Chinese Officers Training in Germany
Photos © Sharon Cho

This is a very curious series of photographs. It shows at least five Chinese officers in German uniform. The photographs were kindly shared with us by Sharon Cho who is looking for information on a family member in the photos. One of the officers in the photo is her step great grandfather, whose name is unknown but a family tradition says that he studied in Germany prior to the First World War (as seen in these photographs), that he later worked as a German translator in China but stopped working for the German embassy and started working for the Swiss on the outbreak of the Second World War.

From the photographs we can tell that these are Chinese officers in Germany sometime between 1898 and 1914. If anyone can offer more information please contact me here.

Five Chinese Officers wearing Prussian Army Uniform

This photograph shows the five officers wearing standard German army uniforms of the period.

Four of the officers wear the Prussian army officers grey double breasted Litewka tunic. The seated officer on the right wears a Prussian army officers grey double breasted Paletot coat.

They wear Prussian army peaked officers caps with two cockades. Two cockades were worn on caps in the German army from 1897 onwards, with an Imperial cockade above a state cockade. However, closer examination would seem to show that they are nor the usual cockades worn by German officers. The upper imperial cockade for a German officer would have an outside ring of black with an inner ring of white/silver and a red centre. These cockades look to have a silver or gold outer edge and a coloured centre.

The lower state cockade would be black/silver/black for Prussian officers and these officers lower cockades again do not appear to be predominantly black. Paler shades were worn by officers of other German states but the prescience of Prussian officers in other photographs in the series would seem to show that the Chinese are attached to the Prussian army. It is possible that these officers wear their own specially made national cockades.

The different shades of tunic collar and cap bands indicate that they are attached to different units. Possibly, some are training with the artillery and some with the cavalry for example. They all wear Prussian army trousers and short boots.


Chinese Officer with Prussian Officers and Other Ranks

This photograph shows a foreign officer with officers and other ranks from a Prussian Infantry Regiment.

I have not yet been able to confirm that the uniform is that of a Chinese army officer of the period. It consists of a double breasted tunic with a dark sanding collar, officers epaulette shoulder straps and lace loops on the cuffs. The tunic does not appear to be one worn by the Prussian army and the cuff loops are certainly not Prussian. The headdress worn by this officer is very definitely not Prussian. It is a round stiff kepi with a short peak. It is a dark colour with piping along  the top and bottom edges in metallic lace. On the front is an unidentified round badge.

The Prussians in the photograph wear dark blue peacetime uniforms which were standard within most of the German army (but not the German East Asian troops in China) prior to the outbreak of war in 1914. They all appear to be from the same unit in that they have the same shade of collar and cuffs as each other.

Four of them hold officer rank, with an other ranks infantryman on the far right and a senior NCO third from right in the background (note his collar lace). Officers and the NCO carry swords, the infantryman on the right carries a Gew98 rifle. The rifle most likely dates the photograph to the 20th Century.

The Prussian uniforms are dark blue with red collars and Brandenburg style cuffs. These cuffs identify them as infantry. The Pickelhaube spiked helmets have the Prussian line eagle on them showing them to be a line infantry regiment from Prussia (as opposed to a guards regiment or one from a smaller state such as Bavaria, Saxony or Württemberg. Note the smaller spike worn by the private soldier as opposed to the larger spikes of the officers.


Chinese Officer with a German Orderly

This photograph shows one of the Chinese officers wearing the same double breasted Litewka and peaked filed cap as seen in the first photograph. He wears Prussian army riding breeches and riding boots. A German orderly holds his horse and another similarly dressed German soldier is the the background. They wear drill uniforms with other ranks Prussian army peakless army field caps. The caps have two cockades (most likely the Imperial black/white/red over the Prussian black/white/black). Note the contrast between the cockades worn by the German orderly and the Chinese officer in the close up below- the German can be clearly seen to have dark centres to his cockades whereas the cockades worn by the Chinese officer do not. The style of building in the background and the large Germanic number 13 on it again point to these photographs having been taken in Germany rather than China.

Please respect the generosity of Sharon Cho in sharing these photographs with us by not reproducing them without prior permission.

Recommended Links
This series of photographs has been discussed on Forums before with some interesting and informative comments but no definitive solution to the officers' identity or accurate dates.
Pickelhaubes Forum- Period Photographs Section
Axis History Forum- Chinese History Section 
Axis History Forum- Japanese History Section

Please contact me here if you have any more information on these photos or other similar photographs to compare them to.

Back to Main Menu for German Colonial Uniforms