The 1960s Bundeswehr (West German) Greatcoat

Fashion and the military look: it’s a permanent fling.


Classic lines, authenticity, distinctiveness, the whiff of romance… and let’s not forget function. These clothes keep their promises. Swoon.



Hidden in the inside pocket, this coat’s fabulously utilitarian label indicates it’s West German, 1960s. My good friend and German to English translator Adam Ramsey tells me "Altenkessel – Saar" is the location of the manufacturer “Werner Mahlberg”. 

I picked it up at my local Oxfam shop for £5 (in international currency, the price of two Starbucks lattes). Yes, I am rather smug about that.

I have spent some time imagining a colourful history for it, but I suspect it was army-surplus. Un-issued. No derring-do has been done.



In soft grey wool with a full satin lining, it’s tapered at the waist and surprisingly small. Eye-catching on a boy but jaw-dropping on a girl, especially one with an hourglass figure and pepper-red lipstick. The enemy will surrender; willingly.

At the back is a lush, cross-over half-belt and large button-down vent for that motorbike ride into the sunset.



What I can’t capture with my camera is its immense weight. You stand to attention the second you put it on, or risk not being able to breathe.

Wear with a swagger, or if you can’t manage that, inebriation.


I’m indebted to Bob Gowen at Gowen Militaria for confirming this coat is  Bundeswehr (West German) in origin. If you wish to purchase something similar, or find out more about German military items, Bob's website is excellent.  


Oxfam's Online Vintage store is divine: click this link to explore Oxfam Vintage

Invitation to Comment: What’s was your best charity shop find? Do you get your military look from army surplus stores, or prefer the high street interpretations? 



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Comments

  1. where can I buy one

    ReplyDelete
  2. Where can you buy one? I can point you to Gowen Militaria (who have a link in the blogpost) but it depends what country you are in.

    I was lucky enough to find mine in my local Oxfam.

    Angela

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey I have a 1959 Sportra Arnstorf one, it looks very similar, and sounds very similar, but I'm not sure what Sportra Arnstorf means

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well my very limited German indicates Sporta means Sport and Arnstorf is a placename, so I am guessing this is the name of the manufacturer for your coat.

      Delete
  4. looks (by the buttons) to be a Bundesmarine (Navy) overcoat (Army has silver buttons)

    I recently found an √úbermantel, designed to go over the greatcoat from 1961 Bundesmarine issue. Nice fur lining and oilcloth shoulder cover. best thing I have ever bought ^-^

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the extra information, I really appreciate this new detail. I have been looking at the coat only this week as I am getting ready for the Steampunk festival in Lincoln - not that it really qualifies but I always like to look at it when I go through the wardrobe in the attic where it lives!

      Delete
    2. Update: Selling the Mantel ;)

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    3. Oh no! Hope you've found a suitable replacement for it!

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  5. I actually just found an identical coat to yours at an antique shop, swapped for some boots hat didn't fit.
    The previous owner tore out the makers label so I can't see when it was made >:(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry to hear that, did you get it anyway? I expect it would be a very similair time to this one. Daft to tear out a label, in fact, like vandelism :(

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  6. I found one similar to this one in my local thrift store for $5.00 dated 1966 - except it's black with gold anchor buttons. It fits but it's very long. I'm 6'2" and it comes down below my knees. I'm guessing it's a navy admiral great coat/pea coat. Perfect condition size 45.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like an amazing find, well done. Must be tricky to shop for your height.

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