Back to Kaiser's Bunker Imperial German Cloth Headgear Index
Evolution of the Imperial German
Krätzchen and Schirmmütze
Die Dunkelblaue Zeit (The dark blue time)

In 1808 Preußen (Prussia) introduced a round field cap without a visor to be worn by Mannschaften (Other Ranks) when the tall Tschako was not required. The new cap was called the Feldmütze (field cap) and had a fold down flap to protect the neck and face in inclement weather (of interest, this fold-down flap was eventually brought back on the German Model 1942 Overseas cap). The Feldmütze was very tall, dark grey in color for line troops, blue for the Garde, and carried no insignia.
1814 Feldmütze

The 1808 was quickly replaced by AKO 21 April 1814 which introduced a new model Feldmütze which no longer had the fold-down flap and the overall height of the Mütze was lowered. An AKO = Allerhöchste-Kabinetts-Ordre (All Highest Cabinet Order) was a directive issued by the King of Preußen (Prussia) to proclaim an approved article of clothing or equipment for general issue.
Prototype Model 1814 Feldmütze
The lower band remained the same width, but now matched the color of the uniform collar (generally red). The top color remained the same as in the Model 1808: dark grey wool for line troops and blue for the Garde. On 31 May 1814 a line of colored piping was introduced along the top edge of the Mütze to match the band , and AKO 21 Jan. 1822 introduced a Dunkelblau (dark blue) color for the top of the Feldmütze for all line troops.

Prior to May 1848, officer's in dress and walking-out uniform were required to wear the felt fore-and aft hat typically associated now with the navy. For other duties, a Feldmütze was made available for officers. The Officers Feldmütze was similar to the Mannschaften version, except that it carried a small black fiber or leather visor on the front and was privately purchased, which resulted in a higher quality and materials such as doeskin wool exteriors with silk lining.
Model 1814 officer's Feldmütze

AKO 4 November 1842 introduced a Preußen Kokarde in the national colors of black/white/black which was worn on the center of the Feldmütze band.
The Mannschaften (Other Ranks) Kokarde was stamped one-piece metal painted in the national colors with two holes on the front to allow it to be sewn to the Feldmütze. Officers and Portepee-Unteroffiiziere (NCOs entitled to wear the Officer's sword knot) were entitled to wear the so-called "officer" pattern Kokarde with separate silver metal ring attached to a flat fiber backing that was secured to the Feldmütze with split prongs. The Kokarde only worn by Officers and Portepee-Unteroffiiziere had a single distinctive diagonal ribbing ring prior to 1867. The post-1867 officer Kokarde has a "double ring".
Model 1867

AKO 16 March 1867 introduced the Krätzchen (field cap) and Schirmmütze (visor cap) which was considerably lower than the Model 1814 Feldmütze. For the Krätzchen, the band was 1/3 the overall height with barely enough room for the Kokarde. The top was now less-rounded with relatively wide piping. The example to the right is a typical example of an issued Preußen M1867 Krätzchen.
Except for changes in colors and the addition of the Reich's Kokarde in 1897, the shape of the issued Krätzchen would remain the same until the end of the Kaiser-era in 1918.
On the Model1867 Schirmmütze, the band was half the overall height. This photograph of an Ulan (Lancer) Sergeant wearing the Model 1867 Schirmmütze. AKO 28 June 1873 stated that the issued Krätzchen was unsuitable for NCOs, and that unit funds were to be used to purchase a Schirmmütze for the NCOs. Please see the page on E or Eigentum (property) Stamps from the Kaiser's Bunker Guide to Imperial German Cloth Headgear main index page for more details.
An example of a Model 1867 Schirmmütze for a Reserve officer with the typical tiny fiber brim. Unlike the issued Krätzchen, Schirmmütze were Eigetumsstück (privately purchased) and have much wider bands, wire stiffeners in the top, with silk linings with a leather sweatband. Schirmmützen are occasionally encountered with a soft leather visor; this is believed to have been in fashion with officers for some time before the Bekleidungs-Vorschriften (clothing directions) of the 1890s which allowed this on Schirmmütze for field use only.
Over the years, the Model 67 Schirmmützen began to take on a more vertical "tube" shape as show in this photograph of a Preußen officer. This eventually resulted in Bekleidungs-Vorschriften (clothing directions) of 28 May 1896 which directed that the top had to project over the lower band, by a minimum of 5 cm.
1897 Reichs-Kokarde

