Old gear for a new army

Thirsty soldiers down beer in the summer of 1934 (or 1935 or 1936). They wear the old style Reichswehr eight-buttoned uniform tunic, the new insignia sewn on as of May, 1934. The new uniform, which will be worn by the conquering Army a few years later, is still in development. The same goes for the iconic helmet, which is about to be approved and manufactured in millions. Until then the soldiers use two WW1-vintage Stahlhelme, the M1918 with its prominent lugs, and the relatively rare M1918 “ear cut-out” helmet, which was developed for field telephone operators, cavalrymen, artillery crews, and the like. It was popular, but arrived too late to be worn in any numbers before the armistice. When the Wehrmacht began to expand, old helmets were brought out of storage, refurbished (new liners, paint, and decals), and issued to the troops. Some were used as late as 1943. The men in the photo don’t know that in 3-5 years, they’ll be called up to arms and conquering Europe in the uniforms that are so deeply associated with war and terror.

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