When I first started collecting TR, I was told by a local dealer that genuine SS (and AfrikaKorps) stuff was as "rare as hen's teeth"... Not sure I believe that now, but following that dealer's logic, then SS-Helferinnen or "female auxilaries" memorabilia must be even rarer still!
So the purpose of this thread is to ask for opinions on the scarcity of said items, be it headwear or medals/brooches etc, and how exited one could get should you come across any pieces in your travels.
Of course, also welcome pictures from fellow collectors of these rare and wondrous items!
07-31-2015 01:34 PM
Genuine SS-Helferinnen material is very rare, which is not surprising.
First of all, this was not a huge organization to begin with: In total, there were only some 10,000 female SS auxiliaries (speaking in military unit sizes, that's less than the strength of one division).
Out of those, some 3,000 were proper SS-Helferinnen [female SS auxiliaries] and another 4,000 or so were SS-Kriegshelferinnen [female SS war auxiliaries, which included the majority of female concentration camp personnel]. Finally, in January 1945, the ca. 3,000 female Orpo auxiliaries were also transferred to the corps of female SS auxiliaries (although, given the time period in question, I strongly doubt all - if any - of them were re-uniformed).
The range of uniform items for female SS auxiliaries was also quite straightforward and limited to what was necessary: No camo gear, no fancy dress uniforms, no special protective clothing etc.
When it comes to badges and insignia in particular, you also have to bear in mind that were not many of those that were specific to the female SS auxiliaries anyway.
No medals and brooches at all (only the heavily faked silver clasp), no collar patches, shoulder boards, rank insignia... There are really only three kinds of cloth insignia I can think of: If memory serves, the sidecap eagle was of a special pattern; then you had the oval "SS runes" breast patch (not even authorized for the Kriegshelferinnen) and the Reichsschule-SS cuff title for cadre personnel of the signals school at Oberehnheim (and even that one would have been worn by male personnel as well).
Finally, there is the question of what happened with their gear at the end of the war: Those who served in concentration camps had very little motivation to retain any souvenirs of their former service and would surely have thrown away or burned all their unifom items at the end of the war.
On the other hand, many female issue items were of a rather plain and nondescript nature (shoes, socks, scarves, gloves etc.) and would have been simply worn out in the frugal post-war years. Even the service tunics and -skirts could have been re-dyed and converted to civilian wear with much less effort than a male uniform.
Last edited by HPL2008; 08-01-2015 at 01:46 PM.
Allow me a correction:
although the sidecap for Helferinnen was of a very special pattern , the eagle insignia that was worn on it was not .
This was normally the regular BeVo ( large ! ) sleeve eagle .
One of these can still be seen on Martin Stiles site , but it has already been sold ..
Good post, thanks! Lot of interesting info and background. Fired my interest in this oft-forgotten area of SS history/collecting.
Are there any decent books on the subject?
Nice pics, thanks for the responses!
When it comes to uniforms and other regalia, not really. What little information is available here is scattered through the usual standard references (Angolia, Smith/Saris, Mollo etc. Out of those, vol. III of the late Michael D. Beaver's "Uniforms of the Waffen-SS" has the most information and photographs, but even that are only 10 pages).
There are several monographs that deal with the history/sociology/psychology of the SS' female auxiliaries in general or those within the camp system in particular, but I must admit I have not (yet) read any of those works, so I can't make any meaningful recommendations here.
Some information on the training of the Helferinnen is found in Hans-Christian Harten's "Himmlers Lehrer. Die Weltanschauliche Schulung in der SS 1933-1945."