This WWII era German helmet was used by the Luftschutzwarndiens(LSW) or Air Raid Warning Service. It is commonly referred to as a Luftschutz helmet.
A number of different helmet designs were used by the Luftschutzwarndiens to include the gladiator style of one, two and three piece designs. The helmet on this page is of the three piece design in that it is made using three pieces of metal, as compared with the stamped one piece design which was built from a single sheet of metal. The Luftschutz helmets are lighter then their combat counterparts, although a heavier style such as those seen in the M35, M40, and M42 designs were available. These heavier helmets are often identified by a beaded protrusion running around the circumference of the helmet directly above where the helmet begins to flare. This beaded protrusion denoted the helmets use as civilian only. Luftschutz helmets are quite common and can be readily found in collector circle's.
The helmets were painted and can be found with colors that range from a some what medium to a darker blackish blue. A unique winged decal insignia with the word "Luftschutz" above a swastika will usually be found on the front of the helmet above the visor. Although regulations called for the decal to be on the front, the decal was also applied at times to either one or both sides of a given helmet. Due in part to the needs of the German war machine, the Luftschutzwarndiens were forced to employ the captured helmets from different nations, as well as old WWI era German helmets, and any unused or outdated helmets from the fire service. The members of the Luftschutzwarndiens, often the volunteers, were normally not issued helmets, but rather were required to purchase their own. While the price of the helmets was only a few Reich marks each, many that served with the Luftschutzwarndiens made use of captured enemy helmets.
The photograph on the left is of the front of the helmet. The picture on the right is showing the rear of the helmet.
The Luftschutzwarndiens(LSW) or Air raid warning service. was formed in the early 1930's and was the air defense arm of the Reichsluftschutzbund(RLB) or National air defense league. The Luftschutzwarndiens was comprised of civilians, typically volunteers, that had the responsibility, among other things, to alert the German people of impending air attacks. Their other responsibilities included interpreting the various reports in regards to enemy bomber strength and positions, keeping order with the panicked civilians, and the operation of the air raid sirens and search lights.
Reports from Luftschutz observers along with other agencies such as the Police, and the Flugmeldedienst(Aircraft warning service) were analyzed at the headquarters of the Luftschutz. The Luftschutz determined when to sound the air raid sirens and when to issue the all clear notifications. An interesting note is that the air raid sirens were kept under lock and key. Only the Chief of the Luftschutz had the authority to sound warnings and issue the all clear notifications. Each time the sirens were activated it was duly recorded.
Each town and city was comprised into smaller area units in which the Luftschutzwarndiens were stationed. They continuously manned their sections and were required to rotate shifts and sleep in concrete bunkers that housed all of the amenities and provisions of a regular fortification. They were also stationed at Flakturme(Flak towers) which were large above ground anti-aircraft RADAR complexes that had walls up to 18 feet thick and were also used as air raid shelters.