to illustrate Mr. d'alquen's post. i hesitate to post at all...
I knew I had it somewhere. This letter is very interesting as it not only reveals that the badge was introduced in 1932 and was still in use in 1937, but also tells us a little about the internal workings regarding insignia - as this officer, Sido, is having trouble getting the RZM to supply the badges as they say that there was not enough demand for the badge. They suggest Sido should go about getting the two badges made himself. He now needs authorization for this.
I will look for the follow-up correspondence.
Very nice documents with great power as to the realities of these things. Thanks. Very grateful for your fine research.
It would be interesting if Franz Sido got his authorization to get a custom made badge .......
" When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle "
As always, many thanks to d'alquen for providing period documentation with information not found in any secondary sources. I would love to see the follow-up correspondence.
For the benefit of the non-German speaking members, here is a full translation of the letter:
Braunschweig, 20th July 1937
Journal no. File ref. 23 d/14.7.37
Re: SS-Pilots' Badge
Reference: Letter to the Reichszeugmeisterei of 10th July 1937
Head of the Führungsamt SS
Berlin SW 11
Prinz Albrechtstr. 9
Allow me to submit to the Head of the Führungsamt SS the attached transcription of the award document for the SS Pilots' Badge as well as the transcription of my notification by the Commander of the SS Aviators.
As far as I know, this badge was instituted by the Reichsführer-SS in the spring of 1932 in different versions for pilots and observers and was awarded in limited numbers only for special achievements in SS aviation. Thus, it was not an identification badge for the SS aviation units. Because of this, the Reichsführer-SS - upon an inquiry of the Commander of the SS Aviators - had permitted continued wear of this badge after the disbandment of the SS aviation units.
If the badge is so rarely worn today, it is due to the fact that only very few badges had been awarded and furthermore that nearly all of its wearers transferred to the Luftwaffe following the disbandment of the SS-Fliegerstürme and their transition into the Deutscher Luftsportverband.
It is wholly incomprehensible to me that the Reichszeugmeisterei is unaware of the badge's existence.
In March 1935 I ordered from the Reichszeugmeisterei 2 of these badges, which were delivered after several weeks and which, according to a notice by the Procurement Office, had to be manufactured first; this, in aluminum embroidery rather than in silver like the initial issue.
In October 1936, I ordered another 2 badges from the Reichszeugmeisterei. The Reichszeugmeisterei informed me that they would no longer keep these badges in stock due to a lack of demand and that I should have them manufactured myself by a "decent" business.
As I now require a few more of these badges and since the Reichszeugmeisterei has obligated all respective businesses by submission of an affidavit to manufacture no SS items of any kind without order or permission by the Reichszeugmeisterei*, I requested said permission with my letter of 10 June 37.
signed: Franz Sido
For the accuracy of this transcription:
*) For more on that business, see posts # 14 and 17 over here:
SS Visor Hat
This letter is highly interesting for several reasons.
For starters, it illustrates just how rare these badges were even during the 1932 - 1945 period.
We know that the SS/SA aviation units were short-lived and a small force of men to begin with, which would have made for a rare badge even if all of them had been authorized to wear it.
However, this document tells us that these wings were actually in the nature of an award that was individually bestowed on selected distinguished members of this group, making for an even smaller number of wearers that would be diminished further still by the mid-Thirties due to the majority of them transferring to the air force (on whose uniforms the badge could not be worn).
So rare and obscure had this badge become by 1937 that even an authorized wearer had the greatest trouble getting additional ones.
It also illustrates that the small number of badges required led to them being made-to-order in very small quantities, resulting in different variants.
The letter tells us that the initial issue (from 1932) was made in silver embroidery, with later specimens (in 1935) made in aluminum embroidery (which, of course, applied to other badges and insignia as well due to the problem of silver threads tarnishing).
The letter does not explicitly state whether Sido actually had his 2 badges made in 1936 or let the matter rest until his renewed correspondence in 1937 and whether that, in turn, led to the manufacture of a few more, but if that was the case, they would surely have differed still from the earlier ones.
So, nobody is really in the position to say just what exact criteria such a badge has to possess to qualify as a guaranteed original. (If any authentic pieces survive to this day at all, that is.)
Another interesting aspect is that the badge came in different versions for pilots and observers, something which is not mentioned in post-war secondary literature at all. Unfortunately, we don't know what differences there were between these two versions. (It might be something as simple as wingspan, which was the case for the DLV wings for pilots/observers and radio operators.)
And then, there is the very interesting question raised by d'alquen, namely whether there ever was a combined SA/SS pilots' badge at all or whether this was always exclusively an SS badge.
The letter certainly supports the latter: Sido refers to it as an SS badge and expressly states that it was instituted by the RFSS. Surely, with the SS still being subordinate to the SA at the time, the order for the creation of a joint SA/SS badge would have come from the OSAF.
Another point to ponder: Granted, photos of the badge in wear are very rare; I have surely seen less than ten or so this far. However, all of them show SS men (including Willi Bittrich and Eduard von Schleich).
Finally, there is the Bittrich portrait posted above. It is reproduced in much better quality and full-page size in Vol. I of Max Williams' "The SS Leadership Corps". There really is no doubt: The badge worn by Bittrich doesn't have the SS runes on the left and the SA monogram on the right; it has SS runes on both sides of the wings!
This leaves us with two possibilites:
a) There were two different period versions: An "SS/SA" and an "SS/SS" variant (the existence of the latter being proven by the Bittrich photo, even though no surviving example of such a badge has been shown online or in print so far).
b) Any and all of the "SS/SA" badges are post-war forgeries (including those claimed to be real by Ailsby et al.)
I must say, given the period documentation available so far, b) requires much less explaining and conjecture.
In any case, all this goes to show one has to keep an open mind about these things and remain willing to question commonly accepted knowledge.
Last edited by HPL2008; 05-16-2016 at 12:40 PM.
And that dear friends, is not only a mark of the generosity of the man but his knowledge as well!!!
" When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle "
It is not the size of a Collection in History that matters......Its the size of your Passion for it!! - Larry C
One never knows what tree roots push to the surface of what laid buried before the tree was planted - Larry C
“The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” - Winston Churchill
I have tracked down a copy of Sido's award of the SS-Flugzeugfuehrer badge in 1932. This was presumably one of the attachments he enclosed with his request that I posted above.