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NVA (?) Candid photos fom the 1950's; Barracks, Leave, Harvest
Old 08-17-2019, 05:25 PM   #1
Guardian 5
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Default NVA (?) Candid photos fom the 1950's; Barracks, Leave, Harvest

Genossen,

These photos arrived the other day and I hope you'll help me interpret them. There are multiple copies of each photo so if something strikes your interest, drop me a PM with your mailing address and I'll send you one. I'll send as many as you like or an entire set; "offer good while supplies last."

The photos depict DDR personnel from the mid-1950's in barracks settings; on leave in town (Dresden?), and helping out with the harvest. I believe they are NVA personnel but the wear of the skimutze gives me pause. Hopefully, experts in the audience will help establish for sure what DDR agency we are dealing with.

Sadly there are no photos showing these guys in "full battle rattle", but there are two photos depicting personnel cleaning Karabiner-S carbines. I'm rather pleased with these shots as photos of NVA or other personnel with the Karabiner-S (aside from the honor guards on the Unter Der Linden) are somewhat scarce.

I'll begin with an atmospheric barracks scene. Under heavy maginifcation, the sign on the wall reads "Keine _______ Fur Garberobe." Does anyone have any idea what the missing word would be? For copy purposes, this photo is designated "Barracks 1".

Thanks for looking,
TJ
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File Type: jpg barracks 1.jpg (127.0 KB, 190 views)
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Old 08-17-2019, 05:34 PM   #2
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Here we see the boys at work cleaning their Karabiner-S carbines. Very cool.

For copy purposes, these are Karabiner-S and Karabiner - 45.

Noe the combat packs with steel pots on top of the lockers. I can't tell if the Karabiner-S has the distinctive notch in the butt for the sling attachment. Note also the wear of the skimutze which to me, usually signals early Grenzers or Volkspolizei. The following photos give me more of an NVA vibe.

"Vibes" as we know, are frowned upon in this community....
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File Type: jpg Karabiner - S 2.jpg (127.6 KB, 193 views)
File Type: jpg Karabiner-45 1.jpg (148.5 KB, 193 views)
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Old 08-17-2019, 05:53 PM   #3
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These next photos show our guys out on a map exercise (MAPEX in U.S. parlance) or a T.E.W.T. - tactical exercise without troops. There is another term called P.E.N.I.S. - practical exercise not involving soldiers. Needless to say, this latter term is frowned upon these days...

In any event, young leaders go to the field and learn to attack or defend a particular piece of terrain using just maps and briefing charts. Sometimes the terrain is the terrain they'll see in wartime, sometimes not.

Presumably, the personnel wearing helmets are the trainees and those in soft caps are leading the exercise (Rank has its Privilege - R.H.I.P.).

One wonders if the terrain they are investigating is the border zone they are committed to defending. The only sign that could give us a hint is unreadable.

For copy purposes, the photos are tewt 2, tewt 3, tewt 4, and tewt 1.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg tewt 2.jpg (145.5 KB, 192 views)
File Type: jpg tewt 3.jpg (179.4 KB, 191 views)
File Type: jpg tewt 4.jpg (109.5 KB, 190 views)
File Type: jpg tewt 1.jpg (83.0 KB, 190 views)
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Old 08-17-2019, 06:03 PM   #4
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In this series, our erstwhile comrades have earned some well deserved time off.

Can anyone identify the city in which the lads are out and about?

For copy purposes, the photos are town 1, town 2, town 3 and leave 1.

The short guy in the middle of the third and fourth photos is seen cleaning a Karabiner-S above. Also note in the third picture the partial word "Naturkunst". Does this offer a good hint to location?

It would appear that at least one of the soldier's has a flat, un-embossed KVP style belt buckle.

