The International Maritime Museum Collection, Hamburg


The International Maritime Museum in Hamburg has a very interesting and varied collection over nine stories covering as the title of the museum says international naval history over the centuries.

Of special interest to us is the truly amazing collection of Imperial German naval, colonial and East Asian headdress. Included in it are such rarities as a Schutztruppe general's Südwester, a South West African Landespolizei tropical helmet, an early Prussian Seebataillon Tschako, a unique Schwarzburg-Sonderhausen East Asian officer's straw hat and what is probably the only surviving Austro-Hungarian army cap from the Marine Detachment Skutari. The photographs of the collection were taken by Mark Schellenberg in 2016. Many of the items are also photographed and described in detail in "The German Colonial Troops 1889-1918" by Jürgen Kraus and Thomas Müller, published by Verlag Militaria. 

I would highly recommend a visit to this amazing museum which can be found at:

Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg
Koreastraße 1,
20457 Hamburg, Germany

The official website for the Museum is at-


Display of German Colonial Headdress at the Internationales Maritimes Museum
Photos by Mark Schellenberg 2016

Tropical Helmet for a Colonial Governor
The helmet is of the 1891 Schutztruppe pattern in cork covered with white cloth. It has brass edging, chin scales and spike. It has a gold plated imperial eagle on the front bearing the Prussian Order of the Black Eagle star.

Südwester Hat for a Schutztruppe General
It has an officers cockade on the side and General's gold lace edging and hatband.

Landespolizei Tropical Helmet
The helmet is of the 1891 Schutztruppe pattern in cork covered with white cloth. It has a yellow metal imperial crown (the same as on the Landespolizei Südwester) above a small imperial cockade. It was issued to the Landespolizei in the Diamond mining area south of Lüderitzbucht in German South West Africa.

Tropical Helmet for an Officer of the 76th Hamburg Infantry Regiment Seconded to the Schutztruppe
This 1891 model helmet has the silver cords of an officer, an officers imperial cockade and below it the Hamburg cockade.

Südwester Hat for a Schutztruppe Pharmacist
To denote that the wearer is a pharmacist (in this case an Oberapoteker), the hat has a crimson hatband and edging and a white metal imperial eagle on the front. The owner of this hat was a seconded Prussian reserve officer, hence the addition of the Prussian officers cockade with a reserve cross on it.

Naval Other Ranks Straw Hat from the SMS Hohenzollern
 It has a small other ranks cockade, black edging and a tally with "S.M.S. HOHENZOLLERN".

Naval Officers Straw Hat
This hat belonged to Gunther Plüschow, the only active German pilot at the Siege of Tsingtao in 1914. It has a small officers cockade and a tally with "FLIEGER STAFFEL" and the Prussian pilot's award badge in the centre.

Three Naval Tropical Helmets
On the left is an other ranks 1895 helmet. In the centre is an officer's 1900 helmet (with gold cords) and on the right a naval paymaster's helmet (with silver cords).

East Asian Officer's Straw Hat
This is the 1900 straw hat as issued to the original East Asian Expeditionary Corps in 1900. It has the gold cord around the hatband for an officer and a large imperial officers cockade above a state cockade. What makes this hat unique is the state cockade is that of the tiny Principality of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen (white/blue/white, confusingly similar to the white/pale blue/white of Bavaria). Schwarzburg-Sondershausen only contributed one battalion of infantry to the imperial army, namely the I. Battalion of the 71st Thüringian Infantry Regiment. And only one officer from that battalion served in the East Asian Expeditionary Corps, thus enabling us to identify this unique hat as belonging to Leutnant von Stockhausen of the 2nd East Asian Infantry Regiment.

Other Ranks Tropical Helmet for the East Asian Cavalry
This is a 1900 Bortfeldt tropical helmet in khaki with matching neckshade. It has a large other ranks cockade on the side, a brass imperial eagle on the front and a red hatband for cavalry.

Officers Tropical Helmet for the East Asian Infantry
This is a 1900 Bortfeldt tropical helmet in field grey. It has a large officers cockade on the side, an imperial eagle on the front and a white hatband for infantry.

Headdress of the East Asian Occupation Brigade
On the left is an officer's Pickelhaube from the Pioneer Company with a white metal eagle, on the right is a similar felt shako from the East Asian Train Company.

Other Ranks Field Cap of the East Asian Expeditionary Corps
The khaki peaked cap ("Bordmutze") was introduced to replace the straw from 12th August 1900 onwards. Troops going to China from this date onwards (including the 5th and 6th Infantry Regiments, the Jäger Company, one cavalry squadron, two field artillery batteries and one heavy artillery battery) were issued the peaked cap in place of the straw hat and troops already in China gradually received the replacement cap from there on. The wearer of this cap was from the 76th Hamburg Infantry Regiment as can be seen from the Hamburg cockade on the hatband.

















Officers Field Cap for the South West African Schutztruppe
It is made of khaki cloth with a black leather peak, hatband and piping in blue for South West Africa and an officer's imperial cockade at the front.

Officers Field Cap for the East African Schutztruppe
It is made of khaki corduroy with a matching peak. The hatband is white for East Africa and it has no upper edge piping. On the front is an officer's imperial cockade at the front.

Saddler's Field Cap for the Schutztruppe
It is made of grey cloth with a black leather peak. The hatband is black and it has no upper edge piping. On the front is an officer's imperial cockade and above it a crowned brass shield bearing the imperial eagle.

Other Ranks Naval Cap for the SMS Goeben in Ottoman Service
The cap is a standard German naval white summer cap with black tally and other ranks imperial cockade at the front. The tally bears the name of the ship as re-titled when in Turkish service- 'S.K.O.M.S. JAVOUS SULTAN SELIM I.'.

Tarbush for an Askari of the Schutztruppe 11. Feldkompagnie, German East Africa
The Brass numbers were used to identify the different companies of the East African Schutztruppe. They were gradually replaced from around 1896 by a small white metal imperial eagle.

Tarbush for a Polizeitruppe Askari
In khaki cloth with a brass imperial eagle. While the Schutztruppe askaris wore white metal eagles the Polizeitruppe wore brass eagles as seen here. This eagle is unusually small for a Polizei-Askari.

Other Ranks Marine Infantry Tropical Helmet
This is one of the first tropical helmets issued to the III Seebataillon in China in 1898. It was made by the Ludwig Bortfeldt company in white and has a white metal imperial eagle on an anchor. Later issues were in khaki with brass eagles.

Prussian Seebataillon Tschako
In 1862 the Prussian Seebataillon was authorised to wear an 1860 pattern Jäger style shako in blue-black felt with black leather edging, peak and chinstrap as seen here. It has a brass Prussian eagle and chained anchor on the front with a Prussian cockade on the right hand side.

Austro-Hungarian Army Cap worn by the Marine Detachment Skutari in 1914
This cap was owned by Seesoldat Rau, of the Marine Detachment Skutari. When the First World War broke out this German unit was initially put under Austro-Hungarian command and received Austro-Hungarian army issue caps such as these. It has a brass badge with FJI for Kaiser Franz Josef but has the German cockade at the front an a strip of red white black colours on the right hand side.

Officer's Field Cap worn by the Freikorps Schwarze Jäger
The Freikorps Schwarze Jäger were a unit formed mostly from former Marine Infantrymen during the German Revolution in 1919. This 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.

And there's more of this incredible collection of German Colonial and Overseas headdress short, a visit to the Internationales Maritimes Museum is a great day out...
See the website for directions, details of prices and opening times.

All photographs on this page taken by Chris Dale and Mark  Mark Schellenberg © 2016

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