Product Description: This is a scarce and desirable 18th Horst Wessel SS Volunteer collar tab. This style of collar tab was intended for wear by men of the 18. SS-Freiwilligen Panzergrenadier-Division “Horst Wessel.” This unit was formed in 1944 and composed primarily of ethnic Germans from Hungary. The front of this collar tab is emblazoned with the runic style SA emblem of the paramilitary Sturmabteilung organization. Like the swastika, this emblem was designed by Hitler. The emblem is machine embroidered in white thread, and is virtually perfect. The body of this collar tab is made of a typical black wool badge cloth fabric, with a fine weave and slightly fuzzy nap. The wool retains strong original black color. This wool fabric has been folded around a tan buckram stiffener, with the folded edges of the fabric each having lines of straight machine stitching. This style of construction is known in the collecting community to be typical of the collar tabs found in the warehouses of the concentration camp at Dachau, in Bavaria just outside of Munich. Since the end of the war these tabs have been found predominately in the estates of US veterans, who brought them home from Europe as war souvenirs. This tab does not appear to have ever been issued or used, and shows no signs of wear. There are no holes, stains, or other damage. This tough to find 18th Horst Wessel SS Volunteer collar tab displays great, and is in outstanding, near mint condition.
Historical Description: Regulations for the SS Collar Tab went through quite an evolution in just a short 16-year period. The first SS Collar Tabs were introduced in 1929 by Heinrich Himmler as part of the newly introduced SS uniform code. Initially, tabs were worn by both lower rank SS men and their senior leaders. Lower ranks would wear a rank tab as well as a numbered unit identification tab, with senior leaders wearing their rank tabs on both collars. In 1933 the well-known “SS” runic tab was adopted by Hitler’s personal bodyguard detachment, the “Leibstandarte” or “LAH”. The LAH used this runic tab in lieu of the numerical unit identification tab to identify them as members of the elite unit protecting the “Führer”. In 1934 the runic “SS” tabs were again adopted for use by the early “SS-VT” units. This adoption eventually led to the widespread use of SS runic tabs by German Divisions; the later non-German volunteer units would not be permitted to wear the runes, and bore their own unit designed patch instead. SS Collar tabs can be found in an extraordinary variety of numbers, designs, and pipings depending on unit and rank, from hand-embroidered tabs worn by officers to mass produced embroidered and machine woven types that were used on combat uniforms.
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