Evolution of the German Army Field Uniform 1933-1945

Evolution of the German Army Field Uniform 1933-1945

*Music Plays* * ♪ Wenn wir Marschieren ♪* * ♪ Zieh’n wir zum Deutschen Tor hinaus ♪ * * ♪ Schwarbraunes Mädel ♪ * After the First World War the defeated German army was restricted in size and forbidden from modernizing. When the Third Reich era
began on 30 January 1933 the Army began a new period of transformation to allow
it to carry out Hitler’s aggressive foreign policy. This video will examine
how the German Army’s basic combat uniform evolved during its expansion,
modernization, politicization, and eventual decline from 1933 to 1945. The German soldier emerged from the World War wearing a field grey uniform, cloth
putties and a steel trench helmet. By 1933 there were was still little to
distinguish German soldiers from their wartime counterparts. Tall marching boots,
in English sometimes called jack boots, were reintroduced in the post-war period. Equipment, wool trousers and Reichswehr tunic were similar to the wartime design.
Collar patches displaying the soldier’s branch color were in use by 1933. Shoulder straps displayed the soldier’s regiment and unlike wartime practice the numeral
was also in the soldier’s branch colour. White denoted Infantry. Numbered
buttons indicated the soldier’s company within the regiment. The 1916 helmet was
still in use among other styles and a field cap with a cloth peak was also
worn. In 1933 a new tunic, properly called a field blouse, was introduced. The entire
blouse including collar and shoulder straps were in the same shade of field
grey as the rest of the uniform. On the 14th of March a new tricolor decal in national colors was added to the left side of the helmet. On 17 February 1934
the decal was moved to the right side of the helmet and at the same time a new
national insignia was added to the chest. This breast eagle was rendered in white
on a field grey backing. On 5 April 1934 a new tricolor decal was introduced and
the army received its own decal on the left side of the helmet. In late 1934 a
new field blouse with dark field grey collar and shoulder straps was introduced. This tunic also had internal suspenders to support the belt and equipment. A more practical field cap was introduced in 1934. On 1 July 1935 a new
steel helmet was introduced. On 10 September 1935 the collar of the field blouse was changed to dark green. The collar patches were also modified to include a dark green stripe in the center with the patch sewn to a dark green backing
before attachment to the blouse. In December 1935 dark green cloth was
approved for the shoulder straps as well. In January 1936 the older pattern belt
buckles with the insignia of the Weimar Republic was replaced with a new Wehrmacht pattern and on 19 June 1937 a new breast Eagle rendered in white on a dark green
background was introduced. On 26 November 1938 further changes to insignia
included the removal of the service colour from the collar patches, replaced
by dark green stripes for all branches. To better display the branch of service
colour, piping was added to the shoulder straps which were also changed in shape
at this time. On 5 February 1939 the breast eagle changed once more from
white to a more subdued silver-grey on green background. On April 18 1939 new
equipment suspenders were introduced to help support the equipment belt. At some
point in 1939 company numbers were ordered removed from the uniform. It was this uniform that the German army wore during the victorious first year of the
war and for decades Hollywood firmly cemented this uniform into the minds of
television and movie audiences. German soldiers were invariably depicted in 1940 era double decal helmets, high leather marching boots and so-called m36
field blouses no matter what period was being portrayed. The truth was somewhat
different, and this high water mark of uniform and insignia quality began to
deteriorate even before France surrendered in June 1940. On 9 November
1939 with the war only two months old marching boots were shortened is a
leather conservation measure. On 1 March1940 the tricolour decal was ordered
removed from the right side of the helmet. Three weeks later new m35 helmets had a rough texture added at the factory. Sometime in 1940 new field blouses began to be manufactured with a field grey
collar. The universal pattern collar patches were stitched
directly to the collar as the dark-green backing no longer matched the uniform. On
9 May 1940, likely in response to the deletion of dark green collars, the collar
patches were changed to the final form with mouse grey stripes replacing the
dark green. The breast eagle was also changed to a subdued mouse grey color on a field grey backing. Shoulder straps were changed from dark
green to field grey in 1940 as well and regimental numbers were officially
removed. At some point in 1940 slip-ons bearing embroidered regimental
designations were introduced. Production of the pre-war stone grey trousers
ceased in 1940 in favor of field grey to match the field blouse. Ankle boots and
cloth gaiters had been approved as early as 1940. At first only used by rear area
troops, they saw increased usage even in front-line units as the war went on. As
well equipment belts and suspenders made of cotton webbing, designed for tropical
use, saw increasing usage as war went on due to shortages of leather. On 26 May 1941 a sixth button was added to the front of the field blouse. The white
cotton undershirt became available in field grey beginning in July 1941. At
some point in 1942 the branch of service piping was ordered removed from the
field cap and on 21 July 1942 a new field cap was introduced with folding
down ear flaps. The field blouse was further modified in 1942 to conserve
material by removing the pleats from the pockets. The m35 helmet was also
simplified to save production time. The bottom edge was no longer rolled, leaving
a raw finish. The field blouse was modified still further in 1943 by
removing the scallops and the pocket flaps. The blouse was increasingly worn
with an open collar and the colour of the wool shifted as artificial and other
fibers such as wood were used to compensate for wool shortages. On 11 June
1943 a peak was added to the field cap similar to the specialized caps worn by
mountain troops and with the tropical uniform. On 28 August 1943 the Army eagle
decal was deleted from the left side of the helmet. As the war progressed black
boots gave way to natural brown. On 25 September 1944 a brand new uniform was
issued featuring a shortened Eisenhower-style field blouse,
matching trousers and a new triangular shaped breast eagle. Since the war, English-speaking hobbyists
have imposed their own nomenclature on the study of German army uniforms,
equipment and insignia. To a German soldier at the time, however, this tunic was
simply called a field blouse regardless of its details. Yet in English terms like
M35, M43 et cetera have come to be common and while not always accurate do at
least provide a smaller amount of precision to a subject that is much more
complex than suggested by this short video. When changes occurred to uniform
and insignia at the factory older uniforms and equipment continued
to be worn side by side with the new ones. Old stocks were inventoried
alongside new stocks. “Alte Hasen,” veteran soldiers, clung to older kits since they knew
replacements would be inferior in quality. German combat gear was produced
in multiple factories from dwindling stocks of raw materials leading to many
variants of basic items aside from the official pattern changes. Shortages
compelled the use of converted foreign uniforms and soldiers sometimes
upgraded later pattern uniforms with older insignia or dark green collars. The
Field Uniform 44 was to be an exception evidence perhaps of a belated desire for
standardization. By September 1944, with Allied troops already on German soil, it was too
little, too late and the German Army fought to the end in a mishmash of
increasingly poor quality field gear. It’s only in recent years that motion
picture and television costumers have accurately captured the true look at the
German Army during its years of decline and ultimate defeat. Now – if we could just get film and
television directors to stop doing that stupid Navy SEAL high-ready weapons carry. But – that’s a topic for another time. * ♪ Ei darum Mädel, Mädel, Wink, Wink Wink! ♪ * * ♪ Unter einer Grünen Lialind ♪ * * ♪ Sitzt ein Kleiner Fink, Fink, Fink ♪ * * ♪ Singt nur immer: Mädel Wink! ♪ *

