NSDAP Zellenwart Type I Collar Tabs
Image courtesy of Hermann Historica Auctioneers, Munich
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The uniforms, headgear, and insignia of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP) went through several design changes from 1933 until the end of the Second World War. Dr. Ley, originally the Gauleiter of Rheinland and later promoted to the position of chief of staff of Party Organization and Reich Organization Leader, was largely responsible for the NSDAP rank system and uniforms.
All NSDAP uniform garments, headgear, and insignia were manufactured by the National Material Control Office (RZM or Reichszeugmeisterei), which was located in Munich. The reverse of a collar tab may feature an RZM tag.
The NSDAP collar tabs went through four major design changes from their initial conception in 1933 until the end of the Second World War. The four rank levels within the NSDAP were Reich (national), Gau (larger district), Kreis (district), and Ort (local) or Ortsgruppe, and these collar tabs functioned as a visual representation of the wearer’s rank level as well as their specific rank.
The Type I collar tabs were worn from 1933 to 1934. The cloth colour correlates with the wearer’s rank level, while additional design elements, such as tress or litzen (embroidered columns), identify a specific rank. The rank level colours are crimson red for Reich level, bright red for Gau level, and brown for Kreis level and Ort level. The Type I tabs do not feature any piping.
The Type II collar tabs were worn from 1934 to 1936. The rank level cloth colours of the Type II collar tabs are crimson red with golden-yellow piping for Reich level, bright red with red piping for Gau level, dark brown with black piping for Kreis level, and light brown with light blue piping for Ort level. The wearer’s specific rank was still indicated by additional design elements, such as tress with swastikas or litzen.
Additional NSDAP ranks were inserted into the rank system in 1936, necessitating the creation of new Type III collar tabs. The ranks added to the NSDAP in 1936 include Hauptamtsleiter, Stützpunkleiter, Zellenleiter, Hauptstellenleiter, Hilfsstellenleiter, Stellenleiter, and Mitarbeiter. The rank level cloth colours remained the same, as did the indicators for the wearer’s specific rank.
A unique feature of Type III collar tabs was the use of black cloth for retired personnel, with piping in the colour of their former rank level. This was discontinued in 1939 with the introduction of the Type IV collar tabs.
The Type IV collar tabs were worn from 1939 to 1945. These collar tabs feature new ranks and new designs. The rank level cloth colours are crimson red with golden-yellow piping for Reich level, light red with dark red piping for Gau level, chocolate brown with white piping for Kreis level, and light brown with blue piping for Ort level. Additional design elements, such as tress, embroidered or stamped metal oak leaves, embroidered or stamped metal NSDAP pattern national emblem eagles, and metal pips correlate with the wearer’s specific rank.
The Zellenwart (cell warden) Type I Collar Tabs feature brown cloth and two stacked silver-coloured "L" shaped chevrons segments with swastikas on them.
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