A South West African Landespolizei Tunic
Photos © S Schepp



This is a tunic made in the 1920s for Wilhelm Mutschke, a veteran of the South West African Landespolizei. It is privately tailored to the same specifications as the standard 1907 Landespolizei uniform but with the most noticeable exception of not having the authorised green stand and fall collar but rather a sewn standing collar of the same dark khaki as the rest of the tunic. It is missing its shoulder straps and their buttons. The rest of the tunic is exactly as worn in Africa before the First World War- the shade of dark khaki, the pleated pockets with pointed flaps, the yellow metal buttons bearing the Imperial crown and the rank pips on the collar. Although Wilhelm Mutschke held the rank of Polizei-Sergeant, his two collar pips indicate the rank of Wachtmeister. It appears that retiring servicemen were sometimes promoted by one rank on leaving the service as is customary in many armies and police forces around the world.

Many German veterans wore their Imperial uniforms on ceremonial or official occasions in the 1920s and 30s. There were a multitude of veterans societies across Germany including those for former overseas and colonial soldiers such as the "Verein ehemaliger Kolonial- und Auslandstruppen". There were more groups for specific units or theatres of conflict such as the "Vereinigung ehemaliger Kamerunkämpfer" for those who fought in Cameroon, "Bund der Asienkämpfer" for veterans of the Palestine Front and even the "Deutscher Frauenverein für Krankenpflege in den Kolonien" for female nurses who had served in the colonies. Wilhelm Mutschke himself was a member of the "Verband der Polizeibeamten für die deutschen Kolonien" for former colonial police officers.

It was quite common for veterans to get new "Imperial" uniforms made. This was especially true in the case of the colonial veterans as few of their original uniforms had survived intact after four years spent either in Prisoner of War Camps or trekking around the jungles of East Africa. For the modern militaria collector these uniforms can be very confusing as it is often impossible to tell them from the pre-war uniforms. On the one hand they are not strictly "original" yet on the other hand they are "historical" and they were certainly not cheap forgeries like many modern crude copies. They were privately tailored to the same regulations as previously used, often by the same craftsmen who had worked before 1914. As such these new uniforms are still worthy of collection and study as a benefit to understanding the uniforms originally worn in the colonies.

Although there is no tailor's label inside this particular tunic, it may have been made by Gustav Damm who it seems was the tailor of choice for post-war Landespolizei tunics. In the February 1919 issue of the Former Landespolizei Officers Journal ("Nachrichtenblatt der Verbandes der ehemaligen Angehörigen der Landespolizei Deutsch-Südwestafrika" Nr. 3) there is an advertisement for his firm making new Landespolizei insignia, medals and clothing. Then in the October-December 1933 issue of the former Colonial Police Officer's Journal ("Nachrichtenblatt des Verbandes der Polizeibeamten für die deutschen Kolonien e.V." Nr. 10-12) it was recorded that Gustav Damm's tailoring business had closed and that Felix Heine of Halberstadt was now the recommended tailor.

Wilhelm Mutschke (1876-1937) was born in Grünberg, Silesia (now known as Zielona Góra in Poland) and trained as a locksmith before joining the 153rd Thuringian Infantry Regt ("8. Thüringisches Infanterie-Regt. Nr.153") in 1898. He transferred to the South West African Schutztruppe from 1900 to 1903, then again from 1904 as an Unteroffizier at Karibib. He joined the Landespolizei in 1905 serving at Onjossa and Erora, both in the Karibib District. He married in 1908 and had two children. During the First World War he remained in Karibib, returning to Germany with his family in 1919 to work in the prison service where he was later prompted to "Gefangenenoberwachtmeister".

List of Polizei-Sergeant Mutschke's Medals and Awards
1904-08 South West Africa Campaign Medal for Combatants with a clasp for "Hereroland" - Südwestafrika-Denkmünze
Prussian 9 Year Long Service Award - Dienstauszeichnung III. Klasse
Landwehr Long Service Award, Second Class - Landwehr-Dienstauszeichnung II. Klasse



The front of the tunic. Note the the shade of dark khaki, the pleated pockets with pointed flaps, plain cuffs, yellow metal rank pips and buttons bearing the Imperial crown.   The plain rear of the tunic.   The original owner of the tunic, Polizei-Sergeant Wilhelm Mutschke. In this photograph he wears his pre-war uniform of the same cut as the one seen on the left but with the single collar pip of a Polizei-Sergeant and authorised green collar and shoulder straps. Note the medals as described above.
Detail of the collar showing the two rank pips on each side for a Wachtmeister. The pips themselves are identical to those used before 1914.   Detail of the pleated breast pocket with its pointed flap.   Detail of the hip pocket, note the yellow metal button bearing the imperial crown, again exactly as used in the colonies.

Please contact me here if you have more information or photos on this topic. 

 All photographs on this page are © S Schepp and originally appeared in his highly recommended book on the Landespolizei, "Unter dem Kreuz des Südens". Please respect his generosity in sharing these photographs with us by not reproducing them without prior permission.

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