Original German WWII SS Identity Disc Dog Tag - 4th SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division - No. 77
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is a genuine German WWII SS Erkennungsmarke (identity disc or Dog Tag), used to identify soldiers in the field. These were made of steel, sometimes zinc plated, 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.
It is marked as follows on both sides of the central perforation:
4. (N.) ᛋᛋ POL. ART. E. ABT.
This soldier was a member (No.77) of the 4th SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division, and more specifically, part of the Artillerie Ersatz Abteilung (Artillery Replacement Unit). This would be made of of "replacement" soldiers brought into the division to bolster numbers.
Condition is quite good, though it does have oxidation and light pitting on the surface. It is still however fully legible.
More on the 4th SS Division:
The 4th SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division was formed in 1939 as part of the Ordnungspolizei or Orpo (uniformed national police). While all German police organizations were controlled by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler in his capacity as Chief of German Police in the Interior Ministry, they were not at this time considered part of the SS, nor was the Polizei Division on par with the other Waffen-SS divisions. This status was reflected in the quality of the equipment they were issued and their retention of police insignia and rank structure. The division was transferred to the Waffen-SS in 1942 and was upgraded to a Panzergrenadier division. It fought in France, the Soviet Union, Greece (where it orchestrated the Distomo massacre) and Pomerania and surrendered to the Americans in May 1945.
The division was formed in October 1939, when thousands of members of the Ordnungspolizei were drafted and placed together with artillery and signals units transferred from the army. These men were not enrolled in the SS and remained policemen, retaining their Orpo rank structure and insignia. They did not have to meet the racial requirements imposed for the SS. Himmler's purpose in forming the division was twofold: in a period of heated bureaucratic infighting and competition for manpower, it permitted him to get around the recruitment caps the Wehrmacht had succeeded in placing on the SS, it also provided a means for his policemen to satisfy their military obligation and avoid army conscription.
The first commander was Generalleutnant der Polizei (Major-General) Karl Pfeffer-Wildenbruch, a career police commander who had been a general staff officer during World War I; simultaneous with his appointment he was also commissioned as an SS-Gruppenführer. The division was equipped largely with captured Czech materiel and underwent military training in the Black Forest combined with periods on internal security duties in Poland.
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