Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hitler Youth Belts and Buckles


The new HJ leaders’ buckle and special leather gear was authorized for wear by the following with an entry dated April l, 1937: (a) Leaders with the rank of HJ-Bannfuhrer and upwards (including "Verwaltungsbannfuhrer" which were administrators/managers): being DJ-Jungbannfdhren HJ-Obcrbannfiihrerg DJ-Oberjungbannfuhren HJ-Gebietsfuhrer; DJ-Gebietsjungvolkfuhrer; HJ-Obergebietsfuhrer, as well as appointed Stabsfuhrer (mainly with the RJF).(b) Appointed leaders ranking lower than H.J.-Bannfuhrer, being leaders of a"Bann" unit (function being "Fuhrer von Bannen"), department leaders of an area (Abteilungsleiter der Gebiete), staff leaders from an area (Stabsleiter der Gebiete), RJF main consultants (Hauptreferenten der RJF), deputy department chiefs (stellv. Amtschefs) and leaders of area leaders’ schools (Leiter der Gebietsfuhrer schulen).

Initially, it was planned that adjutants for a "Gebiets- und Gebietsjungvolkfuhrer" were also to wear the leaders’ belt and buckle. But in the course of early 1937 this position was withdrawn from the list (the intricate rank and function system caused a re-organization in late 1938 (consult this note and note 26 for a better understanding of the situation)).

"HJ-Fuhrerkoppelschloss/Feldbindenschl0ss" description, 1936:

The Hitler Youth leaders’ buckle was round and made of tempered aluminum sheet or an aluminum sheet alloy (Al-Mg-Si DIN1713, called "legiertem Aluminiumblech"), which was first copper-plated and then matte-silvered or nickled with the appropriate design as the inset for the regular HJ buckle. Around the upper rope design is a raised, smooth 3.0mm wide edge which gives the disc an approximate diameter of 5.0cm. The relief details of the buckle are somewhat higher. The eagle has a robust look, especially its head, as well as the "Blut und Ehre"motto. The HJ diamond touches the lower rope design. The outer edge, the eagle and the HJ diamond were all highly polished. All HJ leaders’ buckles were stamped and show the design relief on the reverse, where the catch should always have the "M4/22" RZM c0de for the manufacturer C. Th. Dicke.

The fitting with the rotating prongs which fit in the holes of the leather belt to make it adjustable, is positioned at the left (as seen by the viewer). A leather tongue is also found on the reverse of the belt. On this style belt the buckle is sewn on the right side of the belt. When the buckle, however, is loose and includes the fitting with the rotating prongs, this is located on the left side and the keeper is sewn to the belt. The buckle was designed to carry a weight of 60kg.

"HJ-Fuhrerlederzeug" description,1936:

The manufacturing and material for this approximately 4.4cm wide black belt, with a 3.5mm thickness, is similar as that described for the 1933/1936 enlisted ranks belt. The applied paint had to be light and waterproof, and had to be scuff resistant. The earliest leader’s belts were backed with a mixed brown cloth or a felt-like material. The belt tip at left was somewhat rounded and on the reverse a natural colored leather tongue was sewn on. The size and position of this tongue is basically the same as for enlisted ranks, but in most cases was sewn on with twelve stitches which had a length of 5.0cm. The tip of the tongue is positioned approximately 1.5cm from the tip of the belt. Two 1.6cm wide leather slides are positioned on the belt, the back of which are joined by two stitches.

Two 2.4cm wide slides with a sewn—on D-ring are slid on the belt for fastening the 2.4cm wide shoulder belt which is 2.5mm thick. The manufacturing style and material used was as described earlier. Between the sliding clasp and the snaphook on the shoulder belt, a small leather slide was positioned. This slide was 1.2cm wide and was sewn together on the back with two stitches. The earliest shoulder belts were also backed, and the fittings were not pebbled (as yet).

