Did Belgian detectives wear special shoes in 1939?

Did Belgian detectives wear special shoes in 1939?

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In the comic book Land of Black Gold originally drawn in 1939 but finished or redrawn some time in 1948 by the Belgian author Hergé (Georges Remi), one of the bad guys can apparently detect from the soles that a person is a police officer of sorts. Here is an excerpt from the comic in question, with the relevant setting:

The location is an oil tanker on its way to a fictional middle eastern kingdom. The man in the first panel is the "bad guy", and the man searching the drawer is Thomson, a Belgian detective, a fact unknown to the bad guy.

Since this is featured in a comic book, my guess is that it would be common knowledge for a teenager in 1939, but definitely not to me. My question is then, what is it actually he reacts to here?

Did the police back then always wear a certain type of shoes, or is it that every sailor had to wear special shoes, and the shoes he sees are instead "normal" shoes?

Not sure if specifically a police issue - but the image seems to indicate Thompson as wearing hobnail shoes (the dots patterning his soles). They were common in military shoes, but also for other purposes.

However, they are not appropriate on ships with steel decks (especially in wet conditions), as the wearer would skid on the surface as they walked, so that might be a giveaway that Thompson is not a sailor.

Did Belgian detectives wear special shoes in 1939? - History

The kepi ( English: / ˈ k ɛ p iː / or / ˈ k eɪ p iː / ) is a cap with a flat circular top and a peak, or visor. In English, the term is a loanword of French: képi, itself a re-spelled version of the Alemannic German: Käppi, a diminutive form of Kappe, meaning "cap". In Europe, this headgear is most commonly associated with French military and police uniforms, though versions of it were widely worn by other armies during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. [1] In North America, it is usually associated with the American Civil War, as it was worn by soldiers on both sides of the conflict.


While different uniforms existed [1] for the SS over time, the all black SS uniform adopted in 1932 is the most well known. [2] The black-white-red colour scheme was characteristic of the German Empire, and was later adopted by the Nazi Party. Further, black was popular with fascist movements: a black uniform was introduced by the blackshirts in Italy before the creation of the SS. There was a traditional reason, as well. Just as the Prussian kings' and emperors' life-guard cavalry (Leibhusaren) had worn black uniforms with skull-and-crossbones badges, so would the Führer ' s bodyguard unit. These SS uniforms were tailored to project authority and foster fear. During the war, the German clothing factory that eventually became the international menswear powerhouse Hugo Boss produced thousands of SS and other uniforms. [3]

Once the war began, the black uniform was seldom worn. The combat units of the SS-Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT) and the later Waffen-SS wore a variation of the field-grey (grey-green) (feldgrau) army uniform with SS insignia. The majority of SS personnel wore a variation of the Waffen-SS uniform or the grey-green SS service tunic. Branches with personnel that normally would wear civilian attire in the Reich (such as the Gestapo and Kripo) were issued grey-green SS uniforms in occupied territory to avoid being mistaken for civilians.

SS uniforms used a variety of insignia, the most standard of which were collar patches to denote rank and shoulder boards to denote rank and position, along with sleeve cuffbands and "sleeve diamond" patches to indicate membership in specific branches of the SS.

Early SS uniforms (1925–1928) Edit

The SS can trace its origins to several early Freikorps and Nazi Party formations, among them the Erhardt Naval Brigade, Der Stahlhelm, and most significantly the Sturmabteilung (SA), of which the SS was originally a subordinate organization.

The very first SA uniforms and insignia were paramilitary uniforms fashioned by early Nazis which incorporated parts from World War I uniforms to include such features used by other Freikorps formation such as high boots, daggers, and the kepi hat. The 8-man Stabswache (staff guard), Hitler's bodyguard, soon renamed the Stosstrupp (shock troop), also adopted in May 1923 the Totenkopf (death's head) and oak leaf as a means of insignia, both of which were already deeply rooted in European military history.

In 1924, while the Nazi Party was legally banned following the Beer Hall Putsch, Frontbann (underground SA) leader Gerhard Roßbach located a large store of war-surplus brown denim shirts in Austria, originally intended for tropical uniforms. [4] When the SA (which included the nascent SS) was re-founded in 1925 following Hitler's release from prison, these brown shirts were issued as uniforms.

In 1925, Hitler ordered the formation of a new bodyguard unit, the Schutzkommando (protection command). [5] It was formed by Julius Schreck and included old Stoßtrupp members, Emil Maurice and Erhard Heiden. [6] The only insignia was the swastika armband, usually homemade, except for the handful of men constituting the Stosstrupp's successor, the Schutzkommando, who continued the use of the Totenkopf pinned to cap or collar. That same year, the Schutzkommando was expanded to a national level. It was renamed successively the Sturmstaffel (storm squadron), and finally the Schutzstaffel (protection squadron), abbreviated to SS (on 9 November). [7] In the following year adopted its first recognizable rank insignia system, with the rank and file of the SS, like the rest of the SA, still wearing a variety of brown shirts or paramilitary uniforms.

The early rank system of 1926 consisted of a swastika armband worn with yellow ("gold") and white ("silver") stripes, with the number of stripes determining the rank of the bearer. Thus, the early SS used a ranking system that could be derived from that of their superordinate SA. This is why the SS also used the system that represented the function of the SS leader with the help of stripes on the armband ("Dienststellungs-Armbinde"). All strips (gold and silver) had a uniform height of 1 cm. What all armbands had in common was that they also had 1 black ribbed stripe on each edge.

  • Reichsstaffelführer in der Obersten SA-Führung ("national leader"): three golden stripes [8]
  • Stellvertreter ("deputy national leader"): three silver stripes [8]
  • Gau-SS-Führer ("district leader"): two golden stripes [8]
  • Stellvertreter ("deputy district leader"): two silver stripes [8]
  • Örtlicher SS-Führer ("regional leader"): one golden stripe [8]
  • Stellvertreter ("deputy regional leader"): one silver stripe [8]
  • Staffelmann ("trooper"): no stripes

Under the above system, basic SS troopers were organized into 10-man Staffeln, each under the authority of a Staffelführer. SS districts, known as SS-Gaus, were under the authority of a Gauführer while all SS district leaders answered to a national leader of the SS called the Reichsführer, at this time Josef Berchtold. [9] In line with the Führerprinzip ("leader principle") of the Nazi Party's ideology, the word Führer was incorporated into all ranks except those for basic SS troopers.

By 1927, the Sturmabteilung had greatly increased its numbers and had standardized the "brown shirt" uniform, which would thereafter be permanently associated with that group: shirt, tie, breeches, boots, and cylindrical kepi, all brown. The SS was at this time a small unit within the SA and wore the same brown SA uniform, with the addition of a black tie and a black cap with a Totenkopf skull and bones symbol to distinguished themselves. [2]

By this time, with influences from the Stahlhelm, the SA leadership adopted its first collar insignia and also added a new SA rank of Standartenführer ("standard leader") in charge of regiment-sized Standarten (incorporating the company sized Staffeln) the SS at this time adopted the same rank as well.

The 1927 ranks had no insignia for SA/SS troopers (still known by the title "Mann") and the previous rank of Staffelführer had become shortened to simply Führer ("leader"). The higher SS ranks of Standartenführer, Gauführer, and Reichsführer like their SA counterparts now used a system of oak leaves displayed on both collars of the brown SA shirt. One oak leaf signified a Standartenführer, two a Gauführer, and three oak leaves were worn by Reichsführer-SS Berchtold and his successor Erhard Heiden, who reported directly to the Oberste SA-Führer.

Over the course of the next year, the burgeoning SA saw the emergence of new units and ranks, and for the first time a comprehensive system of rank insignia. A basic squad unit, the 10-man Schar, was grouped into platoon-sized Truppen, and these into company-sized Stürme which in turn made up battalion-sized Sturmbanne. New ranks went with the new formations: Scharführer, with one pip worn on the left collar patch, Truppführer, two pips, Sturmführer, three pips, and Sturmbannführer, four pips. On the right collar of SA uniforms was worn a patch with two numbers indicating Standarte and Sturmbann affiliation. Because the SS numbered fewer than a thousand men, it did not adopt the Sturmbann unit at this time, and right-hand SS collar patches displayed the number of the Standarte only.

At the higher end of the organization, in 1928 the SA Gau-Stürme were restructured into regional Gruppen, each commanded by a leader with a new general-officer rank, Gruppenführer its insignia was the three oak leaf collar patch. At this time the former rank of Gauführer was renamed Oberführer ("senior leader").

The collar patches of the SA were color-coded: each Gruppe had its own distinctive color. The SS was considered to be a Gruppe unto itself its color, naturally, was black, and Reichsführer-SS Heiden held the rank of Gruppenfuhrer and wore its three-oakleaf insignia.

SS Brownshirts (1929–1932) Edit

In 1929, under new Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, [10] the SS codified its first uniform regulations: the signature black color was extended to breeches, boots, armband edges, and belt and crossbelt the shirt collar was edged in black-and-white twist cord except for those of senior leaders, which were trimmed in silver.

The ability to produce and issue complete uniforms came about due both to the centralization of the Reichszeugmeisterei (RZM national quartermaster office) under NSDAP Treasurer Franz Xaver Schwarz, and to Himmler's expansion and reorganization of the fast-growing SS (from 280 members to 52,000 between 1929 and 1932) into several brigade-sized Brigaden throughout Germany, each comprising three to five regiment-sized Standarten. Within the Standarten now existed two to three battalion-sized Sturmbanne ("storm units"), and beneath this level were the Stürme, Truppen, and Scharen.

For the lower ranks, the SS also specified that a patch showing the wearer's regiment (Standarte) would be worn opposite the badge of rank while the higher SS leaders would continue to wear oakleaf insignia on both collars. Collar tabs below the rank of Sturmführer were edged in black-and-white twist cord those of Sturm and Sturmbann leaders used black-and-silver while those of senior leaders were edged in solid silver cord.

In addition to the collar unit insignia, the SS now created a cuffband system which was worn on the lower left sleeve. These cuffbands were black and displayed the bearer's Sturm number together with color-coded edges indicating the Sturmbann, which in conjunction with the collar insignia showed regiment, battalion and company affiliation. Leaders above the company level did not at this time use the cuffband system.

The holder of the title of Reichsführer was still considered an SA-Gruppenführer, with Reichsführer itself not yet an actual rank. In addition, for a brief period in 1929, the rank of Standartenführer was divided into two separate grades, known as Standartenführer (I) and Standartenführer (II) the insignia of one oak leaf was used for both positions. This situation was another reflection of the SS' rapid expansion: Oberführers now commanded the three newly created SS-Oberführerbereiche, east, west and south and so a senior Standartenführer was promoted to command each SS-Brigade.

Hitler's personal guard, known at this stage by the original SS name of Stabswache (later to be known as the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler), was also expressing its independence and increasing its size under the leadership of Sepp Dietrich.

