Waffen-SS Collar Tabs
    Introduction
    SS tabs
    SS Brigadeführer Collar tabs

    One of the most distinguishing and recognizable examples that set the Waffen-SS aside from all others was the rune SS collar tab. The runic SS collar tab was first worn by the "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler" and subsequent political units such as "Deutschland," "Germania" and "Der Fuhrer."

    In 1944 prior to the battle in the Ardennes, Reichsführer SS Himmler addressed his SS-men "Prove yourselves worthy of your victory runes, so order so." This underlines the importance of the rune symbology within the Waffen-SS.

    The design of the dual Sieg-runes was initiated in May 1933, by SS-Sturmhauptführer and graphic artist Walter Heck, who sold his design to the SS for 2.50Rmks.

    SS COLLAR TABS
    SS rune collar tabs
    SS collar tabs

    The Runic SS collar tabs were produced in silver aluminum thread for officers and silver grey thread for enlisted. The SS tabs were either hand-embroidered or machine-woven.
    Both the officer and enlisted collar tabs were issued and worn by all SS men including foreign volunteers.

    On top is an SS officer collar tab. The velvet base and twisted silver/aluminum piping indicate this collar tab was worn by ranks of SS-Sturmbannführer to Reichsführer between May 1933 to October 1934 and by ranks of SS-Untersturmführer to Reichsführer from October 1934 to May 1945.

    Next is a rare late war Dachau issue collar tab. The SS runes are made of silver/aluminum thin threads on a black cotton cloth and twisted silver/aluminum piping.

    Below is an Officer/NCO SS silver bullion collar tab embroidered on a black wool base.

    Next is a standard BeVo style SS rune collar tab. These weave style collar tabs have distinctive white buckram shown on the back.

    SS rune collar tabs
    SS collar tabs

    Unused SS NCO/enlisted RZM pattern collar tab with machine embroidered silver-grey runes on a black doe wool base and matching enlisted rank collar tab.

    DEATH'S HEAD
    Totenkopf

    The SS insignia was entrusted to the "Reichszeugmeisterei (RZM)," the Nazi Party organization that overlook the production and pricing of all SS uniform items.

    The metal Eagle and Totenkopf insignias were attached on SS headgear. In general early insignias were made of tombak or CupAl (copper & aluminum) but because of material shortages these badges were then later made of zinc.

    Totenkopf

    The "Totenkopf" (Death's Head) metal insignias were produced by RZM-approved companies. Early to mid-war insignias were die struck with hollow backs bearing two flat prongs or round pins. The badges normally bore the RZM marks as shown in the examples above.

    The badge on your right is made of copper-aluminum and has the "RZM M1/52" marking, which indicates that it was made by the firm of "Deschler & Sohn." Notice the flat prongs and round disc pin attachments.

    During the war the "M1" prefix was removed and only a two or three digit manufacturing code was left with the addition of a year suffix.
    Notice the reverse of the Totenkopf insignia made of nickel-bronze, which has the "RZM 254/42" marking. According to some sources this badge was also made by the firm "Deschler & Sohn." The reverse shows the typical style flat prongs and round disc found on Deschler badges, this badge is missing one of the flat prongs.

    The zinc badge on your left does not show the manufacturer's marking but the inscription "Ges Gesch" This marking has been attributed to the firm "Assmann."

    TOTENKOPF COLLECTION

    The "Totenkopf" (Death's Head) was the other collar insignia that has been associated to Concentration Guards and the famous 3rd SS Totenkopf Division. The death's head was first worn as a collar tab when the SS took over the concentration camp system and continued through the pre-war expansion period that created the core of the Totenkopf Division.

    Totenkopf collection
    Totenkopf Collection

    The Totenkopf Collar Tab (shown on your left), was only worn by German nationals in the SS Totenkopf formations. On your right side is a metal skull worn on SS Visors and M-43 Caps. The back shows two round copper color prongs and is marked "Ges. Gesch." On the bottom right is zinc type Officers SS belt buckle. The background is a nice cover mailed by a volunteer in the Totenkopf SS Division. Notice the official SS seal, which is quite rare on postal covers since the Nazi national eagle was used on official seals.

    TRIFOS COLLAR TAB
    Trifos Collar Tab

    Trifos Collar Tab

    In the summer of 1940, the SS Infantry Regiment "Nordwest" Regiment "Westland" composed of Germanic Dutch and Flemish men were raised and would become one of the three constituent regiments of the 5th SS Division "Wiking."
    In the spring of 1941 a second Germanic regiment was raised, the SS Infantry Regiment "Nordwest"composed of Dutch, Flemish and Danish men.
    Unlike the volunteers in the Westland Regiment whom wore SS Collar Tabs, the volunteers in the Norwest were granted the distinction of their own special collar tab of a three-legged swastika referred as Trident sunwheel.

    By September 1941 the Nordwest was disbanded and its personnel distributed to their respective ethnic legion formation.
    Many of the transferees from the disbanded Nordwest continued to wear their Trifos Collar Tab for a time in their respective ethnic legions.

    The Trifos collar tab was the standard insignia issued to the "Freikorps Danmark." These tabs were provided to Danish volunteers when they arrived at the training camp in Hamburg, which included the aluminun bullion hand made Trifos for officers. It was carried during the stay in Hamburg and also on arrival at the Posen-Treskau training camp in September of 1941. However it was immediately removed upon arrival to Posen and replaced by the popular SS runes.

    In May 1943 the Flemish Legion was disbanded. Flemish legionnaires had the option of joining the newly formed SS Assault Brigade "Langemarck." Members of the Sturmbrigade and later the 27th SS Volunteer Grenadier Division Langemarck were authorized to wear the Trifos collar tab.

    The complete collar torn off a tunic was found somewhere in the Ukraine. Has the proper stitching behind the collar with the tabs placed correctly, one of the legs of the Trifos collar tab is damage a little nevertheless very rare.

    Waffen-SS Foreign Volunteer Collar Tabs

    The first SS clothing factory was established in Dachau concentration camp, where the main SS clothing depot was also located.
    With the increasing recruitment of non-Germans into the Waffen-SS after 1940, Himmler became concerned about the use of the SS runes insignia by those not racially suitable for full SS membership, and he instructed that such recruits should wear some form of collar tab without SS runes.The SS thereafter designed and issued a range of appropriate collar tabs for its foreign volunteers, and pending the distribution of these insignia blank collar tabs were often worn in new formations as an interim measure.
    German SS officers and NCOs serving in foreign units were still entitled to wear the SS runes collar tabs and from July 1943, if they chose to identify with their men they were obliged to sport the SS runes embroidered below the left breast pocket instead.



    Collar Tabs

    Above is a scarce blank collar tab worn by most foreign volunteers and "SD" personnel. Next is the a standard RZM pattern embroidered SS rune insignia.

    Waffen-SS Collar Tabs
    Waffen-SS Foreign Volunteer Collar Tabs

    Above you'll find the German made Trifos Collar tab that was issued to Danish volunteers in the Freikorps and later to Flemish volunteers in the SS Assault Brigade "Langemarck."

    Next is a very rare locally made Danish Freikorps collar tab. The Freikorps collar tab was issued on 28 April 1942 and worn for only 6 months. The Danish flag is embroidered on a black wool cloth.

    The "Sonnerad" (sunwheel) collar tab was issued to Nordic volunteers incorporated in the SS-Panzergrenadier Rgt 23 Norge and SS-Panzergrenadier Rgt 24 Danmark. These collar tabs were probably issued in May 1943 while the regiments were in the Grafenwohr training grounds. The Sunwheel collar tab is the standard Dachau made tab.

    Below you'll find a late pattern Dutch wolf-hook collar tab (German issued in 1944). This collar tab was issued to Dutch volunteers in the "4. SS Panzer-Grenadier Brigade Nederland."

    In the middle is the "Odal" rune collar tab, issued around early March 1942 to volunteers of the "7. SS-Freiwilligen-Gebirgs Division Prinz Eugen." This division was a truly Germanic formation comprised of ethnic Germans who lived in the Balkans.

    Next is a collar tab issued to members of the "22. SS-Freiwilligen-Kavallerie-Division Maria Theresia." This Division was comprised of ethnic Hungarian Germans and Hungarians. The cornflower tab was issued in limited quantities.

    Waffen-SS Foreign Volunteer Collar Tabs

    On top you'll find the Hungarian Waffen-SS collar tab issued to volunteers in the "25. Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS "Hunyadi." Picture evidence shows that this "H" pattern collar tab was issued and worn but in very limited quantities.

    Next is a very rare locally made Estonian collar tab that was worn by men in the "20. Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS Estnische." The early pattern collar tab is machine embroidered. In addition a metal type collar tab was also made and worn by Estonian volunteers. The Germans produced an Estonian version collar tab, however it was very unpopular with the troops that very few were worn.

    Next is a late pattern Latvian collar tab, issued and worn by volunteers in the "15. Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS Lettische."

    Below is a Wolf's Head collar tab that was made for the "Ostturkische Waffen-Verband der SS." In October 1944, this formation was initially comprised of three separate eastern groups: Idel-ural, Turkestan and Krim. By March 1945 the Aserbeidschan legion was added. The German made Wolf's Head collar tab was never issued.

    In late 1943, a special tab insignia was issued to members of the "13. Waffen-Gebirgs Division der SS Handschar." The insignia consisted of a hand holding a Simitar with a swastika.

    Next is an Italian collar tab that was made for members of the "29. Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS Italienische." The insignia shows silver-grey fasces. There is no indication that this tab was issued or worn.

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