Early belts often had a small piece of natural colored leather, approximately 17.0 cm long and 2.0cm wide, sewn onto the inside middle-back of the belt. The ends of this piece of leather are almost as wide as the inside belt width. Over this, a smaller form of slide was fastened which prevented the shoulder belt from moving out of position. These belts were costly and for this reason most often a belt with adjustable slides was chosen. To protect the tunic from buckle-keeper damage, a "Rockschoner" (also known as"Schlossunterlage") was available. It consisted of a piece of leather (approximately 6.5 x 4.5cm) which fit over the belt. This protective device was meant for belts of enlisted ranks but was often worn by leaders of various organizations.

Per Reichsjugendfuhrer orders, some additional ranks were introduced and rank designations changed with the April 20, 1937 entry. These individuals were permitted to wear the leader’s belt and buckle: HJ-Hauptbannfuhrer and DJ-Hauptungbannfuhrer (formerly DJ-Gebietsjungvollgfuhrer). Simultaneously, all leaders (Bannfuhrer through Stabsfuhrer) were the HJ-Fuhrerkorps which was the official name for the leadership corps and staff (Note: this should not be confused with the HJ-Fuhrerschaf who were mid-level leaders). The mid-level ranks, Gefolgschafisfuhrer through Oberstammfuhrer, were not permitted to wear the leader’s buckle. This was changed, however, in late 1938. The Fuhrerschaft and Fuhrerkorps system was also changed once more at a later date.

The most striking change for the DJ organization was the abolishment of their buckle with rune device by an order published on June 4, 1937. The regular HJ buckle was to be worn instead, while the DJ buckle was allowed for wear until December 31, 1937. Manufacturers and retailers had already been informed of this regulation as early as late fall 1936. Those manufacturers who had large stocks of DJ buckles found it impossibleto sell them all before the December1937 deadline. It had not been the intention of the Reichsjugendfurung to cause loss of money or materials by means of scrapping the buckles. On the other hand the numerous DJ members were not forced to buy a new 4.5cm HJ buckle either. With some thought the solution was simple. A HJ inset could be soldered directly over the rune and then the buckle could be renickled. This process was carried out by three firms from Ludenscheid during the months of March and April 1938. Smaller size DJ buckles or those with varying runes were not to be part of this altering process. These smaller buckles were referred to as Kinder-kappelschldsser (buckles for children) and were never considered a regulation size.

The three firms to receive the above contract were:

HJ areas 1-9: EW. Assmann & Sohne.
HJ areas 10-17: C.Th. Dicke.
HJ areas 18-26: Overhoff & Cie

During the course of 1937 RZM standards for manufacturing buckles were somewhat lessened. This caused an uncontrolled growth in non-regulation buckles and lower quality, some of which were produced by various manufacturers who did not even have RZM permission. This came to a halt in November 1938 when the RZM issued an order stating that manufacturing permission must be granted only by the RZM.

Orders dated September 30, 1938 radically changed the recently initiated HJ and DJ uniform regulations. This was due to a general re-organization to be in effect on October 1. Specific orders listed what would be worn and when the enlisted ranks, plus low and mid-level leaders would wear the summer service dress, were the guard unit Wachgefolgschaft "Baldur von Schirach" and professional drivers in the service of the HJ organization. Additional orders were issued for the Naval -HJ (which included a so-called Fahrtenanzug worn by DJ members dur-ing a transitional period), extra summer and winter uniforms for the Motor—HJ known as Fuss- and Fahrdienstanzug (worn when on foot or when driving), and for the Flieger—HJ known as the Fussdress. The term Flugdienstanzug (dress for flying) was used instead of Fahrdienstanzug. All of the above orders did not, however, affect the wear of the HJ buckle with black belt and shoulderbelt.

