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Question about the "Der Führer" shoulder cyphers

Article about: Hello! I've noticed historic reproduction companies produce the 'DF' shoulder cyphers for Der Fuhrer: I was intrigued as I had not heard of other SS units apart for 1st SS using unique shoul

  1. #1

    Question Question about the "Der Führer" shoulder cyphers


    I've noticed historic reproduction companies produce the 'DF' shoulder cyphers for Der Fuhrer:
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    I was intrigued as I had not heard of other SS units apart for 1st SS using unique shoulder cyphers and so I looked into it but found some contradicting photographs of them being worn but no concrete information on why some wore them and why some didn't, for example:

    SS-Untersturmführer Adolf Peichl wearing the cyphers:
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    SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Weidinger wearing no cyphers:
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    They were both in 'Der Fuhrer' so why did they not both wear the shoulder cypher? Was it forbidden or phased out after a certain year or just personal choice?

    Thank you!

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  3. #2


    The LAH and Der Führer were far from the only units wearing such badges. Although the variety was much smaller than with the Heer, there were still dozens of different shoulder board cyphers worn by the Waffen-SS.

    Now to the question why they are not seen on all photographs of W-SS personnel:

    First and foremost, not every single unit/formation or agency was authorized such cyphers. Many never were.

    As for those that were at some point authorized to wear them:

    At various times, the wearing of shoulder strap cyphers and other distinctive unit insignia was temporarily or locally forbidden for security reasons. (Many photographs of the French campaign show this, with shoulder boards covered up by cloth loops, cuff titles removed, collar patches removed or covered up etc.)

    The wearing of numerals on sholder boards was forbidden by an RFSS order of October 1943, and an order of 15th April 1944 discontinued the use of all shoulder board cyphers for the duration of the war, with the sole exception to be the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. (As was always the case with orders requiring troops to take off once proudly-worn insignia, this order was not universally obeyed, though.) Other cyphers had already been discontinued before that; for example, W-SS medical officers were ordered to stop wearing the Aesculapius rod on their shoulder boards in June 1941. (Another order that was commonly ignored.)

    Finally, as was true with all other badges, insignia and uniform items, there would also have been cases when personnel theoretically entitled to shoulder board cyphers did not wear them due to simple supply problems, personal preferences or mistaken regulations.

    Oh, and as for the two actual photographs seen above:

    From his decorations, we can tell that the Weidinger photo was taken no earlier than 30th April 1944 (his award date of the Nahkampfspange) and prior to his promotion to Obersturmbannführer on 9th November 1944.

    Peichl is seen wearing his Knight's Cross (awarded 16th October 1944), but his rank insignia are still that of a Hauptscharführer. He was promoted to Untersturmführer d.R. on 9th November 1944.

    Both photographs were taken at a time when the wearing of shoulder board cyphers had already been discontinued. Weidinger is in line with regulations, Peichl isn't. That naughty Viennese bartender.
    Last edited by HPL2008; 05-09-2015 at 04:04 PM.

  4. #3


    For additional information, here are the SS shoulder board cyphers that I am aware of (corrections or addtions are welcome):

    a) Letters
    • A (block letter) = Artilleriestandarte SSVT [SSVT Artillery Regiment]
    • A (Gothic letter) = Aufklärungsabteilung SSVT [SSVT Reconnaissance Detachment]
    • AS / Roman numeral "I" and "II" = Artillerieschulen I and II [Artillery Schools I and II]
    • B (Gothic letter) = Totenkopf-Standarte 2 "Brandenburg" [Death's Head Regiment 2 "Brandenburg", garrisoned at Sachsenhausen]
    • D (Gothic letter, later block letter) = "Deutschland" regiment
    • DF (Gothic letters, later block letters)= "Der Führer" regiment
    • E / Roman numeral "I" through "XXI" = Ergänzungsstellen I through XXI [Recruiting Offices I through XXI]
    • Fl = Flugabwehr-MG-Abteilung SSVT [SSVT Anti-Aircraft Machine Gun Detachment]
    • G (Gothic letter, later block letter) = "Germania" regiment
    • JS / B = Junkerschule Braunschweig [Officer School Braunschweig (Brunswick)]
    • JS / T = Junkerschule Tölz [Officer School Tölz]
    • L (block letter)= Kraftfahrtechnische Lehranstalt [Technical School for Motor Vehicle Transport (located at Vienna)]
    • L (Gothic letter) = Lehrregimenter and -abteilungen [training regiments and -detachments]
    • LAH = Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler
    • MS = Musikschule Braunschweig [Music School Braunschweig (Brunswick)]
    • N = "Nordland" regiment
    • O (Gothic letter) = Totenkopf-Standarte 1 "Oberbayern" [Death's Head Regiment 1 "Oberbayern" (Upper Bavaria, garrisoned at Dachau)], later re-assigned to Totenkopf-Standarte 4 "Ostmark" [Death's Head Regiment 4 "Ostmark" (Austria), garrisoned at Mauthausen]
    • P (Gothic letter) = Panzerabwehrabteilung SSVT [SSVT Anti-Tank Detachment], also worn by other wartime anti-tank units
    • SK / D = Standortkommandantur Dachau [Dachau Garrison Commandant's Office]
    • SK / P = Standortkommandantur Prag [Prague Garrison Commandant's Office]
    • T (Gothic letter) = Totenkopf-Standarte 3 "Thüringen" [Death's Head Regiment 3 "Thüringen" (Thuringia), garrisoned at Buchenwald]
    • US / L = Unterführerschule Lauenburg [NCO School Lauenburg]
    • US / R = Unterführerschule Radolfzell [NCO School Radolfzell]
    • W = "Westland" regiment

    b) Numbers:
    • Arabic numerals "1" through "17" = Totenkopfstandarten [Death's Head Regiments] 1 through 17, 1 & 2 also worn by Totenkopf-Reiter-Standarten [Death's Head Cavalry Regiments] 1 and 2
    • Roman numeral "I" through ? = worn by SSTV battalions (I have seen period photos of "I", "II" and "III" cyphers in wear.)

    (Arabic numerals were also worn unofficially by other units.)

    c) Symbols
    • Aesculapius rod = Sanitätsdienst [veterinary service]
    • Cogwheel = Technischer Dienst [technical service]
      Death's Head = Totenkopf-Standarte 1 "Oberbayern" [Death's Head Regiment 1 "Oberbayern" (Upper Bavaria), garrisoned at Dachau] (Authorized to replace the "O", but apparently not actually introduced or only worn to a very limited degree.)
    • Lyre = Musikführer [bandmasters]
    • Serpent = Veterinärdienst [veterinary service]

    Note: Letters are block letters, unless otherwise stated. A "/" means that the cypher was in two lines.
    Last edited by HPL2008; 05-09-2015 at 06:36 PM.

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