German Helmet Insignias

Studying German helmet insignias? Learn more about the helmet insignias on German military helmets issued in 1935...

The German helmet insignias were awarded in 1935 to the men in German military units called the Waffen – SS. This was the armed division. The General – SS and the Allgemeine – SS were also awarded these insignias. They were provided these insignia to be pasted on the German war helmets in the form of decal transfers.  Before this the SS or Schutzstaffel military helmets carried insignias that were either hand painted or transferred through the use of fine stencils.  However, the original helmet that was utilized by the Nazi Germany SS troops did not have any insignia.

Categories of Military Helmet Insignia

There are two groups of German military helmet insignia. The first group is the SS runic shield that was produced with a sharp and defined lighting bolt to replicate the SS in the form of lightning bolts. This is often referred to as the first pattern runic shield by the collectors. The reason for this is that it was the first insignia issued for the SS military helmet.

The second version of the decal was produced with more ground around it on the bottom and the broader black border around the lightning bolts which had also become thicker. This is now known by collectors as the second pattern runic shield for the German helmet decal.

However, it is important to know that both insignia were created in the 1930s. Collectors are mistaken when they think that the second pattern of the runic decal was crafted after 1939.

Of course this terminology was not utilized by the German creators of this insignia. It has been in use much later since there has been a growing interest in the historical value and preserving the information of different German military memorabilia.

Reason for Helmet Insignia Development

For the Germans the insignia was simply something that was pasted on the helmets and worn by the SS. Sometimes the printed runic insignia was matched by a different insignia that was used to depict the National Socialist Party. It followed the same dimensions and shape of the runic insignia so the helmets often received a mixed pair of insignia.

To clarify this aspect one helmet that was given the first pattern runic shield for the SS might be paired with the second pattern National Socialist Party decal. The emphasis was simply on retaining the utility of the combat helmet rather than decorating it. If it conformed to the basic military regulations then the helmet was okay for general use.

Manufacturers for Various Decals

There are different manufacturers that produced the SS German military helmet decals. They not only printed the insignias for the German Army, which was the Heer, but also the German Navy, and the Air Force.  There were also decals manufactured by Austrian firms. There is an interesting variation known as the mirror runic shield that shows the lightning bolts running backwards. However, the reason for these incorrect insignia is still unknown.

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