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 complex organisation, and it served a political and administrative role with 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 600,000 men by the time WWII was over. 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 Ė SS 1936 Chained Dagger
In late 1936 Himmler introduced a new chain hanger for the existing officers daggers and for new officers, a new style dagger for wear, as well as old guard NCOís and SS members who had joined prior to January 1933.
There are over five pages of documentation that the chain would be issued and not one document stating anything about a new dagger production. Yet, common sense will dictate that new officers would be entering the SS post 1936 and with that said, itís obvious that the new style dagger was produced.
The later produced dagger was similar to the 1933 SS dagger but with the addition of a chained suspension hanger and a scabbard with a central mount fitting decorated with swastikas and a pebbled background. Crossguards and scabbard fittings, as well as the chain, were all solid nickel. The later made dagger post 1937 era dagger has poor quality base metals with nickel plated fittings. Scabbard finishes can range from Oxide Finnish with a clear lacquer to black lead based paint.
The chain was designed by Karl Diebitsch and comprised of octagonal plates embossed with the SS deaths head and SS runes. This had two meanings to it; the first is the skull and crossbones to signify a secret society. The second is the Sig Rune that is the power of Good over evil. The chains suspension clip was embossed with an ancient Germanic motif called "Wotans Knot".
The reverse of the plates was stamped with the SS proof mark of two intertwined "sig" runes.
There are two different style of chains:
SS Type 1 Chain- that has NO burnishing on the centre band and plates of the chain its self, as well a DRGM marked clip under the Woton Knot. The last two connector rings are square as they enter the Woton Knot.
SS Type 2Chain - has the dark burnishing on the plates and the centre band, and the Woton knot is solid, with the last two-connector rings angled to fit into the Woton knot.
The SS Chained daggers had no makerís marks on newly issued daggers post 1937, on period upgrades that consisting of well over 18,000 officers and old guard, these daggers simply had the centre band added and the upper fitting adjusted. Then the chain was added. These will display the early style trademarks and in many cases the SS officerís numbers.
Again there is NO direct documentation that the blade should not be marked and an unmarked blade does NOT constitute textbook at all. Itís a fact that 95% of all reproductions exhibit no trademark on the blade, as well as post war parts daggers made in the 1960ís have NO trademark.
The new-chained style dagger could only be purchased through official channels and was only initially worn with the black SS uniform. In 1943, officers of the Waffen SS were given
Permission to wear the chained dress dagger with their field grey walk out dress uniform along with a Heer (Army) style Portapee due to their military status. At this time they were also allowed to purchase the chained dagger form official RZM sales outlets.
Production of the dagger discontinued in at the end of 1942.
Edited by Bruce Petrin