100 Replies to “Evolution of the German Army Field Uniform 1933-1945”

  1. Keep making more videos like this. I love how much effort and quality you put into these videos, keep it up!

  2. The German Heer M-44 jacket was based on the British Battle Dress jacket more than the US Army Ike jacket.

  3. According to some sources such as AT THE FRONT website, the M40 tunics have been seen in photographs dated early as 1938. Maybe they mistook an old Reichswehr tunic as an "M40", I don't know. Probably the best way to figure out this mystery would be to look at dozens of original M40 tunics and trying to find a 1938 date from a liner.

  4. Almost a good video. You forgot to add the Leibermuster camo pattern uniforms introduced for the Wehrmacht in 1945. Which was pretty much the most important uniform change for the army during the entire war.

  5. Some call it nit-picking, but I disagree. It is important to correct systemic errors found in literature and more importantly, model kits. There are so many. The "Sherman" was simply the M4 Medium, unless you were British. There is no "Henschel" turret for the Konigstiger. Both designs were built by Krupp. And speaking of Konigstiger, the direct translation to "King Tiger" is wrong, since to a German the word denotes the Bengal Tiger, the largest of the species. The "Sherman" did not burn easily due to it using a gas engine. It burned because of the storage of the main gun rounds, corrected in later versions. American soldiers rarely encountered the "88" or the "Tiger." You can correct pretty much all war diaries to "75" or "105," and usually Panzer IV. The French and Italian soldiers were NOT cowards. They were both hampered by bad leadership, and the Italians with increasing inferior weapons. And speaking of the Italians, a large percentage of the Italian army did NOT quit fighting in 1943 when the government capitulated. They fought on for either the Allies or Axis, and were re-equipped with common equipment for whichever side. That's why there are few pictures of Italian uniforms at war after 43. The Japanese did NOT have inferior tanks at the time of their building. Up until 1941 or so, a Japanese tank could easily handle whatever America could field. The real issue was that most steal was redirected to the IJN, so the IJA could not modernize their armor. The same with Italy. Fiat had a monopoly on tank production, and were happily cranking out older models for maximum corporate profit. The Allied bomber offensive in the ETO was not worth the casualties suffered by the aircrews. Although there were a few instances of effectiveness, in general German war production increased steadily until early 1945, when the factories were overrun on both sides by ground troops. The Invasion of Normandy is not "D-Day." D-Day is a term used for the start of any campaign, including the invasion of southern France, the Invasion of Italy, and the Invasion of Okinawa. And speaking of "D-Day." The Americans did NOT defeat Germany. The Soviets were steadily moving west towards Berlin with more troops than both the Americans and British could muster. Approximately 75-80% of German troops fought on the Eastern front, which is why the Germans could move divisions from East to West for the Battle of the Bulge. The bulk of the German army used horses for transport. Armor was always in short supply. And the German army did not invent "Blitzkreig." That was a term invented by the press. To the Germans, they used combined arms, and moved quickly when possible. MacArthur was a terrible field commander, as was Mark Clark. Hardly worthy of praise. Churchill based many of his wartime decisions on maintaining the British colonies, all acquired with no less ferocity and murder than expected of the Germans or Japanese.

