The German Luftwaffe issued a dress dagger to it’s officers, for wear with the Walking-Out and Parade dress uniforms from 1934 until May 1945. It was a status symbol for the officers and while it served little practical purpose, it was ceremonial. Officers treated their daggers as a symbol of their office and rank, and with respect.

Officers in other branches of the Wehrmacht and other Third Reich organizations also had ceremonial daggers. The Heer, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, and SA all had their daggers, as did other uniformed services of the Third Reich, including political leaders, diplomats, railway, postal, and police officials. Each had their distinctive look and could be told apart at a glance. While there were variations and different models for each organization, a person could look at a dagger and identify it as say, Heer (Army), Kriegsmarine or Luftwaffe. The Luftwaffe daggers came in two models, simply referred to as first and second models.


First Model

The Luftwaffe first authorized a dagger for all its Officers and Officer candidates in 1934.

The dagger design features a Luftwaffe eagle with down swept wings on the crossguard holding a brass-colored, “pinwheel” design swastika. The pommel which is circular in shape, but has flat fronts, sports the same swastika as the crossguard. The grip is usually made of wood and has been seen in various colors (including black for Funeral daggers). The grooves in the grip are wrapped in twisted gold or silver wiring, which follows a spiral pattern around the grip. Most models came with a standard, nickel-plated, polished blade. “Damascus” or engraved blades with elaborate patterns etched on them were available for a price, and are considerably rare.

The scabbard was covered in blueish leather and had three, plain fittings. The upper two fittings had suspension rings where suspender-like hangers attached the dagger to the uniform. The dagger would hang down on the right side from an officer’s tunic on blue-patterned hangers. The fittings were cast, some in nickel, some in aluminum, and some silver plated. There was a leather buffer pad at the top of the blade against the bottom of the crossguard.


Second Model

The Second Model Luftwaffe dagger is much more common and was used throughout the war years. It was authorized for all Officers and Officer Candidates in 1937. Its overall length is 41cm, or 16.2 inches.

The crossguard had a Luftwaffe eagle in flight clutching a swastika, extremely similar to the Luftwaffe breast eagle. The nickel pommel was spherical and featured a gilted (gold plated) swastika, with the rest of the pommel decorated in an oak leaf design. Most standard models included a celluloid grip and plain, nickel blade, but ivory grips and Damascus / engraved blades were available as options, like the first model. The celluloid grips came in colors including white, yellow, and orange (like the Heer daggers). The steel scabbard, covered in a pebbled pattern with small oakleaf and acorn accents, featured two suspension bands with rings. The bands and the scabbard tip were decorated with oakleaf patterns, like the pommel. The suspension bands would clip onto the inside of the officer's tunic, suspending the dagger at a 45-degree angle on his right side.

The dagger also had a portepee attached above the crossguard. A portepee is a decorative, cloth tassel which hung from the dagger. There was even a special "Luftwaffe" way of tying the portepee to the dagger. Each branch and organization had their own style portepee, although they all resembled each other with an acorn-shaped object at the end of the cord. Some were plain, like the Luftwaffe’s silver colored portepee - others had designs, like an encircled sig-runes for the Waffen-SS stiched into them.


Makers

There were multiple manufacturers of daggers at the time. The majority of the manufacturers were not just for Luftwaffe, but they made daggers for many of Wehrmacht branches and Third Reich organizations and sold them to the members. There are some differences and signature qualities found in daggers made by each manufacturer. Each manufacturer had a specific maker’s mark they placed on the blade’s backside up by the crossguard (where the blade meets the handle section). In order of general rarity, here are all the known manufacturers starting with the most common:

  • WKC
  • Carl Eickhorn
  • Alcoso
  • SMF
  • Paul Weyerberg
  • F W Holler
  • E F Horster
  • Carl J Krebs
  • Tiger
  • E Pack
  • Puma
  • C Gustav Spitzer
  • Rich Abr, Herder
  • H Kopling
  • Robt. Klaas
  • WMW
  • A Wingon Jr
  • P D Luneschloss
  • Arthur Scuttlehofer & Sohn
  • AES
  • Rudolf Buchel
  • Plumacher & Sohn
  • Emil Voos
  • Fridericus
  • J A Henckels
  • Clemen & Jung
  • Peter Dan Krebs
  • Josef Hack
  • Undine ( Mermaid )
  • Paul Seilheimer

Obviously, the issue of these daggers ended with the Unconditional Surrender of Germany to the Allies in May 1945. The Luftwaffe dagger was a status symbol for her officers, and they wore their daggers proudly. The three Wehrmacht branchs also had swords for other ceremonies, such as inspections and the like. However, the dagger was much more common, and the sword was rarely seen outside of ceremonies. The daggers can be purchased from reputable collectors with prices ranging from $300 to the $1,000’s - all depending on condition, rarity, and other factors. Photos can be seen of both models at:   http://www.johnsonreferencebooks.com/catalogue/weapons/daggers/luftwaffe/       The Luftwaffe daggers are increasingly becoming a rare item as time progresses and the value is also constantly appreciating. I currently have a second model with an ivory-colored grip in my collection, and it is the centerpiece of all my World War II militaria.

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