The Stennes Revolt of August 1930, in which members of the SA attacked the Berlin party Gau headquarters which was defended by the SS, had profound consequences for the SA and its relationship to its subordinate organization. In an open letter to Berlin SS leader Kurt Daluege, Adolf Hitler proclaimed SS Mann, deine Ehre heißt Treue! ("SS soldier, your honour is called loyalty!"). Subsequently, Meine Ehre heißt Treue ("My honour is called loyalty") was adopted by the SS as its motto. More significantly, Hitler cashiered SA head Franz Pfeffer von Salomon and assumed the position of Oberste SA-Führer personally, and simultaneously promoted both Himmler and Daluege to the new rank of SS-Obergruppenführer. Daluege was the SS leader of Northern Germany while Himmler controlled southern SS units out of Munich while serving as the National Leader for the SS this move had the effect of rendering the loyal SS practically independent of the suspect SA, since Himmler and Daluege now outranked all SA commanders.

Another result of the Stennes Revolt was Hitler's recall of his old Putsch comrade Ernst Röhm from South America to take over the day-to-day running of the SA with the title of SA-Stabschef. While Hitler thought that this would bind the SA more firmly to him, Röhm had other ambitions, including the conversion of the paramilitary Sturmabteilung into an army. With his expansions, promotions, and changes to the SA, a revision of the SA rank system was required although the uniforms and titles essentially stayed the same. The first major change was the addition of new ranks modeled on the original titles created in 1928 but with the addition of "senior" and "head" designators (ober and haupt): these were Oberscharführer, Obertruppführer and Sturmhauptführer. The new rank insignia were created by adding a silver stripe to the collar pips of the next-lower rank.

SS Ranks 1931
Generals Officers Enlisted
Obergruppenführer Standartenführer Obertruppführer
Gruppenführer Sturmbannführer Truppführer
Brigadeführer Sturmhauptführer Oberscharführer
Oberführer Sturmführer Scharführer

A 1930 change to the SS uniform was the addition of a single narrow shoulder strap worn on the right side. There were four grades of shoulder strap: until 1933 a black-and-white pattern was worn by SS troopers, an epaulette of parallel silver cords by Sturm and Sturmbann leaders, a twisted pattern in silver cord by standarten-, ober- and Gruppenführers, and a braided silver shoulderboard by the two Obergruppenführers.

By 1931, Himmler was secure (or independent) enough to reorganize the SS, formerly one SA-Gruppe, into five SS-Gruppen divided into several Brigaden led by officers with the new rank of Brigadeführer its insignia was the two oakleaves of an Oberführer with a pip.

SS black uniforms (1932–1934) Edit

In 1932, the SS introduced its best known uniform, the black ensemble designed by Karl Diebitsch and graphic designer and SS-member Walter Heck. [11] The shirt remained brown as a nod to the SA, of which the SS was still nominally a part, but all else was black from high boots to the new military-style peaked cap, aside from the red armband. SS men were also issued black wool greatcoats for inclement weather, which similarly carried the armband, epaulette and collar patches. Around this time a belt buckle featuring the motto Meine Ehre heißt Treue ("My Honour Is Loyalty") in its design was produced by the Overhoff firm to replace the SA buckle.

Two new junior positions were introduced: Sturmmann and Rottenführer. By this time, Himmler had also increased scrutiny on SS membership with a particular focus on proof of "Aryan" ancestry, and created a "candidate" position known as SS-Anwärter, which prospective SS members were required to hold for at least six months before formally joining the SS as an SS-Mann. With membership continuing to increase, Röhm invented two new officer ranks: Obersturmführer and Obersturmbannführer.

In 1933, after Hitler had become Chancellor, the SS began to make more of a distinction between 'officers' and 'enlisted men' an SS man could now only be promoted to Sturmführer with Himmler's approval, based upon the Reichsführer’s personal review of the candidate's application. Himmler always detested the army's class distinctions. It was forbidden for SS men to follow the army custom of addressing superior officers by prefixing Herr to their rank, and Kamerad was an approved form of address under most circumstances.

Also in 1933, the runes insignia was introduced which would eventually become known as the symbol for the entire SS. The first use of the SS runes was as a unit insignia limited only to members of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler [12] which had replaced the Army Chancellery Guard to become Hitler's main protectors. It was at this time that the Leibstandarte moved from being a "paramilitary" formation armed with pistols and truncheons to "military", equipped with rifles, bayonets, and steel helmets. [13] The adaptation of this particular unit insignia was largely the work of Sepp Dietrich who on 4 November 1933, declared the unit an independent formation and, although a part of the SS, answerable to Hitler alone. [14] Dietrich even went so far as to forbid entrance of Himmler into the Berlin Leibstandarte barracks and, for a brief few months in 1933, ordered his Leibstandarte soldiers to wear the black uniform without a swastika armband in order to differentiate the bodyguard unit from the rank and file of the Allgemeine-SS ("General SS") units throughout Germany.

At the same time Dietrich and his Leibstandarte adopted the SS runes as their unit insignia, the full-time SS headquarters and command staffs began using a blank collar patch, without a unit number, to differentiate themselves from the "rank and file" SS units in Germany which were still using regiment Standarten numbers as their unit insignia. Thus, by the end of 1933, there were three unit collar insignia patches in existence: the SS runes used by the Leibstandarte, the blank collar patch used by the SS headquarters and command staff, and the numbered SS unit insignia worn by regular SS companies throughout Germany.

In 1934, with the rise of the SS-Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT), the SS runes unit insignia was expanded to these other formations of the then fledgling military arm of the SS (later to become known as the Waffen-SS). To separate these new military formations from the main Leibstandarte regiment under Dietrich, the SS runes worn by the Verfügungstruppe displayed a small number corresponding to the particular SS-VT regiment of the bearer. In all, there were three possible numbers: 1 for members of the Deutschland regiment, 2 for Germania personnel, and (from 1938) 3 for members of the Der Führer regiment. These insignia would survive throughout World War II and were kept in use after the three original regiments had expanded to full-sized military regimental strength in the war-time "Das Reich" 2nd Waffen-SS division, roughly equivalent in size to their German Army counterparts.

In addition to the expansion of the collar unit insignia system, the SS by 1934 had also greatly expanded the system of sleeve cuffbands which were now a standard part of the black uniform, worn on the lower left sleeve. Within the Allgemeine-SS companies, cuffbands were worn in conjunction with a unit collar patch to denote regiment, battalion, and company affiliation. While the unit collar patch displayed the wearer's Standarte (regiment) number, the number denoted on the cuffband indicated the Sturm, or company, while collared piping along the cuffband further denoted in which battalion (Sturmbann) a member served.

For those personnel serving above the regiment level, a bare cuffband was worn or a cuffband bearing a Roman numeral could be displayed. The Roman numeral cuffband indicated membership on the staff of the SS-Brigade so numbered, which by the end of 1934 had become known as an SS-Abschnitt. For the even higher levels, such as Himmler or the senior SS-Gruppe leaders (later known by the title SS-Oberabschnitt Führer) a solid silver cuffband was worn.

Within the early military SS, which included the Leibstandarte and the formations of the SS-Verfügungstruppe, a series of cuffbands were introduced which bore the name of the regiment to which the bearer was assigned. The most coveted of these was the "Adolf Hitler" cuffband, carrying the Führer’s name in Sütterlin script, which was worn solely by members of the Leibstandarte.

SS pre-war uniforms (1934–1938) Edit

An event which significantly altered the SS rank and insignia structure was the Night of the Long Knives which occurred from 30 June to 2 July 1934. As a result of SS participation in the purge and execution of the SA leadership, the SS was declared an independent formation of the Nazi Party that answered only to Hitler. [15] Several of the rank titles were renamed to completely separate the SS from its SA origins.

The most significant rank change was the creation of an actual rank of Reichsführer-SS to denote the commander of the SS. The new rank was the equivalent of a field marshal in the army. [16] Prior to 1934, Himmler had been regarded simply as an SS-Obergruppenführer. Reichsführer was merely a title and not a rank prior to 1934, though Himmler preferred to use his title more than his rank. [16] In addition to Himmler’s new rank, several of the original SS rank titles were renamed (although retained the same insignia), bringing about the final nomenclature of SS ranks which would be used until the SS was disbanded at the end of World War II.

SS rank (Pre-1934) SS rank (Post-1934)
SS-Scharführer SS-Unterscharführer
SS-Oberscharführer SS-Scharführer
SS-Truppführer SS-Oberscharführer
SS-Obertruppführer SS-Hauptscharführer
SS-Haupttruppführer SS-Sturmscharführer
SS-Sturmführer SS-Untersturmführer
SS-Sturmhauptführer SS-Hauptsturmführer

The change in SS rank titles applied mainly to the non-commissioned officer ranks as well as the ranks of Sturmführer and Sturmhauptführer which received new names. The titles of the remaining ranks remained unchanged.

In the wake of the "Röhm-Putsch", the SS officially took over the concentration camps from the SA and police. Soon thereafter, camp guards began wearing the Totenkopf ("skull") on the right collar patch, to distinguish themselves from the numbered Allgemeine-SS Standarten. This was inconsistent in the early days some guards instead wore tabs with the initial of their camp (e. g. "D" for Dachau), and some wore blank tabs. About 1935, the black uniform proving impractical for daily service wear, the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps adopted a working uniform in "earth-brown" (erdbraun), which was identical in cut to the black tunic except for shoulderboards on both sides. In March 1936, the camp "service" was formally established as the third branch of the SS, the Totenkopfverbände or Death's Head units

At about this same time, for similar reasons, the military SS formations (the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and the SS-Verfügungstruppe) adopted a service uniform in what was termed "earth-grey" (erdgrau). This also was based on the black uniform, but without the red swastika armband, its place on the left sleeve being taken by an eagle-and-swastika patch, and worn with trousers and shoes or calf-high jackboots. In June 1938 this uniform was authorized for full-time Allgemeine-SS cadres as well the LSSAH and SS-VT then adopted army-pattern shoulderboards to distinguish themselves from the general SS and emphasize their military role.

In February 1934, the Ehrenwinkel für Alte Kämpfer ("honor chevron for old campaigners") was introduced for all SS men who had joined the Nazi Party or a Party-affiliated organization prior to January 30, 1933 after the Anschluss, it was also authorized for Austrians who had joined the DNSAP prior to 18 February 1938. It took the form of a silver lace chevron worn on the right sleeve. During this period, the principal SS insignia also underwent design changes. The ancient jawless Danziger style of Totenkopf was gradually replaced by the 'classic' SS skull, a naturalistic design with grinning jaws the old form was taken up by the army's newly formed Panzerwaffe. Additionally, in March 1936, Hitler approved a new art deco eagle with staggered wingtips for the SS, which was worn through the end of the war as a cap badge and on the sleeve.

By the end of 1938, the SS had also adopted a new insignia feature of sleeve diamonds worn on the bottom of the left sleeve. Between 1939 and 1940, the SS expanded its cuffband and sleeve diamond system into a vast array of over 30 cuffbands and more than 12 sleeve diamonds.

