Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

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Starace
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Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by Starace » 14 Feb 2009 21:13

I've noticed with all the photos of Hitler his uniform is extremely plain, there is no medals, no equisite rank insignia -nothing. Its always very plain and compared to other leaders like Mussolini his uniform by itself wouldn't standout as the head honchos uniform so to speak. If someone else wore it and mixed in with some other people wearing party uniforms you wouldn't be able to pick it.

The same goes with his cap he has some small round circle thing in the middle, which all the generals seem to have but nothing there either to distinguish him.

So how come when the Germans had one of the best looking uniforms, their generals always had shiny leather coats and iron crosses hanging off them, how come the leaders uniform was so plain? Did Hitler design his own uniform? Can anyone shed some light on this.

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Kristian S.
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Re: Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by Kristian S. » 14 Feb 2009 21:37

Even though Hitler was considerably wealthy, he tried to present himself in public as a modest man. This was partly true since he preferred plain and simple meals and his headquarters did show no sign of luxury. I think it was Keitel who described the Wolfsschanze as a combination of a monastery and a concentration camp.
On the other hand Hitler collected art, had quite noble homes in Munich and the Berghof and a personal train with all the trimmings.
But it is not true that he wore no medals at all. He was very proud of his Iron Cross first class that was awarded to him during the First World War. He also wore the his wounded badge constantly as well as his Golden Party Badge. I think the visor of his cap had also some special decorations in gold. He also wore one of these leather coats you mentioned from time to time.
By the way - Stalin was very simple in his appearance too. I remember that when he died he just had two plain sets of uniforms he wore the entire war and which were totally worn off. They had to be stitched to give him a dignified look before he was put to lie in state.
Last edited by Kristian S. on 14 Feb 2009 22:00, edited 1 time in total.

Starace
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Re: Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by Starace » 14 Feb 2009 21:47

Yes but Stalin had special rank insignia of Generalissimo from memory, his uniform was plain though yep. But Hitler doesn't even that really his only visible insignia was his mustache :lol:

I know he changed uniforms in 1939 and wore a gray jacket for the war, but even that uniform was pretty plain.

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FireFoxy
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Re: Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by FireFoxy » 15 Feb 2009 06:03

Kristian S. wrote:Even though Hitler was considerably wealthy, he tried to present himself in public as a modest man. This was partly true since he preferred plain and simple meals and his headquarters did show no sign of luxury. I think it was Keitel who described the Wolfsschanze as a combination of a monastery and a concentration camp.
On the other hand Hitler collected art, had quite noble homes in Munich and the Berghof and a personal train with all the trimmings.
But it is not true that he wore no medals at all. He was very proud of his Iron Cross first class that was awarded to him during the First World War. He also wore the his wounded badge constantly as well as his Golden Party Badge. I think the visor of his cap had also some special decorations in gold. He also wore one of these leather coats you mentioned from time to time.
By the way - Stalin was very simple in his appearance too. I remember that when he died he just had two plain sets of uniforms he wore the entire war and which were totally worn off. They had to be stitched to give him a dignified look before he was put to lie in state.
Kristian,i'm with you. The four big men Churchill,Starlin and two American presidents wore suits or if they need to wear a uniform wore very plain unifroms.
Churchill once stated that i shall wear civilan clothes and no uniform at all!
Hitler was intended to follow suit,by wearing plainer uniforms than the nazi waffen SS men and Hitler's home guards.
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Re: Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by Borys » 15 Feb 2009 07:09

Hitler headed an egalitarian, anti-establishment movement. Hence the frugality. And the refusal to wear decorations other than those he had won in the field is a nice touch.
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Re: Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by Frankfurter » 15 Feb 2009 19:43

Maybe Hitler learnt from history, once.
Many of the truly important military leaders in history wore simple dress to stand out among their highly decorated officers.
If the supreme leader wants to rival his generals in the weight of gold brass each day he would look ridiculous.
Napoleon, Wellington, Friedrich II, just to name 3 of the most famous military leaders who preferred modest uniforms. Napoleon mostly dressed in the colonel-in-chief uniform of one of his guard regiments (he seems to have preferred green over french blue). Friedrich II also always dressed in a an old blue field dress, and as commander-in-chief Wellington preferred elegant semi-civilian outfits to stand out in navy blue amongst his scarlet and gold generals.

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Re: Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by muller1945 » 15 Feb 2009 22:45

Hitlers uniform was unique and simple i think, he was the only person to have the wehrmacht army eagle on his left arm, just like the ss had there eagle on there left arm. Also note how he in 1938 when he took charge of the armed forces he had the army oakleaves put around his nsdap cockade. Tho he did wear his iron cross 1st class, black wound badge and golden party badge, on rare occasions he did wear the blood order ribbon on the first button hole on his tunic, not on his right pocket. Hans frank used to wear just the ribbon like this also, whats kinda strange is that his old party uniforms with normal armbands were found in his berlin bunker tho i dont think he must have worn them since 1939, maybe for the odd beer hall putch get together.

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Dare Furor
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Re: Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by Dare Furor » 16 Feb 2009 13:37

US General Eisenhower also dressed plainly. Compare his cap with MacArthur's. Compare Hitler's dress with Göring's.

