Object Title

Prussian Infantry Officer's Sword, Modell 1889 (Preussische Infantrerie Offizierdegen)

Prussian Infantry Officer's Sword, Modell 1889 (Preussische Infantrerie Offizierdegen)

Development

Following the unification of Germany in 1871 under the Prussian King, most of the smaller German states were adsorbed into the Prussian army and adopted their military system. The larger armies of kingdoms of Bavaria, Saxony and Württemberg retained characteristics of their uniform and heraldry. Hence in 1889, when new sword patterns were produced for the German army, some state variation was still tolerated. A degree of consistency can be found in scabbard forms however, with those between 1889 and 1906 being nickel plated and those produced after 1906 being painted black or chemically blued.

The sword is almost like a miniaturised Kurassier's Pallasch, with a long, straight, spear-pointed blade, and cocked grip. The blade is usually doubled fullered but single fullered or even flat bladed version existed.

Not being intended as a primary combat weapon, its hilt is distinctive and more decorated than that of the three bar hilt of the Pallasch. The Infantry Officer Degen 89 has a fixed, decorative, semi-basket guard, whereas private purchase version often had folding guards. The guard contains a Prussian Eagle and this, or the royal cypher of Kaiser Willhelm II, was usually applied to the grip

Use and effect

Despite the blackening of the scabbard and inclusion of a 'Fingerschlauf', a leather loop for inserting the fingers when holding the sword in a thrusting position, suggest the sword could have been used on active service, in practice it was a more a badge of rank than a weapon.

The extreme lightness of the sword meant that it had little practical value as a weapon and German infantry swords soon disappeared from the battlefield at the start of the War. Some German officers took to wearing a more practical dagger, with officer's sword knot affixed, as a continuation of displaying their status.

Statistics

Blade length 83.5 cm (32.8 in)
Country of manufacture Germany
Date entered service 1889
Manufacturer Weyersberg, Kircschbaum & Cie, Solingen
Overall length 98 cm (38.6 in)
Primary operator Germany
Weight 608 g (2 lb) (without scabbard)

Author

Henry Yallop