Czechoslovakian vz.32

Czechoslovakian soldiers with a pattern 24 heavy machine gun*

General Information: The vz.32 was the main helmet used by Czechoslovakian armed forces up to the period just before the beginning of the Second World War. After the German occupation of the Czech portion of Czechoslovakia in March of 1939 and the dissolution of its army, the weapons and materiel of the Czechoslovakian army, including large quantities of vz.32 helmets, were seized by the Germans. These helmets eventually found their way into the stores of a surprising number of armed forces from several countries. Some were used by the Nazi puppet state of Slovakia. Many vz.32s were eventually pressed into use by German Wehrmacht (army), Feldgendarmerie (field police), and Luftschutz (air raid protection) units. The Finns received 50,000 vz.32s.[1] Some were issued to units within the Italian Air Force,[2] although these likely came from captured stocks of the Yugoslavian version of the vz.32, the M39 “Čačak” helmet. The Germans supplied the Estonians with vz.32s.[3] The Chilean army used the Czechoslovakian helmets from 1939 up to 1970.[4] The Danish State Railway police (DSB) were issued vz.32s during World War Two.[5] These can be identified by silver dollar sized disks stamped “DAB” attached to the sides of the helmets. Some were used by Dutch wartime civil defense units.** The Russian Protective Corps, a pro-German security force operating in Serbia, used vz.32s with a stenciled Georgian cross on the front of the helmet. In the early postwar period, the Poles used some vz.32s for their armed forces as well as for civil defense and firemen.**

Production of the vz.32s ran from 1934 to 1939. There was also a postwar production run of helmets that are dated 1950.** Helmets produced postwar, or refurbished for use by civil defense units and firemen, were painted black. Some of these helmets had chinstrap lugs attached with split pins rather than rivets.**

The vz.32s were produced by three companies within Czechoslovakia:[6]

  1. Sandrik, in Dolné Hámre (Slovakia)
  2. Carl August Scholtz, in Matejovce (Slovakia)
  3. Brüder Gottlieb und Brauchbar in Brno[7] (Moravia/Czech region)

Two of these companies C.A. Scholtz and Brüder Gottlieb und Brauchbar also made German-style Model 1917 helmets during the First World War[8] when they were part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It’s is interesting to make a side-by-side comparison of the Austro-Hungarian M17s and the Czechoslovakian vz.32s. They would have been made using some of the same machinery and some of the same processes. The domed split pins used for attachment of the chinstrap loops on the M17s look very similar to the prominent split pins used on the vz.32. The brown color paint used on the two models is also very similar.  Sandrik and Brüder Gottlieb und Brauchbar made M36 helmets for export to Bulgaria.[9] These also have used high-profile domed split pins.

The helmets had army acceptance stamps between the two rear liner pads that consisted of three elements: the Bohemian lion, a two-digit number representing the year of manufacture, and an abbreviation indicating the manufacturer. The abbreviations used were as follows:

  1. S-D-H: Sandrik
  2. Sch-M: C.A. Scholtz
  3. BratriG&BBrno: Brüder Gottlieb und Brauchbar

In some of the earliest helmets produced by Brüder Gottleib und Brauchbar, the acceptance stamp is a lion flanked by “E” and “34.”** In addition to the army acceptance stamps between the liner pads, some helmets had factory stamps as follows: A rosette emblem plus “SANDRDIK,” “SCHOLTZ MATEJOVCE” inside an oval, and “BGB” with an anchor inside a shield.**      

The helmet was produced in two sizes: 81cm and 85cm[10]

Displayed Example: This helmet has the S-D-H manufacturer’s stamp for the Sandrik complex, in Dolné Hámre. The “38” indicates it was manufactured in 1938. The Bohemian lion part of the stamp is blurred. The reverse side of the liner pads have the same stamp: S-D-H, Bohemian lion, 38. The helmet is complete and unaltered from its pre-World War Two state.

Collector Notes: This very interesting and widely used WWII helmet type can be found for very modest prices. Be wary of postwar black-painted civic versions being presented as something other than what they are. Many of these can be found with fake Nazi decals. In the 1930s a civic version of the vz.32 was manufactured. These had web chinstraps and generally lacked acceptance stamps. Some of these were pressed into service by the Czechoslovakian army in limited numbers in 1945 and also later in the postwar period. For collectors, however, they lack the cachet of the strictly military version.

* Quartermaster Section. Pattern 24 Heavy Machine Gun.

** Klokocnik, Radovan. Personal communication. Email October 18, 2022.

[1] Roudasmaa. 1996. pp62

[2] Marzetti. 2003. pp231

[3] Marzetti. 2003. pp104

[4] Marzetti. 2003. pp75

[5] Marzetti. 2003. pp95

[6] Marzetti. 2003. pp69

[7] References to this company can be confusing because it is written in different ways. I have also seen: “Gottlieb Brauchbar, Brno” and “Brno. Bruders und de Gottliebs & Brauchbar.” The city names vary as well depending on the language and the period. “Brno” is “Brünn” in German and “Matejovce” is “Mateócz” in Hungarian.

[8] Lafitte (aka). German Helmet Walhalla. Austrian Helmets Manufacturers Codes. Post #1.

[9] Philip’s Military Helmets albums. Bulgarian M36B Type 1.

[10] World War Helmets. Tchécoslovaquie Casque Vz 32.

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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