SS uniforms of World War II (1939–1945) Edit

When World War II began in 1939, the Allgemeine-SS grey service uniforms took on a more military appearance with the somewhat "ad-hoc" adoption of Wehrmacht-style shoulderboards, except for SS generals, who, until 1942, continued to wear the narrow braided silver SS shoulderboards to denote general rank. It was also at this time that the rank of SS-Oberführer lost its status as a general officer rank and was instead now regarded as more of a senior colonel position. The black uniform was increasingly seldom seen, eventually being worn only by part-time Allgemeine-SS reservists. The last ceremonial event at which the black uniforms were worn "en masse" was the Berlin victory parade following the fall of France in June 1940. In 1942, Himmler ordered most all of the black uniforms recalled and stripped of insignia. They were sent east for use by the native auxiliary police units and sent west to be used by Germanic-SS units such as the ones in the Netherlands and Denmark. In 1937, the LSSAH and SS-VT had adopted a closed-collar feldgrau (grey-green) field uniform for combat wear, which with the outbreak of war became the standard uniform of what would soon be the Waffen-SS. This feldanzug was very similar to the Model 1936 Army field uniform however, the SS version had a somewhat wider collar in feldgrau (field-grey) rather than Heer bottle-green, the lower pockets were of the SS angled slash type, and the second button was placed lower to permit the collar optionally to be worn open with a necktie like the service-dress uniforms. The Totenkopf branch, which was designated the reserve for the Waffen-SS, also adopted this uniform. Waffen-SS Panzer troops wore a double-breasted black uniform similar to the army model, but somewhat different in cut the SS also made extensive use of camouflage clothing as the war progressed. The full-time Allgemeine-SS cadres, especially Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) personnel, continued to wear the earth-grey service-dress uniform.

A unique situation developed during World War II with regards to SS ranks held by those who had served in Allgemeine-SS positions from before the outbreak of war and now wished to serve with the Waffen-SS. With such persons being SS members already, it was expected that they would join the Waffen-SS in order to serve in combat some members in fact had no choice and were drafted for combat service due to their Allgemeine-SS billet being done away with or, in situations involving disciplinary actions, transferred into combat as the result of a hearing before an SS and police court Wilhelm Höttl was one such example.

As a result of Allgemeine-SS members transferring into the Waffen-SS, SS members held two separate ranks – one in the Allgemeine-SS and another in the Waffen-SS. [17] Waffen-SS officers could also hold a regular or reserve commission, with most Allgemeine-SS members being appointed to the Waffen-SS reserves (the intent was to easily be able to place such members on inactive duty once the war had ended).

The security forces of the SS, such as SD troops that were part of the Einsatzgruppen, were also all considered part of the Allgemeine-SS, even though many of these persons (especially in the field) wore uniforms nearly identical to the Waffen-SS to further the confusion, many agents of the security police (SiPo) in such "field" roles wore Waffen-SS uniform even though they were not ex officio members of any branch of the SS. [18] By 1943, the SS had made a determined effort that most field personnel (including concentration camp staffs) were granted Waffen-SS ranks and, in 1944, any Allgemeine-SS who served in an area that commanded SS combat troops, was granted a Waffen-SS commission.

Another uniform insignia change occurred in April 1942 with the creation of the rank SS-Oberstgruppenführer. This necessitated an insignia change for SS generals and all SS generals at this time began wearing Wehrmacht-style gold shoulder boards Oberführers wore the shoulderboards of an army Oberst ("colonel") just as Standartenführers did. The sole exception was Heinrich Himmler who continued to wear the silver braided shoulderboard with oak leaves of his rank as Reichsführer-SS. At the same time the collar patches for general officers were revised the 1942 pattern used three oakleaves, rather straighter than the old style, with zero to three pips indicating rank from Brigadeführer through Oberstgruppenführer.

SS uniform suppliers could not keep up with wartime demand and, as a result, the Waffen-SS and Totenkopfverbande frequently wore uniforms drawn from army stocks, with the addition of SS insignia. By the middle of World War II, a wide variety of uniforms could be observed, even within the same unit.

Waffen-SS and SS-TV members during this period wore army-style shoulderboards with SS collar patches edging of enlisted collar tabs was discontinued in 1940 while SS officers' collar patches continued to be trimmed in silver. Enlisted shoulderboards were made of black fabric as opposed to army dark green or field-grey (grey-green), and officers had a black underlay all shoulderboards were piped in waffenfarbe (branch-colour). Junior leaders (Sturmmann and Rottenführer) wore sleeve chevrons corresponding to army insignia (Gefreiter and Obergefreiter), but with black backing SS non-commissioned officers wore army-style silver-grey braid around the collar.

By 1943, a special staff non-commissioned officer position, known as Stabsscharführer had been adopted by the Waffen-SS. This position, equivalent to an army Hauptfeldwebel, was denoted by a special sleeve insignia and was not an actual rank, but rather a title for the head SS non-commissioned officer of a particular combat unit. The rank of Sturmscharführer was also unique to the Waffen-SS as a type of Regimental Sergeant Major.

The staffs of concentration camps had by now standardized the skull collar patch, whereas between 1934 and 1938 the Totenkopf as well as various camp specific collar patches, displaying Germanic letters, had been used as unit insignia. Other unit insignia collar patches included a Standarte-number patch for most of the Allgemeine-SS, a blank collar patch worn by SS main office staffs and Sicherheitsdienst (and some SiPo) personnel, the sig-runes Waffen-SS patch (adopted after 1943 as the standard unit collar patch for most of the SS), and a numbered skull patch which was used by personnel serving in field units of the Totenkopfverbaende the three senior Totenkopfstandarten, formed into the Totenkopf division, would retain these collar patches throughout the war, but the remaining TK-Standarten were redesignated SS-Regimenter and switched to sig-runes in February 1941. As the war went on, the Waffen-SS recruited heavily among conquered populations, creating 'ethnic' brigades and divisions. These formations wore, in place of the sig-runes, distinctive unit collar patches identifying them as Freiwilligen (foreign volunteers). In the last days of World War II, the SS also created a twin swastika collar patch which was used by the "auxiliary SS" which were non-SS members conscripted to serve in concentration camp positions.

SS generals of the Waffen-SS were typically addressed by both their SS rank title and a corresponding general's rank associated with the Wehrmacht. All such general ranks were followed by the phrase der Waffen-SS to distinguish the SS General from their counterparts in the branches of the German military. Thus, a typical title was Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS.

SS Rank [19] SS insignia Literal translation SA equivalent Heer/Luftwaffe equivalent British equivalent [19]
Collar badge [a] Shoulder strap
Generalführer – General Officers
Oberster Führer der SS - - Supreme Leader of the SS Oberster SA-Führer Reichsmarschall None
Reichsführer-SS National leader Stabschef SA Generalfeldmarschall Field Marshal
Oberst-Gruppenführer (from 1942) Supreme group leader [b] Non
Generaloberst General
Obergruppenführer Senior group leader Obergruppenführer General der Waffengattung Lieutenant General
Gruppenführer Group leader Gruppenführer Generalleutnant Major General
Brigadeführer Brigade leader Brigadeführer Generalmajor Brigadier
Stabsführer – Staff Officers
Oberführer Senior leader Oberführer None None
Standartenführer Regiment leader Standartenführer Oberst Colonel
Obersturmbannführer Senior assault unit leader Obersturmbannführer Oberstleutnant Lieutenant Colonel
Sturmbannführer Assault unit leader Sturmbannführer Major Major
Truppenführer – Troop/Platoon Officers
Hauptsturmführer Chief assault leader Hauptsturmführer Hauptmann/Rittmeister Captain
Obersturmführer Senior assault leader Obersturmführer Oberleutnant Lieutenant
Untersturmführer Junior assault leader Sturmführer Leutnant Second Lieutenant
Unterführer – Non-Commissioned/Under Officers
Sturmscharführer (Waffen-SS) Assault squad leader Haupttruppführer Stabsfeldwebel Regimental Sergeant Major
Hauptscharführer Chief squad leader Obertruppführer Oberfeldwebel (Company) Sergeant Major
Oberscharführer Senior squad leader Truppführer Feldwebel Staff Sergeant / Colour Sergeant
Scharführer Squad leader Oberscharführer Unterfeldwebel Sergeant
Unterscharführer Junior squad leader Scharführer Unteroffizier Corporal / Bombardier
Mannschaften – Men at Arms/Soldiers
Rottenführer Section leader Rottenführer Obergefreiter Lance Corporal
Sturmmann Storm Trooper Sturmmann Gefreiter Senior Private
Oberschütze (Waffen-SS, from 1942) Senior rifleman None Oberschütze (etc.) None
Schütze (Waffen-SS)
Mann Soldat (etc.) Private
Fusilier/Rifleman/Signaller (Training)
Anwärter Candidate None None None
Bewerber (from 1943) Applicant None None None

In 1936, the regular German police, previously agencies of the Länder or states, were nationalized and placed under Himmler, who was named Chef der Deutschen Polizei. The ordinary uniformed police were called the Ordnungspolizei ("order police"). Known as the Orpo, the Ordnungspolizei maintained a separate uniform, system of insignia and Orpo ranks. It was also possible for SS members to hold dual status in both the Orpo and the SS, and SS generals were referred to simultaneously by both rank titles. For instance, an Obergruppenführer in the SS, who was also a police general, would be referred to as Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei. In late 1939, Orpo personnel were formed into a combat division, recognizable by its use of police insignia in 1942, this formation was absorbed into the Waffen-SS to become the 4. SS-Polizei-Panzergrenadier division.

Germanic-SS uniforms were modified versions of the original black Allgemeine-SS uniforms and were used strictly by the Germanic-SS in occupied countries. These units were provided with surplus black uniforms upon which were displayed country specific insignia. This led to a wide variety of insignia and rank titles depending on the country of origin, although standardized throughout the entire Germanic-SS were the rank insignia pips and oak leaves used by the SS proper. The Germanic-SS effectively ceased to exist in late 1944, after which time most of its members were folded into the foreign legions of the Waffen-SS.

As with the SS titles, recruits of non-Germanic countries had the title "Waffen" prefixed to their rank. For instance, an Unterscharführer in the foreign legions would be referred to as Waffen-Unterscharführer whereas a regular SS member would be addressed as SS-Unterscharführer. [21] This helped to indicate non-native recruits, or to separate Germanic individuals in the divisions composed primarily of non-Germanics.

World War One: How 250,000 Belgian refugees didn't leave a trace

Little could have prepared Folkestone for 14 October 1914. The bustling Kent port was used to comings and goings, but not the arrival of 16,000 Belgian refugees in a single day.

Germany had invaded Belgium, forcing them to flee. The exodus had started in August and the refugees continued to arrive almost daily for months, landing at other ports as well, including Tilbury, Margate, Harwich, Dover, Hull and Grimsby.

Official records from the time estimate 250,000 Belgians refugees came to Britain during WW1. In some purpose-built villages they had their own schools, newspapers, shops, hospitals, churches, prisons and police. These areas were considered Belgian territory and run by the Belgian government. They even used the Belgian currency.

Few communities in the UK were unaffected by their arrival, say historians. Most were housed with families across the country and in all four nations.

But despite their numbers the only Belgian from the time that people are most likely to know is the fictitious detective Hercule Poirot. Agatha Christie is said to have based the character on a Belgian refugee she met in her home town of Torquay.

There is little else to show they were here apart from a church, some plaques, gravestones, the odd bit of wood carving in public buildings and a few Belgian street names dotted around the country. There is a single monument in London's Victoria Embankment Gardens given in thanks by the Belgian Government.

