Freikorps Schwarze Jäger
    Marine Infantry in the Freikorps 1919


    Freikorps Schwarze Jäger, 1919
    He wears the field grey M1915 Marine Infantry uniform with the white stag's skull and black Totenkopf arm badge of the Schwarze Jäger. His headdress is the M1895 Marine Infantry shako, probably with the crown clipped off the imperial eagle as was often done in the new republican Germany.


    As Germany descended into the chaos of revolution following the Armistice of November 1918 armed groups of disbanded former soldiers returning from the frontlines joined together into Free Units (Freikorps) to oppose communist revolutionaries and restore order. The order they restored was often in an extremely brutal manner and the summary execution of opponents was commonplace.

    Former members of the Marine Infantry also found themselves caught up in the ensuing civil war as they returned home. In 1919, these Seesoldaten were formed into the Freikorps Schwarze Jäger.


    NCOs and other Ranks of the 2. Komp, Freikorps Schwarze Jäger, 1919
    Originally published in Buch vom deutschen Freikorpskämpfer, edited by Ernst von Salomon, 1935. Shown on the Axis History Forum


    Background to the Freikorps Schwarze Jäger
    Freikorps Schwarze Jäger was formed in Wilhelmshavn in January 1919, mostly from former soldiers of the 1st and 2nd Marine Infantry Regiments. The unit derived its name from the nickname of "Les Chasseurs Noires" given to the marine infantry on the Western Front early in the First World War by their French and Belgian enemies on account of their black greatcoats and Jäger style shakos.

    The Freikorps were commanded by Oberstleutnant Paul Schneider, who had previously commanded the Marine Detachment Skutari and later served with the Marine Infantry in Flanders on the Western Front. At full strength it consisted of four infantry companies, a machine gun company, a reserve company and a platoon each of pioneers and mortars (Minenwerfer).

    On 27 January 1919, the unit took part in the successful storming of the Marine Infantry Barracks in Wilhelmshavn which had become  the headquarters of the local revolutionary comittee. From June 1919 they were deployed to the Eastern border with Poland. Towards the end of 1919 they were formed into part of the new army of the German Republic (Reichswehr) as the 1st Battalion of the 18th Infantry Regiment based at Flensburg.

    Uniforms of the Freikorps Schwarze Jäger 
    The Freikorps generally wore a wide mixture of any uniforms available. Most wore former Imperial army stocks, usually 1915 or modified 1910 field grey tunics with 1910 field grey caps and 1916/18 steel helmets. Individual Freikorps units were often identified with insignia on the left arm.

    The Freikorps Schwarze Jäger wore field grey Marine Infantry Uniforms where possible (see Marine Infantry on the Western Front), including shakos and caps with white piping and cap band. However the cap now bore a black skull and crossed bones insignia (Totenkopf), a common Freikorps device borrowed from the Leib-Hussars of the Imperial Army. The insignia worn on the upper left arm was a white stag antler and black Totenkopf.

    Freikorps Schwarze Jäger Officer's Cap
    It is an M1910/14 Marine Infantry Officer's cap in field grey with a black leather peak and chinstrap. Piping and hatband are in white for the Marine Infantry with an officer's imperial cockade on the hatband in the centre. Of special interest is the blackened metal Totenkopf badge of the Freikorps. The red eyes are probably exclusive to officers. The silver thread wreath around the cockade is a distinction not worn by Marine Infantry officers but was usually exclusive to officers of the Imperial Navy.
    Photo by Chris Dale at the Internationales Maritimes Museum, Hamburg (IMM-Hamburg.de)

    Recruitment Poster for the Freikorps Schwarze Jäger
    Image from WikiCommons

    References and Links-
    Freikorps Schwarze Jäger Discussion on the Axis History Forum

    Marine Infanterie page on the Freikorps Schwarze Jäger
    German Wikipedia page on the Freikorps Schwarze Jäger



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