East German Army troops marching, post-WW2; note StG44 assault rifles and M-54 helmets

Caption   East German Army troops marching, post-WW2; note StG44 assault rifles and M-54 helmets ww2dbase
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Sturmgewehr 44   Main article  Photos  
Added By C. Peter Chen
Added Date 5 Sep 2008

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1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
27 Jul 2010 06:12:50 PM

"IN STEP AND UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT" The Volksarmee, was the last real German Army After World War II vast stocks of captured German arms were kept in storage by the Russians, or issued to Communist client states. Among the many captured weapons, were the StG 44 Sturmgewehr(assault rifle)over 400,000 these weapons were produced. East German Volksarmee used the StG 44 until replaced by the Kalashnikov AK 47. The East German Army also used a modified goose step. The turtle shape M-1956 Helmit,was a wartime German design that never went into production and was used until the fall of East Germany.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
27 Jul 2010 07:21:19 PM

Looking at the photograph of those marching troops, I wounder are those weapons loaded? Even in a Communist State, who guards the guards? To learn more about the East German Army,and East Germany "click" to events listed under Germany's Surrender here at the ww2db.
3. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
28 Jul 2010 06:01:29 PM

I made a spelling error the word should be (wonder), I apoligize. Bill But its still an interesting question, how many in the ranks did have a loaded weapon? Its Officer Corps, and NCO's were members of the Communist Party, and maybe some enlisted ranks felt Socialism was the way to go. The troops had intensive political training with the Soviets always looking over their shoulders, and always watching those Loyal Party Members. The East Germans had to keep in step with the Big Brother to the East. In a Socialist State, the question remains "Who Shall Guard The Guards".
4. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
27 Feb 2011 03:28:48 PM

Troops wearing the M-54 helmet, if you look close you can see the DDR tri-colored shield on the helmet. Starting in 1950 East Germany produced its own improved model, the M-56 from a WWII wartime design that was rejected and issued to the troops in 1957 used until the fall of East Germany. The M-56 was issued to both the Nationale Volksarmee and Kasernierte Volkspolizei Photo: Waffen/Unifommagazin "Visier"
5. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
11 Jun 2012 08:27:39 PM

THE NVA: THE LAST TRUE GERMAN ARMY East Germany the one time DDR was a Socialist Communist State and was under the watchful eye of the former USSR. The (NVA) National Volks Army as the last true German Army. Many of its traditions were based on the Prussian Military, the NVA was closer to the wartime Wehrmacht in training, drill, march and ceremonies the uniforms and rank system still resembled those of the WWII Wehrmacht. The M54 helmet was replaced with the M66 and later the M56, equipped the NVA until the collapes of East Germany. OLD TRADITIONS: The use of the goosestep was kept in the NVA, in drill and ceremonies if you watch on film NVA parades, they look very similar to the Wehrmacht. This step originated in Prussia, and was later adopted by all the German states before the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Prussia was abolished in 1947 but before this the Kaiserheer, Reichswehr, Wehrmacht and last the NVA, used the goosestep. Of all the Warsaw Pact members the NVA was the best equipped besides the USSR. I'm not an expert, and enjoy reading and the study of history. If anyone has more information post it here at ww2db
6. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
14 Jun 2012 07:42:30 PM

EAST VS WEST: The National Volks Army (NVA) of the one time DDR East Germany, continued to use the goose step in modified form. The goose step was renamed the "Drill Step" to avoid any past reference to Prussian and WWII Wehrmacht military traditions. LAST LAST PARADE: The last (NVA) parades were held in what was then East Berlin. This step ended with the unification of East and West Germany in 1990 However, the DDR kept many of the older Prussian traditions even under the watchful eye of the big brother to the east. East Germany became a member of the Warsaw Pact until its collapse in 1990. The Federal Republic of Germany abandonded the goose step, and choose not to continue any traditions of any previousw army or any of the Prussian military traditions. The Bundeswehr or West German Armed Forces were retrained under US and NATO structure, adopted American-style march, West Germany became a NATO member. With the unification of the two Germany's very few personnel of the (NVA) were taken into the Bundeswehr, many Senior Officers, Junior Officers, NCOs and Enlisted men were retired or discharged. To many the disbanding of the (NVA),was the last true German Army in form and tradition that faded into history.
7. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
15 Jun 2012 04:08:38 PM

HISTORY LESSON:(FRG)BUNDESWER Both the US and NATO destroyed for political reasons, what was left of German Army, along with its past Prussian Military Traditions. The new Bundeswer had to abandonded its past association and rid itself of its wartime Wehrmacht and Prussian past. (NVA) EAST GERMAN ARMY: On the other side the NVA protected and defended the East German Communist State with military force held its people captive along with the Stasi, (Secret Police) who held it with an iron fist of fear. PRUSSIA: Prussia was the most powerful of all the German States, and unified them under one Empire. All the other states followed the Prussian military traditions, or adding them to its own traditions, march and form. SUUM CUIQUE: "TO EACH HIS OWN" West Germany after WWII became a Capitalist system that was hated by the Nazis. East Germany after WWII became a Communist system that was also hated by the Nazis. Over the decades one of these two systems would collapse, and became unified, with Berlin once again the Capitol. One German nation under a political system that was also hated by the Nazis: Democratic system I thank the editor/ww2db for allowing me to continue contributing to this site...
8. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
15 Jun 2012 06:15:33 PM

THE GERMAN QUESTION: WEST GERMANY In the post-war world, the United States, England and France discussed the formation of a new German Army However, France was at first reluctant to allow West Germany to rearm. France fought the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, World War I, World War II and was occupied by German forces. In 1954 France accepted the new Bundeswehr and German also membership in NATO. The West German Armed Forces were equipped and trained by the United States, and took an active role in the defense of Western Europe during the Cold War. EAST GERMANY: UNDER THE NOSE OF THE BEAR The USSR occupied East Germany & East Berlin like West Germany, the East Germans didn't have an armed force, the USSR occupied and would defended the country if necessary. After a Communist/Socialist State was formed to counter the West German Bundeswehr the East Germans created the NVA, and was at first equipped with Russian style uniforms, and equipment, but later the East Germans adopted ranks and uniforms very simular to those of the WWII Wermacht. The NVA patterned itself after the older German Military Traditions However, doctrine equipment and training were supplied by the USSR.
9. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
18 Jun 2012 10:47:02 AM

THE WEHRMACHT: Wehren: to defend, Macht: power, force, might Wehrmacht: Defence Force The Allies abolished the Wehrmacht in 1946 in 1955 the new Bundeswehr, Federal Defence was formed. After World War I the German army was reduced to 100,000 men, as one General said, "You mean 100,000 officers" After Adolf Hitler became Chancellor, the Wehrmacht was officially announced in October 1935. The total number of troops that served from 1935 to 1945 were between 18,000,000 to 20,000,000 men, this is the number of those who ever served in the Wehrmacht and not the strength of the Wehrmacht at any point. THE EASTERN FRONT, WHERE 9 OUT OF 10 GERMAN SODIERS DIED: During the Battle of Stalingrad the Germans lost 180,000 men in one month! 68% of all the casualties occurred on the Eastern Front. The Western Front was 3% and jumped to 14% by 1944. The loss of over 5,500,000 troops, of which 80% died during the last two years of the war, 6,000,000 wounded, 11,000,000 POWs, about 3/4 occurred on the Eastern Front 2,700,000 during the final months of the war between January to May 1945 1,200,000 were killed. This was in manpower alone, and doesn't count for the loss of supplies or equipment. The WWII German Army was one of the greatest military forces of all time, it took the Allies almost 6-years of war, to beat them down. If anyone has more data, post it here at ww2db
10. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
20 Jun 2012 07:59:16 PM

BUNDESWEHR DEFENDS GERMANY: During the first and second world wars its been estimated that between two and three generations of men were killed. By 2050 most of the German population will be over 50 years old. There is for now, no compulsory military service, the Bundeswehr is a professional military force. ACHTUNG! ACHTUNG!: MARCH TO THE DRUMS: However, in spite of past Allied attempts to completely destroy past military traditions, many have survived. No nations military should ever be forced to abandoned its military traditions. The Bundeswehr still has night ceremonies complete with torch lights, drums and bugles and guide arms, its not as Prussian in appearance as the disbanded East German Army but the tradition is there...
11. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
15 Sep 2013 11:36:44 AM

