This was the
most famous headgear of the Schutztruppe. It was worn by all ranks on almost all occasions in South
West Africa and on home duties back in Germany. In East Africa and
Cameroon it was not so widely used, often being replaced by the
tropical helmet on active service.
It was made of grey felt
and held up on the right hand side by a large metal
imperial cockade in black/white/red. The hatband ribbon and edging
were in blue for South West Africa, white for East Africa and red for
Officers and senior NCOs hats
were often privately tailored and therefore better quality and more
elaborate with wider ribbons, bordering and cockades, sometimes with
the white section replaced by silver.
The Südwester was a source
of pride to the Schutztruppe and also a practical piece of kit,
shading the eyes from the sun during the day and rolling up into a
pillow at night.
Several variations on
the Südwester were also worn including straw versions (mostly worn
by troops in China and Macedonia, although some were seen in
Africa), ones with different coloured hatbands and edging (for
generals and colonial officials) and a variation on the theme in
light brown worn by the South West African Landespolizei (see
The photos on this page are from the
Doppler Collection and Ian Harrion. Please respect the owners'
generosity in sharing these photos with us by not reproducing them
without prior permission.
Click on the pictures
below to enlarge
This Südwester has the red edging and
hatband worn by the Schutztruppe in Cameroon. What is especially
curious about this hat is the fact that the hat is made of a Hessian
type cloth rather than the usual grey felt. Other Südwester have
been seen in period photographs in both Cameroon and South West
Africa made of Hessian or straw.
A side view of the Cameroon Südwester.
Note that this hat is worn on its model backwards and would more
normally be worn with the cockade on the right hand side. It has
however been seen in several period photographs that Südwesters were
sometimes worn back to front (even von Lettow-Vorbeck wore his
backwards during his triumphant return parade in Berlin in 1919), at
least one photographs shows one worn with the fold and cockade at
the front by a Schutztruppe soldier in South West Africa.
An inside view of the Cameroon Südwester
showing the interior leather hatband and chinstrap.
The German South West African police wore
this variation of the Südwester in light brown felt, with a khaki hatband
and no coloured edging. It
was held up on the right side with a brass imperial crown and had a
small imperial cockade at the front.
A close up view of the small brass imperial
crown holding up the right hand side. Note that the cross has been
broken off the top of the crown. Some privately purchased police
hats worn by officers had had noticeably larger crowns.
A close up view of the cockade on the
front of the hatband.
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