    Yeesh. These are just a few off the top of my head. Keep up the good work!

  6. My grandfather was a partisan and he wore a German made uniform. Always praised it for how comfortable it was and well suited for Croatian climate and terrain. Much better than what the British gave them.

  7. Thank you! It´s very hard to get information on anything related to the 3rd Reich in German, (except for the obvious things).
    I guess my interest stems from the fact that of my 4 grandparents only one ever talked about the time. The others were all too traumatised and broken! Which is why it gives me a shiver all the time I see things related to WWII.

  8. I have felt so alone, for so long. We must be soulmates! WW2 soldiers doing SWAT team tactical bull shit, makes me want to put a Stielhandgranate in to my mouth, and pull the cord.

  9. I had to double check that this wasn't simple history, if it was I would know that bit can't be trusted as truthful
    You did very well, good video!

  10. You may not be used to the way he says decal, but it is correct, most misspronunciations come from making a E in a word long where it doesn't belong, like when people say leever, instead of lever, or meelee instead of mele, if you disagree say left with a long E and see if that sounds correct

  11. Speaking of the incorrect carrying of firearms, why not check this out?
    I don't know if you care for that sort of thing, but I thought you might like it.

    Also, great video. Keep up the good work!

  12. How did soldiers move through combat with their weapons if they didn’t use a high ready position? Surely they’d want to have their weapons ready if someone popped out and shot at them.

  13. Officers supplied their own tailor made uniforms yet enlisted men and NCOs were also allowed to purchase their own. Hence you may find two uniforms for the same unit, one a factory issue item, and the other tailor-made. The first will have comparatively plain decoration and cheaper materials when compared to the individually tailored uniform. The original orders allowed it and both comply with regulations.

  14. The old man recounted when during our Finn scrap with Russia ww2 . . when he was going on leave they offered him to pick out a 'fresh' uniform from a train car load coming back from the front line medical centres & when looking through them bits & pieces & fingers etc were still amongst them . . he declined & wore the uniform he was wearing back on leave .

  15. Concise and abundantly informative. I cannot read/watch/learn enough on this topic, my sincere thanks.

  16. An improvement for maybe future videos is to highlight visually or put an indicator what is being change in each of the pictures when transitioning. Cause while you were talking it was kind of hard to notice some of the subtle changes in the pictures.

  17. Great video man, keep up the good work! (this is the only YT channel where I can say I was here from the start! hope you keep growing my guy!)

  18. Fantastic visual timeline. I've always been intrigued by the variations and evolution of the German's WWII combat uniforms, but still hold the belief the American Paratroops had the best uniform design with modern combat in mind.

    It would be interesting to see a video on the variations of the Heer, Luftwaffe and Waffen-SS camo patterns used in combat on both European fronts.

  19. You say "decal" wrong. It's pronounced like "D-cal".

    And old soldiers often keep old gear because it makes them look salty if for nothing else. When I was in the Marine Corps, I kept my black beanie way after the tan ones had come out. Tan beanies are for boots.

  20. Really like this video. It destroys the perception that most people have about the German army being always stylish no matter what the situation, but like you mentioned yourself we can already see that from the start of the WW2 they were constantly further engineering the uniforms, making them more cost efficient, but less fashionable as a result of that.

  21. Love the attention to detail in this vid. Is there any way you could do a video like this based on the changes made to the US Army’s uniform from pre 9/11 to the present?

  22. This is great. I've been to war museums in France where no attempt was made to get any of this right. You would find a manaquin dressed in a mismatch of uniform items, and in the same exhibit, photos which showed how wrong they had got it. For some this is trivial, but museums owe it to future generations to get things right.

