The father (the erstwhile SS man) had a typescript account of his life in wartime, especially of how he had survived in 1945 and come, eventually, to work for the British forces as a Russian interpreter.
He was the son of a white Russian officer killed in the civil war, who had made it to Berlin via Lithuania in the 1920s. He was in his 70s in the the 1970s, when I met him.
I never knew his whole story, but he had ended up in the circle of Franz Six in the Sicherheitsdienst. Whether he was in an Einsatzgruppe, I do not know. I did not press on that point.
The family was semi open about the time 1933-1945, but they were uncomfortable once I recognized in wartime photos his role in the SD. That is, I could distinguish an SD officer from an SS officer.
They did not expect that of a 21 year old US student. Nor did I rush out to the gendarmes and turn the man in as a war criminal. He was not the only person I encountered with a past.
My goal was to learn about the past from those who had lived it, and to become a professional historian.
I was born eight years after the end of the second world war. That is, that war and the cold war, which was the continuation of much of the second world war, were dominant in my early life and in the lives of virtually all adults.
My SS officer/host father claimed to have been a liaison to Vlassov type Russian units from 1941 until 1944.
The documents are likely lost to time and the truth as well. Surely I never found out the whole truth.
I suppose I could go back and find his personnel file and check the story out with the record, but I have no interest in doing so.
In my personal and professional life, I have engaged with many persons on both sides in the second world war. It is from them that I developed this interest in contemporary history.
Last edited by Friedrich-Berthold; 02-21-2015 at 01:51 AM.
02-20-2015 11:47 PM
I wanted to bring up one more interesting feature of the armband that I have... On the backside, along the edge where the black stripes are, there are three lines of stitching instead of two. On the front side, only two of these three lines are visible: the one along the top edge of the black stripe, and the one along the bottom edge. These three lines are seen on both edges of the backside of this armband. I haven't really seen any armbands that have this feature. Here's a picture:
Has anyone else seen an armband with these 3 rows of stitching?
I have a theory on how this came to be... The edges of the wool for these armbands had to be folded over and sewn, or "hemmed," in order to create a smooth, non-fraying edge. On party armbands, this can be seen on the backside, where the actual rough edge of the wool is visible. It was done this way so that the folded portion would not be visible from the outside. However, on SS armbands, manufacturers were able to take advantage of the presence of the black stripes by hiding the rough edge on the front side of the armband, underneath the stripe. This way, the fold was invisible on both the front AND back sides. Normally, I believe the edge of the wool was folded over on the front side, a stripe was applied, and both the outside edge of the stripe and the folded portion were stitched down together, using a single line of stitching. The black stripe was then secured using a second row of stitching along the stripe's inner edge. The rough edge of the wool is thus completely hidden underneath the stripe. On my armband, however, it appears that the wool was hemmed before the stripes were applied. Thus, I have one line of stitching for the fold (the "middle" line in my photo), and two other lines of stitching where the stripe was sewn on. I would also like to note that this does not mean that my armband was a party armband that was somehow converted to an SS armband, because the edge of the wool on my armband was folded over to the front side, which would not have been done for a party armband (or an SS great coat armband, for that matter).
What do you guys think? Do any of you have a "3-liner"?
I must say that I have never noticed what you describe. Good that you have a real item in hand and can address the textile versus a picture. There is no substitute for the actual examination.
For instance, I saw this picture long ago of this cap I recently bought from a top world collector via the world's most expensive dealer.
Last edited by Friedrich-Berthold; 02-26-2015 at 03:15 AM.
In real life, it looks very different. It looks much better, in fact, and it is a real gem, but the image is misleading as to its size, quality and such.
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I adjusted the Gerhirnbremse.
Thanks, FB. Do you mean that you've never seen an armband with these three lines of stitching before, or you've simply never noticed the way these armbands were hemmed before?
I'd really appreciate it if the members of this forum who have SS armbands could look at theirs and see if they have these three lines of stitching. I don't doubt the authenticity of my piece, but I'd like to get an idea of how rare this is... Thanks!
I have not paid as much attention to this aspect of the item as have you. We had an exchange here once about the black stripes and such, which you can look up.
this one, by way, I let get away, and then it was crammed into a book as a star piece.
The tunic had a nice arm band, as you can see from this historic picture courtesy Bruce Herman.