Organisation Information - Storm Troops [Sturmabtielung (SA)]
The SA was the original paramilitary formation of the NSDAP, being founded in 1921 at a Hofbraehaus beer hall rally in Munich and used to both defend the NSDAP as well as attack other political parties. The SA was composed mainly of members of the various Freikorps formations and unemployed men. It was named after an elite division of the German Army from the 1st World War
The Storm Troops or "Brownshirts" were organized initially to serve as a protective force at Nazi Party meetings and placed under the leadership of Captain Ernst Röhm who was very important to Hitler in the early days of the NSDAP party. The SA exploded in size from an embryonic 46-man detachment to a massive organization claiming in excess of four million members in 1934, 40 times larger than the Army. Its purpose was to ensure that the parties policies, actions and idea's were not hindered or restricted in any way. Its main method of implementing these actions was by force, violence and intimidation.
During this time frame, both the SS and NSKK were organic branches of the SA.
The SA leader, Captain Ernst Rohm, wanted to arm the SA and to integrate the Army within his authority. Without Hitlers authority, Rohm started to talk about a "second revolution" where the bourgeois of the party and Army would be swept away and a new order appear.
Eventually Hitler decided to end the way in which the SA was organised as he considered the SA and Ernst Rohm a threat to the further expansion of his policies. As a result, Hitler instigated the "Night of the Long Knives" blood purge to weaken the SA leadership and its power. Hitler used Himmler and his SS to bring about the fall of Rohm and his fellow SA leaders, about 300 senior SA members and other political enemies of the NSDAP party were killed.
After this purge the SA was less important to Hitler due to his planned expansion of the Army, which after the purge and his promise of expansion, felt Hitler was their true friend. As a result of the purge, Himmler and the SS became Hitlers new means of controlling the Party and the German people.
After the "Blood Purge" of Ernst Röhm and SA leaders in 1934, Victor Lutze was appointed SA Stabchef (Chief of Staff) and retained the position until 1943, when he was killed in an automobile accident. Wilhelm Schepmann succeeded Lutze.
During the war years, the SA was charged with the pre and post-military training of German manpower in co-operation with the heads of the military services. The German Armed Forces drew much needed replacement personnel from this group, and by 1944-45 over 85% of the SA had seen active military experience.
Dagger Information SA Standard 1933 Dagger
In 1933 Hitler commissioned Professor Woenne of the Solingen School of Commerce to design an edged weapon for dress wear by the SA and SA reserve.
The dagger was issued for wear in February 1934 and was styled after a 16th century south German hunting dagger known as a "Holbein" dagger. The Holbein dagger featured a hunting scene on its scabbard based upon a scene from a Holbein painting called "The Dance of Death", hence its name.
The dagger was a high quality item that measured 37 cm long.
The curved grip was made from a number of different woods including Oak, Pear, Walnut and Maple, Birch etc. At the centre of the grip was inserted a nickel Nazi eagle with wings spread, holding a wreath with the Nazi swastika at its centre. At the top of the wooden grip was inserted a small circular insignia with a runic version of the SA initials.
Note:that very early made SA daggers can be found with NO SA roundel on the grip, as well as a large early nazi style nickel eagle, these are Super rare and only a hand full are know to exist. Of special note is that some manufactures finished there grips in different colour finishes, from a plain buffed wood, known as a blonde grip, to a thick brown varnish like found on makers like Haco, and Asculap. It was up to the manufacture to make a profit so sometimes the varnish was not used and a Blonde grip can be found on even the noted makers above.
The cross-grained hollow ground carbon steel blade had a dedication etched down the centre which read, in Gothic style text, "Alles fur Deutschland" (Everything for Germany). Note that some variations exist of this format "only on very early blades," it reads. Deutchland Uber Alles. Also some makers did NOT crossgrain polish there blades, but rather smooth polished. It should be pointed out that many makers were small cottage makers that made only a few daggers and these trademarks are the most desired by collectors for this very reason.
The sheet metal seamless scabbard was finished in a red-brown oxide finish with a clear coat of thick clear lacquer please note that these finishes can be a wide range of colour depending on the base metal and the reaction of the finish to the metal. A good example is this, the more brass in the nickel of the base metal the finish will be a copper tone.
Affixed to the scabbard body were solid nickel silver chape and locket. These were held in place with four setscrews. Very early examples can be found with NO screws. As well some very early made scabbards have NO lower fitting.
A ring was fixed on the scabbard locket onto which the small detachable leather hanger was affixed. The hanger allowed the dagger to hang diagonally from the wears belt. A second leather strap could be fitted onto the top of the grip and to the D ring belt loop to make the dagger more steady when marching or taking part in activities. Note that a vertical hanger was also available at extra cost to the owner, as well the wear could fashion and style hanger that worked well for them, therefore its not unlikely that bizarre style hangers can be found from; bayonet frog like hangers to strange strap configurations.
The dagger had a Solid nickel curved lower cross guard whilst the top of the grip had a smaller but similar solid nickel crossguard secured by a single solid nickel nut. Note that these fittings were coated with a clear lacquer and its beyond ultra rare to find one with this lacquer still intact.
The dagger was originally purchased through the wearers local unit and was paid for the SA member. It should be noted that an individual could if he wished purchase his dagger from the maker he desired when this is the case there will be no markings on the lower reverse crossguard.
From 1933 to 1935 the daggers were subject to quality control inspection at the HQ of the appropriate SA Gruppe prior to delivery. Upon passing the inspection, each dagger was stamped on the reverse crossguard with initials of the relevant SA Gruppe HQ (see table below). Note that many dagger can be found with NO marking, there are two reasons for this, the first is its been removed after June 1934, or was just not stamped as the dagger was a purchased by the owner therefore he was not compelled to mark his dagger. Only state owned daggers were stamped with these markings and the RB numbers sometimes encountered.
SA Gruppe HQ Inspection Stamp Markings (1933 to 1935)
After 1935 the dagger could be purchased from RZM approved outlets rather than through the SA Gruppe HQ. As a result, the SA Gruppe HQ inspection stamps disappeared and were replaced by the RZM logo and makers code number etched on the reverse side of the blade instead of the more traditional makers mark.
It should be noted that up until 1938 some makers still used their trademarks along with the RZM marking. It seems that there was no major issues with the Nazi Government on this point, rather it would seem more like the cost of the extra labour became the main point of stopping this practice as well the diminishing need for SA/ NSKK daggers.
The RZM stamps ensured that a dagger met the national standards of manufacture and was suitable for wear. At this time, the dagger fittings were generally made from plated zinc fittings and painted steel scabbards. These daggers were in many cases very well made but lacked when compared with the early made hand fitted daggers.
By the time manufacturing ceased in 1943 over 3 million SA daggers had been produced. This number fulfilled the first order placed in 1934. Just as a side note the very first SA daggers were produced by the firm J.P.Saur who had the ear of the SA Chief Ernst Rohm.
Edited by Bruce Petrin