Friday, June 15, 2012

West German Heer Jägertruppen Major Uniform

At the end of the Second World War, the Nazi German Wehrmacht (Armed Forces) were dissolved by the Allied Occupational Authorities. By the beginning of the 1950's the Soviet Union had already begun secretly rearming it's zone of occupation which would come to be known as East Germany. With West Germany's entry into NATO in 1955; the Bundeswehr, West Germany's Armed Forces was reestablished to provide defense against the looming threat of invasion from the eastern bloc.

With the reestablishment of the Bundeswehr, a large number of veterans of the Wehrmacht were allowed to continue their service in the post war military, along with the wear of their original awards earned during their wartime service. These badges known as the 1957 era awards were all de-Nazified badges with the swastikas and any other symbols of the previous fascist regime removed. They were in turn issued to the awardees for wear on their new uniforms.

With the establishment of the West German Heer, the waffenfarbe designation system was established and the color green selected for troops of the Jägertruppen (Light Infantry Troops). The motto of the Jägertruppen is "Pedites Pugnas Decernent" which translates into 'The Infantry Decides the Battle" reflecting the role of the infantry forces to close in and face the enemy in direct combat engagements.

The uniform displayed here is the early era Grundform for a Major in the Infanterie (Jägertruppen & Panzergrenadiertruppen). The uniform jacket depicted is of the standard Army gray color with the green colored piping of the Infanterietruppen adorning the shoulder boards and collar insignia.

The significance of this tunic is that it is adorned with the service decorations of a veteran of the Wehrmacht during the Second World War (1939-1945). His awards include the Kriegsorden des Deutschen Kreuzes in Gold (Order of the German Cross in Gold), Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Order of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross), Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse (Order of the Iron Cross 2nd Class) and the Gold Verwundetenabzeichen (Wound Badge in Gold).

Note upon looking closely at the awards you see that the swastikas have been removed from the devices attached to the ribbon bar themselves.

The shoulder boards have the green color piping of the Infanterie branch with the rank of a Major with a single silver pip and crossed laurel wreath.

The shoulder patch portrays the German federal eagle against the German national flag with the Roman numeral for the number six signifing that he was assigned to Heer Wehrbereichskommando VI (Amy Military Area Command VI) which was stationed in Bavaria in the 1960s.

Another feature of the early style uniforms are the French style cuffs on the sleeves of the tunic which began to disappear from West German military uniforms around the early to mid 1970s.

 The early pattern visor cap of the Bundeswehr Land Forces. These caps known as a Schirmmützen are reminiscent of the World War II style 'crusher caps' worn by various armies around the world. Note the dark gray color of the early German Army. It retains the national roundel insignia of West Germany as well as an embroidered Heer insignia and the oak leaves of a field grade officer.

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