"It was the largest influx of refugees in British history but it's a story that is almost totally ignored," says Tony Kushner, professor of modern history at the University of Southampton.

This was partly by design. When WW1 finished the British government wanted its soldiers back home and refugees out, he says.

"Britain had an obligation to help refugees during the war but the narrative quickly changed when it ended, the government didn't want foreigners anymore."

Many Belgians had their employment contracts terminated, leaving them with little option but to go home. The government offered free one-way tickets back to Belgium, but only for a limited period. The aim was to get them to leave the country as quickly as possible.

Within 12 months of the war ending more than 90% had returned home, says Kushner. They left as quickly as they came, leaving little time to establish any significant legacy.

"They were pushed out of the country. It wasn't very dignified and the government was happy for the nation to forget. It also suited the Belgium government who needed people to return to rebuild the country."

The few that did stay integrated into British life - many married Britons they had met while in the country.

"They were white and Catholic so they didn't stand out," says Gary Sheffield, professor of war studies at the University of Wolverhampton. "They simply disappeared from view."

The refugees were initially greeted with open arms. The government used their plight to encouraged anti-German sentiment and public support for the war.

"Contact with the Belgian refugees acted as a good reminder of why the First World War was a war worth fighting," says Sheffield.

They were portrayed in the press as "plucky", says Christophe Declercq, who runs the Online Centre for Research on Belgian Refugees and whose great-grandfather was among the arrivals.

"There was a jubilant feeling of going to get 'the Bosche' and the 'plucky little Belgians' fitted into that narrative. It was often the case that if you didn't have a refugee staying with you, you knew someone who did. They were treated rather like pets."

The real Poirot

  • Poirot is known for his meticulous appearance and brilliant detection skills
  • First appeared in novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) and many other subsequent Christie novels until his final appearance in Curtain: Poirot's Last Case (1975)
  • Poirot novels adapted for the screen have featured well-known actors including Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov and David Suchet

The welcome they received was sometimes overwhelming. One refugee describes in his diary his fright when a scuffle broke out between local people who wanted to carry his luggage for him. There are other stories of thousands of cheering people turning out to greet just a handful of Belgians.

But the goodwill didn't last. Most people expected the war to be over by Christmas but it soon became clear that it wouldn't.

"As Belgians became more permanent guests a lot of individuals and families who enthusiastically housed them ran out of money and/or patience within a few months and returned the refugees to where they had collected them," says Dr Jacqueline Jenkinson, a lecturer in history at the University of Stirling who recently organised a conference on the Belgian refugees.

Housing and jobs became an issue. Belgians in the purpose-built villages had running water and electricity while their British neighbours didn't. More affluent refugees could afford to buy their own properties.

A ɼolony' for 6,000 Belgian refugees

  • Elisabethville was a sovereign Belgian enclave in Birtley, Tyne and Wear
  • It was named after the Belgian queen
  • It had its own schools, shops, hospitals, churches and a prison

"Key to the growing resentment was how badly the British were suffering in comparison," says Declercq, who is a lecturer in translation at UCL.

There was also a more personal reason why the refugees slipped from the country's collective memory.

"When British soldiers returned from the war many didn't want to talk about what theyɽ experienced," says Declercq. "The subject was off limits and as a result their families didn't feel they could talk about what they had experienced at home while the men were fighting, or at least it seemed insignificant. They just didn't have those conversations."

It meant the refugees' story was not remembered at a national level in any significant way or in the homes where they had stayed. WW1 as a whole was a "more complex and problematic" memory for the nation because of issues like the enormous loss of life, says Kushner.

Later World War Two broke out and gripped the nation's attention.

"The events of 1939 to 1945 completely overtook the First World War in people's minds," says Sheffield. "There was a new wave of refugees to dominate the memory. So many things about the First World War were forgotten, all the nuances of the subject."

In recent years some local projects have looked into Belgian refugees in certain areas, but the WW1 centenary has also sparked new interest at a national level, as evidenced by last week's academic conference.

"There are the stories out there," says Declercq. "Some families did stay in touch with the Belgians they had looked after and they visited each other for years. We are starting to scratch the surface and find out who these people were."

And his own great-grandfather? After arriving in Britain in August, 1914, he left for the Netherlands at the end of 1915 and settled there.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Austrian cooking is one of the most varied in Europe and includes German, Hungarian, Czech, and northern Italian influences.

A typical Austrian's day begins with a light breakfast of coffee or milk with bread and butter or jam. Sausage served with mustard on a hard roll is a typical midmorning snack. Lunch is usually the main meal of the day and consists of soup and a main course of meat—sausage, the widely popular Wiener schnitzel (breaded veal), chicken, beef, pork or fish. Fresh vegetables, dumplings, noodles, or potatoes often accompany the main course. A salad may conclude the meal.

Austrian city dwellers often take a midafternoon coffee break at a national institution, the coffeehouse. Part of the Austrian way of life, the coffeehouse serves as a meeting place and a source for breakfast or a snack or light lunch. Most coffee-houses, which usually also serve alcohol, have their own distinctive atmosphere. The evening meal usually consists of light fare, perhaps cold meats, cheese, or smoked fish with bread and wine or beer.

Basic Economy. Before World War II, Austrian farmers produced 72 percent of the nation's food requirements. With wider use of commercial fertilizers, mechanization, and scientific methods, they steadily increased that percentage to 90 by the mid-1990s, even though less than 20 percent of the land is suitable for farming. Major crops are wheat and other grains, sugar beets, and potatoes. Austria also grows a variety of other vegetables and fruits, as well as grapes for making wine. Most farmers breed pigs, sheep, and dairy cattle, from which they obtain meat, wool, milk, cheese, and butter.

With increased mechanization, the number of people employed in agriculture decreased, and by the mid-1990s about 7 percent of the population held agricultural jobs. Most farms are small and are owned and operated by families. Many farm families supplement their income by renting out rooms or serving as tour guides or ski instructors.

Austria produces some petroleum and natural gas to meet its own needs, and it also mines coal, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, antimony, and graphite, used in industry. Its rivers are harnessed to produce hydroelectric energy that provides a substantial portion of the nation's energy needs, with a surplus to export to neighboring countries. Abundant forests provide materials for lumber, paper products, and fuel. Conservation has helped protect farmland from landslides and erosion.

Austria's basic unit of currency is the schilling. Banking and finance are also an important part of the economy.

Land Tenure and Property. Austria's urban property market is weak, with many people renting rather than buying housing. Most farms are less than fifty acres (twenty hectares) nearly half are about twelve acres (five hectares) or less. About 70 percent of Austria's forest lands are privately held, with the remainder owned by the federal and provincial governments and by the Roman Catholic Church. Inherited wealth is more highly respected than earned wealth.

Commercial Activities. Austria is highly industrialized, but expert craftsmanship is also valued and can be found in products such as leather goods, pottery, jewelry, woodcarvings, and blown glass.

Major Industries. Manufacturing is the strongest sector of the Austrian economy, accounting for one-third of the workforce and about 40 percent of the gross domestic product. Iron ore is Austria's most important mineral resource, and metal and metal products, especially iron and steel, lead the manufacturing sector. Major products include motor vehicles, locomotives, heavy machinery and equipment, customized electronics, and tools. Other principal manufactured goods include chemicals, petroleum, graphite, wood and paper products, textiles, tobacco products, beverages, and processed foods.

Trade. Germany is Austria's principal trading partner, with Austria importing crude oil, machinery and equipment, chemical and manufacturing products, pharmaceuticals, and some foods. Austria's major exports are machinery and equipment, electronics, paper products, clothing and textiles, metals, and transportation equipment. Austria joined the European Union (EU) in 1995. It also conducts wide-ranging foreign trade with Italy, Switzerland, and other EU countries, as well as the United States, Japan, and other Asian countries.

Division of Labor. Craftsmen serve as apprentices for several years before becoming journeymen and, finally, master craftsmen. Farming is done mainly by families who own the land. Immigrants from a number of nations are employed as unskilled labor and service industry workers. Professional, white collar, factory, and government jobs are held mainly by native Austrians.

Reinforcing Centralization and SS Control

The new main office system shaped the administration of police at the local and regional level. In 1936, Heydrich and Daluege appointed two types of regional representatives:

  • Inspectors of Security Police and SD ( Inspekteur der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD , IdS) oversaw all Security Police and SD units in a given region. The IdS would supervise multiple Gestapo, Kripo, and SD offices.
  • Inspectors of the Order Police ( Inspekteur der Ordnungspolizei , IdO) oversaw the Order Police units.

Typically, the men appointed to these positions were long-time, high-ranking SS men. Their job was to guarantee that the police units worked within the new SS and police hierarchy. The inspectors served as liaisons between the local police forces and the main office in Berlin. They were also supposed to represent the SS and police system at the regional level with regional leaders from other organizations.

The IdS and the IdO expanded and changed after the start of World War II. In occupied territory, the IdS and the IdO had new names:

  • The IdS became Commanders of Security Police and SD (called in German Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD , BdS). They commanded all personnel and units of the Security Police and SD in their assigned region.
  • The IdO became Commanders of the Order Police (called in German Befehlshaber der Ordnungspolizei , BdO). They commanded all of the personnel and units of the Order Police where they were assigned.

As Heydrich and Daluege's representatives, these positions had a great deal of power. They were an important force for implementing the Nazi regime’s radical plans.

Jewish stars and other holocaust badges

The Jews of Europe were legally compelled to wear badges or distinguishing garments (e.g., pointed hats) at least as far back as the 13th century. This practice continued throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, but was largely phased out during the 17th and 18th centuries. With the coming of the French Revolution and the emancipation of western European Jews throughout the 19th century, the wearing of Jewish badges was abolished in Western Europe.

The Nazis resurrected this practice as part of their persecutions during the Holocaust. Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Main Security Office, first recommended that Jews should wear identifying badges following the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 9 and 10, 1938. Shortly after the invasion of Poland in September 1939, local German authorities began introducing mandatory wearing of badges. By the end of 1939, all Jews in the newly-acquired Polish territories were required to wear badges. Upon invading the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Germans again applied this requirement to newly-conquered lands. Throughout the rest of 1941 and 1942, Germany, its satellite states and western occupied territories adopted regulations stipulating that Jews wear identifying badges. Only in Denmark, where King Christian X is said to have threatened to wear the badge himself if it were imposed on his country’s Jewish population, were the Germans unable to impose such a regulation.

Nazi propaganda leaflet: “Whoever bears this sign is an enemy of our people”.

The German government’s policy of forcing Jews to wear identifying badges was but one of many psychological tactics aimed at isolating and dehumanizing the Jews of Europe, directly marking them as being different (i.e., inferior) to everyone else. It allowed for the easier facilitation of their separation from society and subsequent ghettoization, which ultimately led to the deportation and murder of 6 million Jews. Those who failed or refused to wear the badge risked severe punishment, including death. For example, the Jewish Council (Judenrat) of the ghetto in Bialystok, Poland announced that “… the authorities have warned that severe punishment – up to and including death by shooting – is in store for Jews who do not wear the yellow badge on back and front.”

The design of the badge varied from region to region. Below, find examples of badges worn in different European countries under Nazi rule.