I love how the first photo depicts a well laid out German city with the church as the center of activity.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg town 1.jpg (172.5 KB, 192 views)
File Type: jpg town 2.jpg (143.3 KB, 191 views)
File Type: jpg town 3.jpg (135.7 KB, 192 views)
File Type: jpg leave 2.jpg (157.2 KB, 191 views)

Last edited by Guardian 5; 08-17-2019 at 06:11 PM. Reason: additional observation
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Old 08-17-2019, 06:07 PM   #5
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Here the lads continue on their off duty sight-seeing.

Is the cannon familiar to any of our NVA veterans? Do you have photos of your Gruppe posing on the same cannon?

For copy purposes, the photos are leave 1, leave 3, leave 4 and leave 5.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg leave 1.jpg (140.3 KB, 191 views)
File Type: jpg leave 3.jpg (150.6 KB, 191 views)
File Type: jpg leave 4.jpg (148.6 KB, 192 views)
File Type: jpg leave 5.jpg (148.5 KB, 191 views)
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Old 08-17-2019, 06:22 PM   #6
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Does anyone know what crop the boys are harvesting? Potatoes? Radishes?

The third and fourth photos remind me of those snapped in 1945. The soldiers have no tactical gear and are waiting listlessly for what comes next. In this case, it appears that the boys are waiting a lift back to the barracks after a hard day's work.

Note the casual drape of the great coat over two of the soldiers; oh how European....Note too the use of leggings. I don't recall that this being a common DDR practice. I do see it often however in photos of Bundeswehr soldiers during the same time frame.

For copy purposes, we have harvest 3, harvest 2, harvest 4 and harvest 5.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg harvest 3.jpg (106.6 KB, 189 views)
File Type: jpg harvest 2.jpg (176.9 KB, 192 views)
File Type: jpg harvest 4.jpg (138.7 KB, 193 views)
File Type: jpg harvest 5.jpg (135.1 KB, 192 views)
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Old 08-17-2019, 06:36 PM   #7
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In this final post, we have another shot of the draped great coat (love that look!). Is that a camera in his hand? The last picture is a poorly focused shot of the boys playing cards. Is the good sergeant taking the recruits for every pfenning they have? Perhaps the poor quality was done on purpose to hide the identity of the offenders...

For copy purposes these final photos are harvest 1 and poker...

I hope you enjoyed this series. I look forward to reading your comments in an effort to better understand what I am seeing. I also look forward to sharing the bounty with my fellow hobbyists. Don't be shy about hitting me up for a copy of your favorite photo(s) made by the original photographer. In this way we can ensure, for better or for worse, that the memory of the DDR and their long disappeared gray clad soldiers lives on in your part of the world.

All the best,
TJ
Attached Images
File Type: jpg harvest 1.jpg (214.0 KB, 192 views)
File Type: jpg poker.jpg (88.6 KB, 188 views)
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Old 08-18-2019, 05:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guardian 5 View Post

Can anyone identify the city in which the lads are out and about?

For copy purposes, the photos are town 1, town 2, town 3 and leave 1.

The short guy in the middle of the third and fourth photos is seen cleaning a Karabiner-S above. Also note in the third picture the partial word "Naturkunst". Does this offer a good hint to location?

It would appear that at least one of the soldier's has a flat, un-embossed KVP style belt buckle.

I love how the first photo depicts a well laid out German city with the church as the center of activity.

It's Gotha in Thuringia. The first photo is a view down the Hauptmarkt [Main Market Square]; the building in the center of the view is actually not a church, but the Rathaus [Town Hall]. The building in the other two pictures is the Natural History Museum (not "Naturkunst", but "Naturkundemuseum" = "Natural History Museum").


Quote:
Originally Posted by Guardian 5 View Post
Is the cannon familiar to any of our NVA veterans? Do you have photos of your Gruppe posing on the same cannon?

The cannon is a historical Alarmkanone [signal cannon] on display in the courtyard of Schloss Friedenstein at Gotha.

See here for modern-day photos:
http://www.figuren.miniatures.de/sac...rtillerie.html

Last edited by HPL2008; 08-18-2019 at 07:01 AM.
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Old 08-18-2019, 02:46 PM   #9
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Hello HPL2008,

Great information!