DER KRIEG IST ZU ENDE: THE WAR IS OVER Who were the VoPo's short for Volkspolizei or People's Police. It was the National police force of what was the DDR or East Germany, it was a quasi-military force and unlike western police forces, the VoPo were equipped with armored personnel carriers(APC's),artillery and air units Personnel were trained along the same as the(NVA) or the Nationale Volksarmee. Officers were Communist Party members, who were also watched over by Big Brother "The Russians" from the east. East Germany had a large number of Soviet troops stationed in the country not only to maintain order, but to support the Communist East Germans. FROM "ORPO AND "KRIPO" After WWII the Russians moved in and filed in the security for East Germany. The wartime offices of Ordnungspolizei "Orpo" & Kriminalpolizei "Kripo" were reorganized along Soviet lines and used them as a centeralized agency that would be politically reliable to the Communist State. AND WHO SHALL GUARD THE GUARDS: Stasi State Security controlled intelligence in East Germany, everybody watched everybody else even loyal party members, the military, even the citizen had personal files kept about comings and goings, it was the old who, where, when and how routine. NUMBERS GAME: The Volkspolizei maintained over 80,000 police officers along with over 177,000 volunteers that kept information flowing on every East German citizen. With the reuinification of the two Germany's in October 1990 many of the police officers, informants and volunteers vanished many of them fled to West Germany. Many of the former VoPo's were forced out or were retired others found no position's with the Federal German Government EVERYBODY HAS A SECRET: Did you know 40% of the Volkspolizei employee's were forced out, so where are the 60%? and what are they doing? within the new Germany? MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IN BERLIN 1967: One of the first places I wanted to visit in Europe was West Berlin, at that time, Berlin was 120 miles in what was than East Germany. Visited the Berlin wall and at that time, it was heavily fortified. PERSON OF INTEREST: I was dressed in sun glasses, gloves and overcoat to the East German VoPo's, I could have been a CIA/Spook. I was given field glasses to have a better look, by one of the West German policeman a VoPo Officer started to look at me as well, even called to another, to have me filmed? Each of us looked at one another for what seemed a long time, the VoPo put his glasses down and so did I, and both of us went about our business... This was in April 1967, my next leaves would be to Paris, France in June and London, England in September. My orders arrived for duty in Vietnam in November 1967 I was in the field with the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta. I thank the editor/ww2db for allowing me to post my continued comments and to leave my personal experiences, while serving with the US Army from June 1966 to April 1970
12. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
31 Mar 2014 09:20:07 PM

HEADGEAR: CHANGE OF PATTERN M-54 or could they be FSP helmets in above photo listed in comment number 4 dated 27 Feb. 2011. GETTING THE (NVA) NATIONALE VOLKS ARMEE STARTED POST-WWII: After enlarging this photo the troops look like they could be issued the FSP pattern steel helmet The M1934 FSP Civil Model Helmet resembled the M1935 Wehrmacht pattern, but had sharply squared off corners, those helmets were originality issued to German Landespolizei units in the 1930s KEEPING THE TROOPS WARM: Field greatcoats look like M1935 pattern along w/leather belt. East German rank insignia, gloves and jackboots.
13. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
1 Apr 2014 05:51:00 PM

FSP(Feuerschutzpolizei)Fire Protection Police units, were a branch of the(Ordnungspolizei)or Order Police during Hitler's Third Reich. To learn more German Secret Police, click on People, Government and scroll down to Heinrich Himmler.
14. Bill says:
1 Apr 2014 11:03:25 PM

HELMETS 101: During WWII the Germans used different designs of steel helmets, versions for air defense, combat helmets, police helmets/FSP, fireman helmets, and paratroop helmets. Transitional helmets WWI M1916, M1917 and M1918 helmets. Surviving stocks of WWI helmets were reconditioned for military and police use, before the Nazis came to power in 1933 they were used throughout WWII by auxiliary troops. EAST GERMAN M56 HELMET: Surplus M54/FSP helmets were issued to East German troops this helmet resembled the wartime M1935 Wehrmacht pattern, but with sharply squared off corners. The M56 was designed and issued to the troops it was a replacement for early issued helmets. Big Brother to the east the (Russians)wouldn't allow the WWII pattern helmet to be used. BECAUSE THE FUHRER SAID SO: Did you know the helmet that was to become the East German M56 was a wartime design that was scrapped by Hitler because he didn't like the design and shape. This design was later modified and improved and later issued to East German troops. Before the issue of the M56, East Germany also used the Russian Ssh40 helmet issued during the late 40s, 50s and 1960s. Czech Vz53 helmets were also issued to the troops prior to the M54 and M56 helmets and saw service with the KVP Kasernierte Volkspolizei late 1940s they were similar to the Soviet pattern helmet. East German Armed Forces, Volkspolizei(VoPo's)and Border guards were issued the M56, M56/66 and M56/76. COLLAPES OF EAST GERMANY/DDR: Surplus military equipment was scrapped or sold off to different countries, among these items were the M56 helmets or were bought before the collapse of the DDR. Turkey bought M56/66 helmets, but they proved unpopular with the troops. Afghan, Angola, Bosnia and Croatia used surplus M56 helmets. The M56 helmet is now available on the war surplus market for collectors as well as East German uniforms and other equipment.
15. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
1 May 2014 09:57:55 PM

