German Flatcaps: Social Class

Figure 1.--Here we see an unidentified group of German teenagers in 1932. There are a number of clues to help us assess the group. We are not entirely sure what the association is, but we would guess they belong to some kind of hiking club. Notice the backpacks which we believe were used for hiking. Boys this age woukld not have work school satchels. Perhaps it is a chuch group. The entrace looks somewhat like a small church. We do not think it is a school group, in paet because of the way they are dressed. The flat caps and long pants suggest that they are working-class youth who have probably already finished school.

We are unsure about the social class connotations as we have very few actual examples. In some other countries there were social class connotations. This was not the case in America, but it was in England. And after the Bolsheviks seized power it became the politically correct headwear in the Soviet Union which would have affected Germany in the 1920s with its large Communist Party. This issue is a little complicated as the flat cap also became a kind of natty headwear for boys and young men, often worn with knicker suits. But it also was a cap style work by workers. This is not so apparent with German boys as many boys wore school caps or other juvenile styles. We do see teenagers wearing flt caps aftrer they left school, which for working-class children was commonly at about age 13 years. The social class connotations are a subject we are still wrestling with and because our archive still has only a few images, we are not yet to draw any firm conclusions. The fact that these teenagers in 1932 are only wearing flat caps is interesting (figure 1). The photographic reciord suggests that the flat cap was not all that common in Germany. So the boys here seemed to have decided among themselves to wear flat caps as a group.


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Created: 4:58 PM 6/22/2011
Last updated: 4:58 PM 6/22/2011