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I must confess to you that having started collecting in 1959 as a lad of 13, I was all over the place. Anything military was fair game as I devoured the stories from local veterans and family members. However, truth be told, it was the German and Japanese items that held a higher intrigue for me. Remember this was back in 1959 during which time you could walk into an Army and Navy store and pick up ANYTHING US for about a dollar!
Once I got over the initial surge of wanting everything with a swastika on it including those giant NAZI flags (remember bigger is better) which I would fold in two and use for a blanket on my bed much to the chagrin of my dear Mother, I tried to figure out which area of collecting appealed to me the most.
Once again, reference material was very rudimentary and the best series of books was the Ballantine series on WWII which cost $1 per book. The most popular one for collectors was “NAZI REGALIA” by Jack Pia. I often wondered who he was and what his collection looked like. Boy how we fantasized about owning some of those treasures. There were pictures of some daggers and swords in these books as part of a uniform or on their own and they immediately had an appeal to me. A trip to the library to find additional reference material on Nazi German edged weapons was fruitless but worth the try.
Besides that there was a stigma for a teenager to have an edged weapon back in the 50‘s and 60’s and there is still a stupid Massachusetts law on the books to this day that makes any double edged weapon over 4” in length illegal to own. I don’t know of anybody arrested for this “crime” but I have seen vendors at flea markets lose their daggers because of this archaic law.
In spite of the inherent danger (of which I knew nothing) I was very intrigued when in 1961 at the age of 16, I bought my first Hitler Youth Knife and SA Dagger (insert pictures) from a classmate who was the son of a veteran who brought them back from overseas. I won’t tell you what I paid for them but it seemed liked a King’s ransom and amounted to three weeks wages from the two paper routes I had at the time. I loved those pieces and wondered who might have carried them and more importantly if the owners survived the war.
I learned a lot form those first two pieces. For example, I eventually found out that the motto on the Hitler Youth knife translated from “Blut und Ehre” in German to “Blood and Honor” in English. Yipes, that made my Boy Scout Motto of “Be Prepared” seem a bit more civilized. I also learned that the diamond made of enamel in the handle was the symbol of the youth movement. Later I saw that diamond on all their uniforms and hats. Surely this was different from the fleur-de-lis on my uniform and scout knife. I did notice that the majority of HJ knifes look like they have been sharpened. Guess what, I had done the same thing with my knife as a Boy Scout to make it easier to whittle wood.
My knife has a maker on it and it was a squirrel with a name of a company that was Carl Eickhorn in Solingen. I looked that up and saw that it was a city in Germany. I was still worried about it being real because it had that one word that threw me off above the squirrel. That word was ORIGINAL. I was definitely relieved to find out the word is spelled the same way in German as it is in English.
During the 1960’s a few more books came out on daggers such as The Daggers and Edged Weapons of Hitler’s Germany by James Angolia. For many years this was the bible but that’s not the case today as there are dozens of top notch authors on the topic such as Thomas Wittmann and Thomas Johnson (US Army Ret.) I have come along way which I’ll tell you about later but as now my name and items from my collection appear in more than 10 of the reference books written by these very credible authors.My SA dagger was a beauty. Mind you, I was committing a crime whenever I had it out (because the blade length was more than 4”) but fortunately it never caused me an issue. It didn’t take me a long time to figure out what the saying on that blade meant. It doesn’t take a Rhodes scholar to figure out “Alles fur Deutschland” meant “All for Germany”. I guess they meant what they said because they sure gave us a hard time during the war.