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David Fraser

German Police Double Decal Helmets

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I am adding the following information to the forum to draw the attention of collectors to the post WW2 German fire helmets currently appearing on the market and changing hands, in some cases, for quite significant sums of money.

I am not a Third Reich collector although have ‘dabbled’ in the past. My main interest is in fire service memorabilia but I do encompass Third Reich fire service material within my sphere of collecting. I have taken a particular interest in fire helmets for almost fifty years now and have always been fascinated by the German M34 pattern helmet and the many post WW2 M35/M40 style variants. Many collectors and dealers are being caught out with helmets that have 'DIN 14940' stamped on the underside of the shell brim at the rear. 'DIN' is the German Standards Institute and DIN 14940 was the standard for German fire helmets in use from 1962 until 1997.

DIN 14940 was issued as a draft standard, designated 'DIN V 14940', in 1956. It was approved in 1962 but compulsory marking of helmets was not required until 1981. However, most manufacturers marked their shells voluntarily. Helmets manufactured between 1956 and 1962 could only be marked with ‘DIN’ with a straight line above and below the three letters, indicating that they complied with a draft standard. The standard colour for German fire helmets until around 1970 was black, although Bavaria opted for red during the 1960's. From around 1970 onwards, the more familiar pale yellow luminous paint finish took over. Also, up to around 1970, most shells were steel. After about 1970 there was a universal shift to aluminium.

A black steel shelled helmet manufactured during the 1960's would, by now, be exhibiting obvious signs of rust and ageing/use of the liner, especially if it has seen operational service. I believe these are the helmets that are catching people out and I also believe most of them are originating in Eastern Europe having had suitably aged reproduction decals applied. They typically appear on Ebay or dealers' web sites described as 'WW2 double decal police helmets" or 'WW2 double decal SS parade helmets'. I have even come across one with a post 1970 aluminium shell described as a 'WW2 SS police double decal lightweight parade helmet' and priced around the £1,000 mark. The latter had obviously had the luminous paint finish removed before being resprayed black. Astoundingly, this one was the subject of a discussion amongst several 'experts', on a collectors' forum, who concluded that it was genuine!

There is a bit of a 'grey area' between 1945 and 1956. However, all German fire helmets of post WW2 manufacture are hybrids and by that I mean they have the basic shape of an M35/M40 with the twin pepperpot vents of an M34. Police and fire helmets of this style did exist prior to 1945. However, they are quite rare, by far the most common type being the M34 ‘square dip’ pattern. In my opinion therefore, the safest course of action is to assume that, unless a police or fire helmet on offer has a 'square dip' shell, it is post 1945 until proven otherwise.

The information I have provided with regard to DIN 14940 came to me in an email from the German Standards Institute in August 2007. They also sent me a copy of the 1956 draft standard in PDF format. If anyone would like a copy of this draft, please send me an email and I will forward it to you.

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Hi David, excellent article, welcome to the forum.

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Welcome to the forum Dave, very good information!

To share, some photos of helmets and equipment taken a while back when in Germany visiting the Sächsen Feurwehr museum :)

-Greg

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Ps... bit of history, the Green Fire Vehicle behind the WWII era fire uniforms is one of the original surviving fire rescue vehicles that served the city of Dresden during WWII. How it survived the fire bombing I have no clue, but I am certain it has a very colorful history!

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Hello David,

Thanks for the comprehensive post.

A friend of mine bought a "German paratroper's helmet" painted in Celtic football colours from a seller in the "Barras" market in Glasgow for £100. <_<

On taking it home and stripping it he found it was a post war fireman's helmet. (holes from the neck guard round the lower rim?). Being an engineer he stripped it down to the bare metal and sold it back to the muppet as a "German Engineer's parade helmet" for £250! :lol:

never buy any "original" militaria from fleabay. "Found in a barn in Poland" my @rse!

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Hi, guys this is my first post, heres a pic of three police lids i used to have, i sadly now only have the m35 left, rgds Dave

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Nice examples Dave, welcome to the forum. 

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Hi.

Thanks for the informative discussions, it helps a lot with my collection.

I have a luminous German fire helmet, as discussed above, with the 'DIN V 14940' stamp.

But it has a British 'Hampshire Fire Brigade' sticker on the front. It looks like the sticker has been there for a long time.

