The SS (Schutzstaffel) was originally formed in 1925, ostensibly to act as a small, loyal bodyguard unit to protect the Führer, Adolf Hitler. Under the direction of the Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, the SS grew to be the most ruthless and feared organization of the 20th century. They were the vanguard of Nazism and eventually controlled nearly every function of German life and much of Occupied Europe. The SS dagger was introduced in 1933. Early on, members of the SS were awarded their daggers during a ceremony at the Feldherrnhalle Memorial in Munich. The annual ritual, charged with mysticism and meant to evoke the traditions of medieval Teutonic knights, was held on 9 November, the date of the unsuccessful Munich Putsch of 1923. Both officers and enlisted men wore the identical dagger until 1936. After this time, only enlisted men wore the M1933 dagger.
The SS Dagger was equipped with nickel crossguards with an ebony wood grip. The black grip contained a National eagle with swastika insignia recessed in the center area and an SS rune button inset at the top. On early examples the scabbard shell surface was factory blackened using a metal bluing process. The scabbard had nickel mounts. The SS blade was a polished type containing the SS motto, Meine Ehre Heisst Treue (My Honor is Loyalty). Early examples bore one of three district stampings on the lower reverse crossguard of I, II, or III. Early examples were mostly hand-fit. Production of later examples was more standardized, using cheaper, nickel-plated fittings with black painted scabbard shells.
SSDAG #48491C SS Model 1933 Ground Röhm - Gottlieb Hammesfahr
This early SS dagger shows a bit of age and usage, but it is all there and in collectible condition. The nickel cross guards are in good condition with smooth surfaces, crisp edges and precise accent grooves. The guards are internally marked, "P.A.". The lower cross guard reverse is stamped with numeral "III". The guards perfectly fit the ebony grip. The grip remains in perfect condition on the obverse with excellent center ridge. The reverse guard has a chip that came out on the lower right, but apparently the previous owner has put the chip back in place. Unfortunately, though, the repair is slightly noticeable. The SS runes button is turned to about 8:00 o,clock. It remains in perfect condition with its silvered runes and matching double circles. The nickel grip eagle is the style with "beak which points upward slightly". All details remain to the eagle. A decent hilt here.
The scabbard shell is straight throughout. It has been period repainted over the original anodized finish. The paint job was not the best, but is still mostly there, having wear signs and small chips pretty much spread evenly throughout the paint. The shell is equipped with nickel scabbard mounts. The upper mount is perfect, while the lower mount has the center area of the ball pushed in, but there is no splitting of the ball. The original nickel screws remain in place. The scabbard is equipped with what appears to be the original-to-the-piece early vertical hanger. The leather remains in excellent condition with its coffin-shaped reverse. The leather straps are still in very fine condition with a plated rectangular-shape buckle. The snap clip is marked, "A" and "DRGM".
The obverse blade still remains in bright condition and some original grain is visible. The SS motto is deeply etched and appears to have all of the background frosting in the letters. The reverse has been completely ground and a good attempt at repolishing has been made. The remains of the Gottlieb Hammesfahr trademark are still there at about 50%, with the triangle and "+" still being visible in the logo. The blade shoulders perfectly meet the lower cross guard contour.
A decent original fully ground Röhm dagger.
SSDAG #48492C SS Serial Numbered Partial Röhm - Rich. Abr. Herder
This SS dagger is very desirable and also quite rare. It has very fine nickel cross guards with good smooth surfaces, crisp edges and precise accent grooves. The tang nut is also in fine condition appearing to have been out maybe once. The lower reverse cross guard is District marked, "I". The ebony grip remains in very choice condition throughout, and fits the cross guards like a rubber glove. It is the typical Herder type being thinner than most other producer's product and having the low-set grip eagle. The SS runes button has fine enamel and is turned to about 7:00 o.clock. The nice nickel eagle is the "high-necked" variety. All details to the eagle are there - great. A very fine hilt here.
The scabbard is straight throughout. It has an excellent "anodized" finish, showing only a couple of slight age marks, but they are barely noticeable. The scabbard mounts are the matching nickel type. The upper mount is in perfect condition, while the lower example has a little minor "push-in" of the ball, but no crushing or splitting. The four nickel screws are all in place. The upper ring is equipped with the original early black short hanger. The hanger has fine leather complete with the small retainer loop. The hanger mounts are nickel, with the snap clip being the "snout-nosed" variety having the rivet-held spring. A fine scabbard here.
