German people's gas mask with filter and original packaging, around 1940

 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Everyday Life
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.
Respiratory protective devices were developed to protect people from inhaling toxic gases. They were used in mines, factories, during firefighting and in the military sector.

The people's gas masks, which were developed during World War II, were intended to protect the civilian population from the effects of chemical weapons, should they be deployed. Although they were not as effective as the gas masks made for the soldiers, they could be manufactured faster and more affordably.

The "German people's gas mask" was distributed to the population from July 1937 onwards. It was pulled over the head like a hood. It had two separate sight glasses and a round, screw-on filter. Depending on the warfare agent, it offered a maximum of 20 minutes protection, five minutes against phosgene. Approximately 45 million masks had been manufactured by the time the war ended.

Type No. 56 WaA104, which is on exhibit at the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum), could be carried along at any time in a convenient packaging. Constant readiness and regular maintenance were advisable. The operating instructions pointed out: "Look after your people's gas mask more than after your clothing, for it is intended to save your life, should this be required!"

Inv.Nr. 24710/1

Member of