A Police M1916-17 Steel Helmet


Well-known member

To complement the excellent article on Austrian Model 1916-1918 steel helmets posted by tony v. here is another variation.

This is an interesting example of a long serving Police helmet Stahlhelm variation. This helmet started out life as a Model 1916 WWI steel shell Austrian helmet. Probably one of 486,000 German made helmets issued to Austrian forces during WWI. It was manufactured in Germany or Austria with a revised Model 1917 liner, made with a steel liner band, and after the war it was used by the Austrian Police. The rather distinctive brown leather chinstrap is property marked to the Steyrmark district of the Land Gendarmerie. The Gendarmerie armorers drilled two small holes on the left side of the helmet dome next to the lugs for attachment of a brass flaming grenade plate. These secured a brass flaming grenade as the insignia of the Austrian Gendarmerie. When Austria then became part of the German Reich as the Ostmark, all Austrian Policemen took off their steel helmets and held up their right hands and took the oath to become German Policemen. Austrian/German armorers once again quickly modified these M1916 helmets by brush painting them green and they then attached new German Police decals to these helmets to be worn by Austrian Policemen with their new Model 1936 green German Schutzpolizei uniforms. These WWI period helmets continued to serve during WWII. After the end of the war the Austrian Police were once again stood up and Austrian Police armorers painted over the decals in "Gendarmerie Grey" or "Police Green". These helmets served in Austria through the 1950s according to Ludwig Baer in his book, "The History of the German Steel Helmet 1916-1945".


  • Gend helm L.JPG
    Gend helm L.JPG
    84.7 KB · Views: 24
  • Gend helm R.JPG
    Gend helm R.JPG
    77.4 KB · Views: 23
  • Gend helm B.JPG
    Gend helm B.JPG
    80.7 KB · Views: 15
  • Gend helm F.JPG
    Gend helm F.JPG
    85.4 KB · Views: 15
  • Gend helm interior.JPG
    Gend helm interior.JPG
    53.6 KB · Views: 15
  • Gend helm strap markings.JPG
    Gend helm strap markings.JPG
    59.3 KB · Views: 15
  • Gend helm buckle.JPG
    Gend helm buckle.JPG
    51 KB · Views: 16
  • Austrian Polizei taking 1938 oath.jpg
    Austrian Polizei taking 1938 oath.jpg
    42.3 KB · Views: 25
Interesting, I have never heard of Austrian altered WWI helmets, and I have never thought much of the Austrian military transition into German in 1938. This confused me at first before I read the text, as I has never seen an Altered helmet without the German M1931 Liner. Very interesting, and thank you for posting.
Thank you for your comments.

HatEnjoyer, the Germans & Austrians wasted nothing and had a robust refurbishment and re-issue regime that almost ensured reworking equipment to bring older model items up to then current standards, Thus, moving from the M1916 leather liner band to the then new M1917 steel liner band when leather became scarce. This penchant for refurbishment is also shown in the various repaints. So, my helmet (and all others like it) had its original circa 1917 Austrian paint finish until the end of the war when these helmets were repainted and had the little brass grenades attached to the left side via the two holes drilled by Austrian armorers. As tony v. pointed out the original Austrian army color was something close to "earth brown". Some wound up a greenish color that tended to fade. The Police painted their helmets "Police green" or "Gendarmerie grey" between and after the wars. They were repainted with a brush "Police green" in 1938 and the decals were put on the sides over this coat of paint while the brass grenade was removed leaving two small holes next to the Police eagle decal. The decals were subsequently removed or painted over after 1945.

Another thing is to look closely to the line of Wien Municipal Policemen swearing their oath in the above photo. Notice they are wearing paper mache oak leaves attached to the left side of their helmets. This leaf grouping was worn on parade by both the Army and Police before and after WWII. Also notice the distinctive brown leather liner fingers have their string holes re-enforced with brown metal eyelets. Also notice the distinctive brown leather chin strap worn by the Police instead of the cloth chin strap worn by the Austrian Army. Subtle differences in the helmets done over time of use from circa 1917 to 1963.

Kaiser Wilhelm II, Ludwig Baer does an excellent job of discussing these steel helmet variations. As the recognized authority on the subject he backs up his thoughts with various regulations and protocols issued during the different time periods. And, yes most collectors miss the merging of Austria with Germany and what it meant to the army and police forces. A really interesting subject but one can go down the rabbit hole if one is not careful.