After the catastrophic winter of 1941-42 on the Eastern Front, the German military rapidly designed improved cold weather clothing. By the Fall of 1942, a variety of fur lined caps had been introduced. There were no "model numbers", but this is the most commonly encountered pattern. It has a fieldgray wool body, which is lined with cotton twill or rayon, and a visor and fold down ear flaps backed with rabbit fur. The flaps are held in the "up" (open) position by a single button. The flaps can be tied under the wearer's chin via cloth ties.
The visor is tacked open and is rarely seen in in the "down" position. Many soldiers pinned or sewed insignia to it. Most often encountered are the metal visor cap badges- the Heer eagle of the SS skull. Occasionally, trapezoids or other woven patches were sewn on.
Our caps are made with our 100% wool fieldgray cloth from Germany, cotton twill lining, and real rabbit fur from Spain or the Czech Republic. The European rabbits have thicker, longer fur than those from the US. Additionally, the ties and button are original WWII pieces. (We are not using rayon for lining as it gives us too many fits when used in caps. Only cotton.)
Price: Fur & wool from Europe isn't cheap, and these are the most time consuming cap we have ever made. If the cost makes you angry, no problem- there are faux fur caps available for $39 on ebay.
Due to the padding and fur, we have found that you can upsize these with no problem. We are only making sizes 57, 59 and 61.
Here's a what size to order:
If you wear 55, 56 or 57 order a "57"
If you wear 58 or 59 order a "59"
If you wear 60 or 61 order a "61"
Fur Color: Not all rabbits are the same color! We realize that "Living History" has more in common with a costume party or a fashion show than it does WWII. However, mother nature (God, Yaweh, Allah, Yoda, etc, etc) didn't make all bunny rabbits the same color. The hides we get come in a random mix of browns, grays, white and everything in between. We cannot possibly offer a choice of hats in every color and every size.
My recommendation is this- if the color is a big deal, call your order in and ask Nick or Gina to see what we have in your size. We are only making about half a dozen of each size- we won't have crates of bunny hats to choose from. Or, conversely, you may request "anything except white", etc, etc..That said, everyone who has seen them, liked the ones with white best due to the contrasts so go figure...
Also, like the originals, we are using scraps- we will keep the panels on most caps in the same ballpark, but the fur likely won't match all over. Each cap should be mostly brown, mostly gray or mostly white. You may get a cap with one flap brown and the other gray. This is an "original" condition. If it's "perfectly matching or bust", then go kill your own bunny and have your mom make a hat that makes you happy. That's all we can suggest in that case.
Insignia: At this time, we have the SS skulls but not the Heer metal eagles. With or without insignia is "correct".
Note: To attach the metal insignia, you need to pre-punch the holes for the prongs with a small knife, awl, ice pick, etc.. If you try to force the prongs of the badge through the visor, they will most likely break.
Bits & Pieces about originals:
The button arrangement to hold the flaps up generally sucks. They should have used a tab with a buttonhole rather than a loop of cloth. However, the ties work fine for this purpose- and if you don't tie them when the flaps are up, they dangle around your face and annoy the hell out of you. So why they bothered with the button at all is a mystery. Typical Nazi crap.
We made our ties about 2" longer than originals so you actually have enough to tie.
The fur on original caps still looks a bit different- we figured out why. It appears that the whole rabbit hides were used to make coats & vests. The small cutting scraps were then patched together and used for hats. The original we cut up (sorry, history cries) had 9 scrap pieces cobbled together to make the ear flaps- some as small as your thumb. This makes the caps look "lumpier" than ours- and the bits of fur are going every which way, like when you rub your cat's fur the wrong way after you turn the hose on it. If these go over well, we may invest in the fur sewing machine (yes, there's a special gizmo for this) and we can do the same. For now, the fur on our caps is more "homogeneous" and neater looking than the originals.
Made in USA with American and European materials.