Tuesday, June 14, 2011

German Sturmabteilung (SA) Dagger, WW2 Veteran Bring-Back with a history.

Today we will continue with another Veteran Bring-Back edged weapon that was brought back home by my grandfather (see previous blog entry) during WW2.  But before I go any further, I would again like to state my stance on the the whole Nazi Party and their views and actions:

As a note to those who do not know me....... I do not subscribe to, endorse or believe in the ideology of the Nazi Party..... in any form, or any way!  I am a collector of military artifacts and history.  I present these items and their associated histories solely for educational and documentation purposes.

With that said, let's get on with today's item.  For presentation today, we have a pre-WW2 Sturmabteilung (SA) Dagger.  This dagger was brought back home to the US from Germany during WW2, by my grandfather, William R. Spannaus, after he was wounded in May of 1945.  As you will read later, it has a very interesting history.

The Sturmabteilung were the original "Storm Troopers" of the Nazi Party.  They were officially formed back in 1921 after a large "Beer Hall Brawl" erupted after one of Hitler's early political meetings.  A band of Nazi thugs proceeded to beat and thrash members of the opposition that were present............... These thugs became the SA, or Sturmabteilung, also known as the "Brown Shirts".  These guys were Nazi's to the core and formed the first Nazi paramilitary units in Germany.  The SA were the official "enforcers" of the twisted and truly evil Nazi doctrine and philosophy.  They officially existed until the war's end in 1945, but were basically finished after 1934........  If you are interested in all of the details, you can read more about them here:  Sturmabteilung History

Here is the story about this dagger as my grandfather told it to me:  In April of 1945, the US 89th Division liberated the Ohrdruf Slave Labor Camp near the town of Gotha, Germany.  This was the first concentration camp that the US forces had discovered and had actually liberated.  My grandfather's unit, the 415th Quartermaster Company was camped just outside Ohrdruf.  My grandfather told me that after the camp was liberated, they were swarmed with ex-prisoners, all wanting help.  He said that there was one Polish prisoner that kept coming up to him and his companions and tugging on their clothes and asking to travel with them and work for them.  He said that he kept bushing this man away until he finally disappeared......... a while later he returned with a Nazi dagger and presented it to him and continued asking for work.  My grandfather accepted the dagger and the Polish ex-prisoner traveled with his unit, working as a mess cook, until they were near the Eastern Border.  The Pole then said his good-byes and took off on his own, to find his way back home.   My grandfather said that he never knew exactly where the Pole got the dagger, but I would imagine that it came from one of the Nazi guards from the camp.......... After my grandfather was wounded, he tucked this dagger in next to him and kept it close while he was transported to a field hospital, to Paris, and then to the US.  If you look close, you will see the dark stains of his (my grandfather's) blood on the handle and edge of the pommel ........  An amazing artifact from one of the darkest chapters of this world's history.

Ex-prisoners from Ohrdruff with an US GI.

Before we get on with the photos of the dagger, here is a little bit of history and some details.  The SA daggers were the most widely produced daggers of the Third Reich.  Over 1 Million were produced by over 200 separate manufacturers.  Each member of the SA was entitled to own and carry one of these daggers, but they had to be privately purchased.  Each manufacturer's version of the dagger was slightly different and as such, the dagger parts are not interchangeable between manufacturers.  This was true up until 1936 when the Reichszeugmeisterei (RZM) was formed, and manufacturing standards were codified and enforced.  After 1936, all official Nazi items had to have an RZM number stamped on it.  After the RZM requirement was instituted, the number of manufacturers dropped to 62.  This dagger does not have a RZM number, which dates it in the 1921 to 1936 time window.  

Each dagger is stamped on the hilt with the initial code for the SA Group that the original owner was attached to.  This dagger is stamped with "Sa", signifying the Sachsen Group.

The dagger was manufactured by Haenel.  The Haenel company was well known as one of the highest quality manufacturers of daggers as well as firearms and even bicycles.  The Haenel factory also produced the famous "Schmeisser" MP40 machine pistol, as well as other firearms.

The SA daggers were inscribed with "Alles für Deutschland", or in English: All for Germany.

 Here is the photo showcase of the dagger..............

To finish things off, here are some archive photos of the Sturmabteilung, Brown Shirts.  In the first photo, you can see the storm trooper on the right wearing one of these SA daggers: