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The Reichsbetriebsnummer RB numbering system.

Article about: Hi Guys, the Reichsbetriebsnummer or RB number (also represented as RB Nr or Rbnr) has over the past 70 years been of much discussion with collectors of German militaria. A lot of speculatio

  1. #1

    Default The Reichsbetriebsnummer RB numbering system.

    Hi Guys, the Reichsbetriebsnummer or RB number (also represented as RB Nr or Rbnr) has over the past 70 years been of much discussion with collectors of German militaria. A lot of speculation has been written about it along with many errors which have been compounded over the years. I hope with this thread to clear up some misunderstandings about this numbering system and hopefully to add some new information?

    Before the war, the Germans set up a system for registering and recording the factory information, the Reichsbetriebskartei. This was to help enable machine tabulation of facts and figures. It was from this that the Reichsbetriebsnummer came into being. The Reichsministerium für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion (Ministry for Armaments and War Production) files survive today in the Bundesarchiv, however, these are only fragmentary. There is a holding file from the working group created by the Office of Machine Reporting in the Armament Office of the Reich Ministry for Armaments and War Production - their main focus was the operations of the industry group for which an economic interest was Armour production. This index provides information on the most important data of the companies covered by it, production profile, operating area, number of employees and the responsible operator.

    As a prerequisite for the intended use of the punch-card method in the armaments industry, it was this system which gave rise to the Rbnr. The operating numbers were assigned by the competent local district offices of Machine reporting. (Bezirksstellen des Maschinellen Berichtswesens.) The index is in the form of index cards that are accessible numerically (approximately 14 meters of index cards!). Access to this register is only possible through the naming of this company, stating the place of production. The Reichsministerium für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion files have multiple entries on the introduction of the factory and also the lot no.

    The Rbnr code was used from 1943 onwards and replaced the makers name and address (or company logo) on government contract uniforms, caps and field equipment and knives. It is either rubber ink stamped on cloth or die stamped onto leather & metal items. It has been written countless times that this numeric code system was introduced as a security measure to help mask production locations. This was not the case but it was perhaps, a helpful by- product of the system. It is not unknown to find the Rbnr together with the maker’s info. Had it been a security measure, clearly this practise would have been banned.

    So what was the Rbnr? It was a nine digit number and was normally represented thus: RB Nr: 0/000/0000.

    The first prefix number could range from 0 through to 9. This number determined the membership of the various groups in the realm of Trade and Industry (Reichsgruppenleitzahl)

    • 0 Industry
    • 1 Crafts
    • 2 Commercial wholesale trading companies
    • 3 Banking
    • 4 Insurance Companies
    • 5 Energy (Electrical companies and such)
    • 6 Tourism (Including Hotels, Wine and Mineral Water companies)
    • 7 Traffic
    • 8 Food Industry
    • 9 Not otherwise mentioned groups


    In our field of militaria collecting, the most frequently observed numbers will be zero, one or nine. “0", "1" and "9" could be used by manufacturing companies, main contractors or subcontractors.

    The second group of four numbers represents a district code that identifies the geographic location of the company. In Germany, a local region is known as a Kreis. Still called that today. The Kreis numbers are organized according to a national listing of some kind and are not based on Gau or Land organization. There has been some speculation that these coincided with the codes used by the German Postal system, but this has been proved to be a dead end.

    I have carefully compiled the following list of locations by RB nummer. Numbers starting with 0/1000 and higher all appear to be in Ostmark or in the Sudetenland.

    This is the most complete online listing available to date and has been compiled by myself:

    0/0014 Memel
    0/0150 Cottbus
    0/0155 Bretnig
    0/0020 Konigsberg
    0/0201 Pommen
    0/2011 Elsass (Alsace)
    0/0215 Stettin
    0/0250 to 0/0259 Berlin
    0/0261 Tangerhutte (Sachsen)
    0/0267 Loburg
    0/0274 Brandenburg
    0/0331 Bleicherode
    0/0332 Nordhausen
    0/0343 Erfurt
    0/0350 Leipzig
    0/03XX Sachsen area
    0/0355 Zeitz
    0/0415 Bremen
    0/0418 Stade (Hannover)
    0/0421 Wilhelmshaven
    0/0427 Leer (Hannover)
    0/0428 Edewachterdamm (Oldenburg)
    0/0430 Oldenburg
    0/0433 Meppen (Hannover)
    0/0450 Hannover
    0/0434 Gildenhaus,Nordhorn,Berghaus,Schüttorf (Hannover)
    0/0436 Stadtlohn (Westfalia)
    0/0485 Jablunkau (Czech)
    0/0496 Hamburg
    0/0550 Köln / Wiesbaden
    0/0556 Aachen
    0/0560 Wuppertal
    0/0561 Solingen
    0/0572 Altenhundem (Westf.)
    0/0629 Koblenz
    0/0639 Mainz
    0/0650 Saarbrücken
    0/0673 Wiesbaden
    0/0675 Frankfurt am Main
    0/0704 Westheim
    0/0706 Bad Mergentheim
    0/0708 Crailsheims
    0/0710 Mosbach
    0/0713 Lauffen and Bletigheim
    0/0714 Ludwigsburg
    0/0750 Stuttgart
    0/0764 Tuttlingen
    0/0842 Memmingen (Bayern)
    0/0850 Munchen
    0/0950 Nürnberg
    0/1000 to 0/1025 Wien
    0/1032 Obermühl
    0/1305 Litzmannstadt
    0/1325 Posen


