Product Description: This Italian SS Volunteer Sleeve Shield is a virtually perfect, unissued example of this scarce insignia. This was intended for wear by Italian volunteers in the Waffen-SS. It’s made of a typical black SS wool badge cloth, with a fine weave and a smooth surface nap. The front of the shield is emblazoned with an Italian fascist emblem, neatly machine embroidered in gold and red cotton thread, within a gold border. The embroidery is neatly done, with no damage or issues, and the original colors remain vibrant. The reverse of this Italian SS Volunteer Sleeve Shield has no backing, and shows the reverse of the embroidery, with a white bobbin thread. This pattern of sleeve shield was among those found in the warehouse at Dachau when it was liberated by US troops in 1945. This example likely originates from that find, as it is an unworn piece, with no stitch holes or any other sign of having been affixed to a uniform. It’s pristine, with no stains, holes, or other damage, and only extremely minimal age toning. The condition rates as near mint.
Historical Description: As German military power stretched across Europe, many people in the occupied countries volunteered to fight for the German cause. Some were ideologues, some were opportunists, some probably “volunteered” because they had no other choice. In some areas, the Germans eagerly sought volunteers; in others, the Germans were less trusting, and the formation of volunteer units proceeded slowly. But by the end of the war, approximately one million foreign volunteers and conscripts were among those who had fought under Hitler. To distinguish these from German troops, and as a mark of distinction, the Germans authorized special insignia for wear by these volunteers. The insignia took the form of a cloth shield, either woven, embroidered, or printed, that was to be sewn on the uniform sleeve. Some of the foreign volunteer shields were used by specific units of the German Army or Waffen-SS. Others were worn by members of a variety of units and even paramilitary organizations. The design of each shield was chosen to represent the wearer’s nationality. Some were as simple as a national flag or colors, others had more complex designs.
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