Saturday, June 16, 2012

West German Heer Panzertruppen Leutnant Uniform

When the decision was made to establish the West German Bundeswehr and proceed with Wiederbewaffnung (the policy of rearming West Germany)in 1955, it was initially met with intense criticism by France. Still fresh in the minds of many were the invasions of France by German armed forces first by the Deutsches Reichsheer (Imperial German Army) in 1914, and again by the Nazi Wehrmacht in 1940. Also the defeat of French forces during the Franco-Prussian War of 1871.

Barred from joining the new armed forces were members of outlawed organizations that held political or ideological significance to the previous regime particularly members of the Nazi Waffen SS. With the ever growing mistrust between the United States and the Soviet Union, the decision was made to establish the Bundeswehr and of particular interest in assisting to build and train the new armed forces was the recruitment of veterans of the Wehrmacht.

 The significance of armored warfare had been realized during the previous conflict and none were more potent in armored warfare than the Germans. German Field Marshal Heinz Guderian had redefined armored warfare when he took to leading his armored formations into France in 1940. With the establishment of the Bundeswehr, the color pink was retained as the color of German Panzertruppen (Armored Troops). The motto of the Panzertruppen is "Panzer -HURRA!" or "Tanks Hooray!" A common chant of the armored troops is "Antennen - HOCH! Luken - DICHT! Klar zum - GEFECHT!" which means 'Antennas high! Hatches closed! Forward to Combat!'

The uniform shown here is of an early era Leutnant (2nd Lieutenant) of the Panzertruppen. Note with the early style uniforms are significantly a darker gray than their later issue counterparts.

Another veteran of the Wehrmacht of the Second World War (1939-1945) his awards include the Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse (Order of the Iron Cross 2nd Class), Verwundetenabzeichen in Silber (Wound Badge in Silver) and the Panzerkampfabzeichen in Silber (Tank Assault Badge in Silver). 

These are also 1957-era issue de-Nazified awards with the swastika removed and reissued by the new German government for actions during the Second World War.

The shoulder boards have the pink piping of the Panzertruppen but also with the rank of a Leutnant with a single silver pip.

Also of significance of this uniform is the older style pointed shoulder boards

This uniform tunic also retains the French style cuffs on its sleeves showing that it was issued prior to the 1970s.

An old example of an early model Bundeswehr visor cap, this example displays the embroidered insignia of the West German Army as well as the national roundel.

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