The blade obverse is as nice as you will see, being in mint condition.The SS motto, "Meine Erhe heisst Treue" is deeply etched and has 100% of the background frosting in the letter backgrounds. It is most captivating to see the original owner's SS number here on this blade obverse. The number is located at the right edge of the blade shoulder where it meets the lower cross guard. The numbers are very neatly and precisely stamped here, being "34 636". This is the first example I recall seeing with numbers applied in this location and also being this small - a very fine job here. Unfortuinately, the numbers do not equate to an SS officer rank, but there is always the chance in the future that these NCO numbers will be identified. One thing is for sure, they belonged to a long term SS Mann. The reverse blade is also still in nice condition. It is not as bright as the obverse, as the ground area was polished after the removal of Ernst Röhm's facsimile signature. The dedication remains with the "In herzlicher" letters. The word "Kameradschaft" is bold at the beginning letters, but is a little faint at the last few letters, however, the letter traces are still there. As we know, it is quite rare to see these "partial" grinds, especially on SS Model 1933 daggers. The ricasso has the full logo consisting of double ovals which contain the firm's name and location, "Rich. Abr. Herder / Solingen". The diamond logo is contained in the center of the ovals. The blade shoulders perfectly meet the lower cross guard contour.
An exceptional dagger here and a "must" for the advanced SS collectors out there. A very rare offering here.
Excellent Plus. $8,995.00
SSDAG #48314C Model 1936 Chained-SS Dagger - (SS 120/34 RZM)
This Chained-SS scabbard comes with the original wearer's early dagger. When we see these daggers with maker's marks it is attributable to the original owner not willing to buy another dagger when the Chained scabbards's came out. He saved the cost of a new dagger by using his existing model in the new scabbard. The dagger is equipped with nickel cross guards and tang nut. The tang nut does not appear to have been removed. The guards have a desirable dull patina evenly spread throughout their surfaces. The lower cross guard is mounted on the hilt backwards with the District number "I" stamping being on the obverse side. Since the cross guards fit the ebony grip like a glove, plus the fact the dagger does not appear to have been apart, I see no reason to turn the cross guard around. The ebony grip shows only a tad of wear, still being in fine condition with crisp accent lines. The SS runes button is set straight up-and-down, and has good enamel. The siilver runes and circles around them have nicely patinated. The nickel grip eagle is a "high-necked" variety having all details visible to the bird's head, breast and wing feathering, talons, wreath and swastika. A nice early hilt here.
The scabbard shell is straight throughout. It has a fine anodized finish which remains at 100%. There is also a good deal of original protective lacquer remaining over the shell being at about 40%. The scabbard is equipped with a Type I chain. When we see these assemblies, the chain, upper mount and center mount will be of plated nickel, as they were ordered from a separate hardware assembler. The throat and the lower mount are often of solid nickel material, which is the case here. The upper mount is in fine condition. The lower mount, unfortunately, has some smashing to the lower ball, where it is pressed pretty well flat. The original nickel screws are in place.
The plated center ramp features the three raised intertwined swastikas on each side. The backgrounds are pebbled and the ramp's edges are crisp. The ramp is retained with a single screw in the left edge. The Type I chain remains in a fine state, still being bright and reflecting no rust. The links feature the alternating skull- and-bones with SS runes. Each and every link remains perfect, with fine background pebbling and lots of leering teeth from the skulls. The link connecting tabs are in choice condition, as these Type I tabs are much more substantial than the Type II chain counterpart. The two chain assemblies connect to an open-style clover leaf ramp. The ramp reveals the "D.R.G.M." letters visible through the upper opening. The snap clip works well with original spring. The reverse of the first link on the upper chain is deeply stamped with the SS Kulturzeichen proof marking. A very fine chain assembly here.
The blade remains bright throughout and is in mint condition, still reflecting its original factory grain. The SS motto, "Meine Ehre heisst Treue" is extremely well done having 100% of its original darkening in the letter backgrounds. The motto really jumps out to the eye. The reverse ricasso is matching etched, "SS 120/34 RZM". As is always the case with this contract/producer number, the etching is read pointing towards the blade tip, rather than the usally seen opposite position on other maker-marked blades. The blade shoulders perfectly meet the lower cross guard contour.
A very good, solid Chained SS dagger here reasonably priced.
Excellent Plus. $6,295.00
SSDAG #48313C SS Serial-Numbered Model 1936 Chained-SS - No Maker
This Chained-SS dagger is an early initial production example. It is equipped with nickel cross guard mounts and matching tang nut. The cross guards are in good condition throughout. The obverse lower guard is engraved (somewhat crudely) with the original owner's SS serial number. Since there was no set procedure for the engraving of these numbers, in this case, it appears the original owner may have done the engraving himself which we do see occasionally. We have the identity of the original owner, an SS Obersturmbannführer, and will deal with this further down in the dagger's description. The ebony grip is in good condition, having a fine raised center ridge and crisp construction. There is a small crack in the wood above the runes button, but otherwise the grip shows little wear and perfectly fits the cross guards. The runes button is positioned straight up and down. It has some damage to the background enamel, but it only really shows if you look at the button with an eye loupe. The nickel grip eagle is the "high-necked" variety, still having good detail to the bird's head, breast and wing feathering, talons, wreath and swastika. A good hilt here.