    The third set of four-digits was assigned sequentially to identify each individual company within that particular Kreis. No master list has survived the war. Frustratingly as a result, the identity of most makers today remains unknown. However, a few are known and I will list them at the end of this thread. Here is one example to start with, from the famous “Bevo” insignia company:

    Rbnr: 0/0560/0372 Bandfabrik Eward Vorsteher KG, Wuppertal-Wichllnghausen (Rhelnprov.) Kreuz Strasse 72-74. Webabzeichen-und Namenbanderfabrikation. (Bevo)

    So have we cracked the code?

    Well, no.....not quite it seems?

    One oddity is the dropping of some of the zeros in the code. It is possible some manufacturers did not fully understand the system themselves and simply dropped the zeros thinking them not relevant.

    Next we have the reported case of letters appearing as part of the four digit Kreis code? Examples are "Os", "B", "Bl", "Bi" or "D". So the code appears like this: X/BiXX/XXXX.

    Some codes also have a prefix outside of the 0 to 9 list? Examples are "62" etc. Clearly there were changes being made to the system and to which no documents have been yet discovered.

    As I mentioned before, not much survives in the German Bundesarchiv. The problem for everyone who wants to research these is:
    a) All the 1 prefix numbers for Crafts are almost completely lost (so nearly no chance to find out which numbers stand for which company)

    b) The 0 Industry prefix has survived in part. However, you need location and name of the company - then you get the number - that’s the only way it works.

    By late 1944 the Rb nummer started to be written as RF Nr with the same usual 9 digit code. This appears to be simply a change of name to Reich Fabrik Nummer. Once again, older collector’s speculation on this RF number was that these were only given to factories outside the Reich. This has proved to be false.

    The East German Betriebsnummer.

    The DDR continued with assigning manufacturers with a similar Betriebs-Identifikationsnummer. To the unwary, these could be mistaken for wartime. Here is a useful site concerned with Bicycles which shows some of these numbers:

    Betriebsnummer

    I hope you find this thread interesting and useful? This thread has been a labour of love for me. I do have other unpublished data on area locations. If you ask, I will look these up for you. I would like to extend my thanks to my Spanish friend Eduardo R for his help and co-operation in my research.

    Cheers, Ade.
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  3. #2

    Default Re: The Reichsbetriebsnummer RB numbering system.

    Some extant examples of the numbers in items from my collection.

    RB makers code, RB Nr 0/0446/0090 in a Fliegerbluse. While the actual maker is unknown, from the area code I now know it was made in Westfalia Armed with this info it might be possible to research it further.
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  4. #3

    Default Re: The Reichsbetriebsnummer RB numbering system.

    HJ Flak helpers cap.

    Here we have a "hit":

    Rbnr 0/2009/0004 Almi Unlform und Mutzenfabrlk. lnh. Alfred Mies Luxemburg. Their product operations were Herstellung v. Uniformen und Mutzen aller Art
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  5. #4

    Default Re: The Reichsbetriebsnummer RB numbering system.

    Late war Heer belt leather.

    Rbnr 0/0346/60?3

    I now know it was made in the region of Thüringen.
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  6. #5

    Default Re: The Reichsbetriebsnummer RB numbering system.

    well done adrian.

  7. #6

    Default Re: The Reichsbetriebsnummer RB numbering system.

    Heer Breadbag. Brotbeutel Modell 1931.

    Rnbr 0/0510/005

    Made in Gütersloh (Westfalia.)
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  8. #7
    ?

    Default Re: The Reichsbetriebsnummer RB numbering system.

    Nice work mate !!
    The gates of hell were opened and we accepted the invitation to enter" 26/880 Lance Sgt, Edward Dyke. 26th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers , ( 3rd Tyneside Irish )

    1st July 1916

    Thought shall be the harder , heart the keener,
    Courage the greater as our strength faileth.
    Here lies our leader ,in the dust of his greatness.
    Who leaves him now , be damned forever.
    We who are old now shall not leave this Battle,
    But lie at his feet , in the dust with our leader

    House Carles at the Battle of Hastings

  9. #8

    Default Re: The Reichsbetriebsnummer RB numbering system.

    Another hit

    Rbnr: 0/09011/0013 C.Seyffert G.m.b.H. Textilwerke, Naila i. Bayern. Their product operations were Weberei, Färberei, AusrÜstung (Weaving, dyeing, finishing.)

    Here is the Stumpfmuster pattern parka from my collection with this stamp. Dated 1943.

    Once you have the info on the maker, you can often find other interesting info about them such as this period illustration of the factory.

    Cheers, Ade.
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  10. #9

    Default Re: The Reichsbetriebsnummer RB numbering system.

    WOW thanks Adrian(and Eduardo)FOR YOUR HARD WORK!! This really is extremly useful and i cannot even imagine the hours that have gone into understanding this area!

  11. #10

    Default Re: The Reichsbetriebsnummer RB numbering system.

    Great work Ade.
    Now all I have to do is go through all of the items I have and re catalogue them.lol

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