Simultaneously with the above orders a significant addition was also announced. Now, a brocade belt was authorized for wear by higher-ranked leaders. HJ leaders who wore aluminum wire embroidered shoulder straps were to wear an aluminum brocade belt and aluminum leader’s buckle. Those with gold wire embroidery wore a gold brocade belt with gold leader’s buckle. This HJ brocade belt may have been initially thought of as a form of award for services rendered to the organization in February 1938 when von Schirach announced special schooling for the HJ-Fuhrerkorps. During the next few months plans were initialized and in May and June of 1938 the brocade belt was informally wom by HJ leaders during visits abroad, notably in Italy.

Wilhelm P.B.R. Saris assisted by Jeff Hammond,"Hitler Youth, Belts and Brocades (1926-1945) Part II", The Military Advisor, 2001

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

RAD Belt and Buckles

The main subject of this article is the development of belts and brocade belts for the male lower-level (Untere fairer: Vormann through and including Unterfeldmeister), middle-class (Mittlere fairer: Feldmeister through and including Oberstfeldmeister) and higher ranked officers (Hoherefuhrer: Arbeitsfuhrer through and including Reichsarbeitsfuhrer) from the Reichsarbeitsdienst (further referred to as RAD) between 1934 and 1945 (see note for explanation). The subject of females is not included, but one specific female uniform is mentioned.

Dozens of Arbeitsdienst organizations (further referred to as AD: labor organizations) were formed by left and rightwing political organizations, sports clubs and religious groups from 1931. In 1933 most of them were dissolved or absorbed into the most important labor organizations: the Staatlicher Anhaltischer Arbeitsdienst; the Stahlhelm-Arbeitsdienstand the Verein zur Umschulung freiwilliger Arbeitskrufte (VzU), the earliest true Nazi labor organization. The last two were the embryo of the registered Nat. Soz. Arbeitsdienstthat (NSAD) which was an NSDAP organization from May 3, 1934. The NSAD was short-lived. On June 26,1935 the Reichsarbeitsdienstgesetz (National Labor Service Law) was proclaimed and the AD was renamed Reichsarbeitsdienst. On September 12,1935 the "old AD'' marched for the last time during the NSDAP Party Day rally at Nurnberg. In a speech, Adolf Hitler officially said "farewell'' to the Freiwilliger Arbeitsdienst (FAD).

Because of the many organizations, a wide variety of labor uniforms was worn as well as many buckles and one or double-claw pattern buckles. In early 1933 plans were begun to standardize the color and style of the AD uniforms. In September the color for the new uniform, referred to as Einheitstracht, was officially announced. It was intended to be worn by all members, to include the enlisted ranks as well as officers. Reichsarbeitsfuhrer Konstantin Hierl was the first person to wear the new uniform during the 1933 NSDAP PartyDay rally, the Reichsparteitag des Glaubens. The further introduction of the various uniform parts was scheduled for late 1933, to be worn from 1934.

Many buckle types (and belts) from the dominant Freiwilliger Arbeitsdienst are known to the collecting world. These various forms will not be discussed in this article. Also not discussed will be those worn by the Staatlicher Anhaltischer Arbeitsdienst, the Stahlhelm-Arbeitsdienst or the VzU. Later, the author may return to these interesting subjects.

AD Buckle Description, 1933:

The only official AD belt buckle from 1933 is mentioned as this was worn by lower class officers as well. This rectangular one-piece buckle, worn with a brown belt, is approximately 4.7 x6.3cm and is made of Neusilber (for explanation, see article "Hitler Youth, Belts and Brocades," part 1 "TheMilitary Advisor" Vol. 12, No. 1). In dull silver, it was meant for the walking out dress. The field of the buckle is pebbled and features a flat-edged spade, flanked by wheat at a 45 degree angle on each side. This motif is surrounded by a circle with an approximately 4.3cm diameter. The inner field of the circle is pebbled also. This pattern was manufactured by various firms. The main manufacturers including the designer of this pattern - the F.W. Assmann & Sohne concern (article#21766); Wilhelm Schroeder (article #7021); Steinhauer & Luck (article # K9479) Berg & Nolte A.G.; Overhoff & Cie and Paulmann & Crone, all from Ludenscheid. Additionally, other firms manufactured this official pattern.

