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Periodically I will feature a helmet to discuss its characteristics, nuances and special history (if it has one). Featured helmets are presented as a way to educate and share information about original SS helmets.

More Feature Helmets and Feature Cloth Coming Soon!

   

New Feature Helmet May 2016

 

This month's feature helmet is what one would consider a more common SS variety, but in fact, it's one of a kind. This is an EF66 M42 with classic EF pattern runic shield, found in the woodwork by a NYC police officer. The interesting part is the Heer shield present on the left side. In my view this was a helmet that was going to fill a Heer contract, then suddenly was repurposed (at the factory) to fill an SS order. Such are the vagueries of a wartime supply and procurement system. All in all a very interesting SS helmet!    

 

 

New Feature Helmet February 2016

 

After two years, finally a feature helmet! My apologies for waiting so long for this, but sometimes things have to wait. This month I want to share some early helmet analysis regarding the Austro-Hungarian Empire (legacy) helmet procurement by the SS during the early 1930s. This black Austrian M16 Allgemeine-SS helmet is marked CAS on the left inside, and CAS on the right. The Austrian style earth brown helmet is simply marked EB on the right inside. Thanks to some helpful pointers from an Italian advanced collector, some clues have been uncovered that help our understanding of these markings. C.A.S. = C. A. Scholtz, Mateocz Slowakei, helmets; 'EB' = Erlmeier Brandt, likely Austria or Brunn, CZ. I and others kind of assumed many of these shells were commercially produced, post WWI. The CAS is a WWI shell used by the Austrians, but EB appears on blank helmets (post-wwI?) as well as maker marked ones (wartime ones?). It seems safe and logical to call these WWI shells that were gathered up by a vendor or a depot in the inter-war period, and available for contract refurbishment by the SS. The things that Ludwig Baer used to say about the SS outsourcing, in fact far-sourcing outside the boundaries of mid-30s Germany are coming into clearer focus and context with regard to these helmets. I would like to also thank Giovanni D. for the excellent information on what the markings stand for, thanks!    

 

 

New Feature Helmet January 2014  

 

This month's feature helmet is one with a lot of history and documentation. The basic features are an ET64 shell, batch number 3840 (with number 2 above), with 1938 dated liner system and VA-SS 1938 marked Carl Tesch chinstrap. The helmet features three paint finishes and three sets of decals: the factory pea green ET finish and ET pattern decals; a satin black finish with CA Pocher decals; and finally the outermost finish consisting of a bluish-field grey finish very similar in color to the Karl Hermann Frank helmet (shown below form comparison). The helmet has two names written in ink in the liner (one in Sutterlin Script) "Beck" and "Nauert." When I noted the very special color similarity between this helmet and the KH Frank helmet, I wondered if research would reveal that this helmet had been issued and worn in Prague, as Frank's helmet was. (In hand, I see the paint is the same color, but is slightly faded from normal use--whereas Frank's helmet mainly was unworn and displays brilliant, lustrous paint). I engaged the services of an archivist to provide me the complete officer and enlisted files for Beck and Nauert, and after careful review I was able to come up with accurate handwriting matches for the two individuals. I was quite astounded to see that they also both had served in Prague! They also were members of the SS-TV; one in service at Dachau and the other at    

     

New Feature Helmet August 2013

 

The feature helmet for the month of August is an outstanding example of an NS64 M-40 Chickenwire SS Helmet that I vet purchased at the Columbus Gun Show in the 1970s. I did a writeup on this helmet in "SS-Steel, Updated Edition" after I had returned to the States and had access to it again via the old collector I had traded it to. The helmet sat in my collection for years and to me was simply what an SS helmet was-- something that told a story. The veteran sold this to me for 240 dollars, along with a decent police Luger holster. As I was standing there at his table, he made a gesture toward his son and asked him if one last time, he wanted the helmet. The boy declined (fortunately!) and I took the helmet. The vet said he took straw out from behind the chickenwire before he came to the gun show (not the best news I could have heard). He also said he got the helmet during engagements with HJ Division in Normandy (he claimed he shot the wearer). When I got the helmet home, I discovered a hank of hair attached to a tiny bit of (skull) bone up inside the dome of the helmet. This was to me gruesome--it was obvious the liner and inside had been blood soaked and left as is. My mother saw this and ordered me to take the helmet out of the house and into the garage. This is what I recall in 2013 of that event that took place in 1975 or 4. The helmet was a birthday gift to a friend of mine, then it wound up in an advanced "closet" collection; then came back to me for a short while then went to a local advanced collector who enjoys it immensely. The shell is a dark Schiefergrau finish, with wide style Champagne rune (If you look in "SS-Steel, Updated Edition" you will see a chapter devoted to NS helmet characteristics and champagne rune variations--Also Quist Decal variations). Pictured below are a recent picture of the helmet; a 1970s picture of the helmet on my picnic table along with another champagne rune (M-42 --ckl I think)and some pages from SS-Steel discussing the NS decal variations and helmets they appear on.    

