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A one of a kind, unique and very rare photographic narrative from the early days of the Third Reich!

Article about: I am truly honoured that my thread on this album telling the story of a postman, Postschutz-man and member of the SS (guard/bodyguard/mail courier in connection with Hitler's southern reside

  1. #1
    KSH
    KSH is offline
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    Default A one of a kind, unique and very rare photographic narrative from the early days of the Third Reich!

    Greetings fellow members,

    Some of you may remember this photo album as it was posted in the photo pick-ups thread some time ago, where it was posted in parts and was commented on by fellow members, especially by the inimitable HPL2008/Andreas who helped me tremendously with understanding the story these photos tell. I have now had some time to think and to ponder over the contents of this album and I feel that the story as a whole these photos tell is so interesting, significant and unusual that I am devoting this thread to it – where the entire album will be presented in sequence together with all the insight I have gathered up to this point posted along - each photo bearing as full a description as I can manage.

    Some background information:

    This album was originally found in a Southern Bavarian Flohmarkt - flea market - and was found together with another photo album of identical type and form. I unfortunately did not have the chance to buy the other album which belonged to the son of the original owner of the album in question.

    I will tell the story as far as I can as we go along with the photos - I hope it will be interesting for some at least.


    START OF PHOTO ALBUM




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    #1 - First I would like to draw your attention to the top right corner of this photo - here is a ribbon probably for the Bayerische Militär-Verdienstkreuz - the Bavarian Military Merit Cross (as opposed to the officer's version). There are several indications in the album toward the owner being a veteran from the Great War and here it is probably he who has attached this ribbon himself to the album page. The photo itself shows youths from Deutsches Jungvolk (aged 10 to 14 years old - DJ was a subdivision of the Hitler Jugend) with their leaders also present, in a photo lineup, the leaders sitting in front. The other photo album that was found in the flea market showed that the son of the owner of "our" album was a member of the SS (like his father - something we will get back to) and that he served in the LSSAH during the war. It is my belief that this son is present among the DJ-youth on this photo which probably was taken in 1933 (like all the other photos of the album actually it seems).









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    #2 - Here is the first photo perhaps featuring our protagonist in this album. Thankfully the photo itself clearly states the date it was taken, namely the 1st of May, 1933 - which was a very important annual event in the national-socialistic calendar - the NSDAP of course had their very own take on this day, different from how it was thought of and celebrated on the left side of the political spectrum. At this early date they were still using the old tricolour Imperial flag in combination with the "new" swastika-bearing flag. We are seeing a postal building/office and in front of this building we see all workers affiliated with this postal office assembled outside ready to have their photo taken in relation to this important worker's event. Everyone is wearing their finest Reichspost-uniforms (complete with their orders and decorations) or their finest civilian clothes, depending on their place in the hierarchy. I can not be entirely sure whether the original owner of the album is present or not, but it just might be the man sitting 5th person from the left in the front row. This photo at least testifies to his connection with the Reichspost, which I will go into a little bit later.









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    #3 - This is the first photo I am confident to say does feature our main protagonist. Now the album takes a very interesting turn regarding the next few photos. Here our man (indicated by the arrow) is shown to be in training for the newly established (est. on paper in March 1933) Postschutz ("Postal protection") - a special armed unit within the Reichspost, controlled by the Reichspostministerium. It was responsible for the security of all postoffices and mail, telegraph & telephone establishments in Germany. In short: the entire communication infrastructure. This photo is in all likelihood taken within the "campus" of the Postschutzschule ("Postal protection school") in Kelheim, Southern Bavaria (later photos will show why we can place them there). The recruits or perhaps rather trainees are here joined by a postal official (perhaps even their very initial instructor). The Postschutz is one of the most obscure of all Third Reich organisations for many reasons, its small size being an important factor. In fact all Postschutz-related photos should be considered very rare, however this photo (and the ones that will follow immediately after) showing the men in training in the earliest uniforms of the Postschutz taken within the first months of this unit's existence should be considered extremely rare.