Thanks very much for your assistance in identifying the town in which the photos were taken and the information on the alarm cannon.

All the best,
TJ
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Old 08-25-2019, 11:35 AM   #10
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Very interesting "Period" photographs. Nice to see the location depicted identified. Following this to learn more.
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guardian 5 View Post
Genossen,

These photos arrived the other day and I hope you'll help me interpret them. There are multiple copies of each photo so if something strikes your interest, drop me a PM with your mailing address and I'll send you one. I'll send as many as you like or an entire set; "offer good while supplies last."

The photos depict DDR personnel from the mid-1950's in barracks settings; on leave in town (Dresden?), and helping out with the harvest. I believe they are NVA personnel but the wear of the skimutze gives me pause. Hopefully, experts in the audience will help establish for sure what DDR agency we are dealing with.

Sadly there are no photos showing these guys in "full battle rattle", but there are two photos depicting personnel cleaning Karabiner-S carbines. I'm rather pleased with these shots as photos of NVA or other personnel with the Karabiner-S (aside from the honor guards on the Unter Der Linden) are somewhat scarce.

I'll begin with an atmospheric barracks scene. Under heavy maginifcation, the sign on the wall reads "Keine _______ Fur Garberobe." Does anyone have any idea what the missing word would be? For copy purposes, this photo is designated "Barracks 1".

Thanks for looking,
TJ
Friends,

In looking at this photo more closely, it appears that the sign is telling residents of the barracks not to hang their great coats over the wall radiator.

Can someone supply the missing German word?

All the best,
TJ
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guardian 5 View Post
In this series, our erstwhile comrades have earned some well deserved time off.

Can anyone identify the city in which the lads are out and about?

For copy purposes, the photos are town 1, town 2, town 3 and leave 1.

The short guy in the middle of the third and fourth photos is seen cleaning a Karabiner-S above. Also note in the third picture the partial word "Naturkunst". Does this offer a good hint to location?

It would appear that at least one of the soldier's has a flat, un-embossed KVP style belt buckle.

I love how the first photo depicts a well laid out German city with the church as the center of activity.

Friends,

This picture from Wikipedia shows how that view of downtown Gotha looks today. The shot is from almost the exact same angle!

Thanks,
TJ
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File Type: jpg 800px-Gotha_Wasserkunst_Hauptmarkt.jpg (180.2 KB, 75 views)
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Old 09-11-2019, 07:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guardian 5 View Post
Here we see the boys at work cleaning their Karabiner-S carbines. Very cool.

For copy purposes, these are Karabiner-S and Karabiner - 45.

Noe the combat packs with steel pots on top of the lockers. I can't tell if the Karabiner-S has the distinctive notch in the butt for the sling attachment. Note also the wear of the skimutze which to me, usually signals early Grenzers or Volkspolizei. The following photos give me more of an NVA vibe.

"Vibes" as we know, are frowned upon in this community....
Gents,

Not much is known about the operational use of the Karabiner-S. Conversely, it's use as a drill weapon is very well known. Below is a link to a very informative video on this highly coveted weapon.

In any event, the DDR manufactured the SKS from 1958 - 1960. It was widely used by the Grenztruppen. Given these two facts, can we say that the photos depict Grenzers in the 1958 - 1960 time frame?

I find it bothersome that the uniforms seem of an earlier vintage cut. Some of the belts appear to be KVP types without the embossed DDR crest. How then do we come to grips with 1956 type uniforms and 1958 weapons?

Thoughts?

Many thanks,
TJ


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPyvg5-drLM
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Old 09-12-2019, 03:50 PM   #14
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Thanks TJ for the added posts and related material.
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Old 09-15-2019, 02:25 PM   #15
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TJ;
The crop looks a lot like spinach.
I think only the leaves are harvested in the picture because the soil itself stays even and untouched.
Size of the leaves match for spinach as well.
All the best,
Kees
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