I collect Soviet stuff (mostly WWII) and this is one of the nicer pieces in my collection; a Soviet WWII ushanka in as close to new condition as I've been able to find. This is surprisingly uncommon for a hat that was literally issued by the millions, but the Russians themselves tended to wear these hats until they fell apart. Even after being demobbed, one of these might be as good a hat as a Russian could expect to find for years after the war, so they tended to be worn even in civilian life until no longer serviceable. Today, when you find one, they are usually pretty threadbare and dirty. But this, aside from a little yellowing to the artificial fur (what the Russian soldiers liked to call "fish-fur"), looks like it could have been issued yesterday.
Why is it in the POW section? Well, that's why it is in such good condition.
A paratrooper named John Patton (not sure of his unit, but he does appear in the POW database) was captured by the Germans in Sicily, and was sent to a Stalag in Poland. There he froze his butt off in the winters, wearing mostly the same summer uniform he wore during the invasion when he was captured. The camp was liberated by the Russians, and they issued him, as the accompanying note says, "a complete Russian cold weather uniform to keep him from freezing".
Now the rest of the uniform was great, but the hat didn't quite fit right, and apparently Patton chose not to wear it, so he stuck it in his pocket. He had to give the uniform back to the Soviets when he was repatriated to the Americans, but since he had gone the whole time without wearing the hat, they believed him when he told them he'd left it behind. He kept it as a souvenir in remembrance of his liberators.
Consequently it was preserved, an uncommon example of unworn Soviet winter headgear.
Edited by Mr. Scratch, 27 February 2019 - 11:57 AM.