A yellow Star of David outlined with Black with the French word for "Jew" written in Hebraic style.


A yellow Star of David outlined with black with a Hebraic styled "J", and abbreviation for "Jew".

The Netherlands

A yellow Star of David outlined with black with the Dutch words for "Jew" written in Hebraic style.

Germany, Alsace, Bohemia and Moravia

A yellow Star of David outlined in black with the German word for "Jew" written in Hebraic style.


A gold Star of David outlined with blue with an abbreviation of the Slovakian word for "Jew".


A gold Star of David outlined with blue.

Poland, East Silesia and Upper Silesia

Blue Star of David on a white armband.

Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Greece, Lithuania and Latvia

Greece, Serbia, cities of Belgrade and Sofia


A gold Star of David outlined with a black and yellow button.


A yellow Star of David on a circular black background.


Yellow armband with black "Z", an abbreviations for the Serbo-Croatian word for "Jew".

Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd Edition. Edited by Fred Skolnik and Michael Berenbaum. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2009.
Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Edited by Israel Gutman. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1990.

Mystery surrounds the fascinating history of Devon's wartime holiday camps

Not many people know that in the first few weeks of the Second World War, two Devon holiday camps were requisitioned by the British government and were used to intern &aposenemy aliens&apos - German and Austrian men living in this country who were thought to be dangerous.

War was declared in September 1939 and by October there were three internment camps opened in the UK. They were the Warner&aposs holiday camp at Seaton and Dixon&aposs at Kings Ash in Paignton, later Pontin&aposs Devon Coast Holidays. The third was in Clacton, later to become one of Billy Butlin&aposs holiday parks.

The internees at Seaton have described the terrible conditions. One said: "Huts were unbearably cold and there was a lack of food. I have never been so hungry in my life."

It wasn&apost all bad though. A great addition to the camp was the arrival of a complete music band from a German cruise liner scuttled in the Atlantic Ocean.

In contrast Paignton was the &aposluxury&apos camp where the &aposvery, very wealthy&apos detainees paid 4s 6d per day for heating and to be waited on.

The two Devon former internment camps have long since disappeared to make way for housing estates.

Devon historian Dr Rachel Pistol is looking into the fascinating story and the tragedy of the 841 lives lost when the internees were torpedoed and drowned as they were being shipped abroad. Many of the men who were locked up were just ordinary citizens who had lived happily in Britain with their families before the outbreak of war.

Many of those who died when the SS Arandora Star was sunk were Italians who had run pizza cafés, restaurants and ice cream parlours before the war.

North Devon&aposs Dark History

Dr Pistol said: "By far the lowest survival rate were the Italians because there was no exit point from the lower decks and the ship was covered in barbed wite.

"German prisoners of war were treated the best because they they had rights which were respected by the British military men. The Italians had been restaurateurs and ran ice cream parlours before the war.

"Also they were by far the biggest group and the lower decks had the most space."

Other internees were put into the &aposdangerous&apos category just because they had unpopular political opinions - including many trade unionists.

One of the problems with the camps was that Jewish men were locked up alongside Fascists.

In a fascinating insight, an uneasy truce was established at Seaton only once the camp had divided itself - the pro-Fascists lived on one side of the swimming pool and on the other side it was the anti-Fascists or Communists - there were tents in between for those who didn&apost fit into either camp.

Dr Pistol has unearthed quotes (below) from some of the internees who described life inside the barbed wire walls. They talk about making pocket money by repairing fishermen&aposs nets.

Dr Pistol - author or &aposInternment during the Second World War&apos - is a research fellow at Kings College and an honorary research fellow at Exeter University. She said that even in the history community there is little known about these camps: "It&aposs quite an interesting story. Since moving to Devon I have discovered that two of the three original internment camps at the start of the Second World War in the UK were in Devon. The other one was in Clacton.

"At the start of the war they only locked up a few people who they thought were the most dangerous - either because they were very pro-Facist, pro-Communist or Trade Unionist were locked up as well.

Exeter History

"Those places were chosen just because we had holiday camps available and because of the speed at which they needed to arrest some of these enemy aliens.

"This was in October 1939. They surrounded them with barbed wire and they were guarded by the local Territorial Army volunteers.

"When war was declared there was an understanding the German and Austrian men who were refugees would go before tribunals and they were graded according to how dangerous they were judged. The camps were for pro-Fascists, pro-Communists and Trade Unionists who were thought to be most dangerous.

"One of the biggest problems was that Jewish refugees were locked up with the Fascists.

Latest Local Democracy

"In Seaton an uneasy peace was found after the pro-Fascists stayed on one side of the swimming pool and on the other side it was the anti-Fascists or Communists - there were tents in between for those who weren&apost sure."

One of the internees said afterwards: "The two Western rows of huts contain Nazis and Nazi sympathizers, the Eastern rows refugees of racial and political origin - with tents in between for people not joining either side."

The internment camps did not last long. After France, Belgium and Holland fell in May 1940 fear spread and it was decided it would be best to lock up ALL German and Austrian men to be on the safe side. That was when they were shipped abroad because of fears that they would join the enemy if Britain also fell to the enemy invaders.

The other interesting detail that has emerged about the two camps was that there were around 100 people at the Paignton Dixon&aposs camp because of the high cost for staying in relative &aposluxury&apos with heating and waiter service and 650 at Warner&aposs in Seaton.

The camps were always meant to be temporary. They were wound up by July 1940 and internees were sent to various camps around the UK and then on to the Isle of Man once it was ready.

Tragically some internees were transported aboard - they were being shipped to Canada and Australia - and hundreds died aboard the torpedoed SS Arandora Star which was torpedoed and sunk on July 2 1940. In the sinking 841 people died (486 were Italian, 175 were German internees, 52 were prisoners of war from Germany, 37 were guards and 55 were crew members). There were 832 survivors.

More gruesome history

Dr Pistol said: "Pictures of the old camps are very hard to find. I would be very interested to hear from people about what they remember.

"The history of these holiday camps is something that even in the history community it is least explored."

But despite that she has dug up these fascinating quotes from prisoners and is appealing to the people of Devon who may have memories or photographs.

Internees at the Seaton camp

Ludwig Baruch, a Trade Unionist who got blacklisted as &aposa soviet agent and agitator&apos: &aposCamp quite large and well equipped but soldiers unaware of what type of prisoner was in camp. Huts were unbearably cold and lack of food. &aposI have never been so hungry in my life. It was an outrageous breach of the 1929 [Geneva] convention and in spite of continuous protests, and most likely also from outside, the position was never tolerable. It was rumoured that the food for the internees was stolen and sold on the black market. Possible, in view of later experience of dishonesty in the British army, but impossible to prove.&apos - Communists in Seaton were very influential in camp and that kept the Nazi minority from gaining leadership in Seaton -The authorities supposedly refused to separate Nazis from anti-Nazis because &aposthey would have admitted the utter folly of their blanket internment policy.&apos

Erwin Frenkel
Herr Frenkel was classified as &aposA&apos - dangerous. He was taken direct to Piccadilly Circus Police Station, then to Chelsea transition centre, and then to Seaton.

He said: "It was surrounded by barbed wire but, except for two roll calls daily, there was no restriction on liberty inside the camp. We were given the opportunity to earn some pocket money by making fishermen&aposs nets. "

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Rainer Radok at Seaton
"The camp is an extended rectangular compound which in the past has served as a low class seaside holiday camp: Two double rows of tiny plywood huts, a swimming pool, tennis courts and a football field occupying the space in between.

"Two barbed wire fences, added to the holiday scheme, surround this arrangement with a gangway in between for the guards. The industrial-type building facing the main road into town contains mess facilities, kitchen, camp office, a theatre with stage and a canteen. The sea, on the other side of the road, can be heard occasionally. When there is a real storm, the sea crosses the road and inundates the camp. This is to happen several times during the Winter, when cold conditions lead to formation of ice on all footpaths.

"The two Western rows of huts contain Nazis and Nazi sympathizers, the Eastern rows refugees of racial and political origin with tents in between for people not joining either side.

"The camp organizes itself quickly. Soon it is possible to have shoes and clothes repaired and small carpentry jobs undertaken.

"Especially popular become visits to the dentist in town. It is said that for cash one can obtain there other than dental attention.

"There is a real lack of heating people are forced to crowd into the dining hall where three gun stoves, stoked with briquettes, provide minimal warmth.

"A great addition to the potential of the camp is the arrival of a complete music band from a German cruise liner scuttled in the Atlantic Ocean.

"The huts. are not designed even for the standard English Winter. This winter is by no means a standard winter. Ice and snow last for many months. After some protests, tiny heating coils are installed in the small plywood huts without insulation, each of which sleeps three people.

"There are not enough blankets and all clothing is worn at all times. At night, pyjamas are quickly placed underneath the day time clothes before one slips into a carefully prepared, but improvised sleeping bag on a straw-filled palliasse.

"When, after installation of the mini-heaters, the first electricity bill reaches the camp, the inventiveness of the prisoners manifests itself. It is a miracle that no major fires occur during the Winter. From then on, the soldiers search almost daily the huts for improved heating elements, but that battle is never won and the electricity bill never drops to the scheduled level.

"Those internees who acknowledge allegiance to Germany are supplied by the Red Cross with a little pocket money, smokes and necessities. Parcels from outside begin to play a major role.&apos

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"Many internees on the East side volunteer for making camouflage nets. We are paid per net and make sufficient money to purchase basic needs at the canteen."

Letter to HO from survivors of Arandora Star at Donaldsons School Camp, Edinburgh 26.7.40
"After having been acknowledged (sic) as anti-Nazis and refugees we have been seperated (sic) from the Nazi and Nazi sympathisers in Warners Camp G Seaton Devon. When transferred to Canada on board the ARANDORA STAR, we got our quarters in the foreship, while a large group of Nazi Internees&apos (sic) were kept aft.

"After the sinking of the ship, and during rescuing operations the survivors have been kept together, the same was the case in hospital where we were brought to receive medical treatment. Our certain hope and exasperation to be seperated (sic) again immediately afterwards, failed, as we came together with the Nazis, our deadliest enemies, in DONALDSONS INTERNMENT CAMP EDINBURGH. Not only be making camouflage nets for the B.E.F. in Seaton, but on several other occassions (sic) too, we expressed very clearly our loyalty to the British cause.

"Threatened by the Nazis during the period when they were kept still in Seaton together with us, we were promised first by Colonel Freestone and again by Major Drury two of our commandants, in Seaton, not only to be definitely seperated (sic) from the Nazis, but also to be used as skilled men in our different professions…”

Devon weather, November 2019


Eugen Spier said: "For those who wished to avail themselves of a more luxurious life with better sleeping and feeding accommodation and service with personal attendance for an extra payment of 4s. 6d. per day, a special Camp was installed at Paignton in Devonshire.

"Only a very limited number of internees chose to take advantage of these facilities to become paying guests and the bulk of the Camp travelled to Seaton."

Dixon&aposs later became the Pontin&aposs Devon Coast Holiday Park until it was bulldozed to make way for a housing estate in the late 1980s off Kings Ash Hill.