In 1897 a new Reichs-Kokarde in Red-White-Black was introduced for all ranks to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kaiser Wilhelm 1st. The Reichs-Kokarde was to be worn on the right side of the Pickelhaube, and worn centered between the band and the top row of piping on Krätzchen and Schirmmütze, as shown on this Mannschaften (Other Ranks) private purchase Schirmmütze for Husaren-Regt. Königin Wilhelmena der Niederlande (Hannoversches) Nr.15.
Eigetumsstück Headgear

Eigetumsstück headgear were privately purchased by an individual; "Eigentum" translates as "Property", indicating that the item was private property. Eigetumsstück headgear could be purchased by any soldier dependant upon the wealth of the individual, but they were always purchased for wear by officers, and "normally" by Einjährig-Freiwilliger (One Year Volunteer) and Fähnrich. As a result, Eigetumsstück are of a much higher quality than issued headgear and in the case of Schirmmützen, they are often misidentified as officer, NCO, or One Year Volunteer Schirmmütze when in fact, the original owner could have been a Private.
Although the soldiers could purchase soft issue quality Krätzchen, many opted to purchase Tellermützen (plate hats) which have stiff sides and top with a classic flat Teller (plate) shape. The Kürassier in this photograph wears an Eigetumsstück Tellermütze which unlike an issued Krätzchen, has a considerably wider band and top overhang with a wire stiffener in the top.
This Bayern (Bavarian) Chevaulager Regiment 1 private purchase Tellermütze is of exceptionally high quality.
Evolution of the Schirmmütze

Few references will agree when or if there was an official clothing order that changed the shape of the Schirmmütze prior to the Feldgrau Model 1907/10 clothing, but it appears that fashion resulted in the top getting taller and wider, the band getting higher, and the visor getting considerably larger. This photograph of a Sergeant in the 2. Garde-Dragoner-Regt. Kaiserin Alexandra von Rußland (Berlin) Garde-Korps shows the flat Teller shape and the large front visor.
This Preußen Jäger Eigetumsstück (privately purchased) Schirmmütze is typical for the period leading up to 1911. The top retains the classic "Teller" (plate) form on the top, and the visor has grown in size from the tiny 1867 pattern to a large modern appearance.

AKO 12 December 1911 officially sanctioned the "saddle" for the Schirmmütze, which had been appearing for some years previously. The visor was considerably larger than previous models, and the front of the top was higher in profile than the back.

This order was meant for Schirmmütze only, however, as this photograph shows, some soldiers could not resist applying the saddle shape to their privately purchased Tellermützen.
This example of a Baden Reserve Officer's Model 1911 Schirmmütze for 1. Badisches Leib- Dragoner - Regt. Nr. 20 Karlsruhe XIV. Armee Korps demonstrates superb craftsmanship, and is manufactured from the highest quality doeskin wool.
Die Feldgraue Zeit (The field grey time)

AKO 28 February 1910 announced the release of the new German Feldgrau (field gray) uniform, known as the Model 1907/10 Feldrock. The Feldrock and matching Schirmmütze and Krätzchen were made of a heavy wool Feldgrau (green grey) material and were intended for field use only, while the old Dunkelblau uniforms were maintained for all other occasions such as walking out and parades. The tops on all Jäger and Schützen (Light Infantry) Battalions, MG-Abt. (Machine Gun Detachments) and the Jäger zu Pferde Regiments were Graugrün (grey green) not Feldgrau.
The new Model 1907/10 headgear continued to be piped in regiment or branch of service colors, however, often some changes occurred in both branch colors, or the band/piping color itself.

In this studio portrait a young soldier wears an issue Model 1910 Feldgrau Krätzchen with a sewn camouflage band.
Model 1910 Bayern (Bavaria) Infantry Mannschaften (Other Ranks) Krätzchen. The cap is made from a thick early war Feldgrau wool, with standard issued Kokarden.

The Officers Schirmmütze continued to be privately purchased and of a higher quality in construction and materials, and are typically made from a good quality Feldgrau wool, twill, or doeskin. In this period photograph an officer is wearing a high-quality Model 1910 Schirmmütze with his Feldgrau Litewka.

