Adopted on 11 December 1913 by Allerhöchste Kabinettorder (AKO), the Sturzhelm 1913 model was the first helmet chosen by the German aviation. Designed to provide anti-impact protection (Sturzhelm), it consisted of circular ribs and a leather crest reinforced with compressed felt. The helmet, dyed black, is completed by a visor, a neckpiece and a leather chin strap with ear flaps.
Although the 1913 model was the German aviation’s official helmet the pilots adopted other versions, such as the French-made Roold helmet which was widely used. Very similar to the Sturzhelm, minus the ribs and anti-impact crest, it was made of cork covered with leather, and above all provided much-appreciated thermal insulation. In parallel, starting from 1916, the Germans gradually adopted simple leather hoods called Lederhaube.
This helmet was purchased in November 2019 by the Comité National du Souvenir de Verdun – the owner of the Memorial’s collections – on Ratisbon’s, the online auction site, at the time of the 33rd Contemporary History Auction. As it is made of leather, this helmet requires stable temperature conditions, at about 20 C° to prevent it from drying out, and controlled relative humidity kept at between 45 and 55% to avoid the development of mould, which is particularly partial to organic materials such as leather. The presence of a neckpiece ideally requires storage on a stand to avoid creases from forming and making the leather fragile, which could eventually cause tearing.