         

     

New Feature Helmet May 2013

   

Featured this month is this US M-2 D-Bale helmet with General Motors Inland Division liner, named to PFC Armand R. Beauchamp, Company F, 506th P.I.R. Armand was killed in action on 7 October 1944 along the dykes near Opheusden, Holland, a victim of a near direct hit by a German mortar. He hailed from New Mexico and initially served with Easy Co, then transferred to Fox Co. prior to deployment overseas in 1943. He was an original Toccoa man, whose specialty was 60mm Mortars. Here are several photographs of him; in front of the tar-paper shacks at Camp Mackall, NC; at a function (probably USO) at either Fayetteville, NC or in Georgia (he is at far left); posing with comrades on the evening of 5th June, 1944; and then again boarding for Market Garden (I know this picture of the men loading the aircraft has been labeled for years as an 82nd Airborne photo, however, my friend Bill Brown who wrote the Fox Company history said it was the 506th and named the men in this picture--the last one in line is easily recognized as Armand Beauchamp. In front of him is a soldier named Yocum). Lastly, Armand's grave in Holland, photo by Bill's friend Cees. The helmet itself is a brilliant example of the M-2 jump helmet. The seam is in the front and the d-bales are correctly brazed to the steel pot. The helmet chinstraps are the correct OD#3 11-row web; with the early brass step style buckle and nickel plated brass snaps. The helmet has the spades with the tick at the 6 o'clock position, denoting second battalion, 506th. The spades show fine, original period weathering, crackling and wear. The net is British. I never removed it; it is slightly fused to the old (serial number inscription) paint on the inside of the steel pot. The liner is a classic example of the General Motors Inland jump liner (see logo photo) with correct webbing and wire chin cup buckles. The clips and webbing are original and all present. The original sweat band is present. There is a substantial layer of grime and sweat in the cotton webbing of this liner, suggesting real use. I was mildly astounded when I noted the remnants of masking tape in the inside front and rear of the liner. When I was a Lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne, I used to use tape to keep the steel pot and liner from separating during jumps--it happened with these helmets. Here was an example in my hands with old masking tape still present, possibly from training jumps Armand Beauchamp did. The liner spades show the same fine crackling and age / wear, commensurate with the steel pot. This helmet was in the collection of a preminent helmet collector for over 20 years before I obtained it. The late Robby Wilson obtained it from me and treasured it as I did. I am offering it for sale on his behalf, on page two of the helmets section.    

   

 

New Feature Helmet December 2012

 

The feature helmet for the month of December is an outstanding example of an EF66 M-42 helmet with classic Champagne Rune and cloth-dabbed camouflage finish. This helmet shows medium use and wear, but still retains a high amount of finish and decal on the exterior. EF produced about one-third of their M-42s with the "Champagne Rune" SS runic shield (the majority were EF pattern runes, with a lesser percentage of ET pattern decals used by the EF manufacturer).    

     

New Feature Helmet November 2012

 

The feature helmet for the month of December is a pristine example of an ET68 SS-VT / Waffen-SS M-35 helmet, circa 1939. The finish is the pea green shade of feldgrau, and the decals are glued and lacquered CA Pocher shields. The only wear to the shields is the slight popping of the lacquer on the party shield, exposing the off-white colored base layer of celluloid. The helmet was obtained by the person I got it from, who purchased it from the brother in law of the veteran's son. The veteran passed away and the relatives were clueless as to his unit, but there is AH silverware among the souvenirs, so it's possible the vet was in the Berchtesgaden area at some stage. Here are pictures that provide a sampling of the lot of artifacts the veteran brought back. Based on the array of SS items, this SS helmet could possibly have belonged to a member of Totenkopf, with an Anti-Partisan Badge in GOLD. This is not certain of course, but another line of thinking is the helmet's unused condition may indicate use by a member of a "Stabswache." Given the presence of the AH silverware, this may indicate the helmet was used in the Berchtesgaden area. Without a name or more information from the veteran's survivors, this is only circumstantial at best. Enjoy this Third Reich helmet!    

   

 

New Feature Helmet May 2012

 

The feature helmet for the month of may is an early SS-Totenkopf Standarte 2 "Brandenburg" helmet, that is commercially (possibly concentration camp) produced. The style is reminiscent of the German WWI M-18, which is also more or less the model for the standard RZM pattern helmet. This is not an SS-RZM helmet, and while it imitates the M-18, it lacks features central to the RZM itself. This is a one of a kind. It's been outfitted with an early M-31 liner, and the early style carbine clip chinstrap--except the long end is VA SS 1938 marked, so an early replacement of the long end of the strap. In my view, this helmet is extremely important because it one of those "missing link" helmets that bridges a gap; in this case in the debate about the color of early SS-RZM helmets. Many SS-RZM helmets encountered in today's collector market have a dark grey-blue or gunmetal blue finish, similar to the anodizing on SS dagger scabbards. Many of these helmets show only one layer of paint, and the paint is oversprayed on the liner and components in many cases. The color is identical to the first Reichswehr helmets (Barrows, A, personal conversation). A large number of SS-RZM helmets were scooped up and reissued to the Luftschutz; many were decorated with a Luftschutz decal. The luftschutz color is a rich blue color, not the same as this 'anodized' type color. This helmet shows all the early features and color, and likely is a prototypical design. It is amazing it survived. It is also amazing what it has to offer. The pictures show the angles and illustrate the nice but unusual shape. The stamping is fabulous-- Kdtr. K.L.S. 13 may be the designation for the Standortkommandantur of Sachsenhausen Camp, which was Eiche's main adminstrative camp for the SS-TV (located at Berlin / Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg). Brandenburg is the TV regiment named after the famous Gate and Berlin landmark. The owner of this helmet, a friend who graciously offered it for this month's feature, was shocked when he lifted the liner and found the name tag. While the white stamps are mainly illegible, the name tag provided a further nice clue as to this helmet's origin and use (it says SS-TV "B" among other things). If it could just talk! Enjoy the pictures that accompany.  
 

