Talk:Pickelhaube

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Leather?[edit]

  • The helmet Bismark is wearing in the picture is clearly made of steel. -Litefantastic 01:26, 1 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Ceremonial Helmets and Officer Helmets were made of metals and leather. --Grevlek 11:31, Nov 5, 2004 (UTC)

Okay. So only the high command (or whatever you want to call them) get full metal pickelhaubs?

The Helmet in the picture he is wearing, would likely have been only for show, such as this picture, as steel was more expensive to produce, and leather more flexable (though quite useless against most shrapnel, gunfire, and other flying projectiles).

The photo shows a Kürassier Metalhelme. Metalhelme were the steel helmets worn by the Kürassier (Heavy Cavalry) and Sachsen Garde-Reiter.(Saxon Guard cavalry) see http://www.kaisersbunker.com/pt/metalhelme.htm Benvenuto 10:33, 29 April 2007 (UTC)


I have a question, as I am not very knowledgeable about pickelhaube history. But anyway, how exactly did the spike protect against cavalry? If this is an important reason for its production, maybe you should add a sentence or two to describe its purpose, as it doesn't come across, at least to me, as a very practical design (especially in leather).--Hohenstauf 22:52, 10 July 2005 (UTC)

i think it is just a disign

As the helmet is probably held in place with a chin strap, the spike could prevent a blade from slipping downwards into the face of the wearer if the cut came from behind (or anywhere outside the field of view) -- the blade would probably only slip down the "lobster tail", thus hitting the back of the wearer at worst.
Apart from that, I can't really see how it's supposed to help. As the wearer would probably duck if about to be hit by a cavalry soldier's blade, it's likely that the cut (performed with an outward swing, not an inward swing -- which could injure the mount) would end up behind the spike -- but if it ended up in the front, it might just slip downwards and into the face (though the metal strip might just catch that blow, or the blow might just be blocked by the spike itself).
It's certainly better than wearing no helmet at all, and the sallet-like shape of the helmet is quite efficient in protecting the wearer from cavalry, but I can't really see where the superiority in the existence of that spike lies. I'd wager it's a devolution (sic!) of the tail of (horse) hair on Rus Viking style helmets -- the tail vanished and the metal bit eventually just turned into a simple spike. But that's just guesswork.
In terms of decoration and psychological factors (a horde of horned fighters charging at you certainly looks at least a wee bit scary -- like a horde of rhinos), however, it works. — Ashmodai (talk · contribs) 17:12, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

Consistent Terminology[edit]

In keeping with Wikipedia practice and the well-established use of "Stahlhelm," with its correct German noun capitalisation, I have capitalised references to the spiked helmet as "Pickelhaube" for parallelism and consistency. It also seems preferable to use the correct German plural, "Pickelhauben", rather than awkward neologisms such as "pickelhaubes". Jack Bethune 11:55, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Ersatz and spikes[edit]

When German or other loanwords are used in explanatory text, it should not be expected that all Wikipedia users (particularly younger ones) will automatically know what such words mean in English. Hence, a few explanatory words -- in conjunction with a link to more information -- is a perfectly suitable practice when using such loanwords in Wikipedia.

Pickelhaube spikes were removable during World War I, and they were not necessarily removed for combat. Instead, in actual practice, a two-piece cloth covering was issued and used to cover the entire Pickelhaube, spike and all. In that fashion, the entire helmet continued to be used in the field as originally issued. While it is true that spikes were removed in the field, it is pure speculation to assert that it was done because of barbed wire or combat visibility. The evidence shows that, despite barbed wire and combat conditions, many Pickelhauben continued to be used with cloth covers that fully covered the entire helmet, spike and all. Jack Bethune 22:05, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

