German M-42 with Embedded Mortar Fin
This helmet is featured on the cover of the June 2012 edition of the American Legion Magazine. It is a World War II era (1939-1945) German helmet classified as the Model 1942. Although it is not tremendously visible on this example, the Model 1942 is characterized by the unrolled edge and outwardly flared neck guard. Due to the need for increased wartime production, the German Army High Command issued a July 1942 order to discontinue crimping the edge of the helmet—the standard for the Models 1935 and 1940—to reduce costs and speed up helmet fabrication, which it ultimately did.1
Obviously, the uniqueness of this helmet lies in the embedded mortar fin lodged in the top. As the story goes, a man discovered the helmet near Konopiště, the former residence and hunting lodge of Archduke Franz Ferdinand located on the outskirts of Benešov just southeast of the Czech capital of Prague. This means it was recovered close to sixty years after it was lost by the German soldier who wore it. One can speculate that the German soldier who wore this helmet fought and died during one of the last battles of World War II, the Prague Offensive fought from May 6-11, 1945. The Prague Offensive was a brutal battle fought by the remnants of Germany’s Army Group Centre occupying the region around Prague against the Soviets of the 1st Ukrainian Front allied with units from Romania, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. It ended with a decisive German defeat in which the Germans lost almost all of its 900,000 men killed, wounded, or captured.
The mortar fin, in fact, is German. It is from an 8cm medium mortar round produced by the Rhine-Westphalia Explosive Company (Rheinisch Westfälische Sprengstoff A.G., RWS), which was a standard mortar round of the German infantry in World War II. Therefore the death of the German soldier wearing this helmet likely came at the expense of friendly fire. It is a grim reminder of the brutalities of war, the loss of life, and human sacrifice that come with it.
|Germany||World War II|
|Infantry Helmet||1942 — 1945|