Organisation Information - Elite Guard [Schutzstaffel (SS)]
The SS remained insignificant until 1929, when it was placed under the command of Heinrich Himmler. After the "Night of the Long Knives" and the purge of the SA, the SS became independent, gained control over the national police forces and expanded into a massive organisation.
Members of the SS were picked for their mental and physical adeptness and were recognised as the "elite" within the Nazi Party. A member had to have finished his twenty-first year and undergone a long probationary period of eighteen months. During this period, the candidate was tested rigidly to observe how well he lived up to the tests of faith, honour, and unconditional obedience.
The SS was in reality a complex political and military organisation made up of three separate and distinct branches, all related but equally unique in their functions and goals.
The Allgemeine-SS (General SS) was the main branch of this SS organisation, and it served a political and administrative role within the Third Reich and captured lands.
The SS-Totenkopfverbande (SS Deaths Head Organisation) performed security duties at concentration camps and also formed fighting units assigned to the Wehrmacht for active service.
Waffen-SS (Armed SS) formed from the SS-Verfungstruppe after the Campaign in France in 1940, the Waffen-SS would become an elite military formation of nearly 900,000 men by the time WWII was over. It comprised of 38 divisions which operated under the control of the Herr (Army) during campaigns. Its famed divisions include the Adolph Hitler Liebstandarte, Das Reich. The Waffen SS built a formidable reputation for bravery and skill during the war.
Waffen SS units would spearhead some of the most crucial battles of WWII while its men would shoulder some of the most difficult and daunting combat operations of all the units in the German military. When operating within the sphere of the German Wehrmacht (Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine) it came under the direct tactical control of the OKW, although strategic control remained within the hands of the SS.
Dagger Information SS 1933 Dagger
The SS dagger was introduced in December 1933 and was based on a similar design of the "Holbien Dagger" (see SA standard EM Dagger for more information on the Holbien dagger).
The grip was black in colour and had the SS runes inserted at the top of the grip in a small circular "button". The S Rune signifies Wholeness and the Sun and all that is good, its meaning is also to use the powers of good to vanquish evil.
The Nazi eagle with spread wings holding a wreath with the Nazi swastika at its centre was inserted into the centre of the grip. The eagle is a symbol of power used since time began.
The upper and lower crossguards were the same curved design as the SA dagger. On Early made daggers the crossguards are solid nickel and will display a Marking of a Roman numeral I II or III. This practice stopped in late 1935.
The blade had the SS motto "Meine Ehre Heist Treue" (My Honour is Loyalty) etched into the centre of the blade in Gothic script. One variation on this is the addition of an exclamation mark found on a Jacobís, or RZM 7/29 their RZM mark.
Grips are made of a dark ebony wood. In many cases this wood has too much brown grain and was dyed with a black vegetable pigment to give the grip a black appearance. Late into the period some of the later grips were in fact a plain oak wood with black pigment.
The scabbard had a black oxide finish with a clear lacquer overcoat. The scabbard fittings on early daggers are solid nickel and look the same as fittings found on the SA dagger.
From February 1934 the daggers were only ordered through SS headquarters and issued through the three main SS Uniform distribution centres at Munich, Dresden and Berlin. After the daggers had passed quality inspection the reverse of the crossguard was stamped by the issue centres with I, II or III. Since the early daggers were owned by the sate prior to 1936, early SS daggers can have a punch dye number grouping found on the underside of the crossguard for officer grade or the back of the crossguard for NCO and EM grade. Crossguards can also show areas where these numbers have been removed after being turned back in to SS distribution centres.
The dagger was suspended from a single strap leather hanger with nickel fittings being a buckle and clip. This was attached to the belt by a belt loop with nickel D ring to affix the clip to. These can also be found with the small grip strap like that found on a SA dagger three piece hanger. A vertical hanger was also used to hold the dagger in an upright form. Vertical hangers can have oval buckles but will be found most often with square buckles made from a low grade steel. With SS vertical hangers there are very few variations found, due to strict codes of uniform and accoutrements wear for the SS.
As of late 1936 the SS dagger came under the complete control of the RZM authority with the result that the old SS crossguard stamping was fazed out and the RZM logo and the relevant manufacturer's number was added to the blade. There are a few very early made daggers with RZM code trademarks that have nickel fittings and a few that can be found with nickel plated fittings. The most common early RZM marking is the number 120/34; Note that all Jacobís RZM daggers will have nickel fittings no matter what period they were made.
After 1936 the dagger scabbard was painted black rather than the oxide finish due to cost cutting efforts as well as uniformity in colour and texture. All fittings were changed to a low quality base metal with nickel plating that will peel and bubble due to the low quality base metal.
The SS dagger was given a special status and was only presented to the owner on 9th November each year at the SS Anwarter, or candidate ceremony, as he qualified to be a SS Mann.
It was made a disciplinary matter for an SS man to dispose of, or lose their dagger because it was considered a symbol of their office.
From January 1935 any SS mann dismissed from service had to hand back their dagger, however if an SS mann retired or voluntarily retired, a certificate was issued which allowed them to keep their dagger
The SS 1933 dagger was withdrawn from production in 1942.
Edited by Bruce Petrin