What's your source that the 1915 model was continued to be used with the spikes attached?--Sus scrofa 22:25, 28 September 2006 (UTC)
As mentioned, there seemed to be no standard practice concerning the wearing of spikes on Pickelhauben, even during battles as late in the war as Verdun, during which the Germans appear to have made the transition from Pickelhauben to Stahlhelme. There are several online photos from that period that clearly show cloth-covered Pickelhauben fully equipped with covered spikes stillin place. Here are some links: German troops in the trenches and wearing full Pickelhauben with cloth covers [1], German troops advancing in connection with the Battle of Verdun [2],German counterattack on the Mort Homme [3],a German battlefield assault [4]. On the other hand, during this same period there are photos indicating that the covers were also removed for combat. Here are some links: German troops before Fort Douaumont with spike removed [5],German troops during Verdun with spikes removed [6], German machinegunners at Verdun with spikes removed [7]. As these photos prove, cloth-covered but fully spiked Pickelhauben were used in combat late in the war, just before the transition to steel helmets. However, covered Pickelhauben without spikes also were used during this same time. If you have sources concerning the official German policy on the use of spikes during combat, sources that contradict the photographic evidence, please provide it. Jack Bethune 12:49, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Oh, yeah the ersatz thing. I'm removing that parantheses because ersatz isn't similary explained when used elsewhere on wikipedia as a search reveals. No reader is too young to look up an unfamiliar word in a dictionary.--Sus scrofa 05:23, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
Fair enough. Your point that the term is widely understood and simply linked is a good one, and I agree with you. Jack Bethune 12:49, 29 September 2006 (UTC)


hindenburg quote[edit]

and Hindenburg suggested in a famous speech that it represented a symbolic link between the German soldiers and the historical Huns. I really doubt he ever said that and would like to see a quote.--Tresckow 11:12, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, now that you mention it sounds kind of unlikely that he would say that. I put {{citation needed}} next to the claim in question.--Sus scrofa 15:59, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

I deleted the sentence "The famous spike is purely decorative, and Hindenburg suggested in a famous speech that it represented a symbolic link between the German soldiers and the historical Huns[citation needed]."

1.) I've heard of the theory that the spike was originally introduced as a protection against sabre attacks from soldiers on horses. 2.) The Hindenburg citation is highly questionable and has not been verified. The original comparison to Huns is due to Emperor Wilhelm II. in a speech before the intervention against the Chinese boxer revolt.


1) I have heard this theory also. But it kind of seems unlikely. How should that help. I guess it was just decorative. 2) Thats correct. But even he wasnt weird enough to connect germans with the huns. The huns are the ancestors of the hungarians. He used the word more like "berserk" as the huns are infamous for their wildness and daring.--Tresckow 02:03, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
1) “Should you encounter the enemy, he will be defeated! No quarter will be given! Prisoners will not be taken! Whoever falls into your hands is forfeited. Just as a thousand years ago the Huns under their King Attila made a name for themselves, one that even today makes them seem mighty in history and legend, may the name German be affirmed by you in such a way in China that no Chinese will ever again dare to look cross-eyed at a German.” -- Wilhelm II http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/sub_document.cfm?document_id=755 —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 69.212.31.200 (talk) 04:52, 1 February 2007 (UTC).

American Pickelhaube[edit]

Does somebody have informations about the Pickelhaube used in the US army in the 19th century? Which units wore it. Who introduced it and why?--Tresckow 02:03, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

"Parallel to the development of the sun helmet, a broadly similar helmet, of dark blue cloth over cork and incorporating a bronze spike, was adopted for military wear in non-tropical areas, although it was rarely thought of as a true "pith helmet". Modelled on the German Pickelhaube, this headdress was first adopted by the British Army (which called it the "Home Service Helmet") in 1878, followed by the United States Army in 1881. The British version was worn on most occasions by line infantry, artillery and engineers until 1902 when the introduction of khaki peaked caps relegated it to full dress. The blue cloth helmets worn by American mounted troops until 1901 were particularly elaborate, being decorated with plumes and cords in the colours (yellow or red) of their branches of service." The only time the British home service helmet saw combat duty was in Canada during the Riel rebellion. The American version was very popular with the different national guard units. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pith_helmet Benvenuto 10:55, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
It should be noted that cloth-covered helmets with plumes were adopted by the U.S. Army in 1872. In 1881, spikes were added to the list of regulation ornamental fittings. With slight modifications, these distinctive helmets remained in service until their last recorded use in 1904. Perhaps the best reference on the American versions of these helmets is Gordon Chappell, Brass Spikes and Horsetail Plumes: A History of U.S. Army Dress Helmets, Thomas Publications, 1997. Jack Bethune 01:37, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

I did mean like this one: [8] like leather and has nothing to do withe british cork stuff.--Tresckow 02:16, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Your original question about Pickelhauben "used in the US army" was answered previously: Cloth-covered helmets with either plumes or spikes were worn by U.S. regular and state forces from 1872 to around 1904. The Prussian-style spiked helmet with American front plate you linked to was used only by U.S. militia or state forces, not by the U.S. Army. Prussian-style spiked helmets with American-eagle front plates were offered for private purchase by U.S. military outfitters, such as the "Prussian Helmet" illustrated in the 1877 catalog issued by Horstmann Brothers & Co. of Philadelphia, and the "Prussian Pickel Haube" offered for sale in the c.1882 catalog published by J.H. McKenney & Co. of New York. Interestingly, the 1888 Horstmann catalog and others appearing around that date fail to illustrate such distinctly Prussian-style helmets, so their popularity among state and private militias must have faded by that time. Jack Bethune 13:51, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Spike[edit]

The article doesn't explicitly state why the spike continued to exist - it suggests that the original purpose in Russian use was to hold horsehair plumes, but it skirts around this throughout the rest of the article. Presumably the spike wasn't intended as a weapon, was it instead for recognition purposes, did it hold the helmet together, or was it just tradition? -Ashley Pomeroy (talk) 15:59, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

AFAIK, it was just decoration. It's a pretty iconic look though. --Sus scrofa (talk) 18:54, 24 February 2008 (UTC)


Abolition?[edit]

With the collapse of the German Empire in 1918, the Pickelhaube was abolished, and even the police adopted shakos. Was the PH ever actually abolished, or did it just fall out of fashion? Several military/civil units wore the shako rather than the PH before WW1. Jagers and Landsturm for sure. I think the shako was police headgear too. I think there may be some assumption in this paragraph. Yorkist (talk) 05:32, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

It's true that shakos were the headdress of the Jagers and Landsturm - as well as the "See-Bataillones" (Marine Infantry) and a few specialist units such as the Bavarian airship and aviator battalions. However the various German police forces wore pickelhaubes or peaked caps under the Empire. It would be interesting to learn if the spiked helmet was formally abolished as a symbol of Imperial Germany after 1918 or (more probably) just vanished when the "old army" disbanded in November-December that year. Certainly the provisional Reichswehr established in March 1919 made no attempt to reintroduce pickelhaubes and the police adopted Jager style shakos soon after - retaining them until 1967.Buistr (talk) 10:05, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

It was abolished when the regulations regarding uniforms specified the stahlhelm as the helmet of the post-11 Nov 18 Reichsheer (German army). Unfortunately the book I need to document the exact date, and the cite for the change, is currently in storage. Perhaps someone else can provide that information (71.22.47.232 (talk) 09:02, 4 October 2010 (UTC))

Hogan's Heroes[edit]

The end credits of the TV series Hogan's Heroes played over an image of a Pickelhaube. Bizzybody (talk) 08:32, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

Section "Cultural Icon": Contemporary view around 1848[edit]

I would like to introduce the below text to the section "cultural icon". As I am not a native speaker of english, I would ask you to review and approve the text:

<<As early as in 1844, the poet Heinrich Heine was mocking at the Pickelhaube as a reactionist symbol and, besides, an unapt headgear. He cautions that the spike could easily "draw modern lightnings down on your romantic head". The poem is part of his political satire on the contemporary monarchy, national chauvinism and militarism entitled: Germany. A Winter's Tale.>>

There is an article on A Winter's Tale in the English Wikipedia, as well as an article on the Revolutions of 1848. However, I do not know ho to link that.

Bittelächeln (talk) 15:25, 15 June 2013 (UTC)

Thank you. Interesting. English is not my first slightly, but I edited it slightly and inserted it in the article. Others can further edit and improve it in the article. Regards, Iselilja (talk) 16:09, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
An excellent contribution. I have made a few minor style edits.Buistr (talk) 02:24, 16 June 2013 (UTC)