August 1935 helmets worn by members of the Armed-SS (Waffen-SS) and
General-SS (Allgemeine-SS) were given insignia applied in the form of
decal transfers. Prior to this time many Schutzstaffel (SS)
helmets had insignia that was hand painted or applied using fine
stencils. In fact, the very first helmets issued to SS troops had
no insignia whatsoever.
SS helmet insignia is categorized into groups with common terminology
derived by helmet collectors. The first SS runic shield to be
produced was one with a pointed bottom and sharply defined "lighting
bolts." Collectors often refer to this decal as the "first pattern
runic shield" simply because it was the first insignia issued in this
format. A second variation of this decal was also produced with a
more rounded bottom, wider black border, and thicker "lightning bolts."
This decal has come to be known as the "second pattern runic shield."
Although given these terms, it is important to note that both runic
insignia were produced in the mid-1930's. Collectors often make
the assumption that the "second pattern" runic decal was produced much
later and possibly after 1939. Terminology of this kind was not
used by the German's who produced or wore the decals on their helmets.
To those men, the insignia was simply the symbol of the SS.
printed, the runic insignia was accompanied by a matching insignia that
was used to represent the National
Socialist Party. This decal took on the same shape and
dimensions as the runic insignia. While intended to be issued and
used in sets, it was common for helmets to receive a mixed pair of
insignia. For example, a given helmet might receive a "first
pattern runic shield" and a "second pattern"
National Socialist Party
decal. Once again, the emphasis was placed simply on the
utilitarian nature of the standard combat helmet. As long as the
helmet conformed to basic regulations it was considered acceptable for
different makers were directly involved in the production of SS helmet
decals. These were typically the same firms that printed insignia
for the German Army (Heer), Navy (Kriegsmarine), and Air Force
(Luftwaffe). As a result, a number of variations in runic shield
and National Socialist Party decal can be found. Some variations
were also produced by Austrian firms as well. One such insignia is
the very notable "mirror runic" shield in which the "lightning bolts"
appear backwards. The exact reason behind the nature of this odd
variation is still unknown.
very important to note that SS helmet insignia has been reproduced over
the years at a volume greater than any other counterfeit military
insignia. The quality of reproductions varies from the very poor
to the near perfect. The best defense against purchasing a
reproduction SS helmet is to become familiar with original decals and
following decals shown below are all originals photographed from
certifiably authenticated SS helmets. While other variations of
these insignia exist, the images below provide a starting place for
collectors and historians to become familiar with the type of insignia
that was used on these steel helmets. The more a collector becomes
familiar with the look of original decals the more likely they will be
able to spot a reproduction.