German-Helmets.com  - The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945

    Kreigsmarine: The German Navy 1935-1945

 

Photo:  A German naval enlisted man wearing the steel helmet.

The smallest of service branches to field a fighting force during World War II was the German Navy (Kriegsmarine).  The Kriegsmarine was officially instituted in May 1935 following Adolf Hitler's decree that Germany maintain a National Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) for the defense of German interests.  Prior to this time, German naval forces were under the control of the Reichsmarine which oversaw all naval units including those on the sea and on the land.

During World War II, German naval personnel served within a variety of units including those involved with naval sea operations, land based marine and artillery, and administrative and security.  The Kriegsmarine maintained a large number of land based formations of which many were required to wear standard combat helmets as part of issued equipment. 

A number of these units fought on the ground during key battles throughout the war.  During the crucial battles on the Western Front German Naval personnel were often organized into ad hoc units that served as replacement battalions for line infantry.  Kriegsmarine units also fought in Russia where they operated along the waterways that included the Baltic and Crimea.

At the onset, Kriegsmarine troops wore World War I model helmets until enough equipment was produced to transition to the newer M1935 model helmet.  Helmets supplied to the Kriegsmarine were authorized through the same source as that of the German Army (Heer) and Air Force (Luftwaffe).  Because the Kriegsmarine fielded a smaller fighting force (approximately 50,000 men in 1939), far fewer helmets were needed overall.  As the German Navy grew, more than 1.5 million men would eventually see service with the Kriegsmarine between 1939 and 1945.

German naval helmets are characterized by a golden eagle insignia (Wehrmachtsadler) worn on the left side of the helmet.  Save for the golden color, the decal is nearly identical to that used on German Army helmets.  Like other branches of the Wehrmacht, the Kriegsmarine developed and changed helmet coloring and decal configurations throughout World War II.  Those changes followed closely all the regulations typically issued by the German Army. 

All helmet models were used in the German Navy including the M1935, M1940, and M1942 patterns.  During the early years of the Kriegsmarine World War I model M1917 and M1918 helmets were also worn.  Of all the service arms within the Wehrmacht, it appears as though the German Navy was one of the few groups who were successful in withdrawing most if not all of the World War I era helmets from active service prior to the advent of the Second World War.  This is verified by not only wartime documents, but also period photographs.  Throughout the war, many helmets utilized by the German Navy were worn without any form of insignia.  In fact, naval helmets are considered by some modern collectors as the rarest of all helmets even when compared to elite units and those of the Waffen-SS.

Overview

Each section of German-Helmets.com is divided into separate Information Tracks that outline important details, facts, and historical notes pertaining to steel helmets used by the German Armed Forces during World War II.  

Information Tracks are organized by subject matter and their content is directly related to the service arm or organization to which each topic is related.  Topic areas that bridge one subject matter to another are cross linked within each Information Track.

This Information Track provides historical facts pertaining to steel helmets worn by units and organizations of the German Navy (Kriegsmarine) from 1935-1945.  Individual links related to this subject are outlined below.

Main Tracks

Helmet Decals


Additional Information 

The following related topics are helpful when examining the history and characteristics of German Naval helmets.


 

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