Thanks for all your feedback on this blog topic. You told me you learned a lot and so did I. That’s why I decided to do another segment on this topic. Over the years I have purchased countless thousands of items from veterans or their families. I would honestly say I’ve acquired 1000’s of medals, badges and cloth items. I’ve also bought hundreds of helmets, flags and daggers. The list is a long one as I’ve been collecting since just 14 years after the war ended (1959). But do you know what I have never purchased directly from a veteran? The answer is a SS tunic or helmet. That is partially due to the reason that I mentioned in my previous blog. The fact that many SS units ended up on the Eastern Front and our GIs never encountered them has a distinct bearing on this.
However, what about those thousands of Allgemeine SS uniforms and helmets (black) from the early days? Where did they disappear to? Many of us know how 100s of tunics and other equipment ended up in Russia, stripped of their insignia and used in 1950s Russian patriotic movies. That’s an entire blog for another time. But what about the rest? The scarcity of these items is directly related to two additional major factors.
1) Once the war ended, anything and everything associated with the NSDAP (NAZI) party and more specifically the SS was considered criminal and every effort was made on the home front to literally destroy the evidence. It must be hard to imagine how many Allgemeine SS visor caps, uniforms, insignia and paperwork literally went into the trash, was burned or buried as soon as the gunfire stopped.
2) A little known but documented fact is that Himmler himself issued an order
dated June 8, 1942 stating that all Allgemeine SS uniforms were to be turned in, stripped and reissued. The order went on to say that when A-SS men were drafted into the W-SS, they were to turn in their black uniforms to SS clothing depots. The insignia was removed and the tunic and trousers were to be issued to Schuma units on the Eastern Front in occupied territories or to Scandinavian/Dutch/Flemish SS units in western occupied countries. It was intended, upon Final Victory, that this style uniform would be reinstated. We all know the rest of that story!
In the chaos that ensued as the Third Reich came tumbling down, it’s a wonder that anything survived. However, with the sheer numbers of SS units being issued multiple uniforms and gear, in some cases, resulted in a significant amount of tunics and equipment surviving.