New Feature Helmet March 2012

  March 2012

This month's feature helmet is a 1980s woodwork to gun show walk-in acquisition of a friend of a close friend of mine. We all know a real chicken wire SS helmet is almost a holy grail of helmets--and this is certainly a real one. The massive shell is a Q68, circa mid-1943, with a medium-rough texture schiefergrau factory finish and typically applied Quist decal, which shows flaking from the wire and from the lack of adherence most Q decals display with their helmet's surface. The liner and strap are complete and show some storage age. The paint and wire are in remarkably nice shape, with just some paint loss and slight wire flattening on the top, from put-down wear. This wire is classic old European outdoor coop wire, with leadening between the twists (remember, the wire that changes twist direction in the middle is AMERICAN wire). I hope all can enjoy these pictures and this huge, nice Waffen-SS wire camo trophy.
 

New Feature Helmet December 2011

  December 2011

This month's feature helmet is a very ordinary SS M-42 helmet with a very extraordinary history. The research put into this well-marked piece is phenomenally painstaking and probably even more significant, the old pages of the RuSHA file and Lebenslauf are illuminated in a way rarely seen by collectors. Hats off to you Derek Olson who teed up this incredible piece of Waffen-SS history for our enjoyment and learning.

A note from KH: I have done several decades of SS-Totenkopfverbande and general holocaust research, as well as assembled a physical archive of helmets, tunics and headgear from actual camp units. In researching this organization, I have become overwhelmed by the level of unspeakably horrific crimes they committed as a matter of course in the solidification of their dedication to the ideology of Nazism. Their fluidity in moving from Aktion T-4 euthanasia programs to crimes against civilians and refugees in Poland; to hard core combat operations in the Low Countries and France--then back to the east for duty in death factories--is unfathomable. And it didn't stop there, as this incredible story of this featured helmet will illustrate. Enjoy the helmet and the striking story that accompanies it. Here is the link to the word document:Weiser Helmet Story.doc

The helmet: It is a pretty nondescript but beautifully combat conditioned EF M42 rear marked in Arial script with lot number 0786 (Walter B owns its lot number twin) and what appears to be a 43 dated liner band but hard to read. No strap came with the helmet, it is lost to history; I've no plans to add one. The helmet has 2 stacking rings in the paint on the crown. The liner has 21.2.16 / SS Uscha. Richard Wiesner 3./SS-USR written in print. This print is a perfect handwriting match to the many files Unterscharfuhrer SS Richard Wiesner handwrote, who was born 21.2.16. USR is the Unterfuhrerschule-Radolfzell located in Radolfzell Am Bodensee near Lake Constance. This is one of 3 SS NCO Training Schools.

Summary of SS Uscha Richard Wiesner
 
-Dec 14, 1939 joins 36 SS Fuss Standarte, Oberabschnitte Wiechsel commanded by Richard Hildebrant.
 
-1940-41 takes part in notorious pacification actions in occupied Poland with Standarte 36 under Hildebrandt 
in SS Wiechsel which became part of the Office of Greater SS and Police under Hildebrandt. 
 
-Aug 2, 1941 transferred into the Wehrmacht, not known which unit but suspected to be Geheimfeldpolezei 
a Wehrmacht Secret Police unit in need of soldiers with local linguistic skills responsible for rear area defence 
against civilians and was responsible for a wide array of atrocities.
 
-Early 1942 when the Wehrmacht G-FP is put under SD command he is coincidentally transferred or already 
with a secret 7 man squad called Sonderkommission 1 under the SD-RKPA which answered to Goering himself 
which had wide sweeping powers and could call upon the command of military and civilian authorities at their discretion.
 
-Late 43 or early 1944 he is possibly assigned to a KL (Kaiserwald) as Totenkopf.
 
-Early to Mid 44 transferred to SS Totenkopf I./SS-Feldersatz-Btl 3
 
-Mid 44 assigned to SS Unterfuhrerschule Radolfzell.
 
-June - Aug/Sept 44 activated with SS-Kampfgruppe 1, later renamed SS PzGr Brigade 49
 
-Sept 44 SS PzGr Brigade 49 absorbed into 17th SS Gotz von Berlichgen SS PzGr Division.  Wiesner assigned with 
SS-Nachrichten-Abteilung 17 and presumably wounded in the Metz region - this is where the helmet came to be in 
the possession of a US Soldier, marked 3/SS-USR.
 
Oct-Jan 18, 1945 Convalescing in hospital Mirabel in Bad Reichhall and begins requesting marriage approval in 
earnest through RuSHA asking for Himmlers personal involvement to overrule his old commander Hildebrandt.
 
Dec 29, 1944  Himmler grants his personal approval
 
Jan 18 1945 in Danzig on convalescent leave, misses approval letter.
 
Jan 25 1945 Reassigned to "front line duties" presumably back to the SS NCO School at Radolfzell to complete 
his NCO training
 
Feb 17 1945 confirmed to be back at SS NCO School Radolfzell with 8 Kompanie.
 
March 6 1945 his final request to RuSHA asking for thepermission letter to be reviewed as it came back again denied 
despite Himmlers personal approval
 
March 17 1945  Wiesner marries Trautmann at SS-US/R Radolfzell without state permission
 
March 29, 1945 RuSHA final correspondence to Wiesner again denying his marriage request.