Question (which I doubt very much) Did English fire services use or trial the German helmet? Or did some fool try to make it more interesting??

I have 4 more helmets with questionable insignia I need help with as well, if that is ok with you.

 

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Hi James, welcome to the forum. I think it very unlikely any British Fire service would trial the German style helmet. More likely some sort of exchange visit between fire brigades but even then this seems quite unlikely without proof. As you say most likely some one has just added the sticker to make it more interesting. Yes please post the other helmets :thumbsup:      

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Hello James,

Many thanks for your query and I am more than happy to respond to any others you may raise.

I can state, quite categorically, that the German DIN 14940 helmet was never trialled or used in the UK and for one very good reason. For reasons of electrical safety, the post WW2 British Standards for fire helmets do not permit the use of metal shells.

I frequently see these luminous helmets on Ebay with British helmet decals on them and, in my opinion, it has been done for no other  reason that someone thought it would look good.

Regards,

David.

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Hi David.

Thanks for that.

I bought it from a New South Wales ex-fireman collector of NSW fire memorabilia, he said he got them as part payment for a trade, along with 7 other helmets for a reasonable price ( I knew they were a wee bit of a mis-truth.) Looks like he may have got it off Ebay as you suggest.

I will do my best to remove the sticker if I can find a way that wont leave a circle of distaste in my mouth and on the helmet.

I will be posting the other questionable insignias and helmets in the lot I have from him shortly as a new post.

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Hi James,

yes that's the best bet, as it's only a sticker of relatively low value, best to remove it and get the helmet back to it's original state as the helmet it'self is a nice example. 

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Thanks Kenny and David.

I have posted my other queries as a new post - What is this helmet, on Wednesday.

Thanks again for your help.

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Thanks James, I had a look, but I think David is the best man for fire helmets, I'm sure he will be along soon :thumbsup: 

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Hi David 

Sorry about late reply but as you appear to be the guy to go to concerning civic firemen helmets would you know if war time helmets had leather liner bands or not 

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Hi Lackie (I hope I have got your name right),

From the introduction of the M34, right through to the 1960's, the standard liner band material was compressed fibre although, by the 1960's, plastic was starting to appear. In almost 60 years of collecting I have never seen a German fire helmet, war time or post war, with a leather liner band.

That said, in this collecting world of ours, I don't think you can ever be 100% certain that some exception to the norm isn't going to turn up. However, I believe, in this case it is highly unlikely.

If you have acquired a fire helmet that has a leather liner band I would suspect the liner is not original to the helmet. However, if I could see photographs I might be able to comment further.

I hope this helps.

Regards,

David.

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Here’s some pics of the helmet in question let me know what you think please 

after having looked again more likely a fibre liner band

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Good morning Lackie,

Yes, you definitely have a compressed fibre liner band.

Apart from the obvious age deterioration, you appear to have a very good original example that has not been tampered with in any way since leaving the factory.

Regards,

David

 

 

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Any idea of age david

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Hi Lackie,

To be honest with you, and to the best of my knowledge, it is nigh on impossible to positively date an M34. Production continued in to the 1950' s and possibly as late as 1956 when the draft DIN standard was introduced.

I am assuming you are aware that the police decals were not applied to M34 fire helmets until after the fire service fell under police control in 1938. The aluminium comb was also phased out at the same time but reintroduced after the end of the war.

There is every possibility that your helmet was manufactured prior to 1938. It is easy to determine from period photographs that many helmets did not have decals applied or the combs removed under police control. Your helmet could be of post war manufacture. But the fact that your helmet does not have the 'Y' type chin straps would lean towards it being a pre-1938 example.

Regards,

David.

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Here is a photo of a post-war police helmet I discovered, this is based on the M.40 helmet and is for the police of the State of Baden-Württemberg. These were seldom worn, mainly for special occasions till around 1990. The police uniforms and headdress have been dramaticly changed in recent years and are more reminiscent of the U.S. police style. Such changes are of course, of a political nature, clearly distancing to anything with a resemblance to anything with a "German" tradition.

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A typical fire service helmet as worn before the introduction of the light steel helmet after 1936.
Leather, brass and iron.

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Post war Freiwillige Feuerwehr, Wandsbek
Uniform figure with old type steel helmet, including leather neck guard

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Great examples of fire related helmets, good information.

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