In Seaton the former Warner&aposs holiday camp has also been flattened to make way for a housing estate and a Tesco supermarket.

Dr Pistol said: "The Dixon&aposs camp at Paignton was the luxury camp. If you could afford it you could pay to go there. It was 4s 6d a day in order to have you own space and heating and they were waited on. That was an awful lot of money at the time and you had to be very, very wealthy. Some people spent all the money they had just maintaining themselves in the camp - and then when they ran out of money they were moved from Paignton to Seaton."

"If you couldn&apost afford it you would go to Seaton. It was basic with no heating and not enough space.

"Some of them ran out of money at Dixon&aposs and they were sent to Seaton."


The Browning Hi-Power was designed in response to a French military requirement for a new service pistol, the Grand Rendement (French for "high yield"), or alternatively Grande Puissance (literally "high power"). The French military required that:

  • the arm must be compact
  • the magazine have a capacity of at least 10 rounds
  • the gun have a magazine disconnect device, an external hammer, and a positive [clarification needed] safety
  • the gun be robust and simple to disassemble and reassemble
  • the gun be capable of killing a man at 50 metres

This last criterion was seen to demand a caliber of 9 mm or larger, a bullet mass of around 8 grams (123.5 grains), and a muzzle velocity of 350 m/s (1148 ft/s). It was to accomplish all of this at a weight not exceeding 1 kg (2.2 lb).

FN commissioned John Browning to design a new military sidearm conforming to this specification. Browning had previously sold the rights to his successful M1911 U.S. Army automatic pistol to Colt's Patent Firearms, and was therefore forced to design an entirely new pistol while working around the M1911 patents. Browning built two different prototypes for the project in Utah and filed the patent for this pistol in the United States on 28 June 1923, granted on 22 February 1927. [15] [16] One was a simple blowback design, while the other was operated with a locked-breech recoil system. Both prototypes utilised the new staggered magazine design (by designer Dieudonné Saive) to increase capacity without unduly increasing the pistol's grip size or magazine length.

The locked breech design was selected for further development and testing. This model was striker-fired, and featured a double-column magazine that held 16 rounds. The design was refined through several trials held by the Versailles Trial Commission.

In 1928, when the patents for the Colt Model 1911 had expired, Dieudonné Saive integrated many of the Colt's previously patented features into the Grand Rendement design, in the Saive-Browning Model of 1928. This version featured the removable barrel bushing and take down sequence of the Colt 1911.

By 1931, the Browning Hi-Power design incorporated a shortened 13-round magazine, a curved rear grip strap, and a barrel bushing that was integral to the slide assembly. By 1934, the Hi-Power design was complete and ready to be produced. It was first adopted by Belgium for military service in 1935 as the Browning P-35. Ultimately, France decided not to adopt the pistol, instead selecting the conceptually similar but lower-capacity Modèle 1935 pistol.

The Browning Hi-Power has undergone continuous refinement by FN since its introduction. The pistols were originally made in two models: an "Ordinary Model" with fixed sights and an "Adjustable Rear Sight Model" with a tangent-type rear sight and a slotted grip for attaching a wooden shoulder stock. The adjustable sights are still available on commercial versions of the Hi-Power, although the shoulder stock mounts were discontinued during World War II. In 1962, the design was modified to replace the internal extractor with an external extractor, improving reliability.

Standard Hi-Powers are based on a single-action design. Unlike modern double-action semi-automatic pistols, the Hi-Power's trigger is not connected to the hammer. If a double-action pistol is carried with the hammer down with a round in the chamber and a loaded magazine installed, the shooter may fire the pistol either by simply squeezing the trigger or by pulling the hammer back to the cocked position and then squeezing the trigger. In contrast, a single-action pistol can only be fired with the hammer in the cocked position this is generally done when a loaded magazine is inserted and the slide cycled by hand. In common with the M1911, the Hi-Power is therefore typically carried with the hammer cocked, a round in the chamber and the safety catch on (a carry mode often called cocked and locked in the United States or "made ready" in the UK, or sometimes called condition one).

The Hi-Power, like many other Browning designs, operates on the short-recoil principle, where the barrel and slide initially recoil together until the barrel is unlocked from the slide by a cam arrangement. Unlike Browning's earlier Colt M1911 pistol, the barrel is not moved vertically by a toggling link, but instead by a hardened bar which crosses the frame under the barrel and contacts a slot under the chamber, at the rearmost part of the barrel. The barrel and slide recoil together for a short distance but, as the slot engages the bar, the chamber and the rear of the barrel are drawn downward and stopped. The downward movement of the barrel disengages it from the slide, which continues rearward, extracting the spent case from the chamber and ejecting it while also re-cocking the hammer. After the slide reaches the limit of its travel, the recoil spring brings it forward again, stripping a new round from the magazine and pushing it into the chamber. This also pushes the chamber and barrel forward. The cam slot and bar move the chamber upward and the locking lugs on the barrel re-engage those in the slide.

Design flaws Edit

The pistol has a tendency to "bite" the web of the shooter's hand, between the thumb and forefinger. This bite is caused by pressure from the hammer spur, or alternatively, by pinching between the hammer shank and grip tang. This problem can be fixed by altering or replacing the hammer, or by learning to hold the pistol to avoid injury. While a common complaint with the commercial models with spur hammers similar to that of the Colt "Government Model" automatic, it is seldom a problem with the military models, which have a smaller, rounded "burr" hammer, more like that of the Colt "Commander" compact version of the 1911. Another flaw is that the original small safety is very hard to release and re-engage. This is because when cocked, the shaft the safety turns on is under hammer spring pressure. Later versions went to a larger safety to address this issue. [17] [18] [19]

Browning Hi-Power pistols were used during World War II by both Allied and Axis forces. After occupying Belgium in 1940, German forces took over the FN plant. German troops subsequently used the Hi-Power, having assigned it the designation Pistole 640(b) ("b" for belgisch, "Belgian"). [6] Examples produced by FN in Belgium under German occupation bear German inspection and acceptance marks, or Waffenamts, such as WaA613. In German service, it was used mainly by Waffen-SS and Fallschirmjäger personnel.

High-Power pistols were also produced in Canada for Allied use, by John Inglis and Company in Toronto. The plans were sent from the FN factory to the UK when it became clear the Belgian plant would fall into German hands, enabling the Inglis factory to be tooled up for Hi-Power production for Allied use. Inglis produced two versions of the Hi-Power, one with an adjustable rear sight and detachable shoulder stock (primarily for a Nationalist Chinese contract) and one with a fixed rear sight. Production began in late 1944 and they were on issue by the March 1945 Operation Varsity airborne crossing of the Rhine into Germany. The pistol was popular with the British airborne forces as well as covert operations and commando groups such as the Special Operations Executive (SOE), the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the British Special Air Service (SAS) Regiment. Inglis High-Powers made for Commonwealth forces have the British designation 'Mk 1', or 'Mk 1*' and the manufacturer's details on the left of the slide. They were known in British and Commonwealth service as the 'Pistol No 2 Mk 1', or 'Pistol No 2 Mk 1*' where applicable. Serial numbers were 6 characters, the second being the letter 'T', e.g. 1T2345. Serial numbers on pistols for the Chinese contract instead used the letters 'CH', but otherwise followed the same format. When the Chinese contract was cancelled, all undelivered Chinese-style pistols were accepted by the Canadian military with designations of 'Pistol No 1 Mk 1' and 'Pistol No 1 Mk 1*'. [20]

In the postwar period, Hi-Power production continued at the FN factory and, as part of FN's product range which included the FN FAL rifle and FN MAG general-purpose machine gun. It has been adopted as the standard service pistol by over 50 armies in 93 countries. At one time most NATO nations used it, and it was standard issue to forces throughout the British Commonwealth. It was manufactured under licence, or in some cases cloned, on several continents. Former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein often carried a Browning Hi-Power. Former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi carried a gold-plated Hi-Power with his own face design on the left side of the grip which was waved around in the air by Libyan rebels after his death. [21] A Hi-Power was used by Mehmet Ali Agca during the assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II in 1981.

While the Hi-Power remains an excellent design, since the early 1990s it has been eclipsed somewhat by more modern designs which are often double-action and are manufactured using more modern methods. It remains in service throughout the world. As of 2017, the MK1 version remained the standard service pistol of the Canadian Armed Forces, with the SIG Sauer P226 being issued to specialised units along with the SIG Sauer P225. The weapon is the standard sidearm of the Belgian Army, Indian Army, Indonesian Armed Forces, Australian Defence Force, Argentine Army, Luxembourg Army, Israel Police, and Venezuelan Army, among others. The Irish Army replaced its Browning Pistols (known popularly as BAPs, or Browning Automatic Pistols) with the Heckler & Koch USP in 2007. From 2013 the British Army is replacing the Browning with the polymer-framed Glock 17 Gen 4 pistol, due to concerns about weight and the external safety of the pistol. [22]

In 2018, FN ended production of the Hi-Power. [23] The Hi-Power is still being produced under license by the Ishapore Rifle Factory in India, and unlicensed copies are still being built in other countries, including Hungary and Turkey. [24]

A locked-breech, semi-automatic, single-action, recoil-operated pistol. The Browning Hi-Power Mk I uses a 13-round staggered magazine.

  • Caliber: 9 mm
  • Length: 197 mm
  • Barrel length: 118 mm
    • length of rifled part: 100 mm
    • number of grooves: 6
    • direction of twist: right
    • (without stocks): 25.5 mm
    • (with loaded magazine): 1.060 kg
    • V12.50: 340 m/s
    • at 15 metres: 95 mm (height 50 mm, width 45 mm)
    • at 30 metres: 200 mm (height 105 mm, width 95 mm)
    • at 50 metres: 320 mm (height 170 mm, width 150 mm)

    Genuine Browning Hi-Power P-35s were manufactured until 2017 by FN Herstal of Belgium and Portugal and under licence by Fabricaciones Militares (FM) of Argentina. The Hi-Power remains one of the most influential pistols in the history of small arms. It has inspired a number of clone manufacturers (including Charles Daly of the Philippines & the US, FEG of Hungary, Arcus of Bulgaria, IMI of Israel, and others). Many modern pistols borrow features from it, such as the staggered column high-capacity magazine, and the Browning linkless cam locking system (which on modern pistols is often simplified so that the barrel locks into the ejection port, meaning the barrel and slide do not have to be machined for locking lugs). Until recently, FEG made an almost exact clone in 9mm and .40 S&W, but the company now manufactures a version with modifications to the barrel, linkage, and slide stop that are incompatible with genuine Hi-Powers. Arcus has also superseded its Arcus 94 Hi-Power clone with the Arcus 98DA, a model that draws heavily from the Hi-Power but is capable of double-action operation.

    Did Belgian detectives wear special shoes in 1939? - History

    The Wizard of Oz (1939) is everybody's cherished favorite, perennial fantasy film musical from MGM during its golden years. It was first re-released in 1949, and then in 1955, and then for many seasons, it was featured regularly on network TV as a prime time event (its first two showings were on CBS television on November 3, 1956 and in December, 1959). The movie soon became a classic institution with annual showings for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and/or Easter time, and was a rite of passage for everyone, and probably has been seen by more people than any other motion picture over multiple decades. According to the Library of Congress, the musical fantasy is the most watched movie in history. Initially, however, the film was not commercially successful (at $3 million) with production and promotion costs set at $3 million, but it was critically acclaimed.

