Sunday, October 12, 2008

German Luftschutz Helmet

fourth in a series of Civil Defense helmets


When your enemy controls the skies, the idea of Civil Defense grows large in the public imagination.

The "Luftschutz" was the air defense arm of the RLB; civilians, that is old folks, women, and children performing all of the Civil Defense roles so abundantly available in a smoldering and crumbling Germany while the last of the able bodied men were being pushed into the sausage machine of Hitler's "Thousand-year Reich".

This brave-looking dark blue helmet, of that Germanic-flared style, has a deep dome, wide protective skirt, and is emblazoned with the winged swastika insignia of the Luftschutz.

The profile demonstrates that typical "Fritz" style. The 'bead" or circumference ridge is an element we'll see again in a police-style helmet in a later posting of German helmets.

These distinctive colander-like ventilation holes prompt thoughts of draining pasta.

The rear view shows the widely flared skirt to fine effect.

The top view shows a finish in quite good condition, all very much intact save for that ding, caused perhaps by falling masonry? I'm hoping the damage occurred as the lid was thrown down in greeting the advancing food trucks of the American GIs (and not Russkis, for heaven's sake).

The very simple, very cheap, liner is indicative of the scrimping that Germany had to resort to in order to support a madman's hallucination of world domination. The cork spacers provided the wearer with a scant eighth of an inch separation between shell and skull. Let's hope our Aryan Air raid warden had a healthy head of hair.

The size is stamped on one of the liner fingers. The leather, by the way is very thin and cheap. Had the war gone on another year the liner doubtless would have ended up as some Berliner's lunch.

Manufacturer's mark stamped in the rear skirt.

Those familiar with German helmets will recognize the trusty split rivet that fastened the liner to the shell. The liner band, by the way seems to be some sort of pressed heavy paper.

The cork spacer is all that lies between the wearer and a concussion.

The nicest piece of leather is the chinstrap, of which only the buckle-half is currently attached.

This insignia will also be found on the captured helmets of many nations before the war ended.

Three cute German girls in Luftschutz gear, dutifully and cheerily marching toward oblivion...

as Hitler's Reich reaps the whirlwind.

As you collect, reflect.

The Luftschutz "gladiator style" helmet of World War Two. A sad cautionary icon, reminding us that willingly following pied pipers and maniacs can bring with it a terrible price.

Next Monday's installment will be the British MkII air-raid warden's helmet of WWII.

Note: the three German girls photo is a copyrighted image of and is used here without permission, though I'm still hoping to hear from them.


Anonymous said...

I just bought an original helmet such as the one described. Thank you for the information and history.

Anonymous said...

Good article and very good explanation of this WWII helmet.