Original WWII German 1st Model Railway Service Dagger by Robert Klaas with Hanger and Portepee
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very rare Railway Protection Service Enlisted Man's Dagger, produced by the Solingen-based firm Robert Klaas. The design of this dagger is essentially the same as the Heer (Army) model dagger, but with a black celluloid grip. The pommel of this dagger is in excellent condition showing a little wear but nothing bad. The silvering has a nice aged patina throughout, and the standing oak leaves and acorns are crisply detailed and have wonderful backgrounds.
The silver plated crossguard is in similar condition, with a nice clean finish, with oxidized accents. The details throughout the characteristic eagle are exceptional throughout the head, breast and wing feathering, talons and wreathed mobile swas. The grip ferrule is also silver-plated, and is in very nice condition, though it is worn from the portepee.
The grip is black celluloid, most likely over a wood base, and is slightly loose. This grip is in very good condition throughout, with just a bit of wear. There is however a hairline crack about an inch and a half long on the reverse. The celluloid shrinks over the years, and often cracks, however it has not spread or flaked. Wrapped around the grip and cross guard is an original aluminum bullion thread portepee (sword knot), tied in the Heer fashion, which the Railway Service used as well, as their members were usually drawn from the Army. It is in good condition as shown, with fraying in the contact point areas.
The scabbard is a fine example, and is plated steel. This straight scabbard has very crisp, finely pebble grained panels. The carrying bands have an excellent pattern of overlapping oak leaves and acorns, which are nicely enhanced, but also show some wear. The throat is the thinner style with one securing screw on the side. The finish was originally silver plate, but almost all of it has worn or flaked away. This has left behind a lovely worn patina on the body.
Attached to the scabbard is a very good condition belt hanger, with functional pebbled spring clips with a great patina. The buckles and keepers are engraved with the same oak and acorn motif seen throughout the dagger. The hanger straps show light wear, with a bit of fading on the bullion side, however the velvet on the reverse is almost completely intact.
The very nice blade is mostly bright throughout, showing almost all of the original cross grain in the light. The needle-like tip is still intact, with no bending. The edge is still nice, with no chips or sharpening. There are some spots of oxidation, but they are only stains, with no real pitting. The rear is marked with ROBT KLAAS / SOLINGEN, underneath their trademark "Kissing Storks" logo between two plus marks. The original leather blade buffer is in place within the deep recesses of the guard.
A very nice example of a rare WII German dagger, complete with hanger and portepee. Ready to display!
The German Railway (Deutsche Reichsbahn) by the 1930's had become a very modern transportation system, serving the needs of the country, as well as a acting as throughway for other parts of Europe. It was nationalized by AH in 1937. A special protective section known as the Bahnschütz was established using Railway employees. The organization was charged with protecting the Railway system against sabotage, espionage and larceny. The first dagger allegedly worn by this organization was an Army configuration, equipped with black grip. Whether it was actually a Railway dagger is still speculation. Original examples were usually marked with the Robt. Klaas "Kissing Cranes" logo.
Deutsche Reichsbahn (1937 to 1945)
With the Act for the New Regulation of the Conditions of the Reichsbank and the Deutsche Reichsbahn (Gesetz zur Neuregelung der Verhältnisse der Reichsbank und der Deutschen Reichsbahn) of 10 February 1937 the Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft was placed under Reich sovereignty and was given the name Deutsche Reichsbahn.
World War II and military use
The Reichsbahn had an important logistic role in supporting the rapid movement of the troops of the Wehrmacht, for example:
In all the occupied lands the Reichsbahn endeavored to incorporate the captured railways (rolling stock and infrastructure) into their system. Even towards the end of the war the Reichsbahn continued to move military formations. For example, in the last great offensive, the Battle of the Bulge (from 16 December 1944), tank formations were transported from Hungary to the Ardennes.
The railways managed by the "Eastern Railway Division" (Generaldirektion der Ostbahn) were initially run from that part of the Polish State Railways within the so-called General Government gelegene Teil der Polnischen Staatsbahnen (PKP), but from November 1939 by the Ostbahn (Generalgouvernement).
In the campaigns against Poland, Denmark, France, Yugoslavia, Greece etc. the newly acquired standard gauge networks could be used without difficulty. By contrast, after the start of the invasion of Russia on 22 June 1941, the problem arose of transferring troops and materiel to Soviet broad gauge lines or converting them to German standard gauge. Confounding German plans, the Red Army and Soviet railways managed to withdraw or destroy the majority of its rolling stock during its retreat. As a result, German standard gauge rolling stock had to be used for an additional logistic role within Russia; this required the laying of standard gauge track. The price was high: Reichsbahn railway staff and the railway troops of the Wehrmacht had to convert a total of 16,148 kilometres of Soviet trackage to German standard gauge track between 22 June and 8 October 1941.
During the war, locomotives in the war zones were sometimes given camouflage livery. In addition, locomotives were painted with the Hoheitsadler symbol (the eagle, Germany's traditional symbol of national sovereignty) holding a swas. On goods wagons the name "Deutsche Reichsbahn" was replaced by the letters "DR". Postal coaches continued to bear the name "Deutsche Reichspost".
The logistics of the Reichsbahn were crucial to the conduct of Germany's military offensives. The preparations for the invasion of Russia saw the greatest troop deployment by rail in history.
Characteristic of the first six and a half years of this period was the exponential growth of the Deutsche Reichsbahn, which was almost exclusively due to the takeover of other national railways. This affected both parts of foreign state railways (in Austria the entire state railway) in the countries annexed by the Deutsche Reich, as well as private railways in Germany and in other countries:
The logistics of the Reichsbahn were also an important factor during the Shoah. Jews were transported like cattle to the contingent and extermination camps by the Deutsche Reichsbahn in trains of covered goods wagons, so-called Shoah trains. These movements using cattle wagons, for example, from the goods station of the great Frankfurt Market Hall thus played a significant role in the genocide within the extermination machinery of the Shoah.
Breakup of the Reichsbahn
With the end of the Second World War in 1945 those parts of the Deutsche Reichsbahn that were outside the new German borders laid down in the Potsdam Agreement were transferred to the ownership and administration of the states in whose territory they were situated. For example, on 27 April 1945, the Austrian railways became independent again as the Austrian State Railway (Österreichische Staatseisenbahn or ÖStB), later renamed as the Austrian Federal Railways (Österreichische Bundesbahnen or ÖBB) on 5 August 1947.
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