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Yesterday's Daily Express decorated its WW1 piece with a picture and caption. Link to the story here.

enter image description here

It was picked up on Twitter by @philipoltermann:

Missed this at the time: Express invents new WW1 front between Kiel and imaginary town "Pohlberg" http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/423087/Don-t-mention-the-war-Meddling-Germans-tell-us-how-to-mark-the-centenary

As @philipoltermann points out there was surely no fighting near Kiel during WW1 (except perhaps for revolts/mutinies within Germany's armed forces) and where or what is "Pohlberg"? The "Kiel-Pohlberg battlefront"?

But leaving aside the caption is this picture even WW1? Helmets and kit look suspiciously WW2 era.

Can anyone confirm?

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The helmets are accurate, Germans switched from the spiked Pickelhaube to Stahlhelm in 1916. – Yannis Feb 19 '14 at 12:52
up vote 11 down vote accepted

The Daily Express just took the caption from Getty Images without substantial modification. Regarding Pohlberg, see the german wikipedia on "Pöhlberg". The Pöhlberg is a mountain in saxony; according to wikipedia, the name was applied by the german soldiers from saxony also to a mountain near Reims / Moronvilliers (maybe this one - there's still a "Camp militaire" at Moronvilliers). So, also Kiel may be a denomination used by the german troups to denote a place in the vicinity of Reims. The date given at Getty images (July 1918) seems to be plausible, since in that time, the western front was near Reims.

EDIT: "Kiel" may be a misreading of the original caption mentioning two mountains near Moronvilliers: "Keilberg" (not Kiel...) and Pöhlberg. Originally, "Keilberg" is a mountain in saxony, too. German military used the names Keilberg, Pöhlberg and Hochberg (fr. Mont-Haut) for some hills south of Moronvilliers, while the french used "La Casque" and "Le Téton". I'm not sure which of the names used by the germans correspond to the french names. But IMO, it's very likely that the original caption was

"... at the battlefront at Keil- and Pöhlberg in West Chapagne".

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Superb working out! – Tea Drinker Feb 20 '14 at 9:27
so, the Express aren't being so dumb after all. but still "at the battle front near Reims" would be a better caption for a general audience. – Tea Drinker Feb 20 '14 at 9:29
Yes, this would be definitively better. The original caption assumed an audience being familiar with the "custom" terms used by the german military, which nowadays isn't appropriate anymore. So it should better be "translated" to the commonly used / "official" toponyms. Dropping the hint "west champagne" together with the misreading of "Keil-" to "Kiel" renders the caption almost useless. – tohuwawohu Feb 20 '14 at 9:47

These are early model Stahlhelm (shape changed over time, see Yannis' comment) from WW1.
Also, they carry large shovels, not the more modern collapsing trenching tools a WW2 soldier would have had.
And they carry gasmask cannisters, something not carried in WW2 (except maybe in the very beginning).
There was indeed no fighting in northern Germany during WW1, but there was the 1918 German revolution which started in Kiel when the Kriegsmarine refused orders to sail. The army was deployed there and there was heavy fighting with rebels. This revolution eventually resulted in the proclamation of the Weimar Republic and the end of the German empire.

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