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Attaching the Helmet Chinstrap
By Jonathan Bocek


Many reenactors have chosen to refinish their own stahlhelms to restore them to actual wartime appearance.  To help in this effort, below is an article on the proper way of attaching the German helmet chinstrap.  It is a minor detail, but remember it is the little details that count.

The WW2 German helmet had a two-piece chinstrap made of leather.  One side was most commonly dyed black with the opposite side left natural.  Wartime straps had a signal-pronged buckle made of either aluminum for earlier production or steel of later productions.  The buckle was attached to the shorter of the two straps by two rows of stitching.  The longer strap had 13 holes running towards the pointed end.  Both long and short straps were attached to the "D" -rings of the helmet liner by use of metal studs.  The studs were passed through two pear-shaped buttonholes that were cut into the leather ends.      

How to wear the chinstrap was first dictated on 14 November 1934 as part of Army Directive 122 describing the Model 31 helmet liner.  According to a later order (HV 35, No. 691, with description in HV 36, No. 112) which was dated November 22, 1935, the shorter buckle strap was to be attached to the left side of the helmet for those who are right-handed.  If the soldier was left handed, then the buckle strap would be affixed to the right side of the helmet.  Examples of this can be seen below:

 
RIGHT-HANDED

 
LEFT-HANDED

As you may have guessed the reason for this placement of the buckle was based on how the Landser fired his rifle.  This was done to avoid having the buckle and the long strap-end from getting in the way of the soldier working the bolt of his rifle.  When one is working the bolt of the k98, the hand of the soldier comes very close to the chinstrap.  Thus, the placement of the buckle and strap end is opposite that of the shoulder you would fire your rifle on.
 


Sources:
- Uniforms & Traditions of the German Army Vol. 3 by J.R. Angolia & A. Schlicht
- Wehrmacht Combat Helmets 1933-45 by Brian C. Bell
- Der Meldeweg Nr.3, Nov.- Dec. 1991

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