A guide to collecting Waffen-SS belt buckles

As with most valuable collectables; many forgeries exist trying to fool collectors. In this article I will try to explain various manufacturers, types, materials, markings and finishes as well as to recognize reproductions. A strong note at first; a lot of these buckles have been named or maker identified by a specific collector who posted a ultimate list of known buckles on the Wehrmacht Awards Forum. A lot of work has gone into this so I believe that not citing him would be wrong as he committed being a asset to the collecting world. I do not have every variant SS buckle photographed as in that topic; but the least I can do is to list the variants that I did have the chance to photograph. I warmly suggest those wanting further information in the subject to read the topic from front to end!

The SS belt buckle’s design featured a SS eagle, sitting on top of a Swastika surrounded by the SS’s motto Meine Ehre Heisst Treue which translates to my honor is loyalty. The design is embossed with a smooth background, unlike the Heer or Luftwaffe belt buckles. The design is sharp with distinctive features making it possible to identify certain makers.

In general there are four sort of materials used in the production for Waffen-SS belt buckles issued to the enlisted men and non commissioned officers. Between 1931 and 1936 SS buckles were made out of a nickel silver, known in Germany as Alpaka. Between 1936 and 1940 the SS buckles were made out of aluminum and finished with a thin silver paint. In 1940 the SS buckles started being made from steel, finished with a zinc coating and/or paint right until the end of the war. At the end of the war a fourth type can be seen which is made completely out of zinc.

Below we will list all buckles that found their way in front of our camera and we will categorize them in three groups; Nickel, Aluminum and Steel, then per maker the variants. At the start of each manufacturer we will talk about several distinctive details for the manufacturer which can help later on in identificating SS belt buckles.

The Nickel SS belt buckles;

The first SS buckles were made out of a nickel silver which is known in German as Alpaka or Neusilber and came in many variants. Out of all the belt buckle types this is by far the type with the most variants and manufacturers which some are still unknown today. They where produced between 1931 and 1936. Overhoff was the largest and first manufacturer to get the contract to design and produce these buckles in 1931. The buckles retained their shiny nickel finish which neatly fitted with the black uniforms of the SS. These buckles, often polished by the troops, however stood out in the field. In general we can divide the Nickel SS buckles in three main groups; Pre RZM, RZM and unmarked buckles.

Neusilber SS Belt buckles produced by Overhoff & Cie

These buckles by Overhoff


We start these buckles with one of the most common buