BACKGROUND: As early as 1938 Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and the Allgemeine-SS, (General-SS), began recruiting volunteer "Germanische", (Germanic), personnel who were considered to be suitably "Nordic", to serve in the SS-VT, SS-Verfügungstruppe, (SS-Special Purpose Troops). Originally these Germanic personnel were drawn from Dutch, Belgian, Danes and Norwegians but with only minor success. In March 1940 with the formation of the Waffen-SS recruitment of the Germanic personnel began to increase slightly and with the outbreak of WWII additional Germanic volunteers came forward to join the ranks of the Waffen-SS. The invasion of the Balkans in 1941 brought forward another pool of suitable Volksdeutsche, (Ethnic Germans), personnel available for voluntary enlistment in the Waffen-SS. The invasion of Russia on June 22ND 1941 and the war against Bolshevism resulted in the Waffen-SS experiencing another surge in recruits willing to serve with the Germans. As the war continued and man-power shortages became severe the standard criteria for acceptance into the Waffen-SS was decreased dramatically and numerous personnel who would have been unacceptable in 1939 were readily conscripted into service with the Waffen-SS. By the end of the war more then half of all the personnel serving in the Waffen-SS were non-Germans. In February 1943 the Germans began the formation of a new division to be manned by Latvian volunteers. Originally designated, 15. Lettische SS-Freiwilligen-Division, (15TH Latvian SS Volunteer Division), it would eventually evolve into the 15. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (lettische Nr.1). Of Note: In May 1943 a second unit of Latvian volunteers began formation and would eventually evolve into the 19. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (lettische Nr.2). Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler’s obsession with pagan runic symbolism manifested itself in runic emblems used by the SS, Schutz Staffel, (Protection Squad), the most famous of which was the dual sig-runes used on the collar tabs and helmets decals of the SS. The dual sig-runes design was initiated by SS-Sturmhauptführer and graphic artist Walter Heck in May 1933, who sold his design to the SS for 2.50 Reichs Marks. Due to the non-Germanic status of the Latvians, authorization for wear of the SS runic collar tab was prohibited and personnel of the division originally wore a blank collar tab until March 11TH 1943 when a swastika collar tab, also referred to as the Latvian "Fire Cross", was introduced for wear. In the autumn of 1944 a new collar tab was introduced and the design of the collar tab was based on a traditional Latvian army emblem. German personnel within the division were permitted to wear the SS runic collar tab and surprisingly the SS runic collar tab was commonly worn by Latvian personnel in spite of the prohibition.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Right hand side un-piped, black wool construction collar tab with Latvian metal alloy SS runes. The collar tab is mounted on a tan buckram backing. Rare!

GRADE ****1/4                             PRICE $999.00

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