Pyramid of captured German helmets, New York, 1919

This interesting photo, taken in 1919, shows New York Central Railroad employees at a celebration at Victory Way, showing a pyramid of recovered German helmets in front of Grand Central Terminal. At the end of the war there were over 12,000 German Pickelhausen on the pyramid, shipped from warehouses in Germany.

Victory Way was established on Park Avenue to raise funds for the 5th War Loan, and a pyramid of 12,000 helmets was built at each end, along with other German war equipment. There is a hollow supporting structure under the helmet.

While many details of the image have been confirmed, the figure placed at the top of the pyramid is still the subject of speculation. Some sources believe that it is Nike, the goddess of victory. There are also two cannons located to the left and right of the Helmet Pyramid.

Beyond a well-crafted shot, this photograph is interesting for its symbolism, social impact, and historical significance. Many people can see so many enemy helmets, with each helmet representing a dead or captured soldier.

And how does such public display affect the psyche of citizens? Its location near Grand Central Terminal means it will be visited by many. Cannons in the foreground, numerous flags, eagles on the pillars; The symbolism is very powerful in this shot.

All helmets produced for infantry before and during 1914 were made of leather. As the war progressed, Germany's leather reserves dwindled. Following extensive imports from South America, particularly Argentina, the German government began to produce ersatz Pickelhausen made from other materials.

In 1915, some Pickelhausen began to be made from thin sheet steel. However, the German high command needed to produce an even greater number of helmets, which led to pressures being felt to manufacture the Pickelhausen and even the use of paper.

During the early months of World War I, it was soon discovered that the Pickelhube did not suit the demanding conditions of trench warfare. The leather helmet provided virtually no protection against shell fragments and shrapnel and the distinctive spike made its wearer a target.

These shortcomings, combined with a lack of material, led to the introduction of the simplified Model 1915 helmet with a detachable spike. In September 1915 it was ordered that new helmets without spikes should be worn when on the front lines.

Beginning in 1916, the Pickelhaub was gradually replaced by a new German steel helmet (Sthlheim), which was intended to provide greater head protection from shell fragments. German steel helmets reduced German head wound deaths by 70%.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.