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June 2011

This month's feature helmet is the Q-64 Waffen-SS M-35 helmet worn by SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer and Ritterkreuz -traeger der Waffen-SS Fritz Knoechlein. He was best known as the infamous Totenkopf company commander who gave the order to open fire on 98 British Royal Norfolk Regiment POWs along the side of a barn in Le Paradis, Calais, on 27 May 1940. He was hanged for this crime in February, 1949, in Hamburg, leaving behind a wife and four children. The provenance of the helmet is direct from the family of the wife, to the collector, to the dealer, to me. The helmet was in the hands of the collector since the early 1960s, relinquished to the dealer only in 2010. This shows what absolute treasures of history still remain deep in unknown collections or even with families still. The helmet is a fine condition Q of early 1938 production, having the large font "56" marked liner and a Carl Tesch 1938 chinstrap with VA-SS 1938 stamped chinstrap. The helmet is overpainted in a thin coat of field grey brush applied paint and adorned with a set of CA Pocher runic and party shields as would be expected for an early "reissue." The helmet belonged to an enlisted soldier named "Guehrer," whose name is crossed out in red grease pencil (used on tactical maps of the time) and beisde it is printed "Knoechlein." In the dome of the helmet are the lightly patinated initials "F.K." All are done in the same red map pencil. There is one Knoechlein with the first initial "F" in the entire rolls of the Waffen-SS at the Berlin Document Center, NARA, namely Fritz. The helmet shows only moderate use, but has some storage moisture staining and patina, indicating it sat in a damp cellar or similar area for some time after the war.

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August 2010

This month's feature helmet is something rarely encountered: a camo SS helmet with its accompanying original cover. The helmet was presented for my review by Steve Saus, who recently purchased it from the collector who retrieved it from an auction of WWII items. The helmet was part of a large grouping, sent back from the ETO by a Quartermaster Sergeant, who had access to many prisoners of war and other "opportunities" far behind the front lines. The example of one of his 1944 dated capture papers featured here, showing the helmet listed, also illustrates how much material the resourceful sergeant obtained and shipped back home during 1944-45. (Interestingly, in this capture paper and among the other papers, there is mention of Russian medals also. Apparently the German POWs had Russian medals on them, likely from having come from the Eastern front and more or less directly to Normandy. One division did this directly; Hohenstaufen--who came from a quick refit from Tarnopol, right on to the West by train. These items were not with the grouping however, but intriguing to note).
 
The helmet, very significantly, is a tan camo Waffen-SS M-42 single decal, EF66. The decal is the EF pattern SS shield, and the paint and liner system are the typical factory issue in untouched condition, ca mid-1943. The camo finish is a thick spray applied layer of ordinance tan, with no other colors in combination. This is a rare configuration for a helmet to possess only its base coat of ordinance tan and no addition of green or brick red. The finish is in the high 90s percentile of condition. The soldier who painted it took his finger and wiped it slightly to partly expose the SS runes, and the fingerprints are quite visible.
 
The cover is an oak leaf second pattern with loops. The cover is in strong condition, salty but with still viable colors, and has a split in the top from an impact by an object that has also scratched the camo paint slightly. The springs and clips are intact and functioning. Overall condition of the helmet and cover are "right off a surrendering soldier's head." Nothing has been cleaned or altered, but the helmet was stored well and it only shows the dust and wear of the period after 66 years.

        

        

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This month's feature helmet represents an interesting and rare variation of the array of helmets the SS were using during the mid-1930s. This one is the recognizable "Himmler" helmet, which we see the RFSS wearing in most helmet photos that exist of him. This helmet is completely unmarked, possesses the semi-gloss black enamel (factory finish) and a nice set of CA Pocher runic and party shields. The liner is an M-31. The interesting thing is, note the extra rivets for the chinstrap; the bales are independent of the liner system and attached directly to the helmet shell. The liner band is constructed without bales. It is marked "Schuberthwerke Braunschweig 1931."  The liner retaining rivets are factory installed and of the early zinc / brass construction. I was surprised at this helmet having a factory installed M-31 liner, and one of such an early make. The liner bears a last name, very faint, in green ink, that starts with "H."

        

  

 

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The Feature Helmet for January 2010 is the famous and controversial Sauerland Helmet. The writeup and research are courtesy of a close friend and advanced collector who has really done a lot of hard work to present collectors with a view as to the genesis and use of these interesting helmets. I am happy to host his writeup here in the featured helmets section.

 

Sauerland Helmets -The Real Story

There has been debate over the decades as to the origin and use of Sauerland helmets and their unique decals. Based on observation and scientific examination of a small number of well-provenanced helmets, here is the pertinent information and some new observations.

There is a great deal of justifiable paranoia regarding these decals plus misinformation which basically
has made it almost impossible to determine which is the real deal. This has been furthered by bogus
specimens appearing in reference books , dealer sites and forums. Fakes which are copies of other
fakes, etc.  Some now doubt that these were even used in WW2 despite the fact they have been
spotted in collections as far back as 1955 . 

So far I have seen only 4 helmets with this distinctive double edge one side border decal worn on the left side only . All are M42 and the products of "NS" -Vereinigte Deutsche Nikelwerke, Schwerte, Westphalen .

 They are as follows (all have fairly long pedigrees to boot):


NS 66-0488
West Point Museum (has a later spurious SS decal slapped on the right side probably for use in a 1960s display) but the rest of the helmet and the Sauerland decal are WWII period.

NS 62-689(2?) (last  number is very faint ) My Collection
Marked” K Desinger” in the liner. A soldier, Karl Desinger 37 years old is listed in German graves registry killed 02.04.1945 and buried at Altenböögge - Hamm in Sauerland where elements of the unit were recruited and fought. Is this Karl’s helmet?; a credible possibility, but at this point I can’t confirm what unit he was with.  

NS64-628 
Private Collection
        
NS66 --D487
Private Collection

All are practically identical in appearance and condition.

 

Where was the NS factory?

 

Schwerte is situated in the Ruhr Valley near the Southeast border of the Ruhr area. The mountainous Sauerland region is South of Schwerte. Both are part of Westphalia. The Friekorps Sauerland was a volunteer Militia that was incorporated into the Volkstrum in late 1944. Since the original unit composed of teachers and workers was strictly volunteer they  set about getting some of their own uniforms, equipment and insignia. In any case NS is the only area helmet maker so it certainly makes sense this is where the Gaulieters or other procurement point of contact would have ordered helmets from. Supposedly there was a cloth armshield to match the helmet decal.. They were dressed in brown uniforms of the Org. Todt .The unit  saw action at North Lunern in April of 1945 having about 27 men killed in action by the Americans and Canadians. Also they participated in the Ruhr pocket fighting and in the Sauerland area.

  


Are any of the other Sauerland decal patterns real? My opinion is that NS or the decal sub-contractor in Sept-Oct 1944  would have produced only one design pattern within the few short months that the several battalion sized unit existed. This insignia was  for the Sauerland Friekorps, an “elite” volunteer unit that equipped themselves, not the entire Volksstrum of the Sauerland Gau (which formed much later), hence the unlikelihood of it appearing on other types of helmets not part of the original combat helmet purchase. All  of the “gladiator type helmets I have been able to see close enough do not have this type of decal. Could it have been put on other types of helmets, I don’t know, but certainly would like to see them if anyone has one.  

 

In conclusion, I put forth that the evidence is overwhelming  this is THE original 1944 Sauerland decal. Hopefully, I have shed some light on sorting out this ultra rare helmet which has been a bone of contention for decades. Thanks also to XRFacts and their generous help,  this being  the one of first
research  benefits of this remarkable technology!

 

PICTURE CAPTION
The Friekorps Sauerland being sworn in. Although the helmets are all maddeningly faced the wrong way
to see a decal , the officer in front does have a new m42 helmet and the Sauerland cuffband on his
sleeve.

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Featured Helmet, October 2009.

       

Waffen-SS Foreign Volunteer Combat Helmet
In modern collecting, one of the most misunderstood and possibly ignored dimensions of the Waffen-SS are its foreign volunteer units. By 1944, about 2 thirds of the entire Waffen-SS were non-German. Their units bore the lineage of several main origins, including police, "schutzmannschaften", Heer, and collaborationist militia. As the Germans occupied more areas of Europe, the SS set about accessing the large manpower pool of young men within these countries to fill their ranks, since within the Wehrmacht recruitment system the priority of recruitment effort of German youth went to the Heer and Luftwaffe. Despite the elite nature of the Waffen-SS, this fact was never rectified. This information is readily available in excellent reference books such as Bender's "Uniforms, Organization and History of the Waffen-SS" from the 1970s, as well as Andrew Mollo's "History of the SS," and so on.
 
The featured helmet for this month consists of one of the mainstay styles of foreign volunteer helmet: the EF M-42 Police double decal, with the addition of a CA Pocher runic shield atop the police shield. In "SS Steel" and "SS Helmets," I provide a number of photographs showing this model of helmet in use by Italians, Ukranians, Hungarians, etc. This helmet features a police or SD style chinstrap and is named to an individual of possible Hungarian or Ukranian origin. There appears to be two SS shields atop the police decal. The party shield is the typical EF pattern party shield, with the red shield and more rounded appearance to the bottom. Contrary to postwar lore, most of the foreign volunteers simply wore re-decorated police or no-decal helmets--not so much helmets with foreign flag shields on them (such as the Heer "Spanish Blue Division" or the French Heer units, who did wear their country's shield).

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Featured Helmet, February 2009.

       

 

Featured this month is a truly one of a kind black M-35 SS helmet. The batch number, in the 2000s, indicates one of the earliest ET M-35s produced. The 1935 dated liner (with embossed leather) attests to this early production. The finish is not typical of other black SS M-35 helmets, in that it is an unheard-of FACTORY BLACK FINISH. The finish is satin enamel, with no sign of any paint underneath, in any area of the helmet. The enamel is clearly not spray-gun applied like typical M-35s, and this was truly a surprise to see. In my collecting years, I have heard of one, but not seen an example. Therefore any of these that existed were likely prototypical, as there is no practical combat reason for producing a black helmet in the newly adopted combat shell configuration. It is likely this helmet was part of a special delivery of a very limited number. Condition-wise, the paint is about 99% and free of dings and scratches.
 
The decals are classic CA Pocher and follow all the norms expected in this pattern (see photos--courtesy of Dave Shirlin). The combination of the paint spirits and obvious period polishing for parade use have toned and crazed the decals. Otherwise, it has seen no abuse and very limited use. The only real use displayed is in the liner, which shows remnants of two names (one being the stitching marks where a cloth nametag was removed). The liner is also a dark golden brown, but supple; suggesting a lot of wearing in parade formations. So the helmet, a rare beauty, saw a lot of use in its day. It is simply a spectacular icon of its type, and now resides in the collection of Mr. Doug Buhler. A detailed writeup will be presented in the upcoming updated version of "SS Steel." Special thanks and kudos go to Dave Shirlin, who skillfully fished this helmet out of the woodwork--thanks Dave!

 
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Featured Helmet, December 2008.

       

Featured this month is a Waffen-SS camouflage helmet that consists of a Q64 M-35 double decal, 1938 issue helmet. The helmet shows medium to heavy wear, including having had the party shield removed (scraped off) early in the helmet's duty life. The runic shield was left untouched, suggesting this was in accordance with the 1940 order for national shields to be removed from helmets (the outline of the full runic shield is visible under the camo paint). Sometime probably very late in the war, the helmet was sprayed camouflage, because the level of wear to the camo finish is comparatively very light--suggesting the SS trooper did not use it for very long after it was camouflaged. The camouflage finish consists of a base coat of ordinance tan, topped with brick red and grass green. The colors are spray-gun applied and appear to be tank paint (the color scheme is typical of tanks and armored vehicles during the 1944 period in the West). There are two names; one is scraped out, the other says "W. Walther" -- indicating the helmet had been issued to two individuals.