The Model 1907/10 regulations for Schirmmützen called for a black leather (or imitation leather) chinstrap with a single buckle to be fixed to the Schirmmütze above the visor by two black buttons. By 1915, the chinstrap began to be fazed out, and surviving examples of Schirmmützen rarely have the chinstraps in place.
Model 1910 Sachsen (Saxon) Officer's Schirmmütze for Artillerie, Pioniere and Verkehrstruppen (Transportation Troops). These included all Eisenbahn (Railway), Telegraphen (Telegraph), Flieger (Flying), Luftschiffer (Balloon and Zeppelin).

This superb Schirmmütze is made from a high quality Feldgrau wool with a black velvet band and officer's Kokarden.

As with Dunkelblau, Mannschaften (Other Ranks) continued to purchase Eigetumsstück Schirmmützen in Feldgrau. This private from Königin Elisabeth Garde-Grenadier-Regt. Nr.3 (Charlottenburg) Garde-Korps wears a Feldgrau Eigetumsstück Schirmmütze.
A rare example of a Model 1910 Preußen Dragoner Regiment 2 Mannschaften (Other Ranks) Schirmmütze. Although this example is privately purchased, the quality reflects the wartime conditions, with a rough quality wool and an Ersatz paper sweatband.

Since 1873 Schirmmütze had been purchased by the unit to be issued to the NCOs. With the model Model 1907/1910 headgear, for the first time NCO Schirmmütze were manufactured and issued. They are of issue quality in rough wool, and carry issue stamping on the cloth lining.

In this photograph a Sergeant in in Braunschweigisches Husaren-Regt. Nr.17 (Braunschweig) X Armee Korps wears what appears to be the NCO issued Schirmmütze with Totenkopf. His Schirmmütze would have had a black band with yellow piping.
It is not clear if the NCO Schirmmütze was issued only to cavalry units, or was only issued for a short period, as surviving examples are rare. What differentiates them from private purchase examples, is that they are made from rough issued quality wool, with issue quality liners, and carry standard unit issue stamps.

This rare example of a Model 1910 Preußen Dragoner Regiment 8 NCO Schirmmütze has the standard issue stamps.
Model 1908 Dienstmütze mit Schirm

In 1908 a Dienstmütze mit Schirm (service cap with visor) was introduced for issue to the Mannschaften of the Train (supply), Sanitäts-Unteroffiziere (Medical NCOs), Krankenträger (stretcher bearers) and Krankenwärter (Medical Attendants).

As this photos shows, it was essentially a soft Krätzchen with an attached wide leather chinstrap and visor.
Husaren Extra Piping

The Model 1907/1910 Mützen posed a challenge for the German clothing authority, as many Husaren Mützen had three Regimental facing colors. To represent all three, the color of the piping on the Feldgrau Mützen was the same as the Dunkelblau version. The band on the Feldgrau Mütze was the same as the color of the top of the Dunkelblau Mütze, and the color of the Pelzmütze (Busby ) Kolpak (the cloth bag which hangs on the left side of the Pelzmütze) was represented by an additional single row of extra piping above the band piping. 13 out of 20 Husaren Regiments carried this extra row of piping.

The example here is from Husaren-Regt. Kaiser Nikolaus II von Rußland (1.Westfälisches ) Nr.8 (Neuhaus; II & V Paderborn) VII Armee Korps.
Model 1915

AKO 21 September 1915 announced the release of a completely new pattern of uniforms called the Model 1915 for field use. Bayern (Bavaria) did not adopt until 31 March 1916, so for Bayern, they are known as Model 1916. Also in 1915 (1916 for Bayern) the Kriegs und Friedens-Uniformen (War and Peacetime uniforms) were introduced for parades and walking out. In the field, however, the M1907/10 headgear remained unchanged. With the introduction of this new Feldgrau formal uniform, the old Dunkelblau uniforms were finally retired. The Model 1915 Friedens-Uniformen Schirmmützen had two significant differences from the earlier models: the Model 1915 Friedens-Uniformen Schirmmützen had an olive green visor, and it did not come with the leather chinstrap.
For primary arms (infantry, artillery etc) the Model 1915 Schirmmütze to be worn with the Friedens-Uniformen (Peacetime uniforms) was to be Feldgrau; for the primary arms, the old Dunkelblau colors for headgear were gone forever. This was not the case with the cavalry, however, as the Kürassier, Ulanen, Dragoner, and Husaren regiments were entitled to wear a Model 1915 Schirmmütze with the grey visor in the Dunkelblau colors. This does not seem to have been popular, as most opted for a Feldgrau top.

This scarce photo shows a young Dragon from 1. Brandenburgisches Dragoner-Regt. Nr.2 wearing a Model 1915 Schirmmütze and Friedens-Uniform with light blue top and grey visor, carrying the Dragoner Regt. Nr. 2 tradition badge.
This Model 1915 Württemberg Infantry Mannschaften (Other Ranks) Schirmmütze is made from a light grey wool, with standard issue Mannschaften Schirmmütze Kokarden. To reflect the wartime conditions the lining is Ersatz paper-cloth with an Ersatz imitation leather (paper) sweat band.
Regulations of AKO 21 September 1915 (AKO 31 March 1916 for Bayern) called for some significant changes to branch colors, or the colors of the band and piping on headgear for the following units/arms:
  • All cavalry Zitrongelb (lemon yellow) and Hellgelb (light yellow) were changed to Dunkelgelb (dark yellow) for all units.
  • Train (Supply) Battalions changed from Hellblau (light blue) to Kaliblau (potash-blue)
  • Kgl. Bayer. 1. Chevaulegers-Regt. Kaiser Nikolaus von Rußland (Nürnberg) and Kgl. Bayer. 2. Chevaulegers-Regt. Taxis (Regensburg) changed from Weinrotes (wine red) to Orangerot (orange-red)
  • Kgl. Sächs.2. Ulanen-Regt. Nr.18 changed from Ponceaurot (poppy red) to Dunkelpurpur (dark purple)
  • Krankenträger (Medical Carriers) changed from Ponceaurot (poppy red) to Karmesinrot (crimson red)
Wartime Oddities

As with any nation at war, some forms of headdress will appear that seem to be on the fringe of regulations. Some officer's chose to wear Schirmmützen with silk tops; these are often wrongly described as "special pilots caps" when in fact, they are riding silks, with the cap being called a Reitmütze. Officers who competed in equestrian events had the option of wearing ultra light-weight uniforms and Reitmütze made from silk.

This period Sanke postcard shows a painting of German fighter pilot Leutnant Kurt Wüsthoff wearing a riding silk Reitmütze. Leutnant Wüsthoff was credited with twenty seven aerial victories and was awarded the Pour le Merite.

Schirmmützen with soft leather visors for field use were officially recognized in the Bekleidungs-Vorschriften (clothing directions) of the 1890s, however, these Schirmmützen retained the coated cardboard backing under the band to give them a stiff shape.
During the Great War the first true "Crusher" Schirmmützen appeared with soft leather visors and no cardboard backing of wire stiffeners in the tops. These field duty Schirmmützen can literally be rolled into a ball without damage. The example shown here is for a Württemberg Reserve medical officer. This cap was worn by a doctor that would have acted as an army physician or surgeon and was manufactured with a leather visor and without the band cardboard stiffener or cap wire in the top, giving it a distinctive "floppy" look.
Model 1917 Einheits - Mütze

on 20 July 1917 an Einheits (universal) Schirmmütze and Krätzchen was introduced to replace all the various colored caps in use prior to that time. The colored Model 07/10 Mützen were now only to be worn in garrison and no longer would the bright colors of the Imperial Army be seen on the battlefield. The Einheits-Mütze were made with dark green bands and piping that matched the collars on the Model 1915 Bluse and intended to be worn by all arms. The official name of the material used on the 1917 Einheitsmütze is "Abzeichentuch" also called "Resedagrün". It was a grayed down version of pea green. Bayern (Bavaria) did not wear green collars on their Bluse, so Bayern Einheits Schirmmütze and Krätzchen are made completely out of Feldgrau material, without a different color cloth for the band and top piping.
Model 1917 Bayern (Bavarian) Mannschaften (Other Ranks) Einheits (universal) Schirmmütze. The Einheits - Mütze was introduced in 1917 to replace all the various colored caps in use prior to that time. The cap is made from a rough Feldgrau wool, with a dark green band and piping. By regulation the Bayern (Bavarian) 1917 an Einheits Schirmmütze should be made completely out of Feldgrau material, without a dark green band and piping like the other contingents, but it was ugly, so officers and NCOs tended to purchase caps with their contrasting colours. As a result, this Bayern 1917 Einheits Schirmmütze is made like the Preußen model.
Back to Kaiser's Bunker Imperial German Cloth Headgear Index