Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Stahlhelm is German for steel helmet. The Imperial German Army began to replace the traditional leather Pickelhaube (spiked helmet) with the Stahlhelm during the First World War in 1916. The term Stahlhelm refers both to a generic steel helmet, and more specifically to the distinctive (and symbolic) German design.
At the beginning of World War I, none of the combatants were issued with any form of protection for the head other than cloth and leather caps. As the war entered the trench warfare phase, the number of casualties on all sides suffering from severe head wounds (often caused by shrapnel) increased dramatically. The French were the first to see a real need for more effective protection—in late 1915 they began to issue Adrian helmets to their troops. The British followed with the Brodie helmet, and the Germans with the Stahlhelm.
The Stahlhelm with its distinctive "coal scuttle" shape was an excellent symbol for military imagery. It was a common element of military propaganda on both sides, just like the pickelhaube before. After the Second World War, West Germany abandoned the distinctive Stahlhelm, which had become a symbol of German military aggression, using a variant of the more harmless-looking US "GI pot" helmet instead. In the 1990s, a Kevlar helmet was adopted. East Germany used a helmet modelled on a late WW2 German design with a more conical shape. The Chilean army still uses the Stahlhelm design.
Some modern Kevlar helmets bear a superficial resemblance to the German Stahlhelm of the World Wars, since they protect the ears, hence the name "Fritz helmet" in the US. See Combat Vehicle Crewman helmet .
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