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Björn

Filzstiefel

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Björn

After the devastating first winter on the eastern front -  the winter of 1941-42, the German army soon realized that they were not equipped for the harsh conditions of the russian winter. What they initially thought would be a quick  attack and decisive victory, proved to be a agonizing battle against temperatures wich dropped to below -50°C (-58°F).
With over stretched supply lines, fuel shortage and Insufficient clothing and footwear the German soldiers fell in the thousands, not so much from battle wounds, but mostly from serious frostbite and gangrene. The standard German marching boots were not at all designed to be used in such low temperatures.
The german army had already in 1939 implemented the thick felt overboots and the sheep skin lined sentry coats. These sheep skin lined overcoats were used extensively on the eastern front, and also here in the Northern parts of Norway from early in the war. The felt overboots ( Wachstiefel) were made to be worn over the marching boots for static guard or watch duty only, and are very hard to move around in.
In the first winter of 1941-42 the germans soon discovered that the Russian soldiers were far better equipped for the winter conditions. The russian soldiers were equipped with Valenki on their feet. These were winter boots made of felt (prewar model) and felt boots with leather reinforcements (wartime issue)

 

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Here are some examples of the Russian Valenki. These are not mine, only shown for reference. Pictures found on the internet.

Here's the prewar model:

 

soviet-pre-ww2-felt-wool-made-footgear-for-very-cold-weather-valenki--138301.thumb.jpg.84b2236777fd11aba23e437a325518dd.jpg

 

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And the leather reinforced wartime model:

 

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The Russian Valenki soon became a sought after footwear for the freezing German soldiers. There are lots of wartime pictures of German soldiers and officers wearing these Russian boots on the eastern front.
The russian Valenki had a really high shaft, wich went all the way up to the knees, when worn.
I believe that in the first picture here, the Germans are wearing captured russian boots:

 

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Edited by Björn
Edited out spelling errors.

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Björn

The captured stocks of Russian valenki were not enough to equip the german army, and in 19 41-42 they started to develop their own version of the valenki - the Filzstiefel.
They were first issued in the fall of 1942 in all arctic condition areas.
This first model of felt boots were only made in the early stages of the war, and improved models evolved from 1943 and 44.
Here are some pictures of the first model german Filzstiefel in use:

 

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The Filzstiefel had a bit shorter shaft and somewhat different construction from their russian counterparts.
The first model is somewhat rare to find today due to their relative short span of production. And when they show up in good condition, they tend to demand a bit higher price than the more common later models.

Here is a nice pair from my collection, wich I was lucky to aquire some time ago.
The boots are in near perfect condition, with very little signs of wear. The leather parts are still soft and very flexible. These boots are in such a condition, that they could still be used today. (But I wont, at the risk of any damage or wear to them)

The following pictures were taken this morning, in nice Norwegian winter conditions :)

 

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Size 29. quite large size.

 

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The leather labels inside say: " Bernard 29 6 42 "  -  Producer of the boots, Bernard, size 29 (29 CM) 6 42 - June 1942

 

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I hope you like the pictures.

:) 

 

Best Regards
Björn

 

 

Edited by Björn
Correction of text

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val
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Björn

Thanks @val for these links. I have not seen these before. Very interesting reading indeed.
I will read trough these thoroughly. Lots of nice information here.

Here's a couple of links, that I came across when searching the net for early Filzstiefeln: 

https://equipment.fandom.com/wiki/First_Pattern_Filzstiefel

 

Here's a couple for sale:

http://www.henrysmilitarycollectables.com.au/products/kit-and-equipment/ww2-german-soldiers-winter-boots.aspx

 

And there is actually a pair of these for sale at ebay at the moment. Some small moth damage on the felt part, wich is common on old felt boots.
(only a few hours left of the auction)
Same producer as the ones I have, in size 28 1/2 and also from 1942.

https://www.ebay.de/itm/2-WK-Wehrmacht-Winterstiefel-Filzstiefel-Ostfront-Stalingrad-gestempelt/274075578481?hash=item3fd02d7071:g:H6cAAOSwl8VduqRr

 

 

 

 

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val
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Björn

Thanks again @val.
It makes sence thou - They pressed factories and resources in all the occupied areas and countries into production for the all-consuming war-machine.

( Love the Mercedes truck in the picture there. I just had to borrow it and insert it into the post. )

 

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Edited by Björn

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val
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Björn

Very nice @val.
On the photo there we see both the second and third type of Filzstiefel. ( with and without the leather reinforcement "spine" going up along the boot shaft.)
Unfortinently the production of these boots continued well after WW2, so a lot of postwar winter boots are being sold/traded and collected as WW2 issue, althou they are not.
One of the easiest ways of telling the difference, is that the original second and third type of ww2 issue boots do not have the leather reinforcement going around the top of the boot shaft. Only the first type has this reinforcement.
Post war models seem to have this reinforcement.
And of course the factory markings on post war boots are very different from the WW2 issue boots.

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val
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@Björn, for those Filzstiefel they quite often added the leather rings.

 

2.jpg

1.jpg

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val
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Björn

Very nice  trench-picture @val.

Yes this type of leather studs undernieth the soles are regarded as text-book traction-improvements found on original WW2 issue winter feltboots.

 

 

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Davejb
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Very informative, one thing though, did the felt extend onto the insole of the boot, forming a barrier from the interior of the boot, or was there just the normal leather insole, the reason I ask is that if there was just the leather sole would this not induce a cold foot where as the felt around the main portion on the boot would keep the legs warm

 

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Björn

Thanks for the interest, @Davejb.
You're absolutely right in your assumption. Un-covered leather insoles would definently ruin most of the heat-preserving qualities of the boots.

The soles inside the boots are indeed covered with the very same felt material as the main body of the boots are made of. And if you add woollen inlay soles to the equation, the insulation value will proberbly prove to be quite adequate for sub-zero temperatures. (at least to some extent)

 

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However, when the temperature falls to below -35-40°C I think that even more precautions need to be taken to prevent frostbite, at least when staying outside over prolonged time periods. :) 

 

Best Regards

Björn

 

 

Edited by Björn
Edited out spelling errors.

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Björn

Today would be a good day to have some of the German winter equipment tested.

Its a beautiful day here above the arctic circle where I live. And we have - 16 degrees Celcius here now.

I have added a small video wich I made in the car at work this morning.

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Richard Auld

Excellent stuff Bjorn!

I have the more normally seen boots with the wood sole and of course the wicker ones that I already posted up.

We have a touch of frost here at the moment but nothing on your scale yet!

I am off at the moment trying to get a second bedroom sorted out for the kids visiting at Christmas so I am short on time until a bit of holiday mid month!

You know the score for sure, the wife has issued her orders!

Befehl sind befehl!

Rich

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Björn
4 hours ago, Richard Auld said:

 

You know the score for sure, the wife has issued her orders!

Befehl sind befehl!

 

Haha, yeah, I know the routine. One must stand at attention and take orders as they are issued.
And only confirm the recived orders with: 

Jawohl!
Zu Befehl, gnädige Frau

 

:smiley-face-soldier:

 

Yeah, I saw the wicker boots that you posted. Very nice, these are quite rare.
I'm thinking about starting a new thread with german issue winter clothing and equipment made for arctic conditions. Could be interesting. :) 

 

Best Regards
Björn

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val
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11 minutes ago, Björn said:

I'm thinking about starting a new thread with german issue winter clothing and equipment made for arctic conditions. Could be interesting. :) 

Definitely do that :)

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Bil4338
Staff

Very interesting topic guys,  keep it up!🤗

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