Original German WWII SS Identity Disc Dog Tag - 14th Waffen Grenadier 1st SS Galician Division - No. 159
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is a genuine German WWII SS identity disc (aka; Dog Tag) Erkennungsmarke, used to identify soldiers in the field. These were made of plated steel, aluminum, or zinc, and were designed so that if a soldier died, the bottom half of the tag would be broken off, while the other half remained with their body.
This example is made of stamped zinc and is in very good lightly patinated condition. It is marked as follows on both sides:
Stb. / 14. Gal. SS-Frw Div.
This soldier was a member (No.159) of the The 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician). (German: 14. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (galizische Nr. 1)), Ukrainian: 14а Гренадерська Дивізія СС (1а галицька)), prior to 1944 titled the 14th SS-Volunteer Division "Galicia" (German: 14. SS-Freiwilligen Division "Galizien", Ukrainian: 14а Добровільна Дивізія СС "Галичина") was a World War II German military formation made up predominantly of volunteers with a Ukrainian ethnic background from the area of Galicia, later also with some Slovaks and Czechs. Formed in 1943, it was largely destroyed in the battle of Brody, reformed, and saw action in Slovakia, Yugoslavia and Austria before being renamed the first division of the Ukrainian National Army and surrendering to the Western Allies by 10 May 1945.
The idea to organize a division of volunteers from Galicia was proposed by the German Governor of District Galicia, Dr. Otto von Wächter. He suggested creation of a Waffen-SS division composed of Galician volunteers and designed for regular combat on the Eastern Front. The creation of 14th Voluntary Division SS Galizien was announced in April 1943 at ceremonies throughout Galicia. At least 50 documents including contemporary newspaper clippings, radio broadcasts and speeches etc. record the date of 28 April. By June 1943 the first phase of recruitment had taken place. Initially Wächter's proposal (which he was certain would be supported by Ukrainian circles) was rejected. In Berlin Wächter was able to get support from Heinrich Himmler who made the stipulation that the division would only made up of Galicians, who Himmler considered "more Aryan-like". The terms "Ukrainian", "Ukraine", could not be used when addressing the division, stressing the Imperial Austro-Hungarian heritage of the term "Galizien". David Marples suggests that the division was titled "Galicia" to ensure stricter German control to avoid direct use of inflammatory term "Ukrainian".
Wächter approached the Ukrainian Central Committee, a nonpolitical social welfare organization headed by Volodymyr Kubiyovych which supported the idea of the formation of the division. The Ukrainian Catholic Church demanded the presence of its chaplains in the division, which was usually not permitted by Germans. Thus the Ukrainian division along with the Bosnian one became notable exceptions.
Germans made two political concessions: It was stipulated that the division shall not be used to fight Western Allies, and would be used exclusively to "fight Bolsheviks". The other concession was in that its oath of allegiance to AH was conditional on the fight against Bolshevism and in the fact that Christian (mostly Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and Ukrainian Orthodox) chaplains were integrated into the units and allowed to function (in the Waffen-SS, only the Bosnian division and Sturmbrigade Wallonien had a clerical presence). The latter condition was instituted at the insistence of the division's organizers in order to minimize the risk of NSDAP demoralization amongst the soldiers.
The creation of foreign SS units had been carried out previously in the name of fighting against communism; with French, Dutch, Latvian, Estonian, Croatian, and Belarusian units, among others, had been created. The creation of a Ukrainian SS division was perceived by many in Ukraine as a step towards the attainment of Ukrainian independence and attracted many volunteers.
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