Origin of the use of "Parabellum " term


#1

Some say it was simply a DWM telegraph address, other say it was used to imply a “military” use for pistols and cartridges with that name. What is the truth?

I know that “Para Bellum” is a short form for “Si vis pacem para bellum” which means “if you want peace, prepare the war”

I have some ld DWM catalogs but the reported telegraph address reported is “Patronenfabrik”, not “Parabellum”

So, why George Luger decided to use the term “parabellum”?


#2

Hi Pivi,

The origin of this term can be found in the third book of the treatise “Epitoma Rei Militaris” by Roman Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, which says: “Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum”.

The word “Parabellum” was registered as a trademark in Germany on April 21, 1900 (filled February 22, 1900), and it was also filled in the States on April 30, 1900 with a very significative remark: “Used since 1899”.

Already in 1901 there were two German publications stating that the origin of the term “Parabellum” was DWM’s telegram address. The complete address in fact was “PARABELLUM-BERLIN”.

About 1904 it was changed to “PATRONENFABRIK, KARLSRUHEBADEN”, although some directories until 1914 continue mentioning both addresses for this company. This one is similar to the earlier address used both by DM Lorenz and DM Karlsruhe which was “PATRONENFABRIK KARLSRUHE”.

As to why George Luger decided to use this term, I simply don’t know.

Regards,

Fede


#3

Oh, thanks Fede. I don’t have DWM catalogs from 1901 to 1903 so the only telegraphic address I have seen was “Patronenfabrik”

Yet Luger could had chosen that term to imply a military purpose for his pistol and his cartridges


#4

Again, so DWM used a word previously used by Luger as telegraphic address and not vice versa


#5

Again I am most impressed by Fede’s having the documented facts at his fingertips.

Keep in mind we are dealing with two entities here: the DWM weapons factory (originally Ludwig Loewe) in Berlin, Dorotheenstraße and the DWM cartridge factory (originally Lorenz, going back to Henri Ehrmann) in Karlsruhe. Being in located in different states of Germany, I think it is natural that both had their own telegram addresses.
When DWM opened its big factory in Berlin-Borsigwalde, Eichborndamm, the telegram address there was: Dewamun Berlin-Borsigwalde (seen on a letterhead of 1943).


#6

Jochem, you are right, the telegram address “PARABELLUM-BERLIN” wasn’t used by the cartridge factory but the fact is I don’t have any documentation about the telegram addresses used by DWM between 1896 and 1900. Also, regarding the earliest use that is noted in the US trademark registration, I’m not aware of any source earlier than 1900 using the term “Parabellum” to denote the Borchardt-Luger pistol.

Having this information will surely answer the question of which came first, the telegram address or the pistol designation.


#7

Interesting. So the 7.65 mm Parabellum, before 1900 was simply called “7.65 Luger” or something else…and only later called “Parabellum” ( and so the pistol)

This would imply simply a trademark moniker rather than a suggested use.


#8

According to the book “Pistole 08” by Joachim Görtz the Swiss on May 4th 1900 adopted the “Selbstladepistole System Borchardt-Luger” under the name “Pistole, Ordonnanz 1900”. Note the Swiss did not say “System Parabellum”. I am under the impression that the name “Parabellum” was chosen by DWM as a brand name for its products, not by Luger. From what Görtz writes about Georg Lugers personality, I believe he would have much preferred “Selbstladepistole System Luger”.


#9

So the original name of the 7.65 mm Parabellum actually was 7.65 mm Luger and became “Parabellum” after DWM chose to call the pistol and its cartridges under the “parabellum” brand name?


#10

The earliest known manual, which is believed to have been published in mid 1901, is titled “Parabellum Automatic Pistol Borchardt-Luger’s System (Swiss Regulation Pattern 1900)”. Also, there is a French plate from 1902 titled “Pistolet Automatique Borchardt-Lueger dit Parabellum”. In both publications the cartridge is simply described to be of 7.65 mm caliber and not followed by a Luger or Parabellum designation, which is typical of pistol manuals anyway.

