Saturday, October 22, 2016

Stylin' In World War II

They called him "Fast Heinz."

Okay, let's imagine that World War II wasn't about killing people and achieving world domination. Instead, it was a fashion contest to create the most stylish pictures. In other words - the objective was for ordinary soldiers or leaders or whoever, in some way connected to the war, trying to create a "look" that would pass muster on Madison Avenue.

Herewith, some contenders for "fashion plate wannabes of World War II."

Above, Hitler at Berchtesgaden on 16 August 1939. He hasn't actually invaded Poland yet, but the U-boats have put out to sea and he's decided to spend the day in his gangster outfit.

Beppo Schmid, Luftwaffe Intelligence boss. He couldn't quite get a handle on how many fighters the RAF had left, but he sure could pull off the leather trenchcoat look.

Aleksandra Grigoryevna Samusenko was a Soviet commander of a T-34 tank and a liaison officer during World War II. She was the only female tankman, er, tankwoman in the 1st Guards Tank Army. For our purposes, though, she is here because she had the prettiest smile in the 1st Guards Tank Army.

Bomber jackets could get quite creative.

Winston looking dapper early in the war.

And he could handle a tommy gun, too!

Coco Chanel is a controversial figure. Some say she was a German spy, but she was never charged with anything. Maybe it's cheating to include her here because basically she was a model.... But, what the heck - she pulls it off.

Yes, it's the crying guy from the Fall of France. Never mind the tears, though - anybody know his tailor? Reminds me of a Warren Zevon song.

(Pinterest/Leisa Shannon Art Studio).

Unfortunately, I don't know who Ginni was or why she was Down Under wearing US Army threads. My only information is the postcard itself, that she was in Australia during November 1942 - and she might have been somewhere else in the Pacific but put Australia for security reasons, so we can't even be sure of that. Those look like tropical fatigues. Apparently, Ginni was an Army nurse. However, whoever or wherever she was .... I'm sure the boys down there appreciated her presence.

Do you know how hard it is to pull off that "smokin' a pipe and lookin' bad" look? Well, RAF ace Douglas Bader (that's Sir Doug to us mortals) did it with ease.

So, you know that's Erich Harmann, right? Maybe the greatest Luftwaffe pilot of them all? Maybe you can tell from this shot why they called him "Bubi." Incidentally, for some reason the Germans loved lighting people from underneath, which any horror film director will tell you is the best way to look someone normal look like Dracula.

Do you know how hard it is to pull off that shade of green and still look classy? It looks like Scarlett O'Hara just pulled the drapes off the wall and made that dress out of them. But, give her props, Eva Braun pulls it off at Berchtesgaden.

Adolf Galland looks so awesome in his bomber jacket - and that goofy grin shows why he was dynamite with the ladies, too.

The Reichsmarschall with Galland (right) during an inspection tour in France during the Battle of Britain. Galland was one of the very few guys who could act normally and make sarcastic remarks to the fat man - "Send me a squadron of Spitfires" he once told Goering - but, when you're the best fighter pilot in the world, you have a little extra leeway.

I don't know anything about this girl or why she's wearing what appears to be a very authentic SS uniform, but it looks like it was made for her.

RAF Pilot Officer Robert D "Jumbo" Grassick looking relaxed and ready for anything. Who says you need to spend a lot to look like a model?

I know the center of attention here is Hitler - which is how he liked it (and probably why he dated a photographer, by the way). But the one who stands out in this shot is Heinz Guderian on the left. You have got to be a real badass to get away with that pimp collar in the middle of a bunch of killers.

Hans Ulrich Rudel. Luftwaffe legend. And, male model wannabe.

Ilse Hirsch was one of the most devoted Germans in the BDM. For some reason, women were among the most fanatical to the end - and beyond. Ilse participated in Operation Carnival and thereby showed that she was a true, honest-to-God, hard-core Party loyalist.

J. Edgar had files on everyone. If you even visited Washington, D.C., he knew that you had flipped off that teacher in third grade. It gave him ... leverage. Hoover has a building named after him, so let's show a little respect, okay?

Hermann-Friedrich “Jupp” Joppien had 70 victories, which was more than any Western Allied pilot. However, he was really a killer with the ladies when he donned that leather jacket. Check out the "oh, I'm just casually working my gloves" modelling trick.

Air Vice Marshall Keith Park was the point man in the Battle of Britain. If any one man saved England, he was the guy. For his pains, he basically was cashiered as soon as the smoke cleared so someone else with pull could take his spot. However, he still look stylish in that flight jacket, and he looks like he's trying to sell that plane.

King Leopold got kind of bad rap when he surrendered about a week too early for England's liking. He knew how to stand out among the troops, though. "I'm just stridin' down by the tanks...."

King Michael was one of the true unsung heroes of the war. He changed sides at just the right moment to avoid a lot of unnecessary bloodshed. He is still with us in the 21st Century, the last World War II leader.

Kyra Petrovskaya was a World War II sniper. She kind of looks like Supergirl in this shot. She is still with us as of this writing as well. Tough lady.

Hanna Reitsch isn't really wearing anything special, but that 1000-megawatt smile puts her in the high-fashion league all by itself.

Werner Mölders led the Luftwaffe in victories during the Battle of Britain. Werner got along great with everyone and rose to command the Reich's fighter forces. He also knew how to wear a bomber jacket with style, and soften it with that puckish grin.

I don't know who this fellow was, and this obviously was a propaganda shot. However, he looks like he stepped out of the pages of GQ... if GQ had been published by the Ministry of Propaganda, that is.

Three tankers showing why black is best.

There is nobody more controversial than Joachim Peiper. Some view him as God's gift, others as a true horror. He's the kind of guy who gets sentenced to death... and only serves five years. Regardless, he's really emoting for the camera in this shot.

Everyone has questions about whether this is an authentic shot of Soviet sniper girl Roza Shanina. It certainly has awesome resolution for a photograph taken circa 1944. However, I can't find any indication that it is a modern fake from a movie or something like that. The wear marks on the scope match those on other photos of her that are easy to date from the period. So... I think it's authentic. At least, I hope it's authentic, because nobody wore a camouflage smock better.

This is a two-fer of Rudel and Galland. It is taken from a film taken as they were taken into custody by the Allies. They look kind of relieved that it is all over, and who can blame them? Both almost got their butts shot off in the final days.

Hugo Sperrle commanded Luftlotte 3 in France throughout the war. The failures during the Battle of Britain weren't his fault: he wanted to continue attacking the airfields which almost everyone now agrees was the winning strategy. Goering once mentioned that Sperrle was his most "brutal-looking" General, and he was probably thinking of this picture.

Michael Wittmann was one of the top panzer leaders of the war. You may be good at the video games, but he did it for real.

I don't know why this shot was taken, and why the pretty girl is riding a torpedo. However, it's from 1944 and, well... I like it.

A Reich post office girl. Why doesn't my mailman look like this?

I hope you enjoyed this page. Some pages are serious, and some are just for fun. It's good to take a break from all the death and destruction.



  1. Dear Mr. Bjorkmann, Ginni was an American Nurse on duty in Australia in November 1942. The source of this photograph seems to be from a Pinterest Collection under the heading " Military " from the collections / archive of Leisa Shannon Corbett Art Studio :-


    1. Thanks for tracking that down, Raja! You're awesome at finding sources. I'll make a notation under the photo. James