Thursday, December 31, 2009

HJ shoulder straps, an introduction

Shoulder straps worn by the Hitler Youth served three basic purposes. They indicated the rank of the wearer, they identified the geographic location of the unit, they indicated the assignment designation of the wearer, and they indicated the branch of the Hitler Youth to which the wearer belonged. When viewed in combination with the Gebeitsdistrict triangle sleeve insignia, unit identification could instantaneously be made.

From time to time the shoulder straps underwent modification, new ranks were introduced and new Gebiets were raised. When looking at HJ shoulder straps it is neccessary to consider the year that the straps are from. Very early shoulder straps prior to 1933 were worn by youth elements that sometimes employed a dual colored piping that was most likely an indication of the Landesfarben, (National Colors used by each German state), that went around the sides and to the point of the boards. These early boards are difficult to find and considered to be rare.

The first standarization was achieved in 1933. The basic first pattern shoulder strap was made of light brown uniform cloth. Regulations prescribed that the width be 44mm inclusive of the 2mm wide piping that bordered the outer edge. Some straps were without this piping and only measured 40mm. The length was 125mm from the base to the pointed end. Included on the strap was the retaining button, the Bann number, the Unterbann number, and where appropriate the rank insignia and piping.