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    #4 - Directly related to the preceding photo. Here we can see our man sitting second from the left resting his elbow on the table. This photo is most likely taken within the cafeteria of the Postschutzschule, where the lads are enjoying their lunch perhaps. Here we are getting our first close look at early (perhaps we could even call them makeshift as the uniforms quickly change to something more familiar as we shall see) Postschutz-uniforms.









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    #5 - A rather nice photo showing the men gathered around a table (probably somewhere around the Postschutzschule grounds). The owner (our protagonist) of this very album we are now flipping through is not present on this photo. The reason might simply be that he was the one taking the very photo himself.









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    #6 - From the Postschutzschule to the beautiful Bavarian mountains. It is in my opinion definitely our man we see pretty much silhouetted against the mountain on the right-hand side of the photo, skiing along. The next photo will provide some more context to this trek of the mountains.






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    #7 - Yep, you have all guessed it aright! It is time for the annual unforgettable Allgemeine-SS ski trip! Just beside our man (again indicated by the arrow) are the skis to prove it. Here it is confirmed for the first time that our man was a member of the SS, more accurately, a member of the Allgemeine-SS (the "general SS") - much more is to come later regarding this interesting membership and affiliation - it will be well worth the wait By the looks of some of the trousers sported by these SS brown-shirts, it would seem that even uniform regulations could be flaunted on ski day! Speaking more seriously we are seeing our man in his old-style "brown-shirt" SS uniform - they are all probably members of the Allgemeine-SS Standarte 34 (which we will get back to later as to why). The place of dining they are standing in front of is in business this very day. About the rather nervous-looking (short) man in the middle of the crowd, not wearing an SS-uniform, I can only assume that he is perhaps the owner of the dining establishment.









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    #8 - And after a brief intermission we are back with the Postschutz again. Notice here that now we are seeing the "finite" and more recognizable form of the Postschutz-uniform complete with visor caps of the same colour as their tunics. By the looks of it, the Postschutz is out on maneuvers in this photo. Notice also that our man (under the arrow) is the second highest ranking man in the group. Sadly, I have not been able to uncover any reliable references covering Postschutz ranks at this early date - all information I can find only concerns the Postschutz when part of the SS much later. Please enlighten me if anyone has found such information in English or in German willing to share with me.









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    #9 - Yet another very rare photo showing the very early Postschutz, here having a field lunch. Our man (under the arrow) seems to be a little tired in this photo. Here is also present a Postschutz officer as seen most clearly by his officer's cord on his visor cap.









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    #10 - A nice photo showing the Postschutz-guys out on some kind of maneuver I presume. This photo must have been taken some time after the immediately preceding photos (but still in 1933) as our man is now in the uniform of a Postschutz officer, with officer's cord to his visor cap and different collar patches of higher rank than we have seen him in before.









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    #11 - Another fine group photo of Postschutz-personnel with a dog, this time they are posing for the photographer by the Befreiungshalle-monument, just outside of Kelheim, Southern Bavaria. Befreiungshalle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - Notice here that our protagonist does not don the uniform of an officer, so this photo and the one following it must be earlier than the immediately preceding photo (#10).









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    #12 - A photo in the same vein as the preceding one. Our man is kneeling in the left side of the photo.









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    #13 - This is one of the most interesting photos of the entire album (and a quite rare one I believe) and must have been taken within a very short time-frame. In this single photo the entire shift from the SA-style brown-shirt SS-uniforms to the notorious (and very elegant I might add) black SS-uniforms is captured, in a very poetical way. Notice that the rear of the marching column (in my mind symbolizing the past - the rear of time) are wearing brown-shirts. The forward part of the column (in my mind symbolizing the future - the forward of time) are wearing the brand new black SS-uniform, among them our man who was an NCO in the Allgemeine-SS (which we will get back to). But if one looks even closer one will see that the transition is utterly and fully captured: Since the black uniform had just been instituted many SS-men were here still waiting for their new uniforms to be ready for them because of the sudden demand of black SS-uniforms and visor caps. In this photo can be seen the combination of the new uniform with the old service kepi - and even more peculiar, we can see brown-shirts wearing the new black SS visor caps!!!