HELMET'S FOR THE FATHERLAND: Its been estimated that during World War II German Industry produced over 25,000,000 million Stahlhelm's (steel helmets), not counting the stocks of World War I M1918 helmets that were refurbished. After World War I the Germans had to scrap much of their military equipment, but a limited amount of Model M1918 helmets were still issued to the troops. Post WWI Germany could only maintain a small army of 100,000 troops as one officer said, you mean 100,000 officers! However, by the time the Nazis came to power, Germany was rearming new equipment was needed and a new pattern steel helmet M1935 was issued. WWI Model helmets were issued to civil defense, fire brigades, police units even auxiliaries up to the end of WWII. During the invasion of France in June 1940, some German units were still using the M1918 helmets until they were issued the improved helmet M1935 or the M1942 this model is also referred to as the M1943, the year of issue. The Luftwaffe needed a helmet for its paratroops a cut down standard M1935 and later the improved M1938 was issued. WARS END: What happened to all that military equipment most of it was sold for scrap metal, GIs took helmets home for souvenirs others found there way into collections even movie studios used them in post war films. Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and other countries in post-war Europe salvaged as much German equipment as possible and used them into the 1950s some helmets were issued to home guard and reserve units into the 1970s. The Soviets were able to capture vast stocks of German equipment that was later issued to Soviet client states as listed in above comments. POST-WAR: The Bundeswehr West German border guards for a time used the WWII pattern steel helmet along with small arms, until replaced with US equipment. The Bundeswehr Special Operations Unit GSG-9 used the wartime paratroop helmet until replaced with the improved Kevlar helmet.
16. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
2 May 2014 07:35:08 PM

OUR STUDY OF THE GERMAN HELMET WOULDN'T BE COMPLETE WITHOUT THE PICKELHAUBE: Pickelhaube or spiked helmet was a popular WWI souvenir of American soldiers. Most of these helmets are from the 1900-1918 era and were sold or found their way into other private hands and collectors others, were passed down to surviving families of WWI veterans between the wars. Today you can buy originals & reproductions from the 19th & 20th Century German Military Equipment The original helmet dated back to 1842 and became the official headgear of the Imperial German Army in use between the 1800s through the outbreak of WWI in August 1914. The German soldier marched off to defend the Fatherland, wearing the issue Pickelhaube troops were even issued a gray/green cloth to protect and cover the helmet. EVEN THE FUHRER WORE ONE: Period photographs of Adolf Hitler during WWI show him wearing his Pickelhaube with issued cloth covering. The spike atop the helmet was found to be impractical and could be removed to reduced the helmets profile in trench warfare the helmet was also made from leather and didn't protect the side or neck from overhead exploding shells and shrapnel, that could kill you just as well as a bullet. THE STAHLHELM: The Pickelhaube was replaced by the new M1916 steel helmet that gave the head greater side and neck protection, and decreased head wounds up to 70% at the front. The old spike helmet disappeared from the Western Front, improved Stahlhelm's were models M1917 and M1918. REMF: Old habits die hard rear echelon troops in the rear with the gear and home guard troops continued to ware the old Pickelhaube, it was also reduced to a ceremonial roll. Many rear area officers continued to ware it until wars end in November 1918. HOLLYWOOD: In the 1960s Hogan's Heroes was a popular T.V. program at the start and ending of each episode, along with the programs theme music, a USAAF Officers Visor Cap was placed atop the old Pickelhaube's spike... Did you know the Pickelhaube is currently part of the uniform of the Swedish Royal Guard... MOVIES OF INTEREST: ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT(1930)BLACK & WHITE Follow a group of idealistic school students after graduation as they join the German Army during WWI, where their patriotism is destroyed by the realities of trench warfare. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1979) COLOR A remake of this classic film starring Richard Thomas and Ernest Borgnine. (PICKELHAUBEN OLD GERMAN)Pickel = Point/Pickaxe & Haube = Bonnet SHRAPNEL: Named after General Henry Shrapnel(1761-1842)
17. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
17 Nov 2014 05:56:59 PM

GERMAN ARMY CUFFBANDS: EAST AND WEST Did you know that the Germans wore cuffbands on their uniforms since 1784. The long line has been with the Hanoverian Army, Freikorps, Luftwaffe, Heer, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS/SS-VT, Totenkopf and Germania. Even the post war Bundeswehr and the Nationale Volksarmee der DDR/Former East German Army issued them. UNIT PRIDE: Uniform cuffbands denote not only formations, but also campaign awards. During WWII the Luftwaffe cuffbands denote squadrons that were named after famous WWI aces (Richtofen) and others. The SS-Divisions (Das Riech),(Kreta) and the famous (Afrika Korps) After the East German Army was formed, it continued to ware the cuffband on its uniforms for different formations such as Border Guards, Guards Regiments named after famous communists and the Grenztruppen der DDR (Customs Officials) THE NAZI PARTY: Even the Nazi Party had its cuffbands and armbands SS Armband, Volksturm, Waffen-SS Armband, Field Police, War Correspondent Armband/Cuffband, Service Volunteers, Org. Todt and other civilian and military formations. Today the German Bundeswehr issues cuffbands for different formations. The Luftwaffe issues them to fighter squadrons named after WWII pilots Jagdgeschwader Molders and Steinhoff and WWI pilots Richthofen and Boelke.
18. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
1 Jan 2015 09:38:45 AM

ODDS & ENDS: HELMETS "R" US Did you know all pre-war and wartime manufactures security personnel were issued M36 through M40 steel helmets. Helmets were issued to all security, fire and first aid personnel, that were working within the factory grounds. All these manufactures had company logos stenciled on the issued helmets. As the war continued flak and searchlight units protected the factories. Heinkel even had its own test pilots fly defense for its factory. Even the German State Railway issued helmets to its personnel, in short just about every manufacture that was involved in the war effort and its security personnel were issued helmets, some were issued the old World War I M1916 pattern. BOMBS ARE A DROPPIN ON MY HEAD: I'm sure some if not all company bigwigs had a helmet to protect their noggin (head) at least it gave some a secure feeling, but not with those 500lbs/226kg bombs dropping on your head....
19. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
5 Jun 2015 11:16:38 AM

NAZI GERMANY AUXILIARY FORCES: Civil Air Defense "Luftschutz" supported the flak batteries, searchlights, manned air raid sirens, were stationed near air raid shelters, and assisted civilians to the shelters. Units wore the M1938 helmet to identify them. ENOUGH TO GO AROUND: Helmets were issued to DRK German Red Cross, HJ Hitler Youth, OT Organization Todt, RAD Reich Labor Force, RLB National Air Raid Protection League, SHD Security & Assistance, NS National Socialist Women's League and LSW Got me one this one. Other organizations within Nazi Germany were also issued military equipment, or were later absorbed into the Wehrmacht. EASY RIDER: Enter the troops of the NSKK known as National Socialist Motor Korps or Nationalsozialistisches KraftFahrerKorps. this was one of the smallest of Nazi Party Organizations. Don't you like these German compound words they are a real tongue twister. These troops wore a first pattern detective type of motorcycle helmet made of black leather with ear side flaps and leather neck protection. Front of helmet carried the eagle/swastika type insignia, helmet had protective leather padding or bumper horizontally wrapped around the helmet and a bumper pad from front to back across the top or crown of the helmet. Second pattern designed much like the first pattern but didn't have any padding across the top of the crown. I don't know how much protection this helmet gave, but I wouldn't want to fall off my bike wearing one... I thank the editor/ww2db for his support allowing me to continue leaving my comments. Information is for educational purposes only, I condemn National Socialism, Communism and Fascism...
20. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
6 Jul 2015 03:24:38 PM

GERMAN AUXILIARY FORCES CONTINUED: Helmets were issued to all auxiliary forces, even captured helmets from the occupied countries in Western Europe and the USSR. (LSW) The Air Protection Warning Service (LSW) was another important protection branch that tracked and reported air raids. I thought I'd add this one to our list. In comment #19 was still working on what (LSW) was glad to clear that up. NATIONAL SOCIALISM: THE BOOT UPON MAN This evil system controlled and destroyed freedom upon a nation, and its people with repressive laws and decrees. National Socialist organizations were compulsory, you joined or else. Millions were sucked into this system the state controlled everything and millions upon millions would pay with their lives... With the advance in technology Governments can now control their own people without them realizing it. What would the Nazis have done with such technology today? "There are three kinds of people, Those that see, Those that see when shown and Those that never see" -Leonardo da Vinci - said this 500 hundred years ago. How little man has changed and people can still be swayed by the big lie...

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