Germany - Weimar Republic
Weimar-era “Stahlhelm” veteran’s cap (circa 1929)
The “Stahlhelm” or “Steel Helmet” was founded in late 1918 by former German front-line soldiers and was without question the largest veteran’s organization during the years of the Weimar Republic. Many Stahlhelm members also joined the “Freikorps” militia units that fought in the streets until they were banned in 1921 and the olive green piping and band on this cap are typical of Freikorps-era caps. In 1929, some local Stahlhelm organizations adopted the field-gray chinstrap and visor shown here but I think this cap may is somewhat older since it looks as though the visor was dyed gray AFTER the cap had been assembled. The steel-helmet badge shown here, though, is clearly of the 1929 design, featuring a Maltese Cross just in front of the name. This indicates that the owner was a true “old fighter”—“Kernstahlhelm”—but NOT a member who had been involved fighting the Communists. In late 1934, the Stahlhelm was officially disbanded and many members went on to join one of the many Nazi-sponsored veteran’s groups. Attempts to standardize headgear for Stahlhelm members never really succeeded, so most of the surviving hats demonstrate significant variations in design and material—and this one is no exception. One thing I haven’t been able to figure out is why the state and national cockades feature yellow instead of white circles. As far as I can see, they have not been repainted and are clearly original to the cap. If any of you have any information or interesting theories, I’d love to hear from you! The cap is marked “Ideal” on the leather sweatband.