Austro-Hungarian Berndorfer*


General Information: The Berndorfer was the first steel helmet produced by Austro-Hungary. It was referred to as the “Stahlhelme nach inländischem Muster” or “Steel helmets of domestic pattern,” which is commonly translated these days as the “domestic model.” It was also simply called “Berndorfer Stahlhelme,” or “Berndorfer steel helmet.” “Berndorfer” is the name most typically used by collectors.

The helmet was produced by the Arthur Krupp A.G. firm in Berndorf, Austria, hence the name. The first deliveries of the helmet were in May of 1917 and production continued until November of the same year when production ceased. Ultimately Arthur Krupp manufactured 139,968 of the Berndorfer helmets.[1] The helmets had five different liner systems[2], the most common of which was the type that followed the German Model 1916 with three brown leather liner pads.[3] The helmets were produced in one size – 66cm.[4] The Berndorfers had a unique chinstrap that used a clamp rather than a roller buckle like most of the Austro-Hungarian German model helmet. The ventilation system with a disk at the top was unique to the domestic model Berndorfer. These helmets also had a unique brow plate to provide extra protection. These were secured to the helmet via a pair of hooks that attached to the visor, a metal strap that attached to the ventilation disk, and a cloth strap, like the chinstrap, that wound around the back of the helmet and was secured under the protruding rear screw that held the liner band. On some helmets there was a two-pronged hook in the back to secure the brow plate strap. The Berndorfer logo, which was a bear in profile, was stamped in the center rear skirt section of the helmet.

Displayed Example: I was noodling around on the internet a few years ago looking at the website for Military Antiques in the UK. In one of the descriptions, the dealer mentioned that he would be posting for sale a Berndorfer. I wrote to him and we closed a deal before the thing was listed on his website. It was a lucky score for a hard-to-find helmet type.

Collector Notes: The Berndorfer is a scarce and highly sought-after helmet. Expect to pay a high price for one of the puppies, unless you get lucky. (I once bought one for $200 from somebody who had no idea what it was.) One thing to be aware of is that the Arthur Krupp firm produced a German model helmet after production of the domestic model ceased. These differed from German model helmets produced by other companies in the Austro-Hungarian empire. The liner bands were secured by a small split pin located behind, rather than forward of, the helmet lugs. The liner bands and chinstraps on these helmets followed the design used on the earlier helmets. These later-production helmets from Arthur Krupp as also sometimes referred to as “Berndorfers” but are usually distinguished from the domestic models by referring to them as “German model Berndorfer,” or occasionally the “Model 1918 Berndorfer.” They are also frequently referred to erroneously as the “Hungarian” helmet following an early collector misconception that they were produced in the Hungarian part of the empire.

* Deaccessioned

* Citation pending

[1] Haselgrove. 2005. pp19-21.

[2] Osio, Ari. “WWI Austro-Hungarian Helmets” (Facebook private group). March 3, 2018.

[3] Haselgrove. ibid

[4] Osio, Ari. ibid.

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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