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The Hautentgiftungsmittel, or Anti-Gas Salve Stick
By Eric Tobey, revised by Jonathan Bocek


The following was taken from the Die Neue Feldpost newsletter & was done so with permission of the publisher.  We would like to thank him for his generosity as well as thank all those who have contributed to this article.  It is with their efforts, we are able to share this valuable research with the rest of you.

While looking through a collection of German soldier's personal effects, an otherwise well-informed reenactor picked up one item and said, "What in the world is this thing?"  If the ghost of one of the former owners was in the room, he probably smiled, because the article was one which was well known to every Landser.  It was the Hautentgiftungsmittel (howt-ent-giff-toongs-mit-til) or anti-gas skin salve.  Bingo - we had to do an article on it.

If you refer to original soldier's soldbuchs, you will notice that every one of them was issued the "anti-gas skin salve", or as we will call it from here on, the HEGM.  The entry for this item was usually part of a small block of items entered somewhere on the same pages which recorded the issue of gas masks, cleaning kits, etc...  Occasionally, the HEGM is listed under its tradename, Losantin.  It appears that at least three items were usually issued together: the HEGM, the gas-sheet with its bag, and the first-aid packet.  The HEGM appears to have been universally issued to Army personnel for the entire war.     

The item was supposed to be used like this: if chemical warfare agents came in contact with the soldier's skin, he was supposed to open the container, and dissolve a certain number of the Losantin tablets in water, then apply the salve to the affected area.  Fortunately, about the only thing these tablets were actually used for was to bleach Afrika Korps tropical caps.  It seems that, much like our US troops in Vietnam who valued the salty look of a bleached field cap.  They found that if they dissolved an anti-gas skin tablet in water and washed their cap in it, it would bleach it out; presto!  From greenhorn to salty desert warrior.

There were five main parts to the HEGM (see the illustration on the following page): the tablets themselves, the container body, the cap, the sealing tape, and the label.  There were 10 tablets in each container, and the container body and cap were both made from the same brownish-black bakelite so often seen in German equipment.  The sealing tape, which is 5/8"-wide cloth tape, came in different colors to indicate the date of manufacture of the contents: red for production up to 1940, black for 1941, light green for 1942, and yellow for 1943.  A paper label was wrapped around the body and in the example illustrated had two blocks of information printed on it.  On one side it read: "Chemical warfare skin decontamination composition.  Only for external use!  Do not get in the eyes or on genitals!  Reseal container tightly with the adhesive tape after use."  On the other side were the following instructions: "Instructions for use: finely crush a tablet in the open hand and mix with the same quantity of water or saliva.  Mix into a paste.  Gently rub the paste into the affected area.  Wipe or rinse off after about 10 minutes."

The example illustrated below has the yellow colored tape seal (1943), and the bakelite container bears the maker's code "eqt", which belonged to the Rehfelde/Ostbahn plant of Preßmaterial-Werk Hermann Römmler & Schumann K.-G of Berlin.


Sources:
- Rommel's Army in Africa by Dal McGuirk
- Uniforms & Traditions of the German Army by J.R. Angolia & A. Schlicht


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