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Artifact Friday: German Gas Mask Canister

Happy Artifact Friday, AAMM!

This is a German gas mask canister found in the Courland Pocket in Latvia and is part of a museum volunteer’s private collection.

The Courland Pocket was created by the Red Army’s Baltic Offensive in 1944. The German army became surrounded by the Soviet military and thus were forced to remain from October 1944 to May 1945.

This standard-issue gas mask canister was mostly useless to an average German soldier. They were bulky, and heavy when full, and the gas masks inside were never used during the war.

In fact, most soldiers ended up abandoning their masks and using the canisters to store essential supplies like food and important documents. It is thought that gas masks were issued to German soldiers because of Adolf Hitler’s experience with a gas attack in World War I. The attack left Hitler injured and he didn’t want his soldiers to experience a similar fate. There is no real way to confirm whether this story is true, but it is interesting.


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