Camouflage of the Waffen-SS

One of the unique characteristics of the Waffen-SS was the use of camouflaged clothing. Although other Wehrmacht units, as well as units in other nation's armed forces, used camouflaged clothing, it was limited to small units or small allocations of certain pieces of clothing. For example, the United States Marine Corps in the Pacific had a camouflaged uniform, however, from photographic evidence it appears that only helmet covers were issued and worn. The British commandos and the LuftwaffeFallshirmjäger (Paratroopers) used camouflaged jump smocks and helmet covers. But the entire Waffen-SS organization was equipped with every piece of camouflaged clothing from the first zeltbahns (shelterquarters) to full uniforms.

SS General Felix Steiner was a veteran of World War I, and as such believed in making radical changes to the operations and tactics to be used by the troops in his Deutschland Regiment. Included in these changes was the introduction of camouflaged clothing by a very competent Battalion commander, SS-Hauptsturmführer Dr. Ing. Wilhelm Brandt . At the suggestion of Dr. Brandt's battalion adjutant, SS-Obersturmführer Günther Ecke, Dr. Brandt designed the first camouflaged pullover smock and helmet cover. In 1935, a new organization, Department "T" (Tarnung), was created for the study and production of camouflaged patterns. Professor Johann Georg Otto Schick became the director and proceeded to produce the various camouflaged items placing great emphasis into the study of color, patterns and materials. These were subsequently field tested against the Army's 1932-model zeltbahn camouflaged pattern and proved significantly superior. In late 1944, the U.S. Army studied several captured camouflaged articles of clothing and analyzed them for their effectiveness. They found that most SS camouflaged patterns, and a couple in particular, were highly effective in hiding personnel and vehicles.

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