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Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1949-Present From West Germany through to the modern reunified German Republic.

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Writing a book on the Bundeswehr
Old 08-21-2009, 07:28 AM   #1
Gordon Craig
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Default Writing a book on the Bundeswehr

Over the past year or so, some collectors have corresponded with me about writing a book on BW hats and more recently on the BW uniforms and equipment in general. The need for another book, written by knowledgable collectors, seems to be fairly evident. There is a lot of wonderful knowledge in this forum even though it has only been running as a separet forum for a few months. Mining the forum for this information is not always easy or successful. Collecting a lot of this information in printed form would benefite the BW collector community as a whole.
I am going to start this thread as a sticky one so that it will always be accessable to all who visit the forum. We would appreciate comments from forum members, or visitors, as to what they think should be in a book on the BW. What type of layout works best for you? If you have a layout in a specific book that you like please post the name of the book and what you like about this particular style of layout. The idea behind this is to make the information in the book as easy to locate as possible. Unfortunately, we do not all think alike and no matter what layout is chosen for a book it will not please everyone.
The posts below have been moved from another thread as they are much more germane here than where they originated. As well, the good ideas expressed in them will get lost. Please participate and perhaps this project may actually get off the ground!

Regards,

Gordon
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Old 08-21-2009, 07:34 AM   #2
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There are thoughts to create something like a "collectors guide to early Bundeswehr" ... but at the time it isn`t much more as a faint idea as you first have to bring together some hard - core collectors, maybe the BW itself (most propably the WTS in Koblenz) a good industrial photographer and a publisher to do so... only depending on one collection you`l have to leave out too much stuff as most collectors I know may have only some of the special items ... and you have to decide the kind of stuff as a book covering all BW stuff would extend to some 100 (1.000 ?) pages ... for example there are at least 4 different Types of G3 ammo pouches identyfied before 1970 which must be described 7 pictured....

And BW is the easiest part... BGS is a bit harder, but the most unknown field are organisations like ZB ...

Regards,

Jens
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Old 08-21-2009, 07:36 AM   #3
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Jens and Gordon - I once entertained the idea of writing a book on the post-war German Army (armies actually with the NVA) and still have about 100 pages of text on my hardrive.

I had lived in Germany for six years, I had visited all the major museums and I had amassed a decent reference library. This was all before I had discovered the existence of web forums.

When I finally did accidently stumble across the WAF a couple of years ago, I was stunned at how much of my carefully researched manuscript was inaccurate and in some cases just plain wrong! If it ever went to print, I would have been the laughingstock of Germany!

Just about everyday I learn something new and find out over and over how much I DON'T know about the Bundeswehr. The biggest obstacle I see in publishing a book on the early Bundeswehr is there is just so much basic information that is still missing. It's out there, but putting it all together would be an immense challenge.

That being said, I think it is very much a worthwhile undertaking. It would definetely be a project motivated by love of the hobby and not profit. I think you two have outlined the essential steps quite well in the earlier posts.

Jens, based on your pictures of the ZB mask, I think you'd qualify quite nicely as the "industrial photographer".

If marketed properly, I think there would be a chance for some good sales. We know there aren't any standard references out there that cover the essentials (with the possible exception of uniforms & small arms); we struggle with this everyday. The public is endlessly fascinated with the Wehrmacht, why not the inheritors of this fascinating military heritage? What did the BW keep from the WH and what did they discard? There are literally millions of Cold War veterans out there (myself included; Jens and Gordon too; correct?) from both sides of the Iron Curtain who, as they approach their "golden years", may yearn to revisit their glory days manning "freedom's frontier" with their BW colleagues. Not just "Amis", but other NATO countries as well.

I'd love to see a book on the Post-War German Infantry, East and West, that collectively covers the evolution of both armies from poorly equipped border police forces to the mighty titans of CENTAG. The book would cover uniforms, small arms, equipment (including the four types of ammo pouches that existed before 1970!?), rank structure, squad structure, radios, and infantry fighting vehicles. Peter Blume's, Die Panzergrenadiere Der Bundeswehr 1956-Heute, sets the standard but there's so much missing, especially detailed information on combat gear.

Well that's enough of a rant for now, as usual I'm late for dinner.....

