When modern media wants a group of baddies to look badass, it’ll often borrow design elements from Nazi uniforms. It’s not hard to understand why; the Nazis famously had their uniforms designed by professional fashion designers, including runway mogul Hugo Boss, and it worked wonderfully in terms of giving Nazi troops a stylish and intimidating public image.
What’s less well known, however, is how ridiculously terrible those uniforms were for any purpose other than looking smart.
Let me give you an example: suspenders. Back in the 1930s, the modern tactical harness hadn’t yet been developed. Instead, soldiers would wear a sturdy pair of leather suspenders in order to help distribute the weight of their ammo belts (which could be substantial – bullets aren’t light!). Hitler didn’t care for that – he thought it would make his troops look like farmers. Instead, he commissioned his uniform designers to come up with a complicated system of internal suspenders that could be worn under the uniform jacket, with metal hooks projecting from special holes near the jacket’s waistline. The idea was that the ammo belt would rest on the hooks, thus allowing it to be supported without disrupting the jacket’s clean lines.
The problem? The system’s designers, being accustomed to crafting for the runway, had completely overlooked that soldiers sometimes need to move quickly. At any pace quicker than a brisk walk, the ammo belt would bounce off of the hooks and slide down the wearer’s torso, often tripping him in the process. Worse, news of the issue didn’t filter back to the high command until the uniforms had already been widely distributed, so it was impossible to fix in an economical fashion. The Nazi troops eventually resorted to wearing external suspenders over the internal suspenders in order to keep their ammo belts in place, thus entirely defeating the purpose.
Then there are the cold-weather jackets, made infamous by the Nazis’ disastrous Winter Campaign against Russia in 1941-1942. At the time, the standard cold-weather jacket in use by most armies consisted of heavy quilted fabric stuffed with torn-up cotton. Hitler didn’t like that at all; in his opinion, it made it look like his troops were wearing blankets. So he had each soldier issued an individually tailored winter jacket made of suit-grade fabric and lined with fur (sourced from civilian clothing seized from death camp inmates, because of course it was).
You can probably guess where this is going. Predictably to anyone who’s not a Nazi fashion designer, the fine fabric of the jackets wasn’t tightly woven enough to stop the wind. The fur, meanwhile, harboured lice and fleas, stank abominably when wet, and was impossible to launder in the field. They’d managed to issue their troops dry clean only winter apparel, in a campaign that would send them far from their supply lines. That the weather ended up killing more Nazis than the Russian army should thus come as no surprise.
And these aren’t outliers. Virtually every element of the Nazi uniform made up for its smart styling by being ridiculously impractical. The officers often had it worst of all; their uniforms were expertly tailored to make their builds look trim and powerful, at the cost of being stuffy, uncomfortable, and difficult to move around it. Indeed, some officers’ uniforms were so smartly tailored that they couldn’t sit down without taking their pants off. Yeah, let that image roll around in your head for a moment or two.
The upshot is that whenever I see baddies in a movie or a TV show with clearly Nazi-inspired uniforms, my first thought is less “whoa, badass!” and more “these men are about to be murdered by their own trousers”.
There is some deeply undignified part of my soul that is taking deep and abiding comfort in this.
The knowledge that the Nazi vermins own stupidity and peacocking lead to countless of their filthy kind freezing to death during the Russian winter warms my heart
in the end the greatest enemy to the Nazis wasn’t American troops, The Russian winter, or British Dogfighters…but the deadliest of of things, high fashion.
Please read the above post in the voice of The Scary Door narrator
someone please make a movie about the fashion designers being all gung-ho about their designs and building them on runway models and being hilariously oblivious about soldiers needing to do soldier things
“well it looks nice but they won’t be able to sit down in it”
“well, they can’t sit down. they’re soldiers, they might need to sit down”
“well they’ll just have to invade Poland standing up, won’t they?”
honestly every time I see this post I have to wonder if those uniforms were an act of resistance. Like, maybe even the top dudes at these fashion companies were totally cool with working with Nazis, but like maybe some of the people under them weren’t, and they were the ones who made decisions like what fabric to get and how big the hooks were, and yeah their superiors signed off but they weren’t the ones doing all the thinking. Idk, I have no proof obvs, but I have a hard time believing the uniforms were that bad just by accident and oversight.