During the 1st world war, the German Railway (Eisenbahn) had the most extensive railway network in Europe. It proved vital in maintaining the provision of troops and material to the German war effort on two fronts for 3 years. As a result of the Versailles settlement, the Eisenbahn was made a subject of war reparations.
Under the Nazi regime, the railways once again became of strategic importance to the 3rd Reich. In 1935 all railway authorities were united under a single authority (Deutsche Reichsbahn) with independent funds, administrative and operational authority. By 1935 the Reichsbahn employed 1,400,000 staff across Europe in support of the Wehrmacht.
1) Bahnschutz protected rail property from theft and sabotage.
2) Bahnpolizei kept discipline within the rail workforce.
3) Wassershutzpolitzei patrolled railway facilities in harbours, canals & waterways.
In 1937, Hitler brought the German Railway System under complete national control.
All three services were amalgamated in 1941 under the title of Bahnshutzpolizei. It soon came under the control of Himmler and took more responsibility for the control and management of prisoners and security on the German Railway. In 1944 the Bahnschutzpolizei changed its name to SS-Bahnshutz.
It was decided in 1938 to introduce a dagger for the Reichsbahn Wasserschutzpolizei that would be different to the 1938 Railway Guard dagger.
Design and production rights were given exclusively to the Carl Eickhorn factory whose basic design closely followed the Heer dagger of 1935. This dagger is shown in the Eickhorn catalogue dated November 1938.
The dagger was a combination of:
1)… 1938 Railway Guard pommel, grip and scabbard bands.
2)… 1935 Heer dagger cross guard and scabbard
The blade was a plain hollow ground carbon steel stiletto style item.
All metal parts of the dagger and hanger were gilded with a dull gold finish that would look like an NSKK Marine dagger or gold GO made by Eickhorn. On that note I have seen post war made up daggers that have had a "rose gold finish and a silver finish," these were made up by Jim Attwood and sold at the time the 1960’s as POST WAR made daggers. Note; Jim did not use the proper Eickhorn crossguards so they could not be confused with what was alleged to be the period item. The examples he made had a type A or B generic Army crossguard and the finishes noted above.
The Portapee was 42 cm in length and made form gold bullion thread with dark thread interspersed on the stem, slide and cord. Note I have never seen a 100% original, I have seen only post war made portepees.
The dagger was discontinued in 1941 when the Reichsbahn Wasserschutzpolizei ceased to exist in its original form.
A side note on this dagger, in my forty years of collecting I have never seen a 100% period example of this style dagger. There are a few being touted as period made; but the flaws seen on them would preclude them from being, in my opinion, period made. I have no doubt that questions will arise about this style dagger until the end of time.
Edited by Bruce Petrin