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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
-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
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
They are as
follows (all have fairly long pedigrees to boot):
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.
(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.
practically identical in appearance and condition.
Where was the NS
situated in the Ruhr Valley near the Southeast border of the Ruhr area. The
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
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!
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
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).
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!
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.
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
Bit of a long story but just a thought on the subject.
Best regards and a merry christmas!
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Reversed Decal “Austrian” showing the unique runic shield and
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
One of the other “Austrian” pieces. This one features decals in
proper layout, and also features the brown over black over field grey paint