 

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Featured Helmet(s), October 2008.

     

 

     

This month's feature helmet is actually two M-34 Medium Duty helmets, with a very unique and apparently identical camouflage paint job on each. I first featured the larger sized one in my "SS Helmets" with Mike Beaver, to present an example of a very rare camouflage M-34. About a year later, I discovered the reversed decal camo M-34 on an internet militaria website, and at first thought it was the helmet I had presented in "SS Helmets." Upon closer examination, I realized it was a second piece, with reverse decal configuration. The purpose of camouflaged M-34 helmets would ostensibly be for use in anti-partisan field operations by the Sicherheitsdienst. In extraordinary circumstances, such as supply shortages toward the end of the war, they could have been used by (foreign) field formations of the SS. The provenance of the reverse decal example is Holland, so this deepens the mystery of the camo paint. In the final days of the war however, units made their way westward from a lot of points in Eastern Europe--especially by boat to Atlantic port cities, from Latvia and other Baltic regions where the SD were particularly active throughout the war.
 
The basic characteristics of the two helmets are typical of M-34 Medium Duty helmets: pea green paint, four-rivet liners with quick-release chinstraps, and un-lacquered CA Pocher SS runic and party shields. (The reversal of the decals on many of these helmets continues to be an un-documented purpose). The camouflage paint consists of spray-gun applied brick red and dark green, atop haphazardly masked decals. There is soil and sawdust present in the paint, as if it was hand-thrown on while the paint was being applied. Thanks go to David May for sharing pictures of his camouflage M-34.

UPDATE JANUARY 6 2010

Fellow Collectors, I meant to put this letter into the featured helmets section a long time ago, but misplaced the email. I found it, so here it is--some interesting anecdotal insights into the historical context of the Sicherheitsdienst helmets from Holland (one of which has a Royal Canadian Regiment inscription in it--the RCR were in Holland in 1945). Here is the letter:


Dear Mr Hicks,
 
I read the information about your featured helmets on your website and I might have some additional info on the M-34 camo police helmets to consider. By the way, I am a long time collector of german militaria. Not an expert but a lot wiser then when I started twenty years ago. I currently serve as a captain in the armed forces.
 
Well then. I live in Den Haag, Holland. It is this town which houses the parliament and all the government agencies. During the war the german government officals took over most of these buildings and Seyss-Inquart, the appointed Reichscommissar for occupied Holland took office just a few hundred metres from were I live. His residence was at the edge of town in a nice green parkland area where he lived in an nice old estate called Clingedael. To protect him and the huge amount of german officials in town, a few hundred metres next to his estate police barracks were build in 1943. It is a very nice building complex, still in use by our military today. It is sure it housed at least de 3rd Coy of Polizeibatallion 68 who came to Holland in the end of 1940. First based in Assen and Rotterdam they finally moved into the beforementioned barracks in spring 1943. They left only a few days after the german surrender in may 1945. Possibly also units from Polizei Lehr-Batalion III, Raised in Germany in 1942 and then only to see service in Holland, were based in the described barracks. I know from my grandfather who lived and worked in this part of town that these police troops were the predominant troops seen in the city centre. They had some roadblocks and protected the government buildings. Later they also carried out razzia,s to round up young men to work in germany. While the soldiers lived at the barracks most officers were placed to live with Dutch families. He told me that many of them had a camouflage scheme on their helmets. They also painted their cars a camouflage scheme (as all other armed forces did after 1942/43 ) Even though they never saw field service and did mostly civic police duties. I also have seen some undercover footage taken by the resistance of some of these troops at a roadblock in town confirming this. All of them wearing M35/40/42 camo-helmets (no M34). Why would these police troops camouflage their helmet? As a soldier myself I know that troops sometimes try to look cool and model their kit to look like "been there". If you wear a clean helmet everybody knows your fresh and have not seen any action. I served in Afghanistan twice and experienced that the rougher you seem to look the better it is. I can imagine the police troops, being only "police" in a relativly peaceful enviroment also wanted to look tough and soldierlike. And why not? Most civilians never saw the difference and took them for ordinary soldiers anyway. Also they never knew when their unit would be dispatched to the frontline. This was a real possiblity as the frontline was only a mere 90 minutes drive from here in 1944/45.
 
Bit of a long story but just a thought on the subject.
 
Best regards and a merry christmas!

 

 

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Featured Helmet(s), September 2008.

