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SS VT Pioneer ID Disk

Article about: Hey all, I collect a lot of stuff, mostly optics and field gear. But I also buy and sell batches of stuff found by construction crews in and around Germany - a lot of stuff went into the gro

  1. #1

    Default SS VT Pioneer ID Disk

    Hey all,

    I collect a lot of stuff, mostly optics and field gear. But I also buy and sell batches of stuff found by construction crews in and around Germany - a lot of stuff went into the ground through the War, and some of it comes to light during road work and construction projects.

    In any case, recently I got a batch of items - binocular parts, buttons, rifle pieces, coins etc. I also got an ID disk - only half of it. This item wasn't mentioned by my seller - it was just part of the batch of stuff he threw into the box for me.

    I cleaned it off, and here is what is on it: 572 3/SS-Pi stamped on the front, and SS-VERFUGUNGSTRUPPE on the back, cast in when it was a blank.

    I've attached three photos - the third one I've boosted the contrast on to show the text on the back.

    It is heavily corroded. It is made of steel or zinc - not aluminum.

    Anyone ever seen one of these before? "Pi" stands for Pioneer perhaps? I'm also concerned now that the seller is not in fact just selling me things he found during construction work - this is the top half of a disk - the part that normally stays with the body. Other items he's sold me include wristwatches, buttons, medals. Is there any way to find out who this soldier was?
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  3. #2

    Default Re: SS VT Pioneer ID Disk

    Yup, that's Pionier, and it's zinc- and the markings are all stamped (not cast). Unfortunately there isn't any way to find out whose disc it was- the WASt only does searches for the identities when remains are found (if they have the funds), or for family members since the information is still privacy protected.

    It's not at all odd that just one half of the disc was dug up either- at the end of the war, many men 'destroyed' their identities as soldiers (SS or not) and discs were often enough broken in half or even quarters and thrown away (sometimes in different directions).

    Here's the unit information (such as it is):

    SS-Division Verfügungstruppe (SS-V)

    1. Aufstellung:

    * 1.4. 1940 (Fp.Nummer des Stabes bereits 1939) aus den im Polenfeldzug bereits teilweise selbständig
    eingesetzten Standarten der SS-Verfügungstruppe:

    2. Gliederung:

    SS-Standarte Deutschland I-III. (FStO München)
    SS-Standarte Germania I.-III. (FStO Hamburg)
    SS-Standarte Der Führer I.-III. (FStO Wien)
    SS-Artillerie-Standarte I. 1-3, II. 4-6, III. 7-9 (bei Mobilmachung aufgestellt); dazu 1940 IV. 10-12, V.
    SS-Aufklärungs-Abteilung, 2 Stürme und MG-Kompanie; 1940 durch SS-Kradschützen-Sturmbann
    (FStO Nürnberg) ergänzt auf 4 Stürme
    SS-Pioniertruppe (Sturmbann) (FStO Dresden), 3 Stürme
    SS-Nachrichtentruppe (Sturmbann) (FStO Unna), 2 Stürme
    SS-Ersatztruppe, 4 Stürme; dazu kamen bei Aufstellung der Division.
    Panzer-Abw.Abteilung SS-VT, 3 Stürme
    Fla-Bataillon SS-VT, 2 Stürme; durch die schwere Kompanie der Aufklärungs-Abteilung auf 3 verstärkt.
    Im Herbst 1940 wurde der bei der Leibstandarte eingesetzte IV. Sturmbann der Artillerie- Standarte in
    I./Artillerie-Regiment Leibstandarte umbenannt. Die SS-Standarte Germania schied am 20.11.1940 aus
    und trat zur neuen SS-Division Germania (später: 5. SS-Panzer-Division Wiking) über. Am 21.12.1940
    (in der Schematischen Kriegsgliederung erst 25.2.1941) wurde die Division in SS-Division Reich (sp.:
    Das Reich) umbenannt und umgegliedert (siehe 2. SS-Division).

    3. Unterstellung:

    1940 Mai z. Vfg. 18. Armee B Niederlande
    Juni XVI 6. Armee B Frankreich
    Juli/August Besatzung Niederlande
    September/Dezember desgl. unter XXXVII. AK
    1941 Januar /Februar XXXXI 1. Armee D Frankreich

  4. #3

    Default Re: SS VT Pioneer ID Disk

    Wow, thanks! Great info.

    If this Pioneer unit was based in Dresden, then basically there's zero chance that any information survived the firebombing, if it was stored there.

  5. #4

    Default Re: SS VT Pioneer ID Disk

    Yeah, I'd think so...
    Ohhhhh- pillage then burn...

  6. #5

    Default Re: SS VT Pioneer ID Disk

    Another guy I know suggested that this guy may have died early on - as we know, as guys progressed through units and transferred around, they would get new EK discs, and the old ones destroyed. His thought was that if this was in fact grave-found by my digger (who still hasn't told me where he got this particular piece) then the soldier would have potentially died in the invasion of Poland - otherwise, if he'd lived, he would have moved to different units and gotten new ID discs.

    The batch of items that this came in included a wristwatch, buttons, binocular parts and tunic hooks.

  7. #6

    Default Re: SS VT Pioneer ID Disk

    Actually, I believe the opposite is true- German soldiers generally kept the same Erkennungsmarke they were first issued, regardless of what units they eventually transferred to; only in the case of a disc being lost or destroyed would they be issued a replacement bearing the mark of their present or most recent unit. They certainly didn't get a new one each time they transferred. My Great Uncle Johann is a perfect example- his Erkennungsmarke was from his initial unit, Infanterie-Reiter-Zug 44, and yet he served in Grenadier-Regiment 390 I believe it was...
    Ohhhhh- pillage then burn...

  8. #7

    Default Re: SS VT Pioneer ID Disk

    Hmm. A lot of the discs I've seen are marked for Ersatz units - new tags issued for new units - I'm assuming they couldn't all have been for new soldiers. Thinking about commander histories I've seen, they've moved from unit to unit, from command to command. Would a guy who started in 1938 in one unit as a Schutze and ended up as a Hauptmann in a totally different unit still use the same 1938 unit ID? The discs were primarily for identifying the body in case of death as much as anything - if a guy in '45 had his '38 ID on, how would his body be identified?

    I'm not saying you are wrong, just thinking out loud. I've heard over the years that new tags were issued regularly. G.I.s didn't work like this because their dog tags related to them as individuals rather than as "nameless soldier # 572 in XYZ Unit".

  9. #8

    Default Re: SS VT Pioneer ID Disk

    Well, once the war had started, everyone began in an Ersatz unit- that's why those are the most common discs; only if a solder was already serving at the outbreak of war did he wear a field unit- marked disc, or if he needed a replacement for a lost one- his field unit had a supply of discs to issue in such cases (which are often found as groups today- unissued stock). The discs from Ersatz units were indeed mainly for new soldiers- far, far more men enlisted after 1. September 1939 than were already serving before that date, yes? Convalescent men were usually routed back to an Ersatz unit upon release from hospital, and I suppose if their discs had become lost, they could be issued a new one there- there are discs for Genesendenkompanien (convalescent companies), which would seem likely to be replacement discs as those men must have had one before.

    All one has to do is look at a service record or a Soldbuch/Wehrpaß to see that the Erkennungsmarke section very rarely has more than one entry, but there may be many service units.

    It certainly does seem a more complicated way to do it- have unit information that must be looked up rather than the man's name, to be sure; even more oddly, it actually began before WWI with a soldier's unit being the marking, then during that war it moved to name, address and unit (a lot to stamp by hand!), and then back to just unit in WWII.

    As for your hypothetical situation, the man serving in 1938 would wear the disc from his field unit upon mobilization, and likely carry it the whole time regardless of unit or rank later on. Of course each unit kept their own roster, the number marked in the Soldbuch, but the Erkennungsmarke information would be simply repeated there- perhaps a bit of a pain to be sure for the clerk who had to search for it since the marking list wouldn't be organized, but in a Kompanie of, what, maybe 50 or 75 men nominally during the war? Not so bad maybe. It wasn't a case of having to go back to his original unit to identify him of course.

    There were cases to be sure of those sent to form the cadre of a newly-created unit being issued new discs- I know of at least one- but I don't know if that was the norm; certainly it wouldn't be so for men simply tranferring around.

    I would be curious to know what reason those who believe disc chaged often have for it...
    Ohhhhh- pillage then burn...

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