  23. My father ‘s dad God REst his soul was a medic during WWII and fought and saved lives for the Dritte Reich and it’s beyond how tough he was! Also one of my Greatgranfathers also for the Third Reich infact on the eastern front against the Red Army! Panzer Divisions from the Waffen SS were elite special ops commando combatants that it took five large nations to barely toppel the giants from every which direction !

  24. For those of us who have an interest in the history of WWII, this is very good info. I haven't looked yet, but I would hope that you would do other videos on all of the major powers that fought in the war. Thank you very much for taking the time to record and post.

  25. I just discovered your channel and subscribed right away! I'm American, German and a WW2 enthusiast! Danke for your videos!

  26. As Charles De Gaulle said of the Germans: "no moral compass – but what a tailor!".

    By the way, I'd love to see a vid on the "stupid Navy Seal high ready weapons carry" in WWII!

  27. wow.. . . . thxxxx 2 your devotion!!
    Could you please upload this video to PDF? it will be a Tremendous thing that you ever made. =)

  28. Good video – an addendum though: at the start of the war, most changes had already taken place – however, there were numerous soldiers who still wore the old M18 helmet – it was very common, and even if the M35 was in full production, it hadn't yet reached all units. A more significant note is that the straps introduced (popular name 'the Y-strap') did not see wide use until basically after the French campaign – in the Polish campaign, they were mostly used by recon and horse units, and not even they had all gotten the straps, since there was a quite significant lack of leather.

  29. This was really interesting and well thought out, I'd love to see you do the other major factions from ww2 like the British!

  30. The fact that 2 months into the war Germany had to start conserving material shows the reason why they were never going to win the war, they never had the resources to do it. They were too small to fight a World War and this thankfully lead to their downfall.

  31. Small error: you used variant of nazi party eagle instead of emblem of the German nation. National eagle had eagle's head looking towards heraldic right, which is right from wearer's perspective aka left from viewer's perspective. Party eagle had eagle looking towards heraldic left or right from viewer's perspective. Variant of party emblem had 3 wings, which is what you used in the video.
    Reasoning for this is simple. Eagles in heraldry are not actually looking at right or left, they are looking forward. But that is terrible for visibility, so they are drawn looking at right or left. This is easiest to explain when you think about flags. Flag poles are traditionally depicted at left (viewer's perspective) of the flag. So eagle that looks towards flag pole (heraldic right) is looking at direction flag pole is carried towards. Eagle that looks at heraldic left is looking away from flag pole. This symbolises how German nation is advancing forwards, and nazi party is looking after German people.

    I should point out that this symbolism has absolutely nothing to do with any politics, Germans or nazis, it is just common and traditional heraldic symbolism that makes sense. Symbolism of looking forwards is obvious, and if 2 sides of the flag are different then very often when sun shines through them you can see what is on other side of the flag, which just makes it very messy unless its perfect mirror image, aka eagles on both side of the flag are looking towards the pole.

  32. Nice stuff…I made alot of Tamiya models as a kid, and always paid close attention to the details in hockey uniforms, as I collected cards..so Ive always noticed minute changes to things…I honestly think its what trained me to become more observant than many other folks I know.

    Used to drive me nuts seeing things like helmets with stickers in films and shows growing up…of course the worst was crap like Big Red One, or Rat Patrol…Shermans painted yellow with a cross on it.."Meh, thats good enough for them..it's a 'tank'." But freakin' Kelly's Heroes made an effort, and it was only a comedy.

    "Fury" was war porn AFAIAC, but at least they tried to use and wear more realistic stuff….although that Tiger should have sent Brad Pitt to Hell from a mile away.

  33. At 8.16 I'm sure that's the 1993 movie, not the piece of crap the Russians made in 2013. Which is odd, as a lot of Russian war movies are pretty good. 9th Company is a great one, set during and before the Soviets in the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989. Great video,
    HandGrenadeDivision, I loved it!

  34. I hate how alot of people think the allgemeine SS uniforms were the only uniforms and i swear everytime i see someone say that i will just send them this video

  35. this is a very detailed history about ww2
    out of all the history video so far yours is the best because they are not as long hours also u r good at simplifying them

  36. Wow impressive! very nice informative video, I feel like movies mess up the German uniforms many times, like Saints and soldiers, the year was late 1944 and the Germans wear a 1938-1940 uniforms. thanks for sharing

  37. Numbered buttons refer to company within the regiment
    Shoulder straps displayed the soldiers regiment 82
    numeral (82nd) color referred branch color white = infantry

  38. Excellent video. Although what's wrong with the high ready weapons carry stance in film? Personally I think it makes more sense than the typical scenes where soldiers shoot/spary from the waist.

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