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

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Bundeswehr uniforms color:why grey?
Old 11-15-2009, 02:40 PM   #1
carpu65
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Default Bundeswehr uniforms color:why grey?

In early-mid 50s all uniforms of NATO countries were very similar,and were inspired by British models.
Officers wore single breasted-four buttons belted tunics,with notched lapels, breast patch pockets,and low bellow pockets,
Officer's field uniforms and privates uniforms were battle dress type.
The color for all were khaki (or olive-khaki).



Ironically,the most diverse were the Americans officers ,with "pink and green" uniforms,but (untill late 1957 when "Army Green" was introduced ) Ike jackets and summer uniforms were very similiar at those of same type of the others NATO Armies.



Take for exemple my country,Italy.
In 1946-1948 the reborn Esercito Italiano passed fron gray-green to khaki,and adopted a battle dress type uniform very closed to British model,and for Officer class A, the same cut of the Regia Aereonautica (Royal Air Force) uniform,that from the beginning ( 1923) was inspired from British models.



So would be logical expect that in 1955 for the uniforms of Bundeswhehr was chosen khaki (something of this):



Instead was chosen something of (at the time) different to the others western allies: Gray.


The double breasted tunic is also a strange choise.
In 1955 the only Army where a gray DB jacket was worn was...Soviet Union.




So,why this "original" choise?
How are born the Bundeswehr uniforms,who has chosen?
Kakhi was considered?

Thanks.

Last edited by carpu65; 11-15-2009 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 11-15-2009, 05:05 PM   #2
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This is an interesting question and, no doubt, open to considerable debate. To be fair, aside from the very first few years, the color grey is unique to the land forces (Heer and land-based naval forces) as both the Luftwaffe and Bundesmarine continued to use slightly modified version of their pre-war/wartime uniforms.

In the immediate postwar years, there were huge stocks of uniforms and fabrics available so many European nations used existing surplus to outfit their newly formed militaries. Also, many armies-in-exile were equipped by the British and it would be logical for these British inspired uniforms to remain in use.

By the 1950s, all-purpose uniforms already starting to give way to task-specific garments -- i.e. dress uniforms and field uniforms.

For the actual color chosen, I have no idea. The original dark grey didn't look too bad, in my opinion. Clearly a return to field grey was out of the question for political reasons. With the air force using blue-grey, the navy using dark blue, and feldgrau out of consideration, there really aren't that many palatable colors remaining. The German military, insofar as I'm aware, has no historical use of khaki -- unlike the US/British/Commonwealth armies.

The double breasted Affenjacke was only around for a few years. The familiar 4-pocket service uniforms were reintroduced in 1957.

The Bundeswehr did/does have a tan summer uniform very similar to those of other NATO countries.
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Old 11-16-2009, 10:28 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SprogCollector View Post
For the actual color chosen, I have no idea. The original dark grey didn't look too bad, in my opinion. Clearly a return to field grey was out of the question for political reasons. With the air force using blue-grey, the navy using dark blue, and feldgrau out of consideration, there really aren't that many palatable colors remaining. The German military, insofar as I'm aware, has no historical use of khaki -- unlike the US/British/Commonwealth armies.
The thing that seems strange to me is that in an historical moment in which West Germany would be perfectly integrated between Atlantic nations,gave to his soldiers a look so dissimiliar than others allied Armies.
If you look an old colour picture of some NATO ceremony,the Bundeswhehr apparence contrast with all other.
As if they wanted remember to all that "We the Germans,are different".
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Old 11-16-2009, 11:03 PM   #4
Gordon Craig
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carpu65,

Your comment that they wanted to stand out may not be too far off the mark. The first uniform worn by the Bundeswehr was almost a direct copy of the WWII American uniforms but they last only about a year. The choice of uniforms for the Bundeswehr in the early years was heavily, if not totally, influenced by political considerations. The eventual decision to adopt one uniform design for both the Heer and the Luftwaffe was almost certainly a politically motivated one. The decision on the Marine uniforms was also politically motivated. In one of my reference books a letter is quoted as being sent from the President of the BRD to the Minister of Defence advising him that he did not like the pictures of the proposed naval uniform he had seen in a newspaper and that they should not be following in the footspteps of Wilhelm or of Adolf Hitler in their uniform design.

