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#1
Old 11-06-2012, 01:25 PM
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Did all Nazi members of the infamous "SS" have skulls on their uniforms?

Dear Cecilists,

I'm German and asking the following question in Germany raises some suspicious eyebrows. So maybe you can help me: Did all Nazi members of the infamous "SS" have skulls on their uniforms?

(this question came up when I asked the famous pulp fiction writer Robin D. Laws "why are Nazis the ultimate pulp villians?" and receiving "Communists never put skulls on their uniforms." as an answer.)


Thank you!
#2
Old 11-06-2012, 01:42 PM
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IIRC, the answer is yes. No cite, but, I think that the "Order of the Deaths Head" was some designation one got when entering the SS.

Death's head insignias, again, IIRC, were ubiquitous as military designations pre-Nazi.

IIRC. Have I mentioned that?

Last edited by handsomeharry; 11-06-2012 at 01:42 PM.
#3
Old 11-06-2012, 01:45 PM
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The 3rd SS Panzer Division "Totenkopf" and the "Totenkopfverbande" concentration camp guards both wore skulls as their official organizational insignia.

At least some of the other SS divisions, at some times, wore a skull on their hats. I'm not sure whether *all* SS members wore this during WWII.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totenkopf
#4
Old 11-06-2012, 01:47 PM
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Yes they did, but then again lot's of other military units thru out history have used the skull and cross bones as well; it's a warrior/macho thing.

Last edited by Si Amigo; 11-06-2012 at 01:47 PM.
#5
Old 11-06-2012, 01:48 PM
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Use of the death's head on uniforms began with the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great. It's a German thing more than a Nazi thing.
#6
Old 11-06-2012, 01:53 PM
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Since the question has been answered, here's a very pertinent sketch from Mitchell & Webb.
#7
Old 11-06-2012, 01:58 PM
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As far as I can tell, all SS members wore the skull insignia on their uniform hats. It seems to be universal regardless of what unit of the SS the individual was in - I can't find a picture of an SS hat that doesn't have the insignia.

The only SS uniforms I found that don't have the skull insignia are the field uniforms of members of the Waffen SS, the combat branch of the SS. These individuals wore standard German helmets with an SS shield on the side.
#8
Old 11-06-2012, 03:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctnguy View Post
Since the question has been answered, here's a very pertinent sketch from Mitchell & Webb.
That's gotta one of my favorite sketches, period.
#9
Old 11-06-2012, 04:41 PM
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That was funny.
#10
Old 11-07-2012, 09:39 AM
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I don't have a cite, but I read somewhere once that the SS got the idea from a WWI regiment, the Brunswick Hussars. I've always thought it was extremely ironic that the regiment was called the "Brunswick Life Guards". There's a picture of their insignia on this page: http://kammerbulle.de/html/cavalry.html

Last edited by furryman; 11-07-2012 at 09:40 AM.
#11
Old 11-07-2012, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
As far as I can tell, all SS members wore the skull insignia on their uniform hats. It seems to be universal regardless of what unit of the SS the individual was in - I can't find a picture of an SS hat that doesn't have the insignia.
I could be wrong, but isn't that an officer's dress hat? Enlisted hats seem to have varied, some having the totenkopf and some not.

8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer on the Eastern Front summer 1942 (no totenkopf)

An 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer Jagdpanzer Hetzer in Hungary 1944 (officer has a totenkopf, enlisted hat doesn't appear to)

SS-Freiwilligen Sturmbrigade Wallonien propaganda postcard (hard to say with certainty, but enlisted hat doesn't appear to have a totenkopf)

Member of 33rd Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Charlemagne (1st French) (no totenkopf)

21st Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Skanderbeg (1st Albanian) (enlisted soft hat has the totenkopf)

13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian) (enlisted soft hat again has the totenkopf)

Another picture of the unique enlisted soft hat of the Handschar with the totenkopf

Members of the SS-Sonderregiment Dirlewanger in the window of a townhouse at 9 Focha Street, Warsaw. (Hard to say with certainty, one or two may have the totenkopf - the third from the right and the third from the left, the rest don't)
#12
Old 11-07-2012, 09:34 PM
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I did a google image search for "ss hat" and here's the results.
#13
Old 11-07-2012, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I did a google image search for "ss hat" and here's the results.
The dread Camarostein SS were far more fearsome than their headwear would lead one to suspect.
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#14
Old 11-08-2012, 09:45 AM
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The deathheads were also used by regular Heer units, so they were not something reserved for SS uniforms. For instance, the Panzerwaffe units had prominent deathheads on their tunics, something which I've read caused some concern among Panzer units towards the end of the war, as they were worried about being mistaken for SS troops.

