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.
has spent any time in the field will know the value of
a good serviceable pocketknife, and the Landser was no
exception to this rule. In fact, given the
pragmatic efficiency of the German Army, it is
somewhat surprising that we can find no evidence of
these useful tools being standard issue item - there
is no mention of them in either equipment lists or
Soldbuchs. Instead, they were purchased either
at home, from whatever local sources were present, or
from their own "Marketenderwäre"
with known wartime usage fall into two general
categories: 1) Heavy-duty knives made for field
use, and 2) "Penknives".
The grips of the knives we examined in this study were
of wood (pear, walnut, or maple), or metal (steel or
brass), and all of the specimens in this study
had some type of maker's name or logo stamped on at
least one blade. Furthermore, almost all of them
were made in a city which made its livelihood from
edged steel: Solingen.
This example was a common type, and has been
reproduced a great deal since the 40s - good for
reenactors, bad for collectors, right? The grips
on this period specimen appear to be of pear wood and
the high-quality single blade is 3-½" long.
The bolster is steel and the maker is Anton Wingen
of Solingen. Most of the reproductions of this
style originate from Pakistan or India and some of
them have been in the collector market long enough to
attain a certain amount of credibility. Some of
the characteristics of these repros are: Large
Waffenamts, pressed instead of ground blades (which
was not present even in the late-war
"ersatz" quality blades), a large
hemispherical cut-out at the base of the blade which
we are told was supposed to be a wire-stripping
implement, and a maker mark of "HaWe".
It is possible that some of these "HaWe"
wire-stripping knives are period, but in the words of
long-time German Edged-Weapon collector Larue Curren,
every German blade I know of has two things: a blade
which was ground to shape and either a makers name or
code. If the base of the blade looks forged with
no grinder marks, watch out!"
This is a variation on "A" and was jokingly
referred to by Mr. Curren as the "French
Occupation Model" because of the corkscrew!
The grips are maple and the bolster steel. The
long 3-½" blade is marked "ROGISO
These are both of another fairly common pattern.
They are slightly smaller than the previous types and
lack the reinforcing bolster. Knife
"C" has walnut-like grips, nickelled rivets,
two blades and a can opener. The larger blade
(3" long) is marked "KAUFMANN"
and has a "55" between two
mirror-imaged Ks. On the other side of the same
blade is the Kaufmann logo. These are all the
trademarks of Heinrich Kaufmann & Sohn which was a
well-known Solingen knife maker. Knife
"D" is about the same size as "C"
and has maple grips, one blade marked Aug. Müller
Söhne, Solingen, and a can opener. This
knife probably dates from the later war period as it
is of simplified design, has a lot of machining marks,
and has zinc side plates beneath the grip panels and
zinc washers under the rivets.
This interesting knife has walnut grips with a brass
insert, a 3-¼" long main blade, and may not be
German manufacture. The German inscription
indicates that the knife was probably a 1941 Christmas
gift to Mountain Troops stationed in the "Polar
night" from citizens of the Sudetengau in
Czechoslovakia. It is possible that this knife
This lock-blade style was popular before the war and
this particular knife may actually date from WWI.
The sheet-brass handle has no added grip panels and
originally was painted black. The knife has a
single large 3-½" long blade, a marlinspike, and
a can opener. The blade is marked with the
"Kissing Crane" trademark of Robert Klaas.
another commonly-encountered variation of this knife
which may date from WWII, but since we need more proof
about this its time-frame, we have not illustrated an
example here. They are a massed-produced
lock-blade style of the same general construction and
size as Knife "F", but without the can
opener and marlinspike. The handles are
black-painted steel instead of brass and are marked
with the Kaufmann mirror-imaged Ks and "55",
and a running cat. The blade is marked "Mercator"
and "Germany", and "Solingen"
(these are the ones being reproduced now). If
anyone has more information on this model of knife,
please share it with us!
In general, these are much
smaller and more delicately made than their robust
cousins of the field & camp. They definitely
had their uses, but woe to anyone who tries to gouge
into a lard container of frozen Schmalz or hack
off a slab of dried Mettwurst with one!
The soil of Europe is probably infested with thousands
of them, split apart or broken-bladed and rusting
gently into oblivion. In fact, in a photograph
of excavated German foxhole junk which appeared in a
French brochure entitled "Traveler's Guide to
Battlefields of the Vosges", you can see among
the shell casings, ceramic fuse-cord balls for stick
grenades, and rusted buttons: a small penknife with
the rusting stub of a broken blade still protruding
from the white-gripped handle! But is obvious
that they were actually used in the field (for
whatever purposes), so they deserve some
penknife illustrated below is somewhat unique.
The pearloid grips bear a printed design of green
oakleaves, and "Andenken an die Westfront"
and the bust of a soldier in black. The soldier
is wearing a helmet with a Luftwaffe decal on the
side. The knife has a single 2-¾" long
blade (marked "ELAST, Germany") and a
miniscule corkscrew (of course! It does say Westfront,
doesn't it?) of dubious value.
more typical penknife (not illustrated) has two blades
with the longest being 2-¾" long, and black
plastic grips with a silver inlaid logo "Continental-Absätze".
The larger blade bears the 5 mobile arrows trademark
of Müller & Schmidt.
following images you will find the German list of
cutlery manufacturers logos from the 1930s. The
presence of one of these trademarks on any knife could
indicate German manufacture before 1945, but it would
not be proof since it is not known how many or which
ones of these logos were still used post-war.
Puma, for instance, is still in use.
often found on German blades is the term "Rostfrei".
This means, "Stainless Steel".