The iron one-piece buckle with the same motif, but not having a pebbled field outside the ring, was painted field grey and was the buckle to be worn with the service or working dress (note: the field-grey version was manufactured with a pebbled outer field also). The main manufacturers of this type of buckle were: F.W. Assmann concern, and also Friedrich Linden (article # 4779). It should be stressed that the above buckles were the only official versions. Persons of a lower ranked function wore a brown belt with a shoulder belt. Higher ranked officers were ordered to wear the brown belt and shoulder belt, but with an open double-claw buckle instead of the rectangular one. Many photographs show that enlisted ranks also wore a shoulder belt. This was due to the fact that within many organizations, for example, the Stahlhelm-Arbeisdienst, the Staatlicher Anhaltischer Arbeitsdienst, as well as the VzU (the Nazi AD organization), such belts were commonly worn.


Details for the new AD uniforms were published in orders dated October 16 and November 2, 1933. In these orders the belt, shoulder belt and the belt and shoulder belt trim set (see note) were mentioned. This was soon followed by detailed descriptions and samples which were supplied to all Gauleitungen, to be kept at the Musterkammer (the Chamberof Samples). The above mentioned rectangular buckles were officially abolished with an order dated December 14,1933. The new items had to be worn in early 1934. Supplying, however, was a step by step process, and thus the rectangular buckle continued to be worn for some time, even into 1935.

AD Belt and Buckle, 1934:

It is not this author's intention to burden the readers of "Military Advisor" with another listing of procedures and details, as all this information is given in the 1936 specifications. The 4.5cm wide belt was a darker brown for enlisted ranks and a lighter brown for higher ranked officers. Enlisted ranks, as well as lower and higher ranked officers,were ordered to wear the same matte, silver pebbled (wildmatt) claw buckle with an approximate 4.6 x 6.2cm size. Two official patterns exist: one having the inner-claw which cannot be moved; the other has a movable inner-claw. The main manufacturers again were F.W. Assmann & Sohne and Overhoff & Cie from Ludenscheid. Period photographs indicate that higher ranked officers wore larger open-claw buckles. This was basically contrary to the new regulations.

Persons with a lower ranked function (Unterfuhrer), as well as higher ranked officers (Fuhrer), persons with the ranks of Unterfeldmeister and upwards, as well as musicians (Musik-and Obermusikmeister, as well as Musikinspizient),were authorized to wear the belt with shoulder belt. They had to obtain this set of items at their own expense. The wear of the belt with claw buckle and shoulder strap was also permitted by those who were granted to wear a uniform, for example, on most occasions by honorary ranked individuals and doctors. Enlisted ranks were supplied from RAD (and earlier FAD) stocks.

RAD members, attending the 1935 Party Day rally, were ordered to wear the brown belt, with the new belt buckle pattern, which would be officially introduced for all in early 1936. This buckle, designed by the well-known Egon Jantke from Berlin, was produced quickly and stocks kept at an Arbeitsgau. The formerly used materials such as Neusilber were officially forbidden to be used after April 1935 for a number of products. Manufacturers scurried to find a cheap and simple production process,and came up with the use of aluminum and other light-weight metals. These materials were commonly used from early 1936 for the manufacture of many kinds of products. The RAD was one of the first organizations to use buckles made from these materials. An order dated December 19, 1935, ordered the ranks of Generalarbeitsfuhrer, Obergeneralarbeitsfuhrer and the Reichsarbeitsfuhrer to wear a gold double-claw buckle and gold trim set. Continued....

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Wilhelm P.B.R. Saris, "Reicharbeitsdienst Belts and Brocade Belts", "The Military Advisor", 2004

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