So yeah, as someone mentioned way earlier, it was a German thing, not a SS thing.
#15
Old 11-08-2012, 01:27 PM
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Isn't the point of a uniform that everybody is dressed ... uniformly? So either all of them had it, or none did, right? Since you see skulls on uniforms on photos of SS members, then there you go, right?
#16
Old 11-08-2012, 01:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elmer J. Fudd View Post
The dread Camarostein SS were far more fearsome than their headwear would lead one to suspect.
Yeah, cruising up and down Europe with their muskelwagens.
#17
Old 11-08-2012, 01:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blakeyrat View Post
Isn't the point of a uniform that everybody is dressed ... uniformly? So either all of them had it, or none did, right? Since you see skulls on uniforms on photos of SS members, then there you go, right?
Logic like that might get you accused of witchcraft. You're just lucky I don't have a duck to weigh.

Last edited by Darth Panda; 11-08-2012 at 01:53 PM.
#18
Old 11-11-2012, 10:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blakeyrat View Post
Isn't the point of a uniform that everybody is dressed ... uniformly? So either all of them had it, or none did, right? Since you see skulls on uniforms on photos of SS members, then there you go, right?
Hence why all U.S. military uniforms have General's stars on them.

Last edited by BigT; 11-11-2012 at 10:04 AM.
#19
Old 11-11-2012, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elmer J. Fudd View Post
The dread Camarostein SS were far more fearsome than their headwear would lead one to suspect.
That made me laugh.
#20
Old 11-11-2012, 11:30 AM
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Say what you want about the Nazis but they were snazzy dressers.
#21
Old 11-11-2012, 02:26 PM
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Weren't all SS members also Nazi party members?
#22
Old 11-11-2012, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Seanette View Post
Weren't all SS members also Nazi party members?
They did draft people to fight in the SS.
#23
Old 11-11-2012, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seanette View Post
Weren't all SS members also Nazi party members?
Doubtful. One thing people forget is that Himmler had ambitions beyond just Germany - he saw the SS as an international organization. Germany was considered the heartland of the Aryan race but the SS recruited members from all over Europe. There were over 300,000 non-Germans in the SS and I don't think the Nazi Party was interested in accepting them for membership.
#24
Old 11-12-2012, 01:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
They did draft people to fight in the SS.
I had thought the SS was supposed to be some elite group, thus probably not interested in lowering their standards to any Hans Schmoe off the street.
#25
Old 11-12-2012, 04:32 PM
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They started out with very stringent standards,yes, but with the attrition of war (and the SS units suffered higher attritions than Heer units due to being elite forces being pushed into whatever scrap seemed worst), by the end of the war they were drafting virtually anyone with a heartbeat to maintain unit numbers (not combat efficency of course).
#26
Old 11-12-2012, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seanette View Post
I had thought the SS was supposed to be some elite group, thus probably not interested in lowering their standards to any Hans Schmoe off the street.
To be absolutely clear I intend not the slightest mote of sympathy for this murderous organization in using the word misunderstood, but the SS is highly misunderstood in this regard. The elite SS formations were kept to high standards of 'racial purity' as understood by Nazi ideology; but by the end of the war they were a minority of the SS. By the end of the war the size of the Waffen SS had ballooned to about 1,000,000. In an effort to expand the size of his personal army, Himmler was able to have the SS take control of most foreign troops serving in the German military. Wiki has a list here of Waffen SS divisions raised during the war and the origin of the troops. There were also a number of non-divisional sized SS formations raised during the war formed of foreign troops. Note that no less than 3 SS divisions were formed from Russian troops, and the Slavic race was considered untermenschen (subhuman) by Nazi ideology. The infamous Dirlewanger Brigade, later raised to divisional strength consisted of:
Quote:
In its final phase, Dirlewanger's men came to include, besides common criminals, increasing numbers of political prisoners, homosexuals, Gypsies (likely recruited from Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps) and patients from psychiatric hospitals, as well as others considered unfit to serve in normal military units.
#27
Old 11-12-2012, 06:15 PM
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Thanks for the info, gang. Ignorance on this topic beaten to a pulp.
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