16 April 2012

WWI German soldier with a cat on his head...

... wearing a nightshirt, armed with a bayonet, standing in front of a latrine.

Click for bigger if that will help you figure it out.  Found at drakegoodman's Flickr photostream, via I've Had Dreams Like That, via Uncertain Times.

p.s. sorry about the grammar here, which makes it sound like the cat is wearing the nightshirt and is armed with the bayonet... 

Addendum:  Reposted from 2010 in response to the comment "Is'nt having "a cat on your head" a slang for having a hangover in German?"

Ich habe Deutsch nicht seit viertzig jahren studiert, but after some searching I found the word "katzenjammer" has this etymology -
1840–50; < German, equivalent to Katzen (plural of Katze cat ) + Jammer discomfort, Old High German jāmar (noun and adj.); compare yammer.
- and is used to describe the effects of a hangover.  So perhaps this soldier was trying to depict what his head felt like that morning?

Addendum #2:  A hat tip to reader Gus Bryngelson for the comment "The Garde du Corps had a lion on their helmets, this is likely what was being hinted at."


  1. Oh, comma splices never hurt anyway. Just put 'while' in front of 'wearing a nightshirt' and put 'and' in front of 'standing in front of..." As long as you have your Oxford comma you'll be fine!

    (Why yes, I can be a pedantic ass, why do you ask?)

  2. Oh, I know how to fix it - but then I couldn't laugh at my original mistake.

  3. Is'nt having "a cat on your head" a slang for having a hangover in German?

  4. German here.

    A hangover is called "Kater" (the male version of a cat) and once (more or less serious) came from the word "Katarrh"/catarrh.
    "Katzenjammer" is just the longer version of Kater.

    But I don't know anything about "A cat on your head"...

  5. Wait, didn't the German helmets from that era usually have big spikes on top?

    1. The plain soldier didn't have a spike on top - those helmets with spikes on top were especially for the higher ranks or for parades only.

    2. the pointed helmet - the pickelhaube - was made of boiled leather.
      before 1914 all helmets for german soldiers were pickelhaubes. Then leather began to be scarcer, and also, the pickelhaube, being made of leather, afforded virtually no protection from the schrapnel that rained down from enemy artillery. When the Germans began to adopt the steel helmet that we more commonly associate with WWII, fatalaties due to schrapnel induced head injuries fell drastically. So the Germans started WWI with the pointed helmets (Pickelhaube), and ended with the coal scuttle.

  6. I'm very impressed that cat looks quite content on the helmet. My cats would not just sit camly like that especially if we are outside.

  7. The Garde du Corps had a lion on their helmets, this is likely what was being hinted at. He si not wearing a night shirt,that is his undershirt.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...