  

  

The absolute rarest and possibly most interesting helmet produced for the SS in the model 1935 is the "Fat Runes" type, in the batch number 3567 to 3574. The date of production of these, according to the dome stamps, is 1936, so this is not the earliest SS helmet in the 35 model. There is one example of a 1935 dated ET 64 with factory applied CA Pocher shields, so this is likely the earliest pattern of the new model helmets. As for the fat rune, it is truly an anomaly. Why does this runic style appear on these helmets? Were they leftovers during a period when ET ran out of Pochers and needed to fill a contract? Were they "purpose-built" for the LAH? We know that the fat rune shield appears on all types of SS transitional helmets, including civic, fiber RZM, and combat shells. There are 5 M-35 Fat Runes helmets known to exist in the world -- as far as I have been able to determine since first knowing about them. I have featured 3 of them in SS Steel and SS Helmets (Beaver / Hicks). With the exception of the one that covered with a reissue finish and outfitted with a refurbished liner, the others feature the exact same characteristics: thin, apple green paint; single ply 1937-dated liner band; blue-green (similar to the 1939 color) liner retaining rivet heads (with the split pins being zinc coated brass themselves); and finally, ET party shields and the Fat Runes decal. One of the helmets is marked to a Totenkopf Standarte, one is from Berchtesgaden, named to a "Dr. Dietrich"; one is marked to the LAH, and two are unattributed. Shown here are the Berchtesgaden helmet and the unattributed one. Both share the exact same batch number and characteristics as described; one of them is near mint and the other shows the additional grace of heavy combat use. More research will go into solving the reason behind this style of helmet within this production lot number grouping. Some additional findings will appear in my next update of SS Steel, early next year.

 


 

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Featured Helmet, August 2008.

                    

 

The August Feature Helmet is a Q 64, M-40 factory issue double decal that popped up out of Norway, via my Canadian Colleague Darryl, about 8 years ago. The overall condition is "issued but not used," and shows only minor storage scuffs and dings. The helmet features the early Q medium texture Schiefergrau finish, in the medium grey color characteristic of Q. The rivets are dated 1940, as is the liner band. The batch number is 475. The Q runic and party decals are both factory applied with the glue and lacquer technique. It is somewhat rare for an M-40 double, when it bears the party shield of the maker, rather than an "after market" applied party shield, which so many original M-40 doubles possess. In this case, the party shield is classic "Q," with the red-ish hue to the shield and the well-centered swastika circle.

 

 

 

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Featured Helmet, June 2008.

A helmet with a hidden story. This month's feature helmet is one with an unusual story to it. I obtained it through trade about two years ago, knowing it had been deep in a collection for about two decades. I noted it is just my type of ET M-40--early smoother texture finish, with heavy lacquer to the runic shield. Not thinking much more than just being happy to get it, I placed it on the shelf and that was that. One morning I was looking at it in the sunlight, and noticed striations in the liner leather that resemble writing. I could make out the name "Schorn." Underneath the name were some disjointed lines in the leather. As I rotated it in the sunlight, the shadows of the lines clearly revealed the title "SS-Oscha" (SS-Oberscharfuhrer). The photos attempt to show the appropriate shadow angle, and a negative version, of the inscription. I was thrilled with this find and am looking forward to researching this individual at the National Archives. I know from a cursory search that there are quite a few with the name Shorn on the Waffen-SS rolls, so the challenge will be fair. It always pays to look carefully inside helmets in the sunlight or with a magnifier--you may get a pleasant surprise that has been hidden by time.

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Featured Helmet, May 2008.

Featured for the month of May is a very unique Waffen-SS helmet that consists of a Q64 M-35 double decal helmet, dome dated 1938 with a lot number of 767. The chinstrap is a 1937 date, with a polished aluminum buckle (first I have seen). The helmet is classic Q issue in every sense. It bears the inscription (in ink) "SS Oberscharfuhrer Rudolf Dimmel" in the liner, perfectly penned in a fraktur style calligraphy. The party shield was expertly removed (likely in accordance with the 1940 regulation to do so), leaving only one edge of the lacquer present, and no damage or scratching to the paint underneath.
 
Researching Dimmel's file among the archives of the Berlin Document Center collection, National Archives, was relatively easy and straightforward. Dimmel was a died in the wool Nazi, having joined the SS in 1931 and participating in (according to documents) many Nazi Party-related fund drives and other efforts. Dimmel applied for marriage through the Rasse und Seidlungs Hauptamt RuSHA in 1937, and submitted the accompanying portrait photo of himself. Dimmel was in the SS-Bereitschaft organizations throughout the 1930s, seeing service in Dachau and then Standarte Deutschland. The last record of Dimmel came from his feldpostnummer which appears in one of his file documents. The number corresponds to the horse hospital of the V SS Korps (Gebirgs). An SS veteran who I knew from my childhood until his passing in 1998 told me that in the latter stages of the war, SS units conducted their postal operations through any available means within their order of battle for the area of operations (his was a Luftwaffe unit during Normandy). So it is not necessarily that Dimmel was stationed at the horse lazarett, but rather probably was merely his designated postal unit for that area / time. Otherwise, Oscha Dimmel has no additional records stating his fate.

 



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Featured Helmet, April 2008.

Featured for the month of April is a uniquely marked helmet that was pictured in my "SS Helmets" with Mike Beaver (Schiffer, 2005). The helmet is a Q-64 M-35 double decal with the 1939 dark "apple green" paint and blue-green liner retaining rivet color combination. Most of the helmet makers went to a variation of this shade in 1939. The liner band is dated 1939 and the chinstrap bears a 39 date as well. The helmet shows some stacking scars and slight use overall, but was clearly not used in combat conditions. The decals are classic Q pattern, factory applied with the glue and lacquer technique. The somewhat fragile liner features an interesting ink stamp that reads "Jugendschutzlager Moringen." The liner also shows the double ring on the leather tongues that many helmets feature: a ring created when the helmets were placed atop the gas mask canister and stored on top of the soldiers' lockers (I have photographs of this and may post them later--but for those of you who were wondering where the two rings come from, it is the gas mask canister). There are also two names written in the liner, actually two versions of the same name, "P. Just" (Paul Just). Jugendschutzlager Moringen was referred to as a "Wild Camp," and at one point housed teenage detainees who performed labor as a subsidiary of the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Just himself was an early member of the SS and because he was in his 40s by the late 1930s, he was assigned to the camp at Moringen. I am still researching aspects of the camp, including any information on the camp staff and their whereabouts subsequent to the closing of the camp (which closed around mid-war).

