For today's exhibition, I present the following item.............. A WW2 vintage, Deutsche Luftschutz Sanitätstasche, or in English, a German Civil Air Defense Warden's First Aid Kit. This kit dates back to the 1930's and was a veteran bring-back item by my grandfather who served in the US Army in France and Germany in WW2.
Here is how I recall the story behind this item, as told to me by grandfather. My grandfather, William R. Spannaus, served as a T5 Ordinance Specialist with the 405th Quartermaster Company attached to the 89th Division (The Rolling "W"), during WW2. The 89th Division landed in Le Harve, France in January of 1945, and shortly after that, as the 89th moved across France and into Germany, my grandfather picked up this first aid kit. He said that in one of the towns that they were passing through, there was a captured German supply train. and out of one of the many boxes of supplies on the train, came this first aid kit. He dumped out the contents and used the case as a shaving kit while serving in Europe and for many years after returning to the USA. My mom and uncle both remember my grandfather as always using this case as his shaving kit while they were growing up.
The case has a very faded pink date stamp that appears to show a date of 1937. I have not been able to find any stamps in the leather indicating dates, etc. The label indicates that it was filled with bandages, gauze, tinctures, creams and other minor first aid equipment. The leather on the lid straps is very worn and and some of the stitching has been restitched by hand. I will let the photos of the case speak for themselves:
Here's a little history and information on the Luftschutzwarndienst (LSW), or in English, The Air Protection Warning Service. The Luftschutzwarndienst was a civilian organization that was tasked with alerting the population of air raid attacks and for providing safety in air raid shelters, and for assistance to the civilian population after an air raid. First instituted in 1933, the service was originally voluntary up until 1943, when it was made mandatory for all German civilians, including women. The members were expected to purchase their own helmets and gear as their contribution to the war effort. There were catalogs that offered civil defense helmets for 5 Reich Marks each and also offered a selection of first aid kits and misc. equipment. In fact I found a scanned page from one of the old catalogs on the web that showed this same first aid kit for sale!
Here are a few historical propaganda posters from the Luftschutzwarndienst: