Legal status of Prussian doctors in times of warfare was particularly regulated by Section 626 of the Prussian Civil Code. It specifically stipulated that all contract commitments with draft-age doctors after announcement of a general mobilization are declared terminated indefinitely in order to meet the requirements of Field forces in medical officers. Those not liable to conscription but still willing to serve their Fatherland were allowed to enroll on a voluntary basis in Landsturm units raised at the place of their residence. Being accepted they were banned from entering into any other contract commitments provided they fulfilled their duties either in the acting army or home front, service in the occupied territories being the only exception.
According to the Prussian Home Ministry orders of March 17, 1915 and December 05, 1916, doctors who have been free from the impressments and conscriptions but who made a patriotic appeal to military administration, were obliged to provide an approval letter from the Home Ministry. Retired medical officers and civil medical staff volunteering for the military service in residence had to comply with the similar demand.
Enlistment suitability of candidates based mainly on their practical experience and demand for particular specialties was decided by Corps headquarters at the suggestion of a Corps medical officer.
Military pay and ranks of Landsturm doctors appointed to medical positions at staff, battalion or section equated with those of Stabsarzt, i.e. equivalent to the rank of Hauptmann. Landsturm doctors who served in units where Stabsarzt rank wasn’t statutory, e.g. reserve hospitals, fortress military hospitals and POW camps, held ranks of Chefarzt or Ordinierender Arzt but still with wage of Stabsarzt. Other medical specialists were given the same status as Oberarzt and Assistenzarzt, i.e. equivalents to the ranks of Oberleutnant and Leutnant.
Nevertheless such equalization was pretty hypothetical in nature, as per the Highest Order (Allerhöchste Kabinettsorder) of November 09, 1914. Landsturm doctors who took up medical officers’ positions, didn’t enjoy officer’s rights and particularly were not allowed to give orders to lower ranks nor to wear the medical officers’ uniform. Thus, a tunic without shoulder boards or collar tabs was the sole indication of their paramilitary status. The only distinctive insignia of Landsturm doctors was an emblem in a shape of the Rod of Asclepius pinned to the front of collar either vertically or diagonally.
Conscripted Landsturm doctors were obliged to take the oath, even if they had sworn allegiance before the war. According to 1916 regulations, Landsturm doctors already under contract commitments with military administration haven’t had to take the oath.
Military pay of all Landsturm doctors over 35 years of age was that of Stabsarzt, and those under that age were paid according to money allowances of Oberarzt and Assistenzarzt acting as Stabsarzt, i.e. 370 Marks in mobilized units or 310 Marks in non-mobilized detachments. Section 5, Part 3 of the Income Tax Act (Einkommensteuergesetz) stipulated that Landsturm doctors enjoying full allowances in appropriate units were considered on active service. Using this definition as a basis, Prussian Finance Ministry exempted military pay of Landsturm doctors from taxation.
In 1917 Landsturm doctors were allowed to wear field-grey tunic still without shoulder pieces, but with special collar badges in a shape of a vertically pinned gilt Rod of Asclepius and fou-pointed pips. Thus, Assistenzarzt wore one pip, while Stabsarzt – two pips pinned vertically. Reserve medical officers’ spiked helmet was allowed to be worn as a headgear.
The Highest Order of January 08, 1917 equalized at last Prussian Landsturm doctors in rights with officers thus making them superior de jure to NCOs and other ranks who since then had to take orders from them.
Doctors attached to Prussian Landsturm units had a possibility to be transferred to the medical reserve corps provided they received a certificate after two months of training and were deemed fit for Assistenzarzt rank.
A Royal Decree of the Bavarian King Ludwig III signed on August 03, 1917 allowed Bavarian Landsturm doctors to wear distinctive shoulder pieces that resembled those of Leutnant. They had a black base and a black silk thread interwoven with the double flat silver cords, each with blue and white thin threads. As a special device attached to a shoulder board they had a matt-yellow Bavarian Landwehr cross bearing state motto “In Treue fest” (“Steadfastly True”) and with a central circular medallion with chequered surface.
The Highest Order of May 03, 1918 granted Prussian Landsturm doctors special temporary wartime rank of “Kriegs-Assistenzarzt auf Widerruf”. Field shoulder pieces (Feldachselstücke) issued by the Prussian War Ministry were those of a Leutnant but on cornflower blue base and with a double transversal blue thread on the lower edge, interwoven with black and white threads.