The scabbard shell is straight throughout having original black paint. The paint shows wear to all areas, but particularly is worn on both sides of the lower edge beneath the center ramp. The wear is from the original owner's hand steadying the dagger while in wear. All and all, the paint rates at maybe 70% throughout the scabbard, but the wear really speaks of the dagger's history. The scabbard mounts are the nickel type. Both the upper and lower are in fine condition, to include the perfect lower ball. The original screws are all in place and are unturned. The center ramp is the early type with crisp edges featuring the three intertwined swastikas on both sides. The ramp's backgrounds reflect excellent pebbling. Much of the original background darkening has worn off over the years, but still remains at about 50%. The center ramp is retained by a single screw in the left edge. Connected to the upper and center ramp is a fine Type II chain assembly. The chain links remain in nice condition with good background pebbling and almost 100% of the original background darkening. The skull links still have the glaring teeth, and the SS rune links are still crisp. The nickel connector tabs are all in good condition and remain closed. The snap clip is equipped with the closed-style clover leaf obverse and has a working spring and snap at the reverse. The first chain link of the upper chain assembly is lightly stamped with the SS-Kulturzeichen proof marking.
The unmarked blade is a fine example being bright throughout and still having some original factory grain. The SS motto is crisp and retains the majority of the factory darkening in the letter backgrounds. The blade grades at near mint. The blade shoulders perfectly meet the lower cross guard contour.
As to the original owner of the dagger - the SS serial number, "32 248", belongs to an SS-Obersturmbahnführer. He is identified as Johannes Luther, born November 10, 1895, and attaining his Obersturmbannführer rank on November 9, 1936. Luther was an officer going back to 1934 and must have been well thought of as he was awarded the SS Honor Ring as well as the SS Degen. He is listed as being with, "Stab Ab. XVIII", with a Party number of 1 278 875. Although I found Luther on the 1936 and 1937 SS-Dienstaltersliste, I did not find him on records after this time. We have only done very cursory research, but with this information, a professional researcher such as Ross Kellbaugh could be retained and I have no doubt that he will be able to compile a dossier on this officer. These dossiers are always exciting things, often having lots of personnel records, race and resettlement research of the man's genetic background, pictures, events attended, etc. So, having this research done is well worth the while and I heartily recommend it.
An interesting Chained-SS dagger here that could prove even better once research has been done. It is also still in very collectible condition.
SSDAG #45185C Early SS EM with SS Serial Number by Gottlieb Hammesfahr
This early SS dagger is equipped with all nickel mounts. The tang nut and crossguards are in excellent condition having good smooth surfaces crisp edges and precise accent grooves. The lower reverse crossguard is marked with the district number Roman numeral "III". In addition it is stamped on wither side of the district number with the original owner’s SS serial number "206 387". I have tried to look the number up on the Dienstalterliste but it is not there which indicates the original owner was an enlisted man.
The grip of this dagger is in fairly good condition on the reverse and on the obverse it shows some surface chips which have come out surrounding the SS runes button. There are also some tap taps in the grip which are mostly under the grip eagle. The runes button has fairly good enamel showing usage but no material missing. The silver runes are nicely patinaed and are surrounded by double circles. The runes are positioned at about 8 o’clock. The grip eagle is the high necked variety and it still is in good condition with all details still being there with little to no wear. The grip also perfectly fits the crossguards.
The scabbard of this example does not appear to be the original one as it is equipped with nickel plated mounts. The mounts are in outstanding condition to include the lower ball which just has a tiny tap in the lower bottom. The throat is thinner type that we see in usage from about 1938. The scabbard shell has nice original black paint showing a minor scuff on the reverse part but otherwise throughout is in fine condition with the usual minor attic crazing. This paint rates at easily 95 percent. The original screws in place and are unturned.
Attached to the upper ring is a black short hanger. It is missing the retainer ring leather but is in otherwise in good condition. The hardware is the plated type and the snap clip is marked "RZM M5/71 OLC". It is possible the original owner had his scabbard changed later on in the period because it possible the other scabbard became in poor condition.
The blade of this example shows some age and usage and some signs of past sharpening but overall it is not too bad and grades at excellent. The SS motto is still in fairly good condition having perhaps 20 percent of the original darkening in the letter backgrounds. The reverse ricasso is etched with the double ovals which contain the firm’s name and location "Gottleib Hammesfhar Solingen Foche". Inside the double circles is a pyramid with a plus on its obverse. The blade shoulders perfectly meet the lower crossguard.
I know that this dagger has a few failings but it is still in collectible condition and of course the SS serial number also makes it interesting. It is possible that in the future we may be able trace enlisted men's numbers so it is a worthwhile dagger to keep. It comes from the Joe Santucci collection.