All the best - TJ
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Old 08-21-2009, 07:38 AM   #4
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There is a book in German called "Von der Affenjacke zum Tropen-tarnanzug" that has a nice layout and covers broadly and briefly almost everything BW as far as clothing and insignia. My particular interest would be the Early Clothing used in the 50s and 60's. There are some excellent books on the Volksarmee that are organized very well and aside from the limitations of black and white photos have nice layouts. Notable examples are Uniformen der Nationalen Volksarmee der DDR 1956-1986 and other books on the Police as well as Volkspolizei- Die Getarnte Armee" . The books give nice narratives on the develop of the uniforms as well and influences. I always wished there were books like that for the BW. You will expand your market by having good images of the tunic items and insignia by making it a handy reference for WWII collectors. I bought the majority of my BW and DDR books to ascertain post War items from WWII.
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Old 08-21-2009, 07:39 AM   #5
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Jens,

Good idea but it would probably take more than one book to do it and would sale break even? Just covering the hast properly would be a big task. You said earlier that there are only a "few" hard core German collectors and hopefully they would form part of the information base. Not out of the question though. It would just take some planning and dedication. It is happening around the collector community. A friend of mine in Washington state is about to publish a book on uniforms and badges of the Hungarian Peoples Republic (HUPR) 1948-1957. I am working on a book for civilian uniforms and badges for the HUPR 1948-1989. There is a chap on the GMIC Forum writing a book on Yugoslav badges and medals from the communist period. There are other books being written out there as well. The question is, how many will be published?

Regards,

Gordon
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Old 08-21-2009, 07:41 AM   #6
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A good place for non authers to publish a book like the ones you want to is through shire publishing in the UK.
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Old 08-21-2009, 07:42 AM   #7
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Jens,

Some good suggestions. A multi-author book with some knowledgable collectors focusing on their area of expertise would probably be successful. The two German language books that I use for reference purposes, of necessity, are limited in scope although Kunstwadl has done a very credible job in covering almost all aspects of BW collectables. As you say, there are new BRD/BW collectors taking to the hobby and a book in the languages you suggested might spur more interest.

Phil,

Thanks for the suggestion of a book publisher. Most books of this type are self published which gives them a very limited run and high overhead for the authors. Have you had any personal experience with this publisher?

Regards,

Gordon
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Old 08-21-2009, 07:43 AM   #8
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TJ,
Thanks for taking the time to express what you feel should be in a book on the BW. It would be great if that sort of book could be done by us old "cold war warriors" but I think Jens has hit the head on the nail in the difficulty of doing this sort of book. There would aways be some esoteric piece or sub pattern that would be left out.
Including all of the material you mentioned in one book would not be possible. There is a series of books that attempted to do this on the Bundesheer and it extends to 10 volumes so far. Even so, it only brushes the surface.
There is one thing I learned form a friend of mine who is doing a book on uniforms and badges of the 1948/1957 period of the Hungarian Peoples Republic. You have to stop some place. Several times he has been ready to go to the print stage when a new photo or new artifact turned up. This will always happen when you are writing a book and at some point you just have to quit adding things. Formatting the book for the printing process is a huge task and one can not be doing it over-and -over again.
I am somewhere between you and Jens. Something a little more than just basic stuff but not an all encompassing book. One has to balance the possibilities between what can logically be done in print, colour and black and white photos. Plus the size once you add the additional languages. In any project, one starts with what would be the ideal result and then scales things back to what can realistically be done.
Jens-your point on the BW paint is well taken. Even if all of the manufacturers had used exactly the same colour on all items during the entire period of the BW, and they obviously didn't, time would cause colour changes anyway. My pet peeve in any book I buy is seeing multiple pictures of the same tunic and in each picture the tunic is a different colour! The same paint could appear to be a different shade on different material surfaces as well.
Lots of food for thought in what you have said here gentlemen and worth expending some time on.

Regards,
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Old 08-21-2009, 07:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny R View Post
There is a book in German called "Von der Affenjacke zum Tropen-tarnanzug" that has a nice layout and covers broadly and briefly almost everything BW as far as clothing and insignia. My particular interest would be the Early Clothing used in the 50s and 60's. There are some excellent books on the Volksarmee that are organized very well and aside from the limitations of black and white photos have nice layouts. Notable examples are Uniformen der Nationalen Volksarmee der DDR 1956-1986 and other books on the Police as well as Volkspolizei- Die Getarnte Armee" . The books give nice narratives on the develop of the uniforms as well and influences. I always wished there were books like that for the BW. You will expand your market by having good images of the tunic items and insignia by making it a handy reference for WWII collectors. I bought the majority of my BW and DDR books to ascertain post War items from WWII.
Johny R,

Thanks for your comments. I have a copy of the BW book you mentioned and I like the layout myself. I also have the other DDR books you mentioned and there are some excellent layout methods there as well. Your comment on broadening the sales base so that TR collectors would buy a copy to tell war time from post war is a good one. From time-to-time we have TR collectors post an item here for forum members to comment on its period of use. Thanks agin for your excellent post.

