Original German WWII Named Customs Officer Schirmmütze Visor Cap by L. Reuther

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. During the Pre-WWII years in Germany, virtually all aspects of the government fell under control of the NSDAP, and the Customs service was no exception. Here we have a very nice example of a German WWII Era Customs Officer Schirmmütze (Peaked Cap).

The basic construction is very similar to the Heer Officer Visor cap. It features the typical field gray worsted wool construction with a forest green band and a traditional high forward crown. The also has matching Waldgrün (Forest Green) piping along the top edge and flanking either side of the band, common to all versions of the customs cap. It has the standard "vulcanfibre" peak / visor, with a pressed paper faux leather sweatband and cream rayon cloth lining.

It is decorated with a well detailed silvered aluminum eagle insignia on the front crown, which faces to the left, with upswept wings, unique to the Customs Service. It is perched on a wreathed "mobile" Swas (swas), as with most Reichsadler designs. The cap band has a silver washed alloy acanthus leaf wreath, surrounding an alloy tri-color cockade with a red felt insert in the center. There is a twisted green and silver braided "chinstrap" secured by two pebbled aluminum buckles. We assume this is for an officer, but there is not much information out there regarding the rank structure.

The interior has a brown leather sweatband, which is in very good condition, showing only light wear and staining, with no major tearing or other damage. There is however some minor tearing at the edge, and some of the attachment stitching has rotted out. The size seems to be approximately a 56 cm / US 7. The crown celluloid diamond is intact, and still has the manufacturers name and address in partly faded silver print:

L. Reuther
München 2
Augustenstr. 46

There is a piece of paper with the name and title Zollsekretar FX Reusse inserted into the small pocket in the top diamond, the indicating it was owned or used by "Customs Secretary F.X. Reusse". This is definitely a great chance for further research!

The cap shows only light wear, mostly around the lower edge, and some minor moth nips around the bottom of the cap, overall in very nice condition as pictured. There is a bit of wear to the bottom of the visor, not uncommon for caps that saw real use.

A very nice example of a classic hat worn by the German Customs Service during the WWII Era.

More on the German Customs Service:
The German Customs Service can be traced back to 1834 when a Customs Union was formed to allow the separate German States to trade amongst themselves without trade and tariff taxes, while still imposing import trade taxes on other European nations. With the unification of the German States into a single nation in 1871 the Customs Service became a national paramilitary organization, under control of the Reichsfinanzministerium, (National Finance Ministry), in Berlin. The national Customs Service was still responsible for imposing and collecting import trade taxes but was also tasked with border defense duties.

In 1936 the Customs Service was reorganized and given further policing responsibilities including the apprehension of individuals attempting to escape from the NSDAP’s yoke. The German Customs service was divided into two separate branches with one branch consisting of the Landzollbeamte (Land Customs Officials), which was subdivided into the Zollgrenzschutz (Land Customs Border Guards), and the Wasserzollbeamte (Water Customs Officials), and the second branch consisting of the remaining Zollbeamte (Customs Officials).

On June 17TH 1936, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler was appointed to the newly created position of Chef der Deutschen Polizei im Reichsministerium des Innern (Chief of the German Police in the National Ministry of the Interior), effectively giving him full control of all police agencies within Germany including the Customs service. As a result of this appointment new regulations were instituted, in July 1936, to bring about uniformity in dress and included new insignia for the Customs personnel.

The German Schirmmütze Visor Cap:
The visor cap (Schirmmütze) was an important part of the headgear worn by German uniformed military, civil, paramilitary and political organizations during the Third Reich. This was the standard cloth headgear worn as a part of the service uniform. Visor caps were worn outdoors as well as indoors, and were often required to be worn by all personnel on duty. Visor caps were made in versions specific to each organization and were often further differentiated through the use of insignia, colored piping, or style of chin cord, to indicate rank, role or branch. The insignia used on these caps ranged from simple stamped metal emblems, to elaborate hand embroidery. Visor caps were issued to enlisted soldiers and NCOs in the military and in some other organizations. Officers had to purchase their own hats, and lower ranks could choose to purchase caps that were of a higher quality than the rather basic, issue examples. The private purchase caps were generally made in very high quality, with fine materials. A wide variety of fabrics were used, from Trikot and doeskin, to heavy wool, or even lightweight white fabric for summer wear. In the military, issue of these caps was generally suspended shortly after the outbreak of the war, but they continued to be worn by some troops until the end of the war.

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