    Very revealing photo indeed and one of my personal favorites from the album.









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    #14 - Here we are seeing our man for the first time in his standard Reichspost-uniform and we also get to see him riding a motorbike with a Reichspost (RP) license plate. We have already seen that he was affiliated with the postal service, but here we get to see him in his typical work routine probably (the photos to come in a while are far from routine I can promise the reader!). When looking carefully at the motorbike, a round disc seemingly bearing the SS runes can be seen. We of course by now know that he was a member of the SS, but why on earth is he driving around with something like that whilst seemingly doing his normal post round? The answers will come, little by little...









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    #15 - Here a photo much in the same vein as the preceding one. The scene is just wonderful - very picturesque.









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    #16 - Another beautiful photo showing our man on his way to deliver some very important mail...









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    #17 - Now that's what I call German effectiveness! I just admire the people being able to stack packages like that - also it actually looks a bit precarious for our man standing below all that mail!









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    #18 - Very nice photo showing Bavarians, including our man, having a good time - in the traditional way with traditional costumes.









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    #19 - If anyone ever wondered what Hitler's garden looked like in August 1933 - here it is! Our man is standing to the left in his black SS uniform, we can make out his rank to be SS-Scharführer (equivalent of corporal) and his unit insignia to be "34" - for Allgemeine-SS Standarte 34 (very hard to see on all photos, but easier to see with the real photos in hand). The 34th SS Standarte was headquartered in München. All answers I have kept from you the readers will soon be revealed as to why our man is in Hitler's garden at Haus Wachenfeld, the future Berghof) in August 1933 First some information: This photo and the photos that follow it will prove that in the early days of the Third Reich, for a shorter period of time, the security of der Führer was NOT attended to by the Sonderkommando (later known as the LAH - Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler - Hitler's personal bodyguard) but instead by ordinary local Allgemeine-SS men, probably handpicked among the many members - at least this was the case in the Obersalzberg, at Haus Wachenfeld - the future Berghof. Our man was one of these handpicked men - but we shall see that because of his "day job" and Postschutz-training combined with total loyalty to the Führer through the SS, that he was given another important assignment in addition to helping out as a guard around Hitler and his property...









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    #20 - Here is a stunning photograph showing Hitler's house, Haus Wachenfeld, with all of Hitler's sheets hanging out to dry His car is also visible. The sign to the right of the lone SS-guard by the gate reads: "Haus Wachenfeld - Entry prohibited - Attack dogs"! The person walking up towards the house is our man, he is here wearing his Reichspost-uniform and you have perhaps guessed that this is indeed where he is taking his very important mail to! Yet I still have a surprise for you...









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    #21 - Our man leaving the house, the photo almost revealing what I have in store for you...









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    #22 - Here is the first photo clearly showing what I want to show you. This is a rather nice photo with our man standing some distance away from Haus Wachenfeld, which is clearly visible. He is reading "Die NS Landpost" (something like "The National Socialist Country Mail" or "The National Socialist Rural Post") which was an official publication of the Reichnährstand (Reich Agriculture). He is wearing his Reichspost-uniform and the post horn is clearly visible on his bag. Yet what is wrong with this picture? If you are thinking that the swastika brassard (arm band) of the NSDAP and its organisations seems a bit out of place on a Reichspost-uniform you are correct! Taken out of context there would be NO reason for this to occur. But the solution is actually quite simple:

    1. We have learned that our man was a postal employee in the Reichspost. 2. We have learned that our man has undergone Postschutz-training.
    3. We have learned that our man is a member of the Allgemeine-SS and as such is loyal to Adolf Hitler and has been serving as a guard at Haus Wachenfeld.

    What if these three roles/capacities were combined into one role - the result of that would be: An SS-guard that because of his other talents/affiliations also takes on the role of personal mail courier to Adolf Hitler (very fitting given his Reichspost and Postschutz background). This is in my honest opinion the answer to why on earth he is wearing a uniform that combines the characteristics of BOTH the SS and the Reichspost. He represents both organisations at the same time. I have never ever seen this anywhere else, that a Reichspost-uniform is worn together with the party arm band in such situations.









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    #23 - Our man, the mail courier to the left in the photo, together with an SS guard, leaving the house. Swastika brassard clearly visible on our man's left arm.







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    #24A/24B - Here we see Allgemeine-SS guards from Standarte 34 enjoying the sun at Haus Wachenfeld when the master is away - our man is carrying the chair on the right. But the master of the house if not so far away, really. The reason that there is so much activity at this location at this exact point in time, is that Hitler will soon be visiting his house in the Obersalzberg and he will be receiving two guests there. On the 2nd of August 1933 the new chancellor Adolf Hitler received for the first time a delegation of American businessmen at his house at Berchtesgaden - it consisted of two men: Sosthenes Behn and his deputy in Germany, Henry Mann. Many of the following photos will relate to the security aspect of the preparations to this already mentioned meeting.









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    #25 - Now this is one photo that the German public (or anyone else for that matter) would not have been shown through the official propaganda channels. Who says the SS have to be scary and serious all the time? Our man is truly enjoying himself here! This photo may actually be the latest photo of the entire album. He is here shown to be of SS-Oberscharführer-rank, one rank higher than we last saw him to be. Via his cuff title we can see that he belongs to the 1. Sturm (company). Right above his cuff title can be seen the Freikorps Epp badge - further strengthening our view of him as a WW1 veteran. Lastly, he is also wearing a golden party badge.









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    #26 - Our man in his Reichspost-uniform with swastika brassard and an SS-guard is standing together in Hitler's driveway.









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    #27 - Another photo of our man leaving Haus Wachenfeld.









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    #28 - Our man looking very smart in his black SS uniform. I believe this photo is taken in the vicinity of where Hitler later will walk through the crowd guarded by SS when he arrives.









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    #29 - I believe that this photo and the two following ones show that the three Allgemeine-SS men (including our man, who stands to the left) have been given the task of being the guards directly responsible for Hitler's safety - in other words those physically closest to Hitler when he is walking through the crowd later on. Apparently one of them has taken his tunic off in the heat Notice that our man clearly is wearing a gun holster - which is not at all standard equipment for a member of the Allgemeine-SS. In fact the typical A-SS member was not armed with a pistol at all.









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    #30 - Here are the same SS-men engaged in target practice, our man is in the middle without his visor cap. I believe that they are brushing up on their weapon skills, to be ready for the Führer's arrival.









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    #31 - Here the three chosen men (our man in the middle) are standing to attention at Haus Wachenfeld as higher ranking SA officers and other higher ranking officials are arriving, awaiting Hitler's arrival. Since the SS still at this point was part of the SA, these SA officers are in fact their direct superiors. They (the three) will commence to guard Hitler when he arrives.









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    #32 - A nice photo showing our man in his Reichspost-uniform with swastika brassard together with three Allgemeine-SS guards from Standarte 34.









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    #33 - And here is the day of Hitler's arrival - the 2nd of August, 1933! Two of the Allgemeine-SS chosen men can here be seen guarding Hitler (note their gun holsters) who is directly under the red arrow holding his hat in his hand as he often did. Our man is not visible here because of the simple reason that he is probably standing in close proximity to the camera that took the photo, looking in the same direction - guarding Hitler from the other side. He might even have gotten a friend to take the very photo with his own camera.









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    #34 - Here a photo showing our man in Reichspost-uniform and motorcycle breeches together with three other gentlemen - they are probably standing in the vicinity of Haus Wachenfeld.









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    #35 - The last photo of the album is actually a reprise, almost identical to a photo shown before in the album. But it is a very nice photo showing the peculiar uniform combination of Reichspost/SS.









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    END OF PHOTO ALBUM





    I hope that all parties that have been with me till the end thoroughly enjoyed the ride through the album and through these very rare and very unique experiences of our nameless protagonist - I unfortunately do not even know the name of our star of the evening. Is it not strange what might turn up at a flea market? The story this album tells must be one of a kind in the world and it is very dear to me. I hope I have not wasted your time.


    Hochachtungsvoll,

    Kenneth S-H.
    Last edited by KSH; 12-26-2011 at 07:54 PM.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: A one of a kind, unique and very rare photographic narrative from the early days of the Third Reich!

    Not a waste of time at all Kenneth, I also quite like the brown-black uniform transition photo. I really wish that there were more photos! I need to know what happened to him!

  4. #3
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    Default Re: A one of a kind, unique and very rare photographic narrative from the early days of the Third Reich!

    Wow, fantastic! I truly enjoyed that, many thanks to you and HPL2008!

  5. #4

    Default Re: A one of a kind, unique and very rare photographic narrative from the early days of the Third Reich!

    Great thread, Kenneth! Thanks for sharing.

    Regards

  6. #5

    Default Re: A one of a kind, unique and very rare photographic narrative from the early days of the Third Reich!

    Quote by KSH View Post
    Sadly, I have not been able to uncover any reliable references covering Postschutz ranks at this early date - all information I can find only concerns the Postschutz when part of the SS much later. Please enlighten me if anyone has found such information in English or in German willing to share with me.
    I have searched around a bit; these rank charts (for various stages of the Postschutz' existence) should be helpful:

    Musiker, Postschutz, 1937
    Postal Police / Postschutz
    Wehrmacht-Awards.com Militaria Forums - View Single Post - Photo Postschutz ? (login required; this is a thread with many Postschutz images)

    Many thanks for sharing this album and for your efforts with the fine-quality scans and the captions.

    Allow me one observation, though:
    I don't think the man marked with an arrow in the May 1933 group shot of Postal personnel (photo # 2) is "our man". His facial features (overall shape of the face, shape of his ears) look different to me. Furthermore, this man is certainly not an SS member, but an SA man: An SS man would have worn a black kepi; the collar patches seen in the photograph are also too lightly colored to be black.
    Last edited by HPL2008; 12-26-2011 at 01:03 PM.

  7. #6

    Default Re: A one of a kind, unique and very rare photographic narrative from the early days of the Third Reich!

    I really enjoyed that Kenneth, well done and thank you for sharing. Let us know if you get any more info on 'your man'

    Nick
    "In all my years as a soldier, I have never seen men fight so hard." - SS Obergruppenfuhrer Wilhelm Bittrich - Arnhem

  8. #7

    Default Re: A one of a kind, unique and very rare photographic narrative from the early days of the Third Reich!

    An excellent thread! Thank you.

    Cheers, Ade.
    Had good advice? Saved money? Why not become a Gold Club Member, just hit the green "Join WRF Club" tab at the top of the page and help support the forum!

  9. #8
    KSH
    KSH is offline
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    Default Re: A one of a kind, unique and very rare photographic narrative from the early days of the Third Reich!

    Quote by HPL2008 View Post
    I have searched around a bit; these rank charts (for various stages of the Postschutz' existence) should be helpful:

    Musiker, Postschutz, 1937
    Postal Police / Postschutz
    Wehrmacht-Awards.com Militaria Forums - View Single Post - Photo Postschutz ? (login required; this is a thread with many Postschutz images)

    Many thanks for sharing this album and for your efforts with the fine-quality scans and the captions.

    Allow me one observation, though: I don't think the man marked with an arrow in the May 1933 group photo of Postal personnel is "our man". His facial features (overall shape of the face, shape of his ears) look different to me. This man is certainly not an SS member, but an SA man: An SS man would have worn a black kepi; the collar patches seen in the photograph are also too lightly colored to be black.
    Thank you very much, Andreas - for everything! I have to admit that when it comes to photo #2, I have gone more by the looks of the face I must admit, than the actual uniform. But would an SA man have a tie like the one this person has? You have good eyes my friend I might have to change that interpretation I see.

    Hochachtungsvoll,

    Kenneth S-H.

  10. #9
    ?

    Default Re: A one of a kind, unique and very rare photographic narrative from the early days of the Third Reich!

    motorcycle pics ,, #1

  11. #10

    Default Re: A one of a kind, unique and very rare photographic narrative from the early days of the Third Reich!

    Thanks for your hard work and narration of the story line Kenneth, this was beyond great.

    Jay

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