German daggers

Article about collectible daggers from Germany. Learn what is a Third Reich dagger and different types of Nazi daggers during World War II

To learn the importance of Nazi daggers, we need to look at the history of Germany first. The country was punished with huge war reparation after the First World War.

After the financial crisis in 1929, German economy was in bad shape. A third of its people were jobless and the means of productions were strained.

Adolf Hitler and his party united political power in this period of social unrest, crushing all opposition and establishing dictatorship. The government under Adolf Hitler believed in the superiority of the German race. It also believed in territorial expansion, a desire that fomented the Second World War.

German Army daggersIntroduction to Nazi Daggers

Such radical transformation led to many cherished national symbols to be eliminated overnight. New military, political and social symbols were introduced; the famous of all were the dreaded Nazi daggers.

The German flag (black, red, and gold) was replaced with the Swastika flag (the recognizable red flag, a white circle at the center, and a black swastika sign). The national anthem was tampered with the addition of Hitler salute, achieved by raising the right arm forward.

What is a Nazi dagger

Nazi daggers were issued to military, paramilitary, political, and social groups of the Nazi government starting in the year 1933. Production was stopped in 1942. These German daggers are called and famous in various names, such as Third Reich daggers and World War II daggers. They were all ceremonial dress daggers to be worn by German officers and high ranking officials in public and official gatherings.

There are millions of Third Reich daggers in existence, with hundreds of metalworking companies manufacturing them at the peak of production. Now that many war veterans are dying, these German daggers are fast becoming a rage, particularly among beginners in sword collecting.

Classification of Armed Forces Nazi daggers

The basic parts of Nazi daggers differ considerably according to their military and paramilitary designations. From the pommel to length to markings on the blade, these differences emphasize the dagger’s purpose and bring prestige to the rankings of soldiers. To start with, the following are the Third Reich daggers of German Armed Forces or Wehrmacht:

German Army Officer daggerThe Army Nazi Dagger

The Army or Heer had 15 million soldiers at the start of the war. The daggers issued to them were position-appropriate—each soldier is awarded a dagger according to his rank in the army. Paul Casburg was commissioned to design the German Army Officer daggers in 1935. Variations were made by tweaking the color of the dagger’s hangers, markings of the blade, and others.

The basic parts of an Army Nazi dagger are:

1. Dagger pommel is a gold-coated conic brass, with leaves etched at the side.

2. Dagger cross guard has an eagle with spread wingspan, clutching a wreath containing the swastika sign. The guards on each side extend beyond the wings of the eagle and form into spiral.

3. Dagger hilt has slanted grip, with colors ranging from pale yellow to deep orange.

4. Dagger scabbard is simple metallic sheath, with two ring hangers each fitted with a clutch containing etchings of leaves.

5. Dagger blade contains the logo of the company at the ricasso. The tip is tapered, with a thick band of fuller at the centerline.

German Navy daggerThe Naval Nazi Dagger

The Navy or Kriegsmarine had 78,000 personnel. The famous among big manufacturers of daggers given to the Naval personnel was Elckhorn Solingen.

The basic parts of a Navy Nazi dagger are:

1. Dagger pommel is a gold-coated eagle with wings folded, with a swastika sign at its claws.

2. Dagger cross guard has an anchor etched on its center.

3. Dagger hilt has twisted brass wire wound around the grip made of ceramic or ivory.

4. Dagger scabbard contains acorns or oak leaves with explicit image of an anchor.

5. Dagger blade contains markings of a superimposed eagle and swastika over an anchor. The company logo is also etched on the ricasso.

German Luftwaffe daggerThe Air Force Nazi Dagger

The Air Force or Luftwaffe was considered the most powerful in its time.

With thousands of pilots, many of whom were ace pilots, they dominated the European skies at the beginning of the war.

The Air Force Nazi daggers were first introduced in 1934.

The basic parts of an Air Force Nazi dagger are:

1. Dagger pommel is a solid metallic globe containing a swastika sign at its front.

2. Dagger cross guard is made up of the wings of an eagle, clutching a swastika sign without a wreath.

3. Dagger hilt has twisted brass wire wound around the grip, whose color ranges from pale yellow to deep orange.

4. Dagger scabbard is a simple metallic sheath, with a round tip. Near the tip is an etching containing three oak leaves.

5. Dagger blade contains the logo of the company at the ricasso at the backside of the dagger. The tip is tapered, with a thick band of fuller at the centerline.

Classifications of Paramilitary Nazi Daggers

The paramilitary unit of the Nazi government was a group of organizations that implemented the policies of the administration through force, violence, and brutality. They were responsible to the many crimes against humanity, including genocide and the Holocaust.

Third Reich daggers issued to the Nazi paramilitary units, except the Hitler Youth unit, were in the form of a shorter Viking sword: the brass pommel forms a letter T to the handle; the handle contains the logos of the unit and the eagle with a swastika sign; and nickel-plated throat and drag.

Nazi SA daggerThe SA daggers

Sturmabteilung or SA was a private army of Adolf Hitler’s political party.

Millions of SA Third Reich daggers were produced during the war.

They are characterized by SA logo in the brown wooden handle, a brown-enameled scabbard and a single ring hanger.

On the blade appears an etching of the unit’s motto: “Alles fur Deutschland” (Everything for Germany).

Nazi SS daggerThe SS Dagger

The Schutzstaffel or SS was the Presidential Guards of the Nazi party. SS Third Reich daggers are more elaborate than the SA (perhaps because SS members were middle class, while the SA were unemployed and poor Germans). 

The SS daggers have SS logo at the black wooden handle, a brass chain of alternating SS- and skull-etched medallions, a tassel at the handle, and black-enameled scabbard.

On the blade appears an etching of the unit’s motto: “Meine Ehre heißt Treue" (My honor is loyalty).

Nazi NSKK daggerThe NSKK dagger

The National Socialist Motor Corps or NSKK was a special unit composed of SA members skilled and well-trained in the use of vehicles such as motorcycles and automobiles.

NSKK Third Reich daggers are the same with SA daggers, except that they have a triangular tag at the ringlet hanger containing the NSKK designation.

Nazi NPEA daggerThe NPEA Dagger

The National Political Institutes of Education or NPEA were militarized boarding high schools for boys and girls established to educate the young to the principles of the Nazi party.

The NPEA Third Reich daggers are simple in design: two ringlets in brown enameled scabbard with a brass chains for a hanger and no logo on the brown wooden handle.

On the blade appears the unit’s motto: “Mehr sein als scheinen" (Be more than you appear to be).

Nazi Hitler Youth daggerThe Hitler Youth dagger

The Hitler Youth (Hitler-Jugend in German) was the unit intended for training of German boys aged fourteen to eighteen to become future Nazi leaders. Graduates of such training would be drafted to the elite SS unit.

The Hitler Youth Third Reich daggers look like knives because of their hilt details. The handle is a pistol-grip, with a brass-heeled pommel instead of a T-shape model. The handle contains the Hitler Youth flag: a red-and-white diamond with a swastika sign at the center.

The blade of the Hitler Youth dagger is two-edged rounded, instead of tapered, to its point. On the blade appears the etching of the unit’s motto: “Blut und Ehre!” (Blood and Honor).

History of Nazi Daggers

In the history of daggers in Germany, several changes were made in manufacturing and markings from 1933-1942. Historians and sword collectors agreed on three historical phases of the production of Third Reich daggers: 1933-1935, 1936-1937, and 1938-1942. The table below shows such changes.

  1933-1935 1936-1937 1938-1942
Cross guard nickel-silver nickel silver/nickel plated nickel plated
Eagle logo nickel-silver nickel/aluminum aluminum
Centerline/Fuller low higher sharp
Scabbard anodized anodized/painted painted
Scabbard Fittings nickel-silver nickel-plated nickel plated
Blade hand-polished hand-polished machine-polished
Markings company logo none none


Tips for Nazi daggers collecting

Collecting German daggers is a good, albeit delicate, hobby. It has been said that Nazi daggers are second in quality and making to world-renown Japanese daggers and katana swords. Sword collectors are also opening up trade centers and auction sites online with these short swords nowadays, creating a lucrative market for these war memorabilia in spite of its short history.

However, collectible Nazi daggers are outlawed in some countries, especially among nations that have sustained deep traumatic damages during the Second World War.

Some states in America with prominent Jewish settlements would react adversely to any trades involving ceremonial dress daggers belonging to German Army Officers. Since these daggers could potentially spark war sentiments, it is important to bear the following tips in mind:

1. Prudence, sensitivity, and respect should be regarded at all times in dealing with German daggers. This is especially true if you would be dealing in states or countries that have suffered much from the hands of the Nazi.

2. Know beforehand the regulations in localities where German daggers are being traded, auctioned, or bartered.

3. Avoid frictions with the law or local statutes by refraining to trade or purchase your daggers from such areas, or exercising precautions before proceeding to such activities.

4. Do not wear, adorn, or decorate your German daggers in public places.

5. Keep your collection in top shape by observing proper sword care and maintenance.

The article you have read here does not condone the acts and atrocities of the Nazi Party. It is intended to provide essential information on legally collecting war memorabilia, the daggers of the Third Reich being one of them.

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