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A two-piece SS-Leibermuster camouflage suit, as it might have appeared in the closing days of the war in Europe

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A two-piece SS-Leibermuster camouflage suit, as it might have appeared in the closing days of the war in Europe. This pattern was intended to replace all previous patterns used by both the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS. [Image: Daniel Peterson/The Crowood Press Ltd.]

SS-Leibermuster
Greater German Reich

The SS-Leibermuster ('body pattern') is the only wartime German camouflage of which the official name is known. This is due to the efforts of U.S. Army Quartermaster Francis S. Richardson, who, on 20 July 1945, prepared a report on German camouflage for the U.S. Army.

In fact, almost all that is known about SS-Leibermuster was recorded by Richardson, according to whom this pattern was developed by the same Professor Schick that was responsible for the earliest Waffen-SS camouflage designs. It might therefore be that all Waffen-SS camouflage patterns can be attributed to Professor Schick — although this claim is by no means certain.

Whatever the case might be, it is certain that SS-Leibermuster was intended to replace all previous camouflage patterns used by both the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS. It is also known that the design was printed using special light-absorbing dyes, that were intended to thwart observation by the infra-red night vision devices that were coming into service just before the end of the Second World War; in his report, Richardson describes, at length, the time-consuming process that was needed, to produce SS-Leibermuster cloth. He also observes that the pattern was primarily intended for the manufacture of Wintertarnanzug ('winter camouflage suits') and Zeltbahnen ('shelter quarters'), and that very few German soldiers seem ever to have been issued with these items.

Most surviving examples of the SS-Leibermuster camouflage pattern are extremely faded and worn; this is perhaps because they were the only clothing available to German prisoners of war during their extended detention. In its original condition, though, SS-Leibermuster is a six-colour design, comprising a buff background, white flecks overprinted with light green, overprinted with feathered, leaf-shaped medium green and red-brown swathes, overprinted with carbon black 'branches'.

The SS-Leibermuster camouflage pattern was the basis for at least three post-war camouflage patterns: a Leibermuster pattern that was used by Czeckoslovakia; the short-lived Bundeswehr-Leibermuster; and the 1955 Swiss Leibermuster. It may also have influenced the design of DDR-Flächentarnmuster.

camouflage data

1cm grid

SS-Leibermuster
1945–1945

Specimen of SS-Leibermuster

Specimen kindly supplied by Daniel Peterson/The Crowood Press Ltd

Actual size: not known

also known as:
  • Leibermuster ('body pattern')
  • Leibermuster 45
  • SS-Leibermuster ('SS body pattern')
country of origin:

Großdeutsches Reich

National flag: Greater German Reich

Greater German Reich

used by:
  • Heer
  • Waffen-SS

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