|The national insignia of the East German Landstreitkräfte (LaSK) as applied to their vehicles.|
The Landstreitkräfte was never deployed in combat however, it was often reported that it's personnel went to numerous socialist and communist nations as military and technical advisors, particularly Cuba and various countries in Africa. In 1968, the Ground Forces were mobilized to assist Soviet forces in intervening during the Prague Spring uprising in Czechoslovakia. When reformist Alexander Dubček attempted to grant additional rights to the citizens of Czechoslovakia by acts of partial decentralization of the economy and democratization, Soviet forces and their Warsaw Pact neighbors invaded the country sending thousands of soldiers and tanks pouring across the border and seizing control of the country. The East German Army was essentially stood down and their deployment into Czechoslovakia cancelled at the last moment thus ending any East German involvement in the invasion of Czechoslovakia.
The Landstreitkräfte maintained a force of nearly 120,000 troops of which at any given time about 60% of which were draftees. It maintained two tank divisions, four motor rifle infantry divisions, two surface-to-surface missile brigades, ten artillery regiments, one anti-aircraft regiment, eight air defense regiments, one airborne regiment, two anti-tank battalions, and various other support units.
The uniform displayed here shows the Paradenuniform (Parade Uniform) of a Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) in the Landstreitkräfte's Mot.-Schützen, or Motorisierte-Schützen (Motorized Infantry) known in western Armies as Mechanized Infantry. The uniform is made of the smooth gabardine material in the military stone grey color. When wearing the Paradenuniform, the steel East German M-56 Stahlhelm (Steel Helmet) was worn instead of the round visor cap.
The East German M-56 helmet was originally designed in 1942 as a replacement for the M1935/M1940 model Stahlhelms. The design was rejected by Adolf Hitler and never progressed remaining unused until the requirement for a new German helmet for the Volkspolizei and the National People's Army arose. It soon became realized that the reintroduction of the traditional Stahlhelm would not have been tolerated by the East German's Soviet allies.The 1942 design was likely chosen because it was the most similar of all German designs to the most recognizable Soviet helmets, in particular the iconic SSh-40 design. Indeed, the M-56 was similar enough in appearance to the SSh-40 that some Westerners failed to realize its German origins altogether and assumed the East Germans had adopted a Soviet design.
The helmet was revolutionary for its design with a liner riveted into the steel shell and upon ballistic contact to the helmet, the steel shell was ripped away absorbing ballistic force and leaving the wearer to reach for cover.
Shown here is the Kragenspiegeln (Collar Insignia) of a Landstreitkräfte officer.
Shown here is a close up of the shoulderboard insignia for an Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) in the Landstreitkräfte with the silver officer braiding and gold pips of a senior officer against the white background of the Ground Forces.
Here's a close up of the ceremonial dagger hangers and the dagger in it's decorative metal sheath.
Heres a picture of the dagger outside of the sheath with images of the blade itself and the stamping of the serial number in the base of the blade before mounting into the hilt.
With the Dienstuniform (Service Uniform) The staight legged pants with white piping of the Army was worn in place of the breeches and the M-56 steel helmet was replaced with the standard issue round visor cap.
Note the interior marking of NVA for the East German National Volksarmee. This visor example shown here carries a letter 'Y' designation meaning the visor was manufactured in 1988. The number beneath the NVA stamp represents this example is 56cm or roughly 7in by American sizing equivalents.