One Helmet, One Influence, Too many Conspiracies
|Iraqi Helmet Design 1995-2003|
|Original German helmet from WW1 1916|
|From Tate Modern Exhibit|
|Typical Iraqi helmet used|
|Mark on Iraqi helmet|
This is a helmet worn by members of the Iraqi Fedayeen Saddam (Saddam's Men of Sacrifice) paramilitary force from 1995-2003. It is made from light ballistic fiber and is painted black to match the Fedayeen uniform. Featured on the right side is an insignia bearing the silhouette of Saddam Hussein and an inscription in Arabic reading " One G-d, One Homeland, One Leader.'
Many people have speculated that the helmet is a direct Inspiration from Star Wars' Darth Vader its simply unlikely. it was a specific genisus for Michael Rakowitz's show at the Tate. Here he had a vital opportunity to actually inform and amaze, but who cares?. One piece featured obvious visual points for the Star Wars Darth Vader Mask designed in 1977, that being a Japanese Kabuti helmet (although i dont agree with that the Japanese influence), the German WW1 Stahlhelm and the Iraqi helmet. So what would this say about the Fedayeen helmet in terms of this supposed Star Wars connection? Nothing really.
So lets do something very simple and look at the evidence we have. I spent the summer at NYU taking some college classes in High School, one being a film class where at 16 I wrote a paper about the influence of Star Wars. Star Wars was specifically influenced in terms of esthetic by WWII, with NAZI Germany providing a rich and fertile costume designer's imagination for a villain. "When John Mollo needed to create a rough mock-up for Darth Vader [...] he grabbed a German helmet from the military room".
Iraq's 20th century past has been directly influenced by two western powers, the British, and guess who else? Germany. Look at the typical helmet of the Iraqi army.The Darth Vader helmet is nothing more than a modern interpretation of the German Stahlhelm helmet, complete with a Arabic inscription referenced above "One G-d, One Homeland, One Leader.", on the side of the helmet. That seems very familiar to another German slogan "One people, one nation, one leader" (Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer).
So without writing a thesis on this, its clear that German western design, specifically the Nazi's, which were highly stylized ( the SS uniforms were manufactured by Hugo Boss) have influenced military powers since the 1930's including fictional works in the 1970s. People would love to say its reality imitating fiction, but we will still have to wait for this one. And dont get me started about all of the other misinformation about Star Wars being the sole influence on Iraq. Or maybe you should...) If you want to read more on the history of the helmet this blog does a thorough job. Remember Life is always stranger than fiction.