Lazarettezug 662, which according to Lexikon der Wehrmacht, arrived from Tübingen on 7 April and received damage from an air attack on the 10th.

Most of the towns where the trains were seen had permanent hospitals or a number of ad hoc medical facilities --all identified by red crosses on roofs. The temporary hospitals were often housed in schools (Graphic 1). Regensburg had a large central hospital supplemented by six temporary ones.

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