Sunday, November 16, 2008

German M.35 Steel Helmet in Spanish Nationalist Service

Here's a story about a helmet and when people go crazy.

This is one of the stars of my collection, a bona fide German M35 used by the Francoists.   I'm very pleased to have this piece although it represents a very sad time in human history,  when Spain went mad.

Here is a group of modern day Spanish nut-bags giving that all-too-familiar fascist salute.

Let's trace their odd behavior to its source.

Adolf Hitler, seen here with his Spanish fascist lackey, and dictator of Spain, Francisco Franco.

Note that Franco is all signed off on the Nazi salute, he's been practicing in front of a mirror. 

Lots of people were being swept away with the false promises of fascism and its trappings.

Even the Catholic church.  Wow,  what would Sister Angelica say?

Below is a Communist reaction (during the Spanish Civil War) to the clergy selling-out to the Nazis.
These reds are taking pot-shots at Christ (do you suppose that they don't realize its only a statue?)  "That'll learn 'im!"

Despite the best efforts of the Commies,the Republicans, and a host of others, the Hitler-backed and equipped Francoists were victorious in the Spanish Civil War.  As a show of gratitude, one of the many favors Franco extended to Hitler was the gift of Spanish troops (the Blue Division) in Nazi Germany's fight against the Soviets.

These Spanish lads won't be so jolly a year later.

A lasting legacy of this relationship between Nazi Germany and Fascist Spain was the influence of that most distinctive of helmets, the M.35, a design that continued in a couple of versions until only recently in the Spanish armed forces.

And here is the original, direct from Nazi Germany, the M.35 in Francoist regalia.

The Nationalist eagle adorns the front of this very  handsome (albeit sinister) German helm.

The distinctive profile shows off the clean, classic lines of the M.35

Unlike other Spanish helmets, the insignia mounting bracket on this specimen is cleanly soldered and finished.

The original M.31 liner is in excellent condition...

and bears the name of a previous wearer.  I wonder, what became of Juan?  Note that the chinstraps no longer retain their original rivets but are sewn on to the D rings.

That most distinguishing feature of the true M.35; the applied ventilation holes.

I'm assuming that this is a batch number stamped into the rear skirt of this molibdene steel helmet.

The shell size; "ET64" is stamped inside the left-side skirt.

Part number and liner size stamping on the inside of the liner band.

Liner size stamp underneath one of the liner fingers and...

again on the band.  Man, talk about Germanic attention to detail!

A close-up view of one of the split pins that connect the leather liner to the flexible liner band.

Another distinctive feature of the M.35 (as well as the M.40) is the rolled edge, shown here in close-up.

The chinstrap, though unmarked and without original rivets is the original German manufacture.

This is an outstanding helmet that I was lucky enough to acquire nearly 25 years ago for a relative song.   Those were the days.

A remarkable helmet, and a tragic story.  Although Franco shattered his own country and marred the reputation of Spain in the second half of the twentieth century, Franco himself managed to get off scot-free, ruling that country until his death in 1975, quite unrepentant.

I bet I can guess what style of helmets they wear in hell, heh, heh, heh.

Let me leave you with a different take of Picasso's reaction to Fascist excesses in Spain:

Lena Gieseke's Guernica 3-D (go here)

My next two posts will profile the Spanish-manufacured copies of the M.35.  The differences in quality will be startling.

accession number: MOA hmar249.68.11
German M.35 in Spanish Nationalist livery
Acquired 1980, Lansing Michigan.
Condition: very good

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As always, Mannie, I love how your writing navigates between the artifact and the context, the sobering and the humorous. Been reading about the Rif War recently, and how its big-time madness helped spawn ditto in the 1930's. Here are some of your (stetson-less) counterparts in Espana today: