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Why were German uniforms grey?

Discussion in 'Uniforms, Personal Gear (Kit) and Accessories' started by Trip Jab, Aug 1, 2016.

  1. Trip Jab

    Trip Jab New Member

    Jun 14, 2016
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    United States of America
    Why is it that most German uniforms that I've seen in photographs are grey? Usually they are SS troops. It doesn't seem like it would be an very effective camouflage compared to other colors like green. I'm sure it would be good in the dark but combat wasn't always at night. Was camouflage entirely the idea when making the uniforms or was something else in mind?

    [​IMG] They look like to this.
  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Jan 5, 2013
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    London UK
    There wasn't one single shade. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feldgrau

    Tradition and organisational inertia may have played a part. The Germans fought Ww1 in Field Grey and it was the service uniform of the Reichswehr. Nazi ideology identified with the front line soldiers of the Great War and the uniform offered continuity.

    The German armies (Prussian Bavarian, Saxon, Baden and Wurtemburg etc.) adopted grey Green for their service uniforms in 1907-10 as a service uniform suitable for warfare with smokeless powder. Each Germans state had its own uniform.

    Not all German troops served in field grey. The SS parade uniform was black, for ideological reasons as was the working uniform of the panzer arm, in order to hide oil stains.

    I am not sure why the Germans picked field grey, but it was a contrast with the khaki, brown shades adopted by the British, Russians. Germany led the world in dye manufacture so they had a wide choice of colours and grey is a sensible colour to aid concealment at a distance.

    The original fabric chosen by the French might have overlapped with some shades of field grey, except the red dye in the tricolour thread was made in Germany and omitted, leaving a bluer shade of grey.
    bronk7 and belasar like this.
  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Jul 31, 2002
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    I found this:

    In Germany the Nazi regime retained uniforms with many traditional features from Imperial Germany for its army uniforms, such as field grey cloth, marching boots (a taller version for officers), collar litzen (braiding) and breeches (for officers and NCOs);


    Maybe one thing why they look good is:

    Hugo Boss Acknowledges Link to Nazi Regime

    Published: August 15, 1997

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    FRANKFURT, Aug. 14— Before Hugo Boss A.G. became known for classic men's suits and flashy ties, the clothing manufacturer made uniforms for the Nazis, a company spokeswoman acknowledged today.
    The company said it had become aware of the dealings with the Nazis after the name of its founder, Hugo Boss, who died in 1948, appeared on a list of dormant accounts released by Swiss bankers last month.



    I read that Boss did not design the uniform but they did make them.
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

    Apr 21, 2006
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    Perfidious Albion
    Most shades of WW2 Feldgrau I've seen aren't really all that grey.
    Grey, but tending strongly to green.
    Though green or grey, either seems as good a military colour for western Europe to me.

    Camouflage a funny thing.
    I've a black and white cat. Not colours you would think of for summer camouflage, but she disappears very efficiently among foliage.
  5. Owen

    Owen O

    May 14, 2006
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    Thought I'd quote from the Osprey book '' Men At Arms 80 The German Army 1914-1918'' page 26

    ''In 1907 the General Staff experimented with a service dress to supplement the dress uniforms worn in the Army. A field-grey uniform was produced and issued to selected units for trial. It proved successful and was finally approved by Army Orders dated February 1910. ''

    ''Field-grey was selected for most arms , except Jager, Schutzen , Machine gun units , Field Orderlies and Jager zu Pferde , for which the colour green-grey was choosen.''
  6. Owen

    Owen O

    May 14, 2006
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  7. Adamanta

    Adamanta New Member

    Dec 14, 2019
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    The colour (field grey) was more of a muted dark green than grey. Germany needed a camouflaged uniform to keep up with the new british khaki/brown uniforms, but something unique that stood out. The green-grey shade is very similar to the colour palette of traditional german hunting outfits, which were often light green with a dark green collar and cuffs. The traditional use of the colour as well as it's necessity and practicality made it the perfect choice for a purely german uniform.

    In ww2, SS uniforms were virtually identical to heer uniforms, in all but the badging and camouflage (where applicable). The black ss uniform was only briefly worn in comparison (between 1932 and 1939 roughly) and was considered as a peacetime uniform. All SS throughout all of ww2 were issued field grey uniforms (early war saw traditional stone-grey trousers which were phased out). The m37 tunic and the less-often seen m34 tunic were the only exceptionally different grey uniforms the SS wore, the m34 being an open collared variant of old heer uniforms, and the m37 being a hybrid between the m34 and the heer's m36 uniform (being mostly the same pattern, but with internal lower pockets and an open collar).

    The m37 was rarely issued beyond the invasion of poland (at least period photos would suggest this) and ss were generally issued with either heer uniforms, or with similar uniforms produced specifically for the SS (the major differences being a variation in lining, and a wider collar to accept the larger SS tabs)

    In mvoies and photos, the fieldgrey wool can appear to be just grey, but they are almost always more green in real life. A lot of films and farby reenactors use East German and some godawful ones use West German uniforms, badged up as wartime ones. Both east and west used grey uniforms with no hint of green, however they are easily distinguishable from any ww2 designs.

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