Then we have the unpublished DWM cartridge catalog c. 1902 naming this cartridge a “Borchardt-Luger” under the wrong title “Pistolen-Kal: 7,63 mm”. The same mistake is repeated in the index.

Finally, in the series of pistol manuals published in different languages in the year 1902, the pistol is designated “Selbstlade-Pistole Parabellum” or exceptionally “Selbstlade-Pistole Parabellum (System Luger)”. Also, the cartridge is designated “Parabellum” in the well known 1904 No. 3 catalog.

Jochem, regarding the Berlin vs Karlsruhe addresses, this was included in the Spanish edition of the 1902 pistol manual:


#11

And Just to confound and confuse everyone, in WW II, the Italians on the Russian Front named the Soviet PPSh and PPS Submachine Guns as “Parabellum” !!! ( also the MP40 was given this name as well ) —from various Novels and Personal Histories written during WWII, by survivors of the Russian Front.

Doc AV


#12

As a curious fact, in 1907 the Parabellum trademark was also filled by DWM to be used in ball bearings! Of course, it was later used in their famous WWI machine gun designated “S. M. Gew. Mod. Parabellum”.


#13

Fede, thanks for the scan explaining the manufacturing programs.


#14

Fede, DWM made ball bearing too? Or did some other factory used that term under license?


#15

Pivi, DWM in Berlin was very important in the development and manufacture of ball bearings and filled some of the earliest patents covering these designs (a notable application was the axlebox bearings for railways). These products were offered under the DWF brand, as you can see in this ad published in January/February 1918.


#16

Fede, you are an endless source of info, as usual. many thanks

I think that the 9 x 19 cartridge was called “Parabellum” because developed for the Parabellum pistol or because derived from the 7.65 Parabellum cartridge, and not to denote a “war cartridge” development ( bellum = war)


#17

In the case of Germany, I am sure the Pivi is right. I can’t speak for other countries as the name “Parabellum” connected to the two calibers 7.65 and 9 mm would have been a “pass me down” from DWM’s usage, and could be interpreted in those other countries as they pleased - that is, it could have been used for a military designation. However, in Germany, I believe it was primarily a commercial appellation. As we know, the 9 mm was, for German military service, the Patrone 04 (German Navy) or the Patrone 08 (German Army, and eventually the usage by all services). That is not to say that no military document, manual, etc. ever used the word “Parabellum.” I simply don’t know. But, it was not the standard military terminology. Since to my knowledge, Germany never officially adopted the 7.65 mm Para, it could have been listed in some official military or police sources using the commercial “Parabellum” designation - again, I just don’t know. I don’t recall ever seeing it referred to in a military document, but it almost must have been at one time or another.

Oddly, there was a Polte nickeled dummy of the standard Exerzierpatrone type, with no actual primer but rather just a dimply for firing pin clearance and with an “Ex” headstamp, made in the 1920s. I don’t know for what reason this was made. Perhaps EOD or Peelen or one of our other German friends knows why or for whom it was made?


#18

John,

what about the USA? I took a look at some old catalogs by UMC and other factories and it seems that the "Parabellum"word hes been very seldom used


#19

John, I know nothing about Exerzierpatronen.

From the context I assume you are referring to a 7.65 mm Parabellum Exerzierpatrone. A reason for its existence may be that after WW1 it was illegal for civilians to have a 9 mm Parabellum pistol and illegal for DWM aka BKIW to make them. So all civilian and export manufacture in the 20s had to be 7.65 mm Parabellum.


#20

Peelen - I know that, but the dummy in question is usually associated with military cartridges, as it is the same pattern used officially by the military in the 1920s and 1930s, and replaced by the steel base/black plastic and then the steel base/red plastic Ex.patr. It only seems to have been made in one year, 1925 as I recall.