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Which Way; Left or Right?

Article about: I recently took part in a thread on this Forum that raised and interesting question regarding the consistency, or lack of it, in the design and use of the Reich Hoheitszeichen, AKA Reichsadl

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    Default Which Way; Left or Right?

    I recently took part in a thread on this Forum that raised and interesting question regarding the consistency, or lack of it, in the design and use of the Reich Hoheitszeichen, AKA Reichsadler. There are various designs of the Reichsadler with extended wings and folded wings and looking either right or left. It shows up in print in even more variations, and I have been told that there was a Party Adler and a Wehrmacht Adler. On the basis of wanting to know what the official regulations said about the bird’s design and use, I used three primary documents.
    Which Way; Left or Right?
    The first document is I. S.. 1287, Verordnung über das Hoheitszeichen des Reichs, vom 5 November 1935. (Ordinance on the emblem of the empire, 5 November 1935) This is the basic document governing the design and use of the National Eagle. Below is a translation.
    Nr. 122-1287 Ordinance regarding the National Emblem of the Empire from 5 November 1935
    In order to express the unity of party and State in their symbols, I determine:
    Article 1.
    The Reich leads with the emblem of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.
    Article 2.
    The national emblems of the Wehrmacht remain unaffected. From this I infer that the Wehrmacht already had a national emblem, but I have been unable to find a regulation governing it.
    Article 3.
    The announcement regarding the Reich coat of arms and the Reich eagle of November 11, 1919 (Reichsgesetzbl. S. 1877) is repealed.
    Article 4.
    The Reich Minister of the Interior, in agreement with the Deputy of the Fuehrer, will issue the regulations necessary to implement Article 1.
    Which Way; Left or Right?
    The implementation referred to in Article 4, is this document, Verordnung über die Gestaltung des Hoheitszeichens des Reichs dated 7 March 1936 that says:
    In relation to Article 1 of the Ordinance for the design of the emblem of the Reich from 5 November 1935 (Reichsgesetz I. S.. 1287), I direct that the national emblem of the Reich show the swastika surrounded by an oak wreath and atop the wreath, an eagle with open wings. The eagle's head is turned to (its) the right.
    For the heraldic design of the emblem of the empire, the attached samples are standard. The artistic design for special purposes is reserved.
    Berlin 7 March 1936 Signed-off by Hitler, Frick, and Hess
    The regulation is talking about the National Emblem (Hoheitszeichen) with the eagle’s head turned towards his right. It also provides the stipulation that while artistic license with respect to design is allowed, it must first be approved.
    Which Way; Left or Right?
    At some later date the Verordnung über die Gestaltung des Hoheitszeichens des Reichs was amended with this disclaimer: The head position of the NSDAP emblem remains the opposite of that of the State emblem that up to now has faced to the left.

    What I take away with from these three documents is that disclaimer in the amended version established a Party emblem, with a right-looking eagle, and a State emblem with a left-looking eagle. There is no mention of which way the Wehrmacht eagle is looking, but all the photos I have seen, the Kriegsmarine and Heer eagles look left, while the Luftwaffe had its own eagle design that was entirely different from the other two services, but at least its flight direction is left. Even with the Luftwaffe being out of step, knowing that the Party eagle looked right and the State eagle looked left should be a useful aid when judging the authenticity of a relic or document. But it isn’t, because the regulations were not always followed.

    Let’s look at some photos, and keep in mind that the Party eagle is supposed to look to his right and the Government/Army and Navy Eagles are supposed to look left.
    First up is the title page from the 1943 edition of the Oganisationsbuch:
    Which Way; Left or Right?
    This is the title page of the 1943 Oganisationsbuch der NSDAP, definitely a Party item and the Eagle, who should be looking to his right, is looking left, while the government (State) agency stamp, which should have the Eagle looking left, has him looking right.
    Which Way; Left or Right?
    Awards Urkunden add to the confusion. Here is an Urkunde for an army award. I would classify this as an Army document, or at least a government document, either of which would have the Eagle looking left. But he’s looking right.
    Which Way; Left or Right?
    And this civilian award Urkunde to my father-in-law, who was never a Party member and at the time the award was made he was detailed as the chef to prepare a state dinner for the king of Yugoslavia; a temporary government position, but the Eagle facing right.
    Which Way; Left or Right?
    Which Way; Left or Right?
    The Army and Navy and SS national emblems all have the eagle looking to his left. But since the SS was a part of the NSDAP, shouldn’t their eagle look right?
    Which Way; Left or Right?
    Award badges also have the eagle looking to his left, but the eagle’s wings are folded instead of being open as required in the regulation. I am unable to find a regulation authorizing this design, but there it is.
    Based on what I have here, I think using the direction in which the Reischsadler is facing to establish whether or not any artifact or document is genuine, will not provide a conclusive answer.
    I would very much like to read any suggestions and comments, regarding the apparent inconsistency in which way the eagle was supposed to be looking. And if anyone can shed some light on where the folded wing design came from, please tell me. Dwight

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