After the political takeover of Germany by the Nazi party, German helmets were issued with a new type of insignia; a decal with an eagle which was the old symbol of Imperial power
and the swastika which was the symbol of the new power, the NSDAP (National Socialist German Labour Party) led by Adolf Hitler. The insignia were water transfer decals that were coated in lacquer for better adhesion to the helmet surface.
The different Wehrmacht service branches adopted different designs. The Army (Heer) used an eagle clutching a swastika. The eagle/swastika was silver on a black background in the shape of a shield.
The Navy (Kriegsmarine) used a gold color eagle/swastika on a black shield. The Air Force (Luftwaffe) used a flying eagle clutching a swastika with one foot. The SS used silver-colored sigrunen on a black shield and the Police (Polizei) a smaller silver-colored
eagle standing on a swastika surrounded by an oak leaf wreath on a black shield. Smaller branches such as RAD, NSKK and political/civil agencies had their own insignia designs.
helmets were also issued with a national shield (the tricolor) on the right side which symbolized the Reich; black, white and red being the colors of the national flag. A directive of March 1940 ordered the national shields to be removed however there were
exception to the rule. In many cases there were smaller units that continued to wear the national shields emblem on their helmets during the war.
Different helmet manufacturers
contracted with different decal manufacturers. Through the study of surviving examples it is known that there is a degree of correlation between helmet manufacturer and decal manufacturer. There are only a 6-7 decal manufacturers known today, but there
were probably more factories equipping the helmets with this insignia.
This website will highlight decals for the most common branches; Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, SS and Polizei.
I will begin with the decals utilized by the most prominent helmet manufacturer, ET (Eisenhüttenwerke in Thale) and will point out a number of minor variations. While we don’t know
the actual identity of this decal manufacturer, the authors of the book, "The Helmet Decals of the Third Reich" (Ken Niewiarowicz with Anders Lehrman) and collectors world-wide denote these decals as "ET style" decals. All ET decals presented on this
page are found on ET and CKL/ckl helmets.
Of the 11 ET decals presented here we can see 3 different designs repeat themselves. Note the head shape, the lines in the wings/feathers
and the talons.