Deutsche Soldaten Book

(Uniforms, Equipment & personal Items of the German soldier, 1939-45) 

Product Article by Hal Marshman Sr on May 7 2009

 

 

   This new book is published by Casemate, UK. The author, Agustin Saiz Martines, is Spanish, and a long time collector of WWII German uniforms and equipment. He is also very knowlegeable as regards the usage and appearance of that equipment. The book consists of 311 pages, consisting of profuse color illustrations, plus a goodly smattering of black and white period photographs, a goodly many of which I've not seen before. It is my feeling that this book should be of great use to the WWII diorama, armor, and figure builder. Here's the stuff the German soldier had at hand on a daily basis,  how he used it, and all in glorious color. 

   That supreme identifying item that set the German soldier aside was his helmet. The German helmet is dealt with thoroughly, with pictures of the various models, the interiors, markings, and accessories. The next section deals with the uniform, starting with the ubiquitous M-43 field cap. After dealing with this item, the author delves into the uniform tunic and all its variations, the trousers, the underwear, shirts, .boots, and other various accroutrements. Inexplicably, he ignores the schirmutze, or visored hat, as he also doesn't deal with the parade dress uniforms. Nor does he cover the special uniforms worn by the panzer troops, the mountain troops, or the tropical uniforms. He does cover the various camouflage outfits. The german field boot is thoroughly covered, along with the lesser footwear that followed. Let me say here, Mr Martinez is very complete with his descriptions of how the quality and appearance of the Landser (slang for German soldier) deteriorated as the war progressed, following the failing fortunes of the Wermacht. There is a section dealing with the insignia applied to the German uniform, explaining the various breast eagles, shoulder straps, and collar patches. The author does not, however, delve into the various branch of service colors (waffenfarben), nor does he go into much detail as to the various rank insignia. There is a section dealing with decorations, such as the Iron Cross, War Service Cross, and a few others, but omits a great many, such as the Panzer Assault, General Assault, etc badges. Along with the uniform section, we are treated to information as regards the sewing equipment, shoe polish, buttons, and other small items that contributed to the completeness and smartness of the uniform. 

 

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   The next section deals with the field equipment. The belt and "Gott Mitt Uns" (God is with us) buckle are covered in some detail, as are the mess kit, field pack, field telephone,  just about everything the average soldier carried  to perform his duties, provide protection from the weather, and feed himself. Almost unbelieveably, the German gas mask and its carrying cannister have 18 pages devoted to it.  The entrenching tool, cartridge pouches, and observation equipement are covered quite well, with 3 pages devoted to binoculars. Did you know that black was dispensed with on field glasses midway therough the war, and all new production glasses were painted in vehicle tan? Something to remember when you're putting that commander figure into the main hatch of a late panzer. 

   "Bewaffnung" is the title of the next section, and it deals with the weapons a ground pounder might be expected to be using. The first part covers the Mauser 98K rifle, and does so very completely, along with its ammunition. Next we are treated to the p-08 (Luger), p-38, p-35 (Browning Hi-Power), and Astra pistols. The MP-40 is well covered (Schmeisser), as is the Stg-44 (Sturmgewehr, and predecessor the the infamous AK-47), and MG-34.

This is to include the various carrying cases, holsters, and cleaning equipment. The MG-42 is mentioned, but not pictured, nor are the semi auto rifles developed by Walther or Mauser. Here you'll find the famous "potato masher" hand grenade, as well as its smaller handier brother, the "egg grenade". A few anti personnel mines are illustrated, but not the heavier mines that were installed by the engineers (Pioniere). As an interesting aside, the Russian PPsh-4 machine pistol is pictured, as its use was much favored by any German troops who could acquire one. 

   From this point, we delve into actual personal items carried by troops for their own comfort and ease. Various pens, inks, postage stamps, combs, soap, issue eyeglasses, goggles, cameras, lanterns, and currency are all pictured and discussed. Then comes the various ID documents, such as dog tags, Soldbuchs, and Wehrpasses. Good coverage is given to these documents. The next chapter is devoted to health care items, and first aid products, all the way from bandages to condoms, to hospital pajamas. Tooth brushes, shaving equipment, and lice powders are also included here. The next chapter covers eating utensils, small stoves,rations, and unbelieveably, Coca Cola! 

   The next item covered, is propaganda media, such as radios, booklets, newspapers, and pamphlets. Then comes entertainment, varying from harmonicas and accordians to sheet music. Always remember, the German military and Nazi party all loved to sing, and it was a favored method of the soldier to while away lonely hours, or keep going while marching. Tobacco, cigarette lighters, pipes and cigars have their own small chapter, as does leave and leisure time. Yes, there's a small blurb about model building, movies, and something that might rate this book as "R", were it a movie. We are treated to three postcards illustrating nude females. (don't let the book fall into the hands of your 10 year old. 

   Well, that's it folks. I spent $39.99 for this almost coffee table sized book through the Military Book Club. I understand it goes for over $50.00 in the bookstores. As a person who is very interested in the subject. I think it's a very worthwhile purchase. As I said above, the dioramist, figure painter, and armor modeler should find much within its covers to aid them in their hobby pusuits. One thing I might mention, the author doubtless had the book translated from his native Spanish into English, and there are a few somewhat awkward phraseology situations, but nowhere nearly as bad as we're used to seeing in foreign made plastic kits nowadays. Bottom line? I enjoyed it, and recommend it. 

Hal Marshman Sr

      

Photos and text by Hal Marshman Sr