    All of its images (the Yellow Brick Road, the Kansas twister), characters (e.g., Auntie Em, Toto, Dorothy, the Wicked Witch), dialogue (e.g., "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!", "We're not in Kansas anymore," "Follow the Yellow Brick Road," or the film's final line: "There's no place like home"), and music ("Over the Rainbow") have become indelibly remembered, and the classic film has been honored with dozens of books, TV shows (such as HBO's dramatic prison series Oz), references in other films, and even by pop groups (singer Elton John with his Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road album, or Pink Floyd's 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon).

    The film's plot is easily condensed: lonely and sad Kansas farmgirl Dorothy dreams of a better place, without torment against her dog Toto from a hateful neighbor spinster, so she plans to run away. During a fierce tornado, she is struck on the head and transported to a land 'beyond the rainbow' where she meets magical characters from her Kansas life transformed within her unconscious dream state. After travels down a Yellow Brick Road to the Land of Oz, and the defeat of the Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy and her friends are rewarded by the Wizard of Oz with their hearts' desires - and Dorothy is enabled to return home to Kansas.

    All of the featured actors and actresses - Judy Garland, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Ray Bolger, Margaret Hamilton, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, Charley Grapewin and Clara Blandick - had successful, long film careers before and after the film, but this film is the one all of them have become best known for, and in some cases, the only film they are remembered for. Garland's career was overshadowed by the film, despite appearing in many classic films and musicals, including those for which she received Oscar nominations (A Star is Born (1954) and Judgment in Nuremberg (1961).) This was the sole film for which she received an Oscar, albeit an honorary special award for her "outstanding performance as a screen juvenile." (Garland had just completed the successful hit films Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) and Babes in Arms (1939) with Mickey Rooney.)

    The popular film was brilliantly adapted from L. Frank Baum's venerated children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (written in 1899 and published in 1900) by three credited writers Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and E.A. Woolf, and a team of many uncredited scriptwriters (including Arthur Freed, Herman Mankiewicz, Sid Silvers, and Ogden Nash). Langley insisted that the fantastical characters have real-life counterparts to make them more believable, as they had also existed in the 1925 silent film version.

    Dual Roles
    Many of the film's characters play two roles - one in Kansas and their counterparts in the Land of Oz,
    the locale of the young heroine's troubled dreams.
    Kansas Role Oz Role(s) Actor/Actress
    Hunk Scarecrow Ray Bolger
    Hickory Tin Man Jack Haley
    Zeke Cowardly Lion Bert Lahr
    Miss Almira Gulch Wicked Witch of the West Margaret Hamilton
    Professor Marvel Emerald City Doorman/Cabbie/The Wizard's Guard/The Wizard of Oz Frank Morgan

    The first line of the book follows: "Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer's wife." The Wizard of Oz was first performed as an on-stage musical in 1902-03 in Chicago and New York. It premiered at the Grand Opera House in Chicago on June 16, 1902, and made stars of vaudeville team members David Montgomery (the Tin Woodman) and Fred Stone (the Scarecrow). On January 21, 1903, the show opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre in New York. The show was so popular (the production tallied over 290 performances and was the longest running show of the decade) that it toured the country in road shows lasting until 1911. [Much more recently, New York City's Radio City Music Hall presented an annual, limited-run, live stage version of the 1939 MGM musical.]

    The book was made into films (and other creative works) on many different occasions during the silent era, and many times afterwards stretching to the present day. [Note: Archivist Mark Evan Swartz' book Oz Before the Rainbow (2000) compiled an in-depth history of the evolution of Baum's work with all its stage and screen permutations up through the 1939 MGM musical version, and its significant cultural influences]:

    From Selig Polyscope Company.

    The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914)
    The Magic Cloak (1914)

    His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz (1914) (aka The New Wizard of Oz)

    There was a near-fatal burning accident on the set involving Margaret Hamilton. Two scenes, the Scarecrow's (Ray Bolger) dance, and the jitterbug dance were edited out of the final film - as was Ebsen's singing of "If I Only Had A Heart." [Note: The magic world of OZ was named after the alphabetical letters O - Z on the bottom drawer of Baum's file cabinet.]

    There were a total of four directors who collaborated in the making of the film: first, Richard Thorpe (for almost two weeks) and then George Cukor (for two or three days). Victor Fleming (the credited director) was involved for four months, but was hired away by David O. Selznick to direct Gone With the Wind (1939). An uncredited King Vidor finished the production in ten more days, which consisted mostly of completing the film's opening and closing sepia sequences in the Kansas scenes.

    The film perfectly integrated the musical numbers (songs by Harold Arlen and E.Y. ('Yip') Harburg) with the action of the plot - enhancing and advancing the suspenseful narrative. The scenes in bleak Kansas were shot in drab sepia tone, with brilliant, vibrant, 3-strip Technicolor used for the fantasy scenes in the journey to Oz. The special effects, by Arnold Gillespie, included the cyclone sequence, the flying winged monkeys, the Emerald City views, the poppyfield, and the message written by the witch in the sky: "Surrender Dorothy."

    An interesting sidenote: the plot of The Wizard of Oz has often been used, rightly or wrongly, as a Parable on Populism in the Gilded Age, to explain the political situation at the time of its writing, including the 1896 Presidential election, and the turn-of-the-century Populist movement. Here are a few of the allegorical connections, most of which were originally recognized by Henry M. Littlefield, and published in the American Quarterly in 1967:

    • the land of Oz - oz. is the standard abbreviation for ounce, in accordance with the other symbolism
    • Four land areas in Oz, plus a major city
      • the Eastern area (Munchkin Country, blue in color, representing 'blue collar' workers)
      • the Western area (Winkies Country, yellow in color, land of desert and gold)
      • the Northern area (Gillikin Country, purple in color)
      • the Southern area (Quadling Country, red in color, representing 'red-necks')
      • Emerald City - representative of Washington, D.C., with a greenish color associated with greenbacks (in the center of the land of Oz, bordering all four areas)
      • the Good Witch of the North - New England, a stronghold of Populists
      • the Good Witch of the South - the South, another Populist area
      • the Wicked Witch of the East - the Eastern industrialists and bankers (money interests) who controlled the people when the Wicked Witch of the East was killed off (immediately), the Munchkins (little people or workers) were freed, and Dorothy acquired the Witch's shoes
      • the Wicked Witch of the West - she assembled forces (flying monkeys, the Winkies, etc.) to attack Dorothy (and her companions) and acquire her magical shoes
      • Dorothy Gale - she was representative of the good-natured American people, kind-hearted, from Kansas she rode a tornado (or gale) to the land of Oz possibly a young Mary Lease
      • Dorothy's silver shoes ('ruby' in the film to take advantage of Technicolor) - representative of the 'silver standard' (acc. to the Populists, "the free and unlimited coinage of silver") the "Free Silver Movement" was known as the "storm out of Kansas" Dorothy acquired the shoes (with a powerful charm) of the Wicked Witch of the East, and then began her quest to Oz on the 'yellow brick' road
      • Toto - representative of the Prohibitionists (or Temperance Party) who were known as 'Teetotalers' ("Toto followed soberly behind") they were an important part of the 'silverite' coalition
      • the Scarecrow - wise and smart (although he thought he needed a brain) representative of the naive (and exploited) western farmers
      • the Tin Woodman - efficient (although he thought he needed a heart) representative of the dehumanized Eastern factory workers he was freed when Dorothy oiled his joints
      • the Cowardly Lion - brave (although he thought he needed courage) representative of Democratic-Populist Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, a proponent of free silver, a great orator who delivered "The Cross of Gold" speech promoting bimetallism or free silver at the 1896 Democratic Convention
      • the Wizard - at first appearing as a giant head - a politician representative of President Grover Cleveland, or Republican Presidential candidate William McKinley
      • the Kalidads (tigers/bears) - scared off by the Cowardly Lion, representative of journalists

      Because Buddy Ebsen (later noted for being cast as Jed Clampett in TV's The Beverly Hillbillies) was removed from the production as the original Tin Man because of an adverse allergic reaction to silver dust make-up, Jack Haley replaced him. [Haley was the father of producer Jack Haley, Jr., who was once married to Judy Garland's daughter Liza Minnelli for five years from 1974-78.] Established 20th Century Fox's star Shirley Temple was considered for the Garland Kansas farmgirl role (but the studio refused to loan her out to MGM), as was W.C. Fields for the role of the Wizard, and Gale Sondergaard as the Wicked Witch. Universal's Deanna Durbin was also considered to play the lead role of Dorothy. Ray Bolger was originally cast as the Tin Woodsman, but changed his mind to play the Scarecrow - in recognition of his childhood idol Fred Stone (who had originated the stage role in the early 1900s), and because he claimed a pre-existing verbal agreement.

      The beloved film in Hollywood's most classic year was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture (producer Mervyn LeRoy), Best Color Cinematography (Hal Rosson), Best Interior Decoration (Cedric Gibbons, William A. Horning), Best Special Effects, Best Song ("Over the Rainbow" by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg) and Best Original Score (Herbert Stothart), and won only two Oscars - for its dual musical nominations. [It was competing against the domineering multiple Oscar winner, Gone With the Wind (1939).]

      The opening title of the film introduces the fantasy tale:

      For nearly forty years this story has given faithful service to the Young in Heart and Time has been powerless to put its kindly philosophy out of fashion. To those of you who have been faithful to it in return. and to the Young in Heart. we dedicate this picture.

      In an expressionistic, sepia-toned (beige) opening, young adopted orphan Dorothy Gale (16 year old star Judy Garland, whose real name was Frances Gumm) hurries down a flat, dusty Kansas country road with fences on either side, accompanied by her small black terrier dog Toto. [Teenaged Judy Garland was far too old for the part of young 9 year-old Dorothy in Baum's storybook - so her breasts had to be bound to flatten them and make her appear younger. She wears a blue-and-white gingham pinafore, and sports pigtails.] Obviously being chased or pursued, Dorothy is breathlessly concerned about the welfare of her pet:

      She isn't coming yet. Toto - did she hurt you? She tried to, didn't she? Come on, we'll go tell Uncle Henry and Auntie Em!

      Apprehensively, Dorothy rushes into the bustling family farm and flings open the gate where her guardians - matriarchal Auntie Em (Emily) (Clara Blandick) and kindly Uncle Henry (Charles Grapewin) are counting eggs/chicks - their source of income - and worrying about their broken down chicken incubator. [They bluntly ignore their real 'chick' - Dorothy herself.] She attempts to tell them about their nasty neighbor, the dreaded Miss Almira Gulch (Margaret Hamilton):

      Dorothy: Just listen to what Miss Gulch did to Toto. She --
      Auntie Em: Dorothy, please. We're trying to count.
      Dorothy: Oh, but Aunt Em, she.
      Uncle Henry: (gently admonishing) Don't bother us now, honey. This old incubator's goin' bad and we're likely to lose some of our chicks.