Regards,

Gordon
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Old 11-17-2009, 11:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon Craig View Post
carpu65,

The first uniform worn by the Bundeswehr was almost a direct copy of the WWII American uniforms but they last only about a year.
You have a pictures of this uniform? Was olive drab or grey?
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Old 11-17-2009, 03:48 PM   #6
Gordon Craig
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carpu65,

Before going any further I need to qualify what I said earlier. The uniform you asked about was not specifically designed for the Bundeswehr but came into being in 1952. Because of the advent of the Cold War, the U.S.A. suggested the formation of a west European State military. In German this was Europaischen-Verteidigungs Gemeinschaft (EVG). The West Germans were involved in this organization and designed a uniform based on the U.S. Armies battle dress. It was supposed to have been Khaki in colour. I know very little about this uniform other than it existed. Discussions on the singing of the agreement to form the EVG continued until 1954 and were then abandoned and instead NATO was formed in 1955. Pictures of the EVG uniform are shown below. They are from the book "Die Bundeswehr und ihre Uniformen - 30 Jahre Bekleidungsgeschichte" by Jorg-M. Hormann.
The most common uniform in the first year or so of the Bundeswehr was the BGS uniform. To form the Bundeswehr all of the serving members of the BGS were given the opportunity to transfer from the BGS to the Bundeswehr. Approximately 50% of the BGS opted to transfer to the Bundeswehr.

Regards,

Gordon
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Last edited by Gordon Craig; 11-17-2009 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 08-11-2013, 11:03 AM   #7
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Why didnt gernany use blue? The old imperial uniform was blue, and they couldve used a dark blue-grey without too much political hassle, as well as looking badass.
I personally dislike bindeswehr uniforms as they arent very flashy etc. They look like some sortof cheap business suit. (No offence is intended to the bundeswehr,only to the people who chose that design)
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Old 08-11-2013, 11:36 AM   #8
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angus1235,

"Why didnt gernany use blue? The old imperial uniform was blue, and they couldve used a dark blue-grey without too much political hassle, as well as looking badass.?"

You have sort of answered your own question here. The uniforms worn by the BW were designed by the Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Please note the word Republik. Germany has not had an imperial government since the Kaiser abdicated at the end of WWI. The Weimar Republic wore what they termed fieldgrey uniforms which were actually more green than grey. The TR a similar shade of green although by the end of WWII it was more of a brown shade than anything else. None of the uniform colours mentioned above would have been politically acceptable in the mid 1950s. Grey, a neutral colour, would not have offended the allies or the German people.

"I personally dislike bindeswehr uniforms as they arent very flashy etc. They look like some sortof cheap business suit. (No offence is intended to the bundeswehr,only to the people who chose that design)"

You are dealing with what was thought of in Germany as a "civilian" armed forces. Hence the civilian styling. Early BW uniforms did resemble some TR Wehrmacht uniforms but didn't last long. Probably because they had a much more military cut than the current four pocket tunics.
A countries uniform styles change to conform to current civilian designs. It has ever been thus. They are also influenced by what other armed forces are wearing. The adoption of the beret by the BW is a prime example of this.
The current four pocket dress tunic worn by the BW Heer and Luftwaffe are much the same as those worn by other armed forces around the world. As for being flashy, service dress uniforms should be utilitarian and not flashy. They are working clothes for those who are not involved in combat arms assignments.
Like you, these are just my personal comments.

Regards,

Gordon
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Old 08-11-2013, 09:23 PM   #9
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I agree with Gordon that, for the most part, Western nations' post war uniforms are pretty similar and most don't have a lot of "bling" on them as a rule. US Army uniforms tend to be pretty heavy with badging as the Class A is worn with unit heraldry as well as individual achievements. But the uniform itself is pretty similar (and rather bland) just like all the others.

Steve
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