An interesting aside, this helmet was fished out of an Ohio Gun Collectors Show by Karl Kithier in 1986, for $165.00 US.

Ken N had just passed the table where this helmet was sitting, covered up, and Karl came along a lucky few minutes later

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Featured Helmet, March 2008.

This month’s featured helmet is an EF M-40 double decal factory mint example. EF was the last producer to come online into full production at the very beginning of WWII. Much of their product at the onset of M-35 manufacture shows a non-standard approach to paint scheme, decals, liners and so on. This is manifest in the variety of component mix that appears in original examples (i.e. pea green, apple or slate grey finishes, and pea green or blue-green rivet combinations. Moreover, liners appear with both 1939 and 1940 band dates in M-35 helmets.

It appears that in M-40 production this was no exception, as there are at least three paint colors and textures represented in EF M-40 helmets alone. The dark green medium texture finish is one; the simulated ET finish is another, and the medium grey medium texture finish is the third. The two aforementioned finishes have shown use of champagne runes and ET runes, respectively. The third finish displays the final EF pattern of decal, the jagged first pattern version. This decal went on to be the EF hallmark decal, but remained one of three types used for the duration of EF production.

Pictured here is an extremely rare double decal M-40 EF helmet, with a size 66 shell and a lot number of 5018—suggestive of 1940 or early 1941 production. Judging by the overall condition of the helmet, it has not been issued or worn. As such, it is a benchmark helmet, showing the factory characteristics of production at that time. The finish is medium grey Schiefergrau, with medium texture. The decals are un-glued and un-lacquered EF pattern runic and party shields. As an interesting aside, I have noted a lack of glue and lacquer use in the application of decals on EF examples. Few of the M-35, M-40 or M-42 helmets I have observed from EF have displayed glue and lacquer treatment of the decals (some do show glue and lacquer, but more random). As such, this may explain why EF decals often tend to take on a grey tarnish rather than a gold-ish yellow tone over time. The liner band date is illegible, but the chinstrap is marked G Singer Klattau 1941. The dome stamp is no longer visible in the helmet.

 

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Featured helmet February, 2008

This month’s featured helmet is what I have referred to in the past as the “Austrian Pattern” due to its uniqueness in helmet shell selection, paint scheme and decal patterns. To explain, five of these helmets are known to exist. At least one of the five shows depot repairs to the shell to fill holes that were once apertures for the Austrian “Guarde Battalion” or one of the many home guard insignia. Moreover, the distinct brown color of the outer finish bears a resemblance to the Austrian WWI version of field grey. Lastly, the one of a kind decal design and combination were considered unique and possibly foreign (Austrian) made.  

Over time it has come into question whether this helmet had to do with the Austrian SS, or was possibly just a unique, early variation of German SS usage. The reason has to do with taking a deeper look at the helmet’s basic characteristics. Yes, the shells on at least four of the five known examples are Austrian-made (unknown maker, possibly BGB) and bear the two small holes on the right side of the shell that ostensibly bore the “flaming-bomb” Austrian rural police emblem (again, a possible “Austrian” indicator for post WWI forensic judgment, especially knowing that the Guarde Battalion existed around 1935-1938, for instance).

However, the base paint finish in all five examples is distinctly German Feldgrau without question. Moreover, the feldgrau is covered, in all five cases, with black satin spray finish and bears a set of CA Pocher SS and Party shields whose outline is visible under the paint. The final finish is a color which can really only be described (and uniform buffs know this) as “Erdbraun,” which is the early color of SS-TV and in some cases VT units. To reiterate, each helmet displays this unusual design evolution in shell, finish and insignia.

So from the basics a new explanation might be derived for this unique helmet. Millions of Austrian WWI combat shells found their way into the German inventory of transitional helmets in the 1920s and 1930s—so it is possible these helmet shells were “in the inventory” of a particular German unit in the early 1930s.  This would help explain the distinctly “German” modern field grey color, as well as the Allgemeine-SS configuration involving the black finish and the CA Pocher decals. It is the final configuration of this helmet that is enigmatic and at the same time exciting.

None of the five examples I have examined bear any name or unit marking. Yet all bear the “signature” of being created and used by the same unit at the same time. The party shield, which is normal size (but bears a huge swastika), is distinct and actually appears on some civic or commercially produced German shells, indicating a local, limited manufacture of that particular design. The runes are also unique, and appear on one example of an SD helmet, which only bears runes and no party shield.  

My conclusion is the helmet is actually German, and traces its history to a unit of the SS-TV or SS-VT.  I am hesitant to say it is purely Austrian because prior to the Anschluss of 1938, the Austrian SS was a banned organization and there was not much venue for parades with special uniforms and insignia. Once the Anschluss took place, we begin to see the use of the hand-painted SS insignia on some helmets, which is probably the earliest use of SS insignia publicly by the Austrian SS (see SS-Steel, pp. 46-47).

Hopefully this brief treatise on a very rare and handsome SS helmet type will be of use to my fellow collectors. Also, when I find them, I will post pictures of the interior again.

Regards,   KH

 

Reversed Decal “Austrian” showing the unique runic shield and brown paint.

Right side of helmet, showing the large swastika party shield. Note the crackling in the paint atop the area of the runic shield that lies underneath.

 

One of the other “Austrian” pieces. This one features decals in proper layout, and also features the brown over black over field grey paint scheme.

 

 

  

Runic Shield                                       Party Shield