      The upset young girl isn't taken seriously by her aunt and uncle - the adults are too busy with saving some newly-hatched chicks to be bothered and listen to her foolish concerns. Dorothy tries to convince them that Miss Gulch hit Toto on the back with a rake because he got into her garden and chased her "nasty old cat." "He doesn't do it every day - just once or twice a week and he can't catch her old cat anyway," she explains. The cranky neighbor is threatening to have her little dog taken by the sheriff and put to sleep.

      Dorothy takes her problem over to the farm's hired helpers who are fixing a wagon in the farmyard - maybe they will listen. Tall and slender hired man Hunk (Ray Bolger), quickly characterized as lacking brains and intelligence (foreshadowing his other role as the brains-lacking Scarecrow), off-handedly counsels Dorothy, prophetically, to use her brain - and not walk home near Mrs. Gulch's house to avoid trouble:

      Hunk: Now look it, Dorothy. You ain't usin' your head about Miss Gulch. Think you didn't have any brains at all!
      Dorothy: I have so got brains.
      Hunk: Well, why don't you use 'em? When you come home, don't go by Miss Gulch's place. Then Toto won't get in her garden, and you won't get in no trouble, see?
      Dorothy: Oh, Hunk. You just won't listen, that's all.
      Hunk: Well, your head ain't made of straw, you know.

      Farm worker Zeke (Bert Lahr) is herding the hogs into a fenced enclosure. As Zeke feeds the pigs and Dorothy tight-rope walks precariously across a pig-pen fence top, he prophetically advises the distraught girl to have courage (foreshadowing future scenes of his own bravery and cowardice as the Cowardly Lion):

      Zeke (to the pigs): Say, get in there before I make a dime bank outta ya! (To Dorothy) Are you gonna let that ol' Gulch heifer try and buffalo ya? She ain't nothin' to be afraid of. Have a little courage, that's all.
      Dorothy: I'm not afraid of her.
      Zeke: Well, the next time she squawks, walk right up to her and spit in her eye. That's what I'd do.

      Dorothy topples off the fence railing into the pig sty, causing Zeke to frantically haul her out from the squealing pigs and rescue her from being trampled - and then faint with fright at his own bravery . After being rescued, Dorothy realizes: "Why Zeke, you're just as scared as I am!" Hunk teases Zeke: "What's the matter? Gonna let a little ol' pig make a coward out of ya?" The third hired hand, Hickory (Jack Haley), who has been preoccupied with "tinkering" on a metal contraption joins the commotion. [He is building a tornado-stopping device in an attempt to become famous - something that was cut from the script.] Auntie Em is disturbed by the "three shiftless farmhands" and their "jabber-wapping when there's work to be done," but Hickory, who desires social status and respect boasts (foreshadowing a future scene in which, as the Tin Man, he is frozen with rust like a statue): "But someday, they're gonna erect a statue to me in this town." She jokes with him: "Well, don't start posing for it now."

      After giving everyone some freshly baked crullers [fat-fried sweet cakes], Dorothy's harried Aunt rebuffs her and sternly chides her for causing trouble - suggesting that she find a place where she won't get into anyone's way:

      Now Dorothy, will you stop imagining things. You always get yourself into a fret over nothing. Now you just help us out today and find yourself a place where you won't get into any trouble.

      This cues up a forlorn and crestfallen Dorothy for the singing of her beloved, haunting and plaintive, but immortal song "Over the Rainbow." Dreaming, yearning and wistfully longing for a trouble-free, fascinating, far-away world beyond her home-land where happiness can be found - where bluebirds fly and there are colorful rainbows. [In Baum's book, Kansas was "gray" and drab - appropriately accentuated by the sepia-toned opening that is faithful to the source material.] In the barnyard, she strolls from a bale of hay (on which she leans back), to an old wheel (that she pulls), to a discarded piece of farm machinery (on which she and Toto sit), while singing about leaving her home:

      (Speaking) Some place where there isn't any trouble
      (To Toto) Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be.
      It's not a place you can get to by a boat or a train,
      It's far, far away, behind the moon, beyond the rain.

      (Singing) Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
      There's a land that I've heard of, once in a lullaby
      Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
      And the dreams that you dare to dream
      Really do come true
      Some day I'll wish upon a star
      And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
      Where troubles melt like lemon drops
      Away above the chimney tops
      That's where you'll find me

      Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly
      Birds fly over the rainbow
      Why then, oh why, can't I?

      Songbirds sing as shafts of sunlight pierce through the clouds.

      If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow
      Why, oh why, can't I?

      Just then, in a memorable image accompanied with ominous music, Dorothy's fantasies are shattered by the appearance of a stern-faced, ugly Miss Gulch riding her creaky bicycle down the country road toward the farm. After leaning her bicycle against the fence, she speaks to Henry to complain about Dorothy (actually about Dorothy's dog):

      Miss Gulch: I want to see you and your wife right away about Dorothy.
      Henry: Dorothy? Well, what has Dorothy done?
      Miss Gulch: What's she done? I'm all but lame from the bite on my leg.
      Henry: You mean she bit ya?
      Miss Gulch: No, her dog.
      Henry: Oh, she bit her dog, eh?

      In the living room, the exasperated, unpleasant and sour Miss Gulch presents Dorothy's guardians with an ultimatum. She has a court order to take Toto away as Dorothy clutches her dog protectively in her arms: "That dog's a menace to the community. I'm taking him to the sheriff and make sure he's destroyed." Dorothy begs for reconsideration: "Destroyed? Toto? Oh you can't. You mustn't. Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, you won't let her, will ya. Please, Aunt Em. Toto didn't mean to. He didn't know he was doing anything wrong. I'm the one that ought to be punished. I let him go in her garden. You can send me to bed without supper." Dorothy identifies with her dog - and volunteers to take Toto's place for punishment. The hated, nasty woman threatens further action (to take the whole farm if she doesn't get the dog), although Auntie Em insinuates that Toto is harmless to almost everyone:

      Miss Gulch: If you don't hand over that dog, I'll bring a damage suit that will take your whole farm. There's a law protectin' folks against dogs that bite.
      Auntie Em: How would it be if she keeps him tied up? He's really gentle, with gentle people, that is.
      Miss Gulch: Well, that's for the sheriff to decide.

      Miss Gulch presents a sheriff's order allowing her to take Toto, and Dorothy's helpless guardians, after protesting with only token resistance, are forced to comply with the law and give up the dog: "Well, we can't go against the law, Dorothy. I'm afraid poor Toto will have to go." As Uncle Henry stuffs Toto into the wicker basket to be put on the back of the woman's bicycle, Dorothy prophetically screams: "No, no, I won't let you take him. You go away, well I'll bite you myself. You wicked old witch! " After Dorothy turns away to her room, sobbing, Auntie Em criticizes Miss Gulch for her misguided influence and strength in the community - but then withholds her anger due to her "Christian" charity:

      Almira Gulch! Just because you own half the county doesn't mean you have the power to run the rest of us. For twenty-three years, I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you. And now, well, being a Christian woman, I can't say it.

      A little way down the country road as Miss Gulch pedals away, the redoubtable Toto pokes his head out of her wicker basket and escapes from her clutches - he jumps out as she rides off unaware. He scurries back to the farm and jumps into the window of Dorothy's bedroom [with poppy-flower wallpaper] to be embraced and hugged tightly (where Dorothy lies crying next to her bed). Fearing that Miss Gulch will return to claim Toto, and realizing how inadequate and weak the adult figures (parent substitutes) are in her life, Dorothy immediately decides to take control of her own destiny. She determines that she will run away from home with Toto:

      They'll be coming back for you any minute. We've got to get away. We've got to run away.

      Without hesitation, she swiftly packs her suitcase and they trudge down the lonely country dirt road together to find a better world away from the farm. On their way after crossing a wooden bridge, the runaways encounter a horse-drawn carnival wagon broken down in an embankment, inscribed on the side with big letters: "Professor MARVEL, Acclaimed by The Crowned Heads of Europe, Let Him Read Your Past, Present & Future in His Crystal, Also Juggling and Sleight of Hand."

      Prophetically also, white-haired Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan), dressed in formal clothes and wearing a black neckerchief around his collar is a genial, but fraudulent, down-and-out fortune teller and carnival showman. Playing his accustomed role as a kindly fortune teller, he makes several guesses about what she is doing by analyzing her appearance, while roasting a hot dog/sausage on a long stick over an open fire at his campsite. He miraculously divines/'guesses' her plight and objectives by noting her little suitcase:

      The Professor: You're traveling in disguise, no, that's not right, I. you're going on a visit? No, I'm wrong, that's, uh, you're, uh, you're running away.
      Dorothy: How did you guess?
      The Professor: Professor Marvel never guesses, he knows. Now why are you running away? No, no, no, don't tell me. Uh, they don't understand you at home, they don't appreciate you. You want to see other lands, big cities, big mountains, big oceans!
      Dorothy: Why, it's just like you could read what was inside of me.

      While Professor Marvel is not looking, Toto impolitely eats his hot dog, but is quickly forgiven by the medicine man.

      Dorothy wishes to join him on his adventures: "Why can't we go with you and see all the Crowned Heads of Europe?" To find an answer to her request, he consults his crystal ball inside the wagon: "I never do anything without consulting my crystal first." He leads Dorothy inside the wagon where a crystal ball rests on a low table. To promote his magic, he removes his broad-brimmed black hat and places a silken turban on his head:

      This is the same, genuine magic authentic crystal used by the priests of Isis and Osiris in the days of the Pharaohs of Egypt, in which Cleopatra first saw the approach of Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. And so on and so on.

      After she is instructed to close her eyes so she can be "better in tune with the infinite," he rummages through her basket and finds a photo of her with her kindly Aunt next to the farm's white picket fence. Cleverly, he reports a painful vision of a house, a picket fence, a barn, a weathervane of a running horse, and a care-worn farm woman wearing a polka-dot dress. He reports that the woman is crying:

      The Professor: Her name is Emily.
      Dorothy: That's right. What's she doing?
      The Professor: Well I, uh, I can't quite see. Why she's crying. Someone has hurt her. Someone has just about broken her heart.
      Dorothy: Me?
      The Professor: Well, it's uh, someone she loves very much. Someone she's been very kind to. Someone she's taken care of in sickness.
      Dorothy: I had the measles once and she stayed right by me every minute. What's she doing now?
      The Professor: . What's this? Well, she's, she's putting her hand on her heart. Oh, she's, she's dropping down on the bed.

      In a very subtle manner, Professor Marvel forces Dorothy to fear both losing and hurting her Auntie Em. He persuades Dorothy to return home, playing on her sense of loyalty and concern toward her family. Understandably, Dorothy is worried about her absence from the farm and its effect upon her sick Aunt. She jumps up and is willing to return home immediately, as a fierce storm brews and looms on the horizon: "I have to get to her right away." She turns back to thank the Professor before hurrying up to the road to get home: "Goodbye, Professor Marvel, and thanks a lot." Marvel is concerned about the safety of his horse and the young girl: "Better get under cover, Sylvester, there's a storm blowin' up, a whopper! Just speakin' the vernacular of the peasantry. Poor little kid. I hope she get's home all right."

      Watch the video: Do you want to know more about Belgium? subtitled NLFR