Snap! April April!



This is a special post in a comedic tribute to today, April 1st, April Fools Day!

 

The comedic photograph here shows some Heer Soldaten seen likely in a occupied house, likely a living room enjoying some leisure time playing cards in the Western Front Region.


The photograph shows Heer Soldaten seen seated on chairs and a sofa around a table as they bet on a game of cards. This is seen by the small amount of coins in piles out on the table. A piece of cloth, likely a carpet is laid across the table to act as a table cloth, similar to the kinds used at casinos. Three of the Soldaten are seen playing a game of cards. The exact game is unknown but the photograph captures the moment of leisure and atmosphere amongst the card game can be felt from the photograph. The comedic event is enhanced by the unique and bizarre headwear worn by the Soldaten. This seen in contrast with the wear of casual dress and normal military attire of the Heer.


Seen on the left and right wearing dark sports vests, the right clearly shows the Heer breast eagle in wear on the sports fatigue tunic. Both are seen wearing hats, one a flat hat seen playing cards and the other seen wearing circular glasses is wearing a top hat. Also seen with a top hat sat opposite to the left in a fatigue or nightwear is a Soldat. Seen playing cards with a feather in his top hat laughing at the game. To the right of him at the back is the more serious Heer Soldat of the rank of Feldwebel seen in shot but not as enthusiastic to play as others. The Feldwebel at the back is seen wearing a M36 Tunics as seen with the bottle green collar, tresse on his collar and around a single pip on his shoulderboard. The Feldwebel is seen also with a whistle seen attached through his buttonhole and into the breast pocket of his tunic. Seen to the right of him is another Soldat seen wearing a white denim fatigue tunic and a hat seen with detail of braiding around it. The Soldat is seen wearing a ring on his right hand and a cigarette in his left hand as he holds a newspaper, peering over it to look at the grand game of cards. Seen in front of him also is a watch, could this be a higher waged bet or is it just to act as a timekeeper! The newspaper held in the hand of the Soldat titled "Westwall - Bote" seen with the artwork of a German Soldat with his mouth open mimicking shouting as a way of denoting Westwall News. This being a detailed header of the newspaper. Further details can vaguely be made out in the photograph upon close analysis the sub header on the newspaper words of "Ein englisch _____ seegefecht!" can be made out, translated to "an English sea battle" or Naval battle. Thus the newspaper heading information and an article of naval battles between Kriegsmarine and the Royal Navy. Another issue of "Westwall - Bote" can be seen across the end of the table. On top of this newspaper can be seen a cigarette case and a porcelain ashtray seen with the word "Louis D'or" across it, this likely a form of French tobacco and cigarette company. Possible what the other Soldat is smoking.


The centre of the photograph is seen the happiest and most engaged in the game of cards, a Hauptfeldwebel or more commonly known as "Der Spieß". Der Spieß was a nickname given to Hauptfeldwebel as a homage to a tradition to arm NCOs with and edged weapon (Likely swords) instead of a firearm. Der Spieß is easily identified by the thin double band of tresse worn across the lower sleeves (One seen here). This is seen as Der Spieß is raising his hand with a card in hand as he is about to call he is a winner of the game seen smiling in success or joy of the game. Ironically the serious and respectable ranked Der Spieß who would be tasked with activities and duties such as unit promotions, orders, paperwork and other admin is seen relaxed and wearing the most bizarre headpiece seen in this photograph. Der Spieß seen wearing an Native Indian Headpiece with feathers and some braids towards the back. Der Spieß is also seen wearing and M40 tunic, also with a whistle seen attached to the second button down, it isn't in his tunic pocket as he has his tunic undone. Also notably seen above his breast pocket is two feldspanges. One is a Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnung, commonly known as a Heer Long Service award. This being a single silver long service feldspange denoting 4 years of active service. Possibly Der Spieß was a part of the Reichswehr as service included pre Wehrmacht services too. This is also seen in wear with what appears to be a Deutsches Schutzwall-Ehrenzeichen, also known as the Westwall medal, seen here in Feldspange. Awarded to those who helped design, build and later served on the Westwall. This is likely due to the region as supported in the photograph in which the Heer Soldaten are seen to be located.


This Photograph is a crisp example of a comedic time had by many Soldaten across the Wehrmacht, showing the human element to war, captured in a moment in a occupied house, possible a living room. Leisure time seen here such as cards and other games in addition to music helped raise morale of Soldaten. Acting as an escape from the life of a Soldat and the hardships and day to day chores could still have an affect on the everyday morale and mindset of Soldaten, even heavier impacts to morale and spirits when on the frontline or after a battle. Thus cards, cigarettes and jokes among fellow Soldaten no matter the rank or age unites them and engages them together to raise each others spirits and allowing for a time to relax. The Soldaten here seen on the Western Front having a much easier time to those serving on the Eastern front, it is likely this photograph could pre date the invasion of the USSR and could date around 1940. The Heer Soldaten in France, as detailed by French cigarettes however an exact location unknown. A photograph that would be held close by the Soldaten of the photograph as a found memory of their creative and comedic card game on the Western Front, or sent home to their loved ones and families showing them what fun they are having them whilst away.



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