Mr. Beach 1942

A platoon of soldiers enjoying a plunge, probably during training in the first years of the war (or just before). While their swimming trunks leave something to be desired when it comes to fit, one has to admire their esprit de corps, manifested in the wearing of their unit’s insignia. I haven’t been able to tell which unit it is.

One thing that’s apparent is how fit they look. They were probably born right after the worst years after World War 1, when times were lean and many suffered from malnutrition (424,000 Germans died from starvation and disease due to the naval blockade 1914-19). The post-WW1 generation grew up with few extra calories, and were honed in the Hitlerjugend and then the six months of service in the RAD (Reichsarbeitsdient –  the Reich Labor Service), before being conscripted to the Wehrmacht. They were generally in better physical shape than their adversaries, but that didn’t help in the long run.

Edit: The title should probably read “Mr. Beach 1932”, as I’ve found out that the sword badges worn on the swimming trunks weren’t a unit sign, but the M32 Reichswehr sports badge. As the Reichswehr was in existence between 1919 and 1935, my guess is that the photo was taken in the last years, 1934 being a likely candidate. 

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