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German Forestry Headgear 1933-45

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A uniform is not complete without cap/ hat – this is also true for forestry service. The forester´s work outside in the forest and also as a representative of state authority required different styles of headgear for the various occasions. Which headgear had to be worn with the different tunics was described in the dress regulations.

During the 12 years of the Third Reich 4 different dress regulations for forestry service gave advice about the headgear and in the following we will have a general look on it.

Schirmmuetze (visor cap)

Generally the visor cap was the headgear for formal occasions and parades. Nevertheless, until 1934/35 foresters were free to choose which sort of headdress they wanted to wear with service/ parade dress.

 

1934 regulation visor cap for Betriebsbeamte in Prussia

It features the typical leather visor and the chin cord for higher ranking Betriebsbeamte worn until 1938 and Prussian eagle badge of 1934/35.

The crown of the visor cap was made of grey-green basic cloth, headband and piping were made of dark-green (sometimes called “waldgruen” – forest green) cloth, lining consisted of cotton or satin and a sweatband of leather or wax cloth (late-war examples could also have waxed, pressed paper sweatbands) was sewn to the cap. Until 1938 the visor was described as made of flexible leather, but was step by step replaced by a visor of the common fiber material from 1936/37 on.  As the general appearance of the cap did not change from 1934 on you will find old caps with the 1938 regulation wreath added. These are correct changes and no fault. The base of the cap was made of cardboard and, together with reinforcing wires in the crown, stiffen the cap.

1934 regulation visor cap for Betriebsbeamte in Prussia

It features the typical leather visor and the chin cord for higher ranking Betriebsbeamte worn until 1938 and prussian eagle badge of 1934/35.

Inside view of 1934 regulation cap.

The construction did not change until 1945 - except for the visor, which was from 1936/37 on made from fiber on most examples.

Unknown maker/ retailer.

The 1920´s visor caps had leather chin strap for all ranks, but in 1934, when the visor cap became the headgear for formal occasions only, different chin straps/ cords were introduced to show the class a forester was in. The forestry officials and employees were divided into Betriebsbeamte (operation officials) and Verwaltungsbeamte (administration officials). Operation officials were subdivided again, and low ranks up to Foerster wore the standard black patent leather chin strap fixed with black painted buttons, ranks above wore green flecked with gold chin cord. Administration officials from Forstassessor up had gold colored flecked with green chin cords. Only generals ranks had the single gold colored chin cord. All cords were held in place by gilt buttons.

Insignia (see this special chapter) consisted of crest/ eagle and small cockade only. Cap was the same for all ranks – state insignia of metal or embroidery, colour according to rank.

Visor cap for lower ranking forestry personnel and trainees in forestry administration following the 1938 regulation.

It features the later fiber visor, leather chin strap and the 1938 introduced aluminium/ white metal oak leaf wreath and eagle.

In 1938 the system was changed and all ranks got a very nice looking oak leaf wreath: made of aluminum for the lower ranks below Forester, in silver metal thread embroidery for all up to Landforstmeister and gold metal thread embroidery for Generals. There was also a change in the chin cords - ranks from Foerster up to Landforstmeister got a silver colored chin cord. Lower ranks kept the leather chin strap and gold chin cords remained sign of the Generals. Trainees always wore leather chin straps, but with oak leaf wreath of their future rank group.

These were the last changes in the visor caps until May 45.

1938 regulation visor cap for lower ranks and trainees.

It features the common fiber visor, leather chin strap and metal ( aluminium/ zinc) insignia as prescribed for lower ranks from 1938 to May 1945.

Maker/retailer of this cap was Eckenhoff/ Berlin.

Forsthut (fedora style hat)

This type of headgear is probably the number one a german forester was identified with. Traditionally this was the daily service headgear, but was also used at more formal occasions in the forest.

It was made from soft grey-green fur or wool felt (rarer variant) decorated by a dark-green hat band and edging around the brim. On the left side was worn the typical decoration of game hair fixed by a large state cockade. A sweatband of leather or waxcloth directly sewn to the felt completed the hat. The fedora style hats were always unlined in this period.

Mid/ end 1920´s regulation fedora hat („Robin Hood“) as worn in most german states in the first years of the TR.

Examples with or without air vents exist.

 

The 1920´s Weimar hats, though they differed a bit from state to state, were allowed to wear until 1937/38 – but only with actual insignia. Prussia and many other states had introduced a type that was a clear successor of the late imperial hat style. Due to its neatly turned up brim on both sides it is called “Robin Hood-style” by some collectors.

Mid/ end 1920´s regulation fedora hat („Robin Hood“) as worn in most German states in the first years of the TR.

The crest/ eagle was placed at the front, while the large cockade was located on the left side.

All ranks wore the hat, insignia colour was according to rank. Regulation mentioned metal insignia only for wear with the fedora hat.

Typical 1938 regulation fedora hat.

The silver colored eagle was worn by all ranks up to Landforstmeister.

Left side view of 1938 fedora hat.

On this side always the cockade and hairbrush is fixed. Hair brushes can consist of wild boar, stag, badger or chamois hair.

Inside view of 1938 fedora hat.

Baschlikmuetze (ski cap)

This style of cap also had a tradition dating back to imperial times. It was due to its construction mainly worn in the forest in cold weather, but f.e. Bavaria had a summer variant of this cap. Basic parts of the ski cap were of grey-green cloth, lining of the visor and piping was of dark-green cloth. Most of the ski caps had a quilted lining (non-quilted lining existed) and a sweatband of leather or wax cloth. The pliable neck cover was closed by two small green horn buttons.

Some late 1920´s ski caps were still made in the older cut featuring a more round crown shape, but most were made in the prescribed oval form.

Insignia consisted of crest/ eagle and small cockade below.

It was the same for all – only insignia colour was according to rank. Metal insignia were prescribed by regulation.

1934 regulation Baschlikmutze (ski cap) for forestry officials in Prussia.

This example shows the style described in the regulation.

Nevertheless there existed many different styles - less conic, un-padded, semi-stiff or even stiff versions existed.

After 1943 a style tending towards the military M 43 field cap was added to the catalogues of the retailers, but it seems that it was not wide spread among the forestry personnel.

Left side view of 1934 regulation ski cap (Prussia)

Inside view of 1934 regulation cap

Feldmuetze alter Art (field cap old style/ crusher cap)

These caps are the rarest to find as they were only worn by a limited number of foresters – by those who used a motor cycle or an automobile when at work– and even in these cases they must not wear this cap style (hat was also allowed).

The general appearance of the field cap was like this of the early visor caps. Grey-green cloth to crown, dark-green cap band and piping, lining of cotton or satin, leather or wax cloth sweatband and flexible leather visor.

But there was the important difference in that it was soft made. It had no hard stiffening, neither to crown nor to the cap band.

The cap band stability was given by a layer of canvas or a couple of slightly stiffened linen layers. It was “fold able”  and quite comfortable to wear.

Insignia consisted of crest/ eagle and small cockade only – no chin strap was worn. All ranks wore the same, metal insignia colour according to rank.

These caps are the real forestry crusher caps – normal early visor caps with leather visor are no crusher caps at all.

Introduced in 1938 for all civilian services the „Feldmutze alter Art“ already existed for army forestry service  (Heeresforstdienst) since 1935.

It was worn without chinstrap/ cord and without oak leaf wreath. Inside the fieldcaps resemble a normal visor cap on first sight.

Forestry headgear insignia

Until 1934/35 insignia's worn in forestry headgear were generally the individual German state crests or, for private service, the forest owner´s crest or one of the many “general” types available. They were made of gilded or silvered metal. The individual state colors were represented in the cockades.

In 1935 the government in Berlin tried to bring uniformity to the insignia – with only limited success. Most states adapted the small political eagle in gilt (state) or silvered copper (community). But Bavaria and Wurttemberg still kept their independence and choose different eagle pattern. The cockades were all changed to black/white/red colors of the Reich.

In 1936 finally all state forestry services got the same insignia: the common “official´s” eagle – at this time still gilt copper for state forestry and silvered copper for community forestry. Cockades show Reich's colors.

1938 the last change in insignia was ordered: the official´s eagle was now made of silvered copper (later materials were aluminum and zinc) for all services (state and community). Cockades remained unchanged.

For private forestry a new badge was introduced in 1938, which could be worn by all private foresters, if they don´t wore the forest owner´s crest.  A large swastika on a sprig of three oak leafs in silvered or (rarer) burnished metal. Cockades were in the Reich's colors.

 

Military Forestry

As military forestry personnel were civilians working for the Heer / Luftwaffe they also kept the civilian forestry uniform and also the civilian ranking system . Only little differences show their employment by the Wehrmacht.

Headgear was equal to civilian forestry, but the crest/ eagle was the Heer (1935 regulation) eagle in gilt, later in silver colour or Luftwaffe (1936 regulation) eagle.

 

On the visor cap the Heer style oak leaf wreath/ Luftwaffe wings were worn. The Heer 1935 / Luftwaffe 1936 regulation described different colors for the rank groups, which followed basically the civilian system of chin cords.

Insignia and cords colour changed to silver for all ranks (except general´s) for Army and Luftwaffe in 1938/1939.

There eventually existed a special sort of headgear in the Luftwaffe forestry: the Schiffchenmuetze  (side cap).

Unfortunately there is no proof for an official order/ direction which allowed the wear of such a cap. In none of the regulations this cap is described – so it is not clear if they ever existed or if they are a fantasy, either unofficially worn by only a hand full of lower ranking foresters or just a clever “invention” of a collector/ dealer at one point after the war.

1938 regulation Heeresforst (Army Forestry Service) visor cap for rank „Heeresfoerster“ to „Heereslandforstmeister“.

This officer preferred to wear the early style army eagle, though the later pattern metal eagle for the army or the embroidered version would be more correct from 1938 on.

1939 regulation „Forstdienst der Luftwaffe“ visor cap for ranks „Foerster of the Luftwaffe“ to „Landforstmeister der Luftwaffe“

Basic cap is of 1936 regulation and still features a leather visor with „rim edging“ – typical for Luftwaffe visor caps.

Special thanks to Stefany Z. for writing this article and take photos from her collection!

Headgear from my private collection

Below you can see the headgear from my private collection.

State forestry visor

 

1938 regulation visor cap for higher ranks.

It features the common fiber visor, chin cord, metal ( aluminium/ zinc) eagle and a fabric cockade.

Maker/retailer of this cap was a small manufacturer Huthase. Their main shop was in Leipzig, but they had two other shops in Dresden, and Chemnitz.

Below a photo of the shop in Dresden and an ashtray of the shop (from my private collection).

Private forestry visor

 

This 1938 regulation visor cap was part of a grouping from a forstmeister. The grouping contained a A-rock uniform, a fedora with family shield (shown below) and this visor.

It features the common fiber visor, chin cord, metal ( aluminium/ zinc) private forestry insignia and a fabric cockade.

Maker/retailer of this cap was a small manufacturer Hans Dahm from Hannoversch Münden. He specialized in making forestry uniforms and headgear.

Luftwaffe forestry visor

 

1939 regulation visor cap for lower ranks.

It features the common fiber visor, leather chin strap, metal ( aluminium/ zinc) first model luftwaffe eagle and metal cockade.

There is no maker/retailer known for this visor. 

I bought this visor along with his uniform from the great grandson of Hilfsförster/ Forstwart Erich Wiesner, changed from state to LW forestry shortly after September, 1st 1939. He was already aged 48 at this time and was a "substitute" for younger men, who were drawn for war service. He survived the war and retired in June 1945.

Heer forestry visor

 

1934 regulation, they prescribed slightly flexible leather visors ( black glossy lacquered leather) for the normal visor caps.Until 1936/ 37 this was followed and then they were step by step replaced by the common fiber visors.Foresters, who were already in service at this time did normally not buy a new cap, but kept their old one and so you sometimes find old style caps with 1938 regulation oakleaf wreath and leather visor.Also the form of the sweat shield and type of the "Michovius - mark" clearly say mid 30´s production. More about Michovius here.

It was owned by Heeresrevierförster E. Till and he worked in the area of Eberswalde.A real beauty with embroidered insignia (more rare, because the most you will see are with metal insignia).

A name or (I think) the name of the Heeres range placed below the sweat shield was "erased".

I bought it from a collector who bought it 40 years ago from a family living near Mannheim, but they originate from east Germany.

State forestry fedora

 

1938 regulation fedora hat.

The silver colored eagle was worn by all ranks up to Landforstmeister.

Maker/retailer of this fedora was W. Noë from Stuttgart.

Private forestry fedora

This fedora comes from the same grouping as the private forestry visor shown above.

Maker/retailer of this cap was Mayser.

The manufacturer Mayser is a very well known name (they still exist today - but now produce in Slovakia) standing for excellent, fine quality hats. They mainly produced for civilian market and were quite expensive for the normal man.
So the Forstmeister, who bought this hat, spent a lot of money. But it is a very elegant hat of highest quality. From the traces of wear this hat was surely a "walking-out" piece.

I have found two small holes near the sides of the badge, the distance between them look that there was an eagle attached in earlier times. So this guy changed his "master" during his service time. This would also match the tunic, as it is a rare 34 regulation piece.
But private foresters were not allowed to wear the state or community forestry uniform until 1938.
So, this guy must have served in state/ community service prior to 38 and used his old 34 pattern tunic in his new job. Perhaps he got better payment in private service...


 

Baschlikmütze (ski cap)

1934 regulation Baschlikmutze (ski cap) for forestry officials.

This example shows the style described in the regulation.

Nevertheless there existed many different styles - less conic, un-padded, semi-stiff or even stiff versions existed.

There is no maker inside. Buttons are period replaced.

 


 

Prussian Baschlikmütze (ski cap)

This is a very rare 'stiff' Prussian forestry baschlikmūtze from 1934/1935.
These stiff versions were not "regulation", but were offered for sale by the cap makers and also one or two of the big ones had them in their supply. There were also different stiff versions available for example, one with a brown chinstrap like a SA cap.
It was a simple question of preference (or political attitude? They resembled the political caps) and as they were normally only worn in winter with working dress (Waldbluse) it was not sanctioned.

Maker/retailer of this cap was Albert Schweizer from Bayreuth.

Luftwaffe forestry fedora

 

Regulation fedora hat for Luftwaffe försters.

This is a very rare fedora to own, these are not so common as the state fedora.

First pattern aluminium eagle (wingspan 5 cm)

Maker/retailer of this fedora was Michovius from Cottbus.

1934 dress regulation visor

 

This visor is a 1934 regulation visor cap for "Betriebsbeamte" (those who really worked in the woods), but only for states of Baden and Hessen.

A rare variant of the normal 1934 regulation visor.

Below a period photo in wear, the only difference is a different rank cord.