Steyr 1500A Kommandeurwagon

Many different light vehicles saw service in the armed forces of World War II.
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Let’s take a quick look at one fairly unremarkable example from the Wehrmacht. (gee, you think this might be a short post?!)

Steyr was a part of the Daimler-Benz firm based in Austria.  They were a supplier of armaments going back to the days of the Astro-Hungarian Empire and began producing cars and trucks in the inter-War period.  During World War II their claim to fame (or infamy) was as the first major user of slave labor from concentration camps.  They even pioneered company housing (!) to reduce transportation cost and security problems associated with getting the work force to work.
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Early in the war Steyr introduced the 1500A family of light trucks.  The Wehrmacht came looking for a command vehicle to move VIPs with the troops, in style.  Steyr responded with the Kommandeurwagon, a rebodied version of their light truck.  Instead of eight troops it would carry four passengers, plus driver, on luxurious leather seats and a roomy interior.  The front passenger seat could even lay back fully flat so high ranking officers could have a bed anywhere they might be on the go.  Sort of an early CUV.

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This is the Tamiya kit.  It was almost trouble free, except I seem to have lost the alignment screws that join frame to body.  I decided to just glue the parts in place, but something must have slipped while drying (that’s a nice way of saying I screwed up!); getting the alignment straight cost 2-3 days.
Which leads to a funny thing.  I’m sure no one actually cares (!), but I’m pretty OCD about always working on things in order; that shows up here as the order in the “On My Workbench” section over on the right margin.  Even when that B-29 was a roadblock in the first spot for two years.  During my working career the third slot was mostly “on deck”.  You know, I rarely did much more than look at the plastic and instructions before it moved up to the second spot.  Well, retirement has been good to me!  It allows for much longer working sessions when I actually am at my workbench.  So I believe this is the first time ever that a kit in the third slot was finished before anything else!  For now, things are moving fast and I feel like I’m getting a lot done.  Look for a Mosquito in a couple days and the P-38 next week.

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This vehicle served in the Ardennes, during the Battle of the Bulge.  I don’t see listed anywhere who the VIP associated with this car was, but given that most of these kits are based on well photographed or even preserved examples there should be information out there. I would love to hear from any reader who might know more about it.

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So I think the way the math works is simple, the more stars on your shoulders the better the chance you can trade your kubelwagon for a kommandeurwagon…

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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10 Responses to Steyr 1500A Kommandeurwagon

  1. Chris Kemp says:

    Dear Dave,

    The pennant is that of a Panzer Armee. Two took part in the Ardennes offensive, 5 and 6 Panzer Armee. The commanders were Hasso von Manteuffel, and SS-Oberstgruppenführer Josef Dietrich respectively. The car has a Wehrmacht plate, so probably belongs to Manteuffel.

    Regards, Chris.

    • atcDave says:

      AWESOME! Thank you Chris. I figured someone could read Wehrmacht heraldry.
      Seems like a little man for such a big car!

  2. jfwknifton says:

    The standard of painting of the figures is superb! I looked at Wikipedia and it seems that Steyr were not punished in the slightest for their use of slave labour. Hopefully, somebody will contradict that!

    • atcDave says:

      So many companies were not, and they have changed hands several times since.
      It’s also possible they were, and Wikipedia simply neglected to include the info. I don’t know how else to find anything out.

  3. Ernie Davis says:

    If you remember Schindler’s List what we call slave labor (because that’s what it was) was characterized as prison labor by the Nazis. Of course the crime was being a Jew in the Reich, and while some nominal wage was paid by the “employer” it was collected by the state and then used to pay for the food and housing of the employees. Hard labor as a prison sentence where the prisoners were essentially slaves was not rare in the early 20th century. Think chain gangs in America for instance. (Coolhand Luke, Shawshank Redemption, though maybe not totally historical are demonstrations of the phenomenon.). So while the Nazis clearly crossed a line, sadly they had examples in America and Britain of “civilized nations” pushing the line (the American Eugenics movement is a prime example) that meant some prosecutions were not worth it for the Allies. The Soviets had no such problem.

    This is all going from memory from a lifetime of reading, so correction by someone in more immediate possession of hard facts is welcome.

    As an aside, Judgement at Nuremberg with Spencer Tracy is an excellent movie that does not spare America of it’s sins while examining the Nazi war crimes.

    • atcDave says:

      Some interesting stuff there Ernie. Potentially the whole area of crime and punishment is loaded; but of course criminalizing a group for their DNA crosses all sorts of lines. Not ever to say the Nazis were the only ones to do so, but I never quite get how someone else’s wrong in any way lessens another. It would be like releasing one bank robber because someone else got away with it ten years earlier. One crime at a time…

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Oh trust me, that is not what I was hinting at, it is more the political embarrassment that I meant. People forget that casual antisemitism was commonplace in both Britain and America before the war, and that both Hitler and Mussolini were admired in many circles for reviving their nations economies, but this is verging on politics, so I’ll leave it at that.

      The worst of the worst were held accountable and the precedent was set.

      It could also be that some companies needed to be left intact to rebuild the shattered economies of Europe and so were spared.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah there’s no doubt some unsavory deals were made.
        And yes, anti-semitism was, and still is, pretty shockingly widespread. I know that in the aftermath of WWII many just freed Jews found themselves in dire trouble all over again just trying to find safe haven. I don’t know if there’s ever been a time when they weren’t at some risk.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well I will say this, WWII and the Nazis crimes made the casual antisemitism of the US and UK impossible to maintain. One could no longer wink at phenomenon whose end conclusion was the death of millions was worth it to cleanse the nation. Granted in the US and UK it usually meant Jews couldn’t get in to certain jobs, schools, or country clubs and had to form their own parallel institutions, but there was now a public shame to holding those views and a price to be paid for doing so.

        The same thing happened with Civil Rights. Like with the newsreels coming back from Europe in the aftermath of the war, TV laid the brutality and the sins of Jim Crow at the feet of the nation so that they could no longer be ignored or considered a “Southern Thing”. The standard had been set, we were all responsible to some degree, even if it was just for turning our heads and pretending it wasn’t happening.

      • atcDave says:

        And WWII pretty directly led to the rise of modern Israel. But I think, outside of the US, the tide has swung back against them. No doubt there are certain countries that would happily launch a new holocaust.
        The American Civil Rights movement has some similarities, but is substantially such a different sort of thing I hesitate to find very many parallels. Apart from the timeless observation that humanity is badly broken.

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