Original Cold War East German M56/76 VOPO Steel Combat Helmet - Unissued
Original Item: Very Few Available. We just received a few of these helmets from a private collector. These were once numerous on the market, but supplies dried up several years ago. Officially known as the German Model 1956 Steel Helmet, the design of this helmet is actually a WWII German creation initially laid down in 1942, although it is associated with the post-WWII German Democratic Republic (DDR).
These helmets are all in unissued condition, with just storage and age related wear. Some may have markings stamped into the shell, indicating the year the shell was made. These are all in the 3rd model configuration for this helmet, introduced in 1976, which featured a simplified liner with a plastic support frame and foam rubber padding. Each comes complete with a functional chin strap, often marked "MADE IN EAST GERMANY."
Very few available, so act quickly!
More on the M56 Helmet
A search for a better helmet than the M35 began as soon as the results of the Polish campaign came in at the end of 1939. Eventually, extensive tests showed that the Experimental Helmet B/II, which became the M56, provided much better protection to the wearer, was more comfortable, and had a number of other significant advantages over the M35-M42 style. It also offered significant production advantages over the M35-M42 family. AH's preference for the earlier design and the end of the war prevented its adoption. After the War, East Germany was required by the Soviets to dispense with the old helmet design for political reasons, so the B/II was revived and adopted as the M56.
It came to called the "Vopo helmet" largely by circumstance: Most photographs seen in the West of armed East German personnel were of the border guards, a division of the People's Police (Volks Polizei). Because the Vopos were tasked with preventing the escape of East Germans to the West, and ended up shooting a good number of escapees, photojournalists took countless pictures of them during the cold war, and their most distinguishing mark was the B/II M56 helmet.
With the collapse of East Germay (DDR) in the early 1990s these very recognizable helmets were obsolete overnight. Most were destroyed or sold off to third world countries with the result that they are not often encountered today almost 20 years later.
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