Foot wraps were a standard issue item in the Wehrmacht. “Fusslappenindianer” (foot wrap Indian) was a common slang term for an infantry soldier.
Foot wraps were very widely issued. A report by the 285. Sicherungs-Division indicates that 1,395 pairs of unserviceable foot wraps were repaired and reissued by their workshops in one year, 1942-43. Fusslappen were one of the standard issue items printed in the list of uniforms and equipment in the second pattern Heer Soldbuch that appeared in 1940. It is normal to see entries showing that they were issued. Here are examples from three books showing issue of socks and foot wraps in various quantities. The column is labeled “Socken/Fusslappen” so in this case an entry of “2/2” would mean the soldier was issued two pairs of socks, and two pairs of foot wraps. These soldiers were issued one or two pairs of foot wraps. Some soldiers were only issued foot wraps. Armored artilleryman Franz Fritsch later recalled, “We weren’t issued socks. We had Fusslappen, a piece of oversized handkerchief put around the feet, army issue, instead of socks. We wrapped it around the foot before putting it in the boot. My family sent socks, thank God, for Fusslappen and socks constantly wore out.”
The September 1942 edition of the German winter war manual “Taschenbuch für den Winterkrieg” provides this illustration showing how to put on foot wraps.
The manual indicates “foot wraps are warmer than socks.”
What did Wehrmacht issue foot wraps look like? This piece of woven fabric was found in a machine gunner’s tool kit years ago, having been used as a rag. It is similar to postwar East German NVA issue foot wraps, but there are clear differences as well. Use of recycled fibers is evident in the yarn. Could this be a wartime issue foot wrap that was repurposed? It measures about 16 x 13 inches.
These foot wraps were issued to Arbeitsmann Alfred Maletz during his time in the Reichsarbeitsdienst before WWII. Wehrmacht soldiers did use RAD items in some cases. Could prewar Army foot wraps have been the same as this? Each of these foot wraps is marked with the designation of his RAD unit.
These foot wraps are square and measure about 17.5 inches on each side. They are finished on all edges with machine stitching.
The fabric is fairly thick with one soft felted side and one coarse side with a visible weave.
Maletz kept these foot wraps as a souvenir of his time in the RAD, together with other items.