BACKGROUND: Born in Bielefeld on October 9TH 1907, Horst Wessel joined the NSDAP, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, (National Socialist German Worker’s Party), in 1926 and had advanced to the rank of SA-Sturmführer by May 1929. In early 1929 Wessel had penned the lyrics to an SA, Sturm Abteilung, (Storm/Assault Detachment), propaganda marching song entitled, Die Fahn Hoch, (Raise the Flag High), set to the tune of an old folk song. Wessel submitted the song to Reichsminister Dr. Josef Goebbels’ newspaper, Der Angriff, (The Assault), for public consumption in October 1929. In early 1930 Wessel was living with a former prostitute in the slums of Berlin and was shot and mortally wounded by a rival suitor, who happened to be a communist, on January 14TH 1930. Goebbels’ seized the propaganda opportunity of Wessel’s shooting and mutated it into a politically motivated assassination attempt. In Goebbels version of events Wessel was wounded in a street brawl instigated by the communists in Berlin. Goebbels had Wessel’s song performed publicly for the first time at an NSDAP rally at the Berlin Sportplatz on February 7TH 1930 where it became an immediate success. Wessel succumbed to his wounds and died on February 23RD 1930 and was instantly hailed as a political martyr of the NSDAP. In January 1944 the SS began the formation of a new division in Croatia which would eventually become the 18.SS-Freiwilligen-Panzer-Grenadier-Division. (18TH SS Volunteer Armored Infantry Division). The division was formed around a nucleus of personnel from the 1.SS-Infanterie-Brigade (mot.), and it was intended, to fill the ranks with SA personnel, and was allotted the honor title of "Horst Wessel". Due to the bad feelings between the SS and the SA dating back to the "Night of the Long Knives" in June 1934, few SA men volunteered for service and the ranks were filled mostly by Hungarian personnel. Shortly after its formation the division was allotted a distinctive collar tab featuring the SA runes. Although period designed and manufactured it appears the collar tabs were never distributed or worn by the divisional personnel. Of Note: The NSDAP extracted its revenge on Wessel’s alleged murderer, Albrecht Höhler who was himself murdered by the SA shortly after Hitler ascended to power in 1933. Also Of Note: The title to Wessel’s song, Die Fahn Hoch, was changed after his death to, Horst Wessel Lied, (Horst Wessel Song), and became the second most popular and performed song during the Third Reich after the national anthem, Deutschland, Deutschland Über Alles.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Right hand side, unit designation, black wool construction collar tab features machine embroidered, stylized "SA" runes in silvery/grey rayon threads. The collar tab is mounted on a tan buckram backing. Nice example.

GRADE ****1/4                             PRICE $500.00

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