- The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945

    Heer: German Army 1935-1945


Photo:  A soldier of the Second Company of the 32 Infantry Regiment wears the M1935 double decal helmet with smooth "apple green" finish.  The photo is dated 1936.

The German Army (Heer) of World War II rose from the ranks of the Reichswehr Army that was formed as a result of the Versailles Treaty signed in 1921.  As a defeated nation, Germany's ability to develop and maintain a national defense force equal to its allies and victors was greatly reduced.  The resulting tension built animosity between German and its World War I enemies which later became an impetus for not only further expansion of the armed forces but also war.  The rise of National Socialist influence took hold in the German Army as early as 1934.  The Reichswehr continued to exist until 1935 when Adolf Hitler came to full power and proclaimed by law the formation of the German Armed Forces (Deutsche Wehrmacht).  Even before the formation of the Wehrmacht, some units of the Reichswehr Army underwent special training in the hopes of an expanded role in the army to come.

Between 1939 and 1945 more than 13 Million men and some women served in the ranks of the German Army.  Wartime casualties are estimated at nearly six million with more than 1.5 Million having died in combat.  Not only did Germans serve in the Heer, but so did a number of foreign volunteers as well.  The first mass infusion of non-Germans came in the spring of 1938 when all units of the Austrian Armed forces (Österreichischen Bundesheer) were incorporated into the German Wehmacht.  The majority of these units were infantry in nature and made up a bulk of the ever expanding German Army.

The steel helmets initially used by both the Reichswehr and the early Heer formations were of the older World War I types consisting of the M1916, M1917, M1918 and M1918 "ear cut-out" models including the Austrian types.  Lightweight helmets of aluminum were also used for parade and ceremony purposes but were not worn in the field.  Testing and trials of prototype helmets like the M1933 Vulkanfiber were temporarily explored, but in the end it was the newer model M1935 steel helmet that became the standard for the German Army.  Advances in production technique and the need to streamline costs lead to both the M1940 and M1942 model helmets. Millions of German helmets were manufactured between 1935 and 1944 with production reaching its height sometime between 1943 and 1944.



Each section of is divided into separate Information Tracks that outline important details, facts, and historical notes pertaining to steel helmets used by the German Armed Forces during World War II.  

Information Tracks are organized by subject matter and their content is directly related to the service arm or organization to which each topic is related.  Topic areas that bridge one subject matter to another are cross linked within each Information Track.

This Information Track provides historical facts pertaining to steel helmets worn by the German Army (Heer) from 1935-1945.  Individual links related to this subject are outlined below.

Main Tracks

Lightweight and Parade Helmets

Helmet Decals

Unattributed Configurations

Veteran Accounts

The personal recollections of German veterans serve to enhance our collective knowledge regarding the use of steel helmets.  Accounts such as these are drawn from the "living memory" of men who depended on their helmets for lifesaving protection.

A Field Repainted M1935 Double Decal Army Helmet Captured by a US Army Veteran in 1944.  - The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945

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