Thursday, August 6, 2015

German Wehrmacht Soldier Photo, 90th Infantry Regiment, circa 1930's

Here is another very interesting photo that I recently picked up.  The photo is an original studio photo that was printed on "photo postcard" paper, with scalloped edges.  The photo appears to have been taken before the start of WW2, in the mid to late 1930's.

The photo does not have any notations or writing on the back side, but the photo itself has some vital clues about the date and identity of the military unit the soldier belonged to.

The soldier is wearing the formal "Waffenrock des Deutschen Heeres" uniform tunic, with Nazi breast eagle. 
This version of the Waffenrock tunic was first introduced on June 29th, 1935.  The Waffenrock uniform was suspended in 1940.  The Waffenrock was often worn when soldiers were married, or on other special occasions, even after 1940.  It was an "unofficial tradition" to loan out a Waffenrock uniform from unit stocks to the soldier-groom for his wedding.  Since this is not a "wedding photo", it places the time period as pre-1940.  Normally all medals and awards are worn on the Waffenrock, and in this photo, there are none.  This would also point towards a pre-WW2 date.
The breast eagle was added to all uniforms on February 17th, 1934.  The breast eagle in this photo, is the first version.  The eagle is embroidered in white, on a backing cloth of Ash Gray.  This version of the breast eagle was used from 1934-1937.  After 1937, the backing cloth was a dark, emerald green.

The shoulder boards on the uniform are embroidered with the Arabic number "90".  The uniform and shoulder boards are edged with white piping, indicating infantry.  This tells us that the soldier belonged to the 90th Infantry Regiment.  After a bit of research, I located a bit of information on this unit.  

The 90th Regiment belonged to the 1st Battalion of the Wehrmacht.  The first reports that I can find that comment on this unit in combat, are from November of 1941, on the Russian Front, Operation Barbarossa.   The unit came under heavy attack by the Russians and they had to retreat, leaving behind 80 of their soldiers.  After  the Wehrmacht re-took the territory lost, they discovered the 80 soldiers that had been captured.  All were dead.  A German military investigation took place that documented the war crimes that were committed against the captured soldiers by the Russians.

I would assume that the 90th Regiment would have also have participated in the invasion of Poland in 1939 as well, but I am not certain.  The unit history research continues............

The uniform and insignia fall into the 1935-1937 time window.  There is a lack of awards and medals that would seem to indicate pre-war time period as well.  When we add to that, the physical appearance of the soldier:  Calm, Relaxed, Healthy, I think it is very safe to date the photo as mid to late 1930's, before the start of WW2.

There is not much to show on the back of the photo, but for research purposes, here is a photo of the back side.

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