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Slovak paratroopers during ww2 - German parotrooper helmet M38 in Slovak State

( A brief history of Slovak paratroopers 1942-1944 )

Succes of German paratroopers in first years of ww II was the impulse for many Central European countries to build their own airborne forces.

In first months of 1942 year Slovak state, as ally of Germany, decided to create an airborne training centre. There was an idea to establish paratrooper unit in prewar Czechoslovakia, but tragic year 1939 was the end of this idea. Slovak airborne centre was founded at Junior Air Cadets' School situated at Trencianske Biskupice.

The first group of volunteers entered the airborne centre in October 1942. Juraj Mesko was appointed Commander of this group - the nucleus of future Slovak paratrooper unit.
All members of new airborne training centre underwent infantry training, sabotage, destruction course as well as communication and sapper course. Slovak Ministry of Defence asked Germany for assistance in airborne traininig of Slovak paras and delivery of para equipment (chutes, jump smocks, helmets,...).
Germany turned down this request, but after start of Slovak's negotiation process with Italy, Germany decided to support Slovakia in his effort. 4 members of Slovak training centre including J. Mesko (See photos 1 and 2) arrived to Wittstock-Dosse - Fallshirmjägerschule II in Germany on 12. June 1943. All underwent airborne training, successfuly finished on 8. July 1943. They arrived to Slovakia with complete para equipment.
Airborne training centre moved to Banska Bystrica and to airfield "Tri duby" on 18. October 1943 and the first delivery of 50 chutes and helmets came from Germany in short term (See photo 3).
The first jump from He-111 took place on 15. November 1943.
Very interesting moment was on 30. November 1943 - the first mass jump demonstration took place near town Zilina (20 paras jumped from 2 He-111).

Photo 1 Photo 2 Photo 3
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For helmet collectors is interesting this event from following ground: The Slovak paratrooper's helmet emblem was introduced for the first time (See photos 1, 4 and 5).
It consisted from Slovak "three-dimensional" double cross of white color over 3 blue hills and red rising sun in backgroung. The badge was hand painted ( not a decal) on right side of the helmet. This same emblem was also applied on engine covers on first Messerschmitt Bf 109-E airplanes delivered to Slovakia.

Photo 4 Photo 5
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Airborne training centre was independent and named Parachute school in December 1943.
Slovak paras underwent night jumps (night jumps were not trained in Germany in paratroopers schools!) and in February 1944 paras took part on winter training near village Lieskovec (See photo 4).

In term of outbreak of Slovak National Uprising there were about 80 Slovak paratroopers located at Tri duby.
During the first weeks of uprising paratroopers’ main task was to guard airfield "Tri duby". In all following battles paratroopers fought as regular infantry. They took part in battles near willages Gajdel, Jasenovo, Svaty Kriz, along railway Zvolen - Kremnica. After elimination of uprising paras took part in guerrila fights and in mid of November J. Mesko disbanded para unit.

There were about 300 pieces of German M38 helmets in Slovakia. But unfortunately none of these helmets survived till today (but hope dies last...).

Comments to enclosed photos:

Photo 1: Juraj Mesko - commander of parachute school and paratroopers company (Note that the painted badge reached rivet).
Photo 2: Three Slovak paratroopers in Germany during airborne training. From left to right - Jozef Lachky, Jozef Pisarcik, Ladislav Lenart.  Note Slovak belts with Slovak double cross on buckles.
Photo 3: Formation of paratroopers on airfield Tri duby before jump.
Photo 4: Two men during winter training near village Lieskovec.
Photo 5: Juraj Pisarcik on photo intended for campaign leaflet or poster to join parachute school (1944).

R. Hrivnak - Hitler's Slovak Elite, Militaria Illustrated
Slovak airforce 1939-1944 (2. volume)
Slovak newspapers articles

Special thanks to David B. Powers.

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