Regards,

Gordon
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Old 08-21-2009, 12:32 PM   #10
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Very good idea, Gordon - I had similar thoughts. Although I am now out of collecting anything Bundeswehr, I have plan of writing book (someday) on "Alter BGS" militaria (1951-76 time period). I will need to do more research, which will be easier once I move to Germany. My collection is expanding though, so I will have enough to work from. I have done better recently on recently finding rare early items like uniforms that present greatest problem.

regards
Klaus
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Old 08-21-2009, 03:52 PM   #11
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Klaus,

Glad to hear that your collection is growing and that a possible BGS book is to be written. Good reference books stimulate collectors to enter that field of collecting and with your knowledge of the BGS it will surely be an excellent book. I am sure that the forum members will supplort you 100% in supporting the idea and providing additional material should it be needed.

Regards,

Gordon
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Old 08-21-2009, 05:21 PM   #12
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Team - I present to you page one of the forthcoming (in my dreams) book, German Infantry 1955-1985 (Part 1 - West Germany)

TJ


INTRODUCTION

“Which is the is the greater danger, the Russian threat to the Western World or the existence of German military contingents joined with units of armed forces of other countries?”

Konrad Adenauer
December 11, 1949

With these words, the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (“West Germany”) would spark a five-year debate that would ultimately culminate in the establishment of the West German Federal Armed Forces (die Bundeswehr). Adenauer’s cause was greatly assisted by the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. By the war’s end three years later, even formally implacable foes of Germany had recognized the need for German rearmament. Speaking at the Bermuda Conference in 1953, Winston Churchill remarked, “We must have a German army…[it is] no use…talking of the defense of Europe against Russia without Germany. [It is] not possible to allow this immense no man’s land of Germany to remain utterly undefended.” Adenauer’s vision of a new German Army would come at a steep price. Neighboring NATO countries would insist on placing severe restrictions on the on size and deployability of the West German Army. The restrictions and the political machinations that brought them about, including fruitless dalliances with a pan European Army, would lead Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss to quip that the mission of the Bundeswehr, “would be to deter the Russians but not scare the Belgians.”
The army component (Heer) of the Bundeswehr would feature combined arms brigades specialized in fighting a mechanized war on NATO’s Central Front. But before work could begin in earnest on training doctrine and the operational art (Aussure Führung), West German planners first had to come to grips with the legacy of the Wehrmacht. The new army could not become a fascistic state within a state that would lead West Germany into a Third World War, one that in the Atomic Age would more than likely result in the end of Western Civilization. Thus, in the lead up to the Bundeswehr’s establishment, a band of enlightened reformers led by Theodor Blank and Count Wolf von Baudissin, would expend a considerable amount of intellectual brainpower to ensure that the Bundeswehr would represent “an adaptation of the traditional German way of war to the requirements of a modern liberal democratic state.”
As a result, a Wehrmacht veteran joining the Bundeswehr in 1955 would enter into a military environment that he would scarcely recognize. Gone was the institutionalized brutality of the Wehrmacht that had manifested itself in petty barracks cruelty (Kommiss), harassment (Barras) and corpse like obedience (Kadavergehorsam). Instead, the Bundeswehr citizen-soldier (Staatsbürger in
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Old 08-22-2009, 05:02 AM   #13
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TJ,

An impressive opening page. Thanks for sharing it. I envisioned that a book, written by a member of the forum, would have individual pages presented like this during the drafting of the book. On the GMIC site, one of the forum members is writing a book on badges of the Jugoslav communist period. From time to time he puts up a page on a certain badge for comments etc. This serves two purposes, it gives knowlegable members a chance to contribute and promotes interest in the book. I hope that you have the time to proceed with your book project TJ.

Regards,

Gordon
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Old 08-23-2009, 09:57 PM   #14
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Once this forum came into being, it became apparent that there was more than one area within BW collecting. One area that stood out early on was collecting "early Bundeswehr". My question here is "What dates would forum members say constitutes the "early bundeswehr" period." 1955-1960? 1955-1062? And why did you choose those dates?

Regards,

Gordon
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Old 08-24-2009, 02:17 AM   #15
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My definition for "early BW" covers the first 10 years as this is a period of constant change. After 1965 most of the equipment was invented (or underwent only a little reengineering) which stayed in use nearly until the end of cold war. The BW Grenadier of 1967 looks much the same as in 1977 or 1987 but completely different from the 1957 guy...this difference made my interest in that stuff.

Jens
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