Hitler wore three decorations: Iron Cross (1st Class), Wound Badge (3rd Class), and Party Badge (wreathed in gold). He marketed himself as a Front-Line Combat Veteran, and anti-Bourgeoisie.

These three decorations are easier to focus upon than Göring's many, thus they become more significant. In short they say, "Germany recognised me for courageous service," "I was wounded in Germany's service," and "I was one of the first (100,000) members of the movement."

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Re: Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by new2this » 19 Feb 2009 02:17

I vaguely recall reading an ancient account, translated early in the 20th century, of the author's experience in dining with Attila the Hun. It's hazy now, but if I recall correctly, while others made the effort to be as fancy as possible, Attila wore the simplest clothing, ate from wooden plates, etc., while his guests were given the royal treatment.

Could this be something Hitler had studied at some point?

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Re: Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by Dare Furor » 19 Feb 2009 05:13

I don't think Hitler was a student of history. That "man of the people" thing. Like modern-day politicians showing up without a jacket, sleeves rolled up on the blue[collar] dress shirt, no tie. Political posturing. From what I've read about Hitler, I really think it was an anti-Bourgeoisie thing with him.

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Re: Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by Sewer King » 27 Feb 2009 04:08

The plain nature of Hitler’s uniforms probably occurs sooner or later to many people studying the Third Reich. Here was one earlier thread about it, and still another one before that.

The latter has Davis and Turner’s good explanation of the Fuhrer's plain uniforms, and his illustration of a trio of Hitler’s main uniforms from his general illustrated guide German Uniforms of the Third Reich 1933-1945 (Arco, 1980).
  • Davis noted why there are no pictures of Hitler wearing the SA kepi. At that, just try to picture Hitler in your mind wearing a kepi -- the image is somewhat jarring.

    In that earlier thread, it has a distant parallel to the idea that President John F. Kennedy helped end the wearing of men’s brimmed hats in the US.
I had thought, too, that during the Period of Struggle (Kampfzeit), Hitler's presence was something to be cultivated as much as his speeches. A kepi would blend him in with any other brownshirts around him and take something away from that presence. Whether or not he himself recognized this -- as well he might have -- it seems plausible at the least.

Of course it could also be that Hitler simply looked terrible in a kepi, and knew it.

In another of his books Uniforms and Insignia of the Luftwaffe volume 2: 1940-1945 (Arms and Armour Press, 1995), Davis has an entire chapter about Hermann Göring and his specialized uniforms. He even cites contemporary articles from the German clothing trade journal Uniformen-Markt about finer details of the Reichsmarschall’s peaked caps (pages 284-285). Though Hitler’s plain uniforms would well have had the same high-quality manufacture, I can’t imagine that they rated the same historical attention as Göring’s, whether then or now – or even here, or elsewhere.
Dare Furor wrote:[Hitler's] three decorations are easier to focus upon than Göring's many, thus they become more significant. In short they say, "Germany recognised me for courageous service," "I was wounded in Germany's service," and "I was one of the first (100,000) members of the movement."
That is true of his decorations. But his wear of plain but unique uniforms also says:
  • "I am the one and only,"
    "My presence is so powerful that I need only a simple uniform," and
    "I am so important that I outrank any uniformed person in the hierarchy."
Davis believes that Rudolf Hess followed Hitler's lead in wearing an undecorated, plain Brown Shirt uniform, although it does not seem to have made the same difference for him.

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Re: Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by Skipperino » 29 Mar 2018 09:15

Really sorry to bump an old thread; but was the use of the feldgrau tunic(s) by Hitler without rank insignia necessarily to denote him as Commander in Chief? What I mean is; this style of tunic was also worn by Hess from 1939-1941, and by Goebbels on a visit to Czech President Emil Hacha in 1941; both complete with sleeve eagle; so it wasn't something that was totally unique to Hitler.

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Dare Furor
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Re: Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by Dare Furor » 02 May 2018 01:39

The quick answer is "yes." The Party Brown with armband was worn until the nation was at war, at which time Hitler opted for the army uniform colour, Feldgrau. The armband was replaced with the sleeve eagle. So, too, the SS uniforms went from pre-war black with armband, to wartime Feldgrau with sleeve eagle.

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Re: Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by Dude86 » 20 Jun 2019 14:45

Sewer King wrote:
27 Feb 2009 04:08
  • Davis noted why there are no pictures of Hitler wearing the SA kepi. At that, just try to picture Hitler in your mind wearing a kepi -- the image is somewhat jarring...

    I had thought, too, that during the Period of Struggle (Kampfzeit), Hitler's presence was something to be cultivated as much as his speeches. A kepi would blend him in with any other brownshirts around him and take something away from that presence. Whether or not he himself recognized this -- as well he might have -- it seems plausible at the least.

    Of course it could also be that Hitler simply looked terrible in a kepi, and knew it.
Actually, there is a picture of him in a Kepi, in volume I of Ian Kershaw's biography. For the record, he does look terrible!

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Re: Hitlers Uniform - Why was it so plain?

Post by von thoma » 22 Jun 2019 01:53

For the record, he does look terrible!
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