Of Dreyse and Lignose
So I have been watching Babylon Berlin, a noir-style crime drama set in (go figure) Berlin during the Weimar-era based on the novels by Volker Kutscher. While it appeared on Sky Deutschland last year, Netflix has it with an English dub (or subtitles if you would rather listen to it in German) and it is fairly good.
An interesting point for me is the direct references to the illegal Black Reichswehr and the secret Soviet-German armaments research conducted in violation of the Versailles Treaty, both historically neglected bits of military history. However, the showrunners have filled the series with oddball European small arms of the era including a Haenel-Mannlicher takedown, an Ortgies pistol (which I love and have written about extensively) a Lignose which serves as an important plot point, and, best of all, a Dreyse 1907.
Invented in Imperial Germany by Louis Schmeisser, father of the more famous Hugo, the Dreyse M1907 looks like an art deco hair dryer. The 7+1 shot .32ACP compact single stack has specs (25-ounces in weight when loaded, 6.3-inches in overall length) that are very close to today’s Glock 43. They work, but are never, ever, going to win a beauty contest. Nonetheless, they did serve with the Swiss Guard for almost a century, as well as see lots of use by various Central European police agencies and both the Austrian and German Army’s officer corps.
Notably for our reference here, Dreyse pistols were frequently seen in Fritz Lang films shot during the Weimar-era including the infamous “M” and “The Testament of Dr. Mabuse,” the latter by a cashiered police detective named Hofmeister, and is the favorite weapon of the assassin Hardy in the same film.
The troubled lapsed Catholic police Inspector Gereon Rath, a combat veteran of the Western Front and the main character in Babylon Berlin, is issued a Dreyse which he both carries and gets into trouble with. I am sure it is an ode to Lang’s Hofmeister.
Also, the Zu Asche, zu Staub song, sung at Moka Efti by Baltic actress Severija Janušauskaite in the first episode of Babylon Berlin, is great.