Milsurp Mauser dreams

When you come across a nice Kar98K Mauser without import marks, and the guy selling it gives a story about how it was taken from the “body of a dead Nassi,” keep in mind most of those rifles were quietly stacked by their former owners in the end days of the war in Europe in 1945, rather than battlefield pickups clawed from a scarred corpse.

Thus, 75 years ago today, in IJmuiden, Netherlands:

Unidentified German soldier turning in his rifle to a Canadian soldier, IJmuiden, Netherlands, 11 May 1945. Library and Archives Canada photo # 3210799. Photographer: Stirton, Alexander 

Privates J.A. Taylor and J.D. Villeneuve of the Royal Canadian Regiment stacking rifles turned in by surrendering German soldiers, IJmuiden, Netherlands, 11 May 1945. LAC 3211669

Holland’s gateway to the North Sea, IJmuiden was protected by 18,000 Germans in seaside defensive roles. The principal German unit there was the 703rd Infantry Division of Maj. Gen Hans Huttner, formed late in the war from drafts strengthed with former battleship sailors of the 10th and 24th Schiff Stamm Abteilung and the volunteer “Turkomen” of the 787th Turkistanische Abteilung, the latter formed from Soviet POWs from the Caucus and of Central Asian extraction.

Units of the 1st Canadian Army arrived in town on 7 May and observed a quiet cease-fire with the local garrison until 11 May when they disarmed the Germans with the help of local Resistance.

The last of the 120,000 Germans in “Festung Holland” would surrender on June 1 at Vlieland. With the exception of 3,000 German sappers retained for the remainder of the year to remove landmine and roadblocks they installed, the rest of the former occupiers were repatriated by July, with most simply walking over the border.

This fate excludes the “Turks” who would be handed over to the Soviets and introduced to the beauty of Siberia in winter.

But what of those stacks of Mausers?

NORWAY AFTER LIBERATION 1945 (BU 9763) Storeroom at Solar aerodrome, Stavanger, holding some of the estimated 30,000 rifles taken from German forces in Norway after their surrender. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

By the end of 1945, the millions of military surplus former Axis weapons became a juggernaut that took on a life all their own. For more on that, check out my column at

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