Luftwaffe General Ranks Long Trousers
Image courtesy of Hermann Historica Auctioneers, Munich
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The German Wehrmacht was composed of three main branches, the Heer, the Kriegsmarine, and the Luftwaffe. The Heer and Kriegsmarine uniforms were based upon the designs utilized by their predecessor organizations, the Deutsches Heer and the Kaiserliche Marine. Conversely, the Luftwaffe uniforms were based upon the uniforms worn in the sports and para-military organizations that were the forerunners of the Luftwaffe. The Luftwaffe uniforms were specifically designed to deviate from the designs of the other Wehrmacht service branches. It was also necessary that the uniforms differentiate between military and civilian pilots.
There were two main organizational precursors of the Luftwaffe, the German Air Sports Association (DLV or Deutscher Luftsportverband), and the National Air Raid Protection League (RLB or Reichs Luftschutzbund).
The DLV and the RLB were created in 1933. These civilian organizations were used to secretly train members for future roles in the Luftwaffe. The DLV became obsolete after Hitler’s official introduction of the Luftwaffe in 1935, and it was disbanded and replaced by the National Socialist Flyers Corps (NSFK or Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps).
The long trousers (Lange Hose) could be worn by all Luftwaffe Generals, Officers, and NCO/EMs (Non-Commissioned Officers/Enlisted Men). They are also known as straight leg trousers and straight field trousers. The trousers for Generals and Officers could be worn as part of the informal evening dress.
The trousers worn by Generals feature white piping and cloth stripes along the exterior leg seams. Prior to 1943, there was one thin strip of white piping which was lined on either side by a thick white cloth section on these trousers. Post-1943, the flanking white cloth sections were removed, but the piping was retained. The same patterns were followed for trouser worn by Officials with the equivalent rank of General, except the colour of the piping and cloth sections was dark green coloured. This was changed to white in February of 1940.
Officers of the Engineer Corps with ranks equivalent to General wore pink cloth stripes. Officers of the General Staff wore carmine stripes. Higher officials of the Judge Advocate-General's branch wore bordeaux red stripes, beginning in December of 1939. Higher officials of other judicial services wore wine red stripes. Officials of the Building Administration Service with ranks equivalent to General wore red stripes. This was changed to black in August of 1944.
The trousers worn by Officers generally do not have piping and those worn by NCO/EMs never have piping. Additionally, the main difference between the trousers of Officers and NCO/EMs is the quality of the fabric and the placement of the fob pocket. The Officer trousers are generally composed of higher quality fabrics, such as gabardine, while the NCO/EM trousers are generally composed of wool or woolen blends.
For all ranks, these trousers were composed of blue-grey fabric, trouser legs that hang straight down from the wearer’s hip, and a fly composed of approximately five buttons.
The external waistband features buttons spaced along the front and the back to facilitate the attachment of suspenders. The reverse of the external waistband has a small “V” notch with two straps and a buckle for adjusting the fitting of the trousers. The internal waistband is often stamped with the wearer’s name and the Reich numbers (Reichsbetriebsnummer) (RB-).
The trousers that were worn by Generals only have two diagonal hip level pockets, one along each exterior leg seam. The Officer and NCO/EM trousers have four pockets, with two diagonal hip pockets, one horizontal back pocket, and a small fob pocket. All these pockets are “slash pockets” that were cut into the trousers. They feature no flap and are closed by a single button. On the Officer trousers, the fob pocket is an internal pocket.
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