German Boys' Clothes: Personal Experiences (1930s-40s)

Figure 1.--

A German reader has provided us a fascinating look at his experiences and clothing growing up in NAZI Germany and his experiences as a teen-ager after World War II. He explains that the type was strongly by the historical situation, i.e. the Third Reich before World war II and the sad times during the War and the poor and reviving situation after the War. Clothing was influenced by the economical situation of my parents which was always very good, and of course by my age. He focused on hosiery.


My family was an affluent one and my parents could afford to buy us nice clothes. I had no older sisters or brothers, but three younger sisters and one brother.


I was a small child during bthe 1930s. I was born in December 1932.


I grew up in the town of Hameln (Hamelin), a small town of 40 000 inhabitants in those days. Hameln is near Hannover in Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony).

Younger Boy before World War II (1932-39)

My clothes as a younger boy were very up to date and stylish. I had a suit with short pants in light blue which I did not like because it was too eay to get dirty. There was another suit with white and blue vertical stripes which I did not like either because it was narrow and thus the legs of the pants almost stuck to the thighs and made it was difficult to move freely. Once in a while I wore long over-the-knee stockings, but I do not remember which color. White would have fitted to the style of my parents who wanted their children look elegant. And once in a while I had short Lederhosen (leather pants), but new and too long for my taste.

Older Boy during World War II


The War began in September 1939. During the war children´s clothes changed to darker colors and this was reflected in my clothes. In summer I often had short pants made of Manchester (corduroy). Long stockings came up in our family to a certain extent, but not too much. A doctor must have said to my mother, that long stockings would be good for my health-- but he never said it with regard to my sisters. Now I believe that he saw that long stockings were good for my "spiritual health" which means that I had a longing for those stockings to keep warm in the Winter. So I got them plus garters fixed to a bodice (ist that the same as a "Leibchen"?) to keep them up. I plan to provide HBC some additional information on long stockings in Germany. In winter I, like most boys, wore long trousers called "Überfallhosen" or "Skihosen" (Hose in modern German is what trousers is in English) which a few boys. [Alois Harasko Bilder aus dem Sudetenland, p. 180.] On cold days we wore long stockings under the Skihosen.

Hitler Youth (1943-45)

From the age of 10 onwards (1943) I was a member of the boys´ organisation of the Hitler Jugend, the Deutsche Jugend (Jugend is youth). There we had an uniform consisting of black shorts or Skihosen, a Braunhemd (brown shirt which in fact was rather beige), a black neckerchief around the neck held together with a paited leather knot. There were certain signs on the shirt indicating our membership to the Hitler Jugend. The whole was not very different from Boy Scout uniform (Boy Scouts). No other non-NAZI party jouth organsations were permitted during the Third Reich. There were a few more details which I have forgotten. It was not allowed to wear long stockings with the Deutsche Jugend uniform because they were not part of this uniform. But as I lived in a small town (Hameln), such things were not taken so serious, so in our case if it was cold and we needed them, we wore them. Children from the rural areas and villages were even more "careless" in this aspect.

Teenager after World War II (1945- )

After the war there was not much difference in my clothing, but since I was about 13 or 14 or so, I no longer wore long stockings (only sometimes under unseen situations like on the beaches of a North Sea island where it could get really cold. I lived therefor 2 years from age 17 to 19. A few boys did wear long stockings a few years longer than age 13. When I was almost 13 my father came back from the War. My mother had not been very strict about my clothing. Father started to make me wear a white shirt and tie on sundays. But since the collars of most shirts were too small I refused to wear the tie successfully - and do so since since then. When I was about 17 knickerbokers came up, and I wore them until about 24. At about 15 my parents took me to a ski holyday to the Alps, and I got a beautiful pair of shoes (in ox blood color) with profile soles. At 17 I had a long rubber coat and still have a photograph of it. Since about 14 the long pants (trousers) were no longer Überfallhosen but normal--a question of general style I believe.

Long stockings

It was not really that I was not allowed, but there was just no opportunity because I had no long stockings for a while. In those days we never asked for a certain type of clothes, we wore what we got. I seldom may have mentioned my likings, so my mother neither knew nor bought just what I would have wanted, that was usual. Only when the doctor gave the advice to my mother I got them again. I remained small in size until 15 or 16, and up to that time I could use the clothes I had. I have noted other boyhood experiences described on the internet. . I wore both, long stockings with long and short pants, and kneesocks with both, too, depending on the economical situation, I think, and on the weather.


The question remains how we boys viewed the difference between girls´ and boy´s clothes with regard to stockings. This is a very emotional thing which was perhaps very different in different boys. I do not know whether my mother liked long stockings or not. We never talked about it. She herself always wore long stockings of silk or Perlon (Nylon). This is a paradox which I never was able to solve: Long stockings were considered to be for girls and women, but still the mothers gave them to their boys. Other reasons might have been of more importance such as protection of health. By the way, my sisters almost never wore long stockings, neither during childhood nor later, only since they themselves could decide, from 17 or so onwards. In other families, however, girls usually wore them, in this aspect my family was perhaps an exception.


The color: when I was small the socks and kneesocks often were of many bright colores, that was the bright times during the 1930s (in my remembrance). Later my long stockings were brown or beige, never black or white. I rarely remember boys wearing white long stockings, I only clearly remember the colored ones. May be that in the 1930s I also had colored stockings, but I have no clear remembrance. Anyway they were in use in some families. I remember a boy who was 1 or 2 years younger than me and who was the only child in a very rich family. He often - if not always - wore velvet suits with knee-long shorts, a kind of Fauntleroy suit, and he usually wore white long stockings, but that was a exception in our town. He lived in a very old fashioned big white house which was extremely rich inside, I went there a few times.


I think I wore long stockings only for the warmth, never for formal attire. But the long stockings enabled us to wear shorts even in colder seasons, sometimes even in winter. Of course then we had two pairs of stockings or thicker ones (wool on top of cotton stockings). But I remember a few boys (and more so girls) who also for formal attires wore long stockings that were nicer, such as white ones or more so newly bought brown ones.

Other boys

Many boys wore long stockings more frequently than I did, some never had long trousers until the age of 11 or 12. But this was not as strict in the town than in villages. Boys living in villages more often wore them, and I shall send you a beautiful color photograph which I took a few years later in a village near Hameln. Non of my closer friends wore long stockings. May be our family was a certain exception in this.


The question remains how were the stockings held up and tidy. About this I contribute a few sentences in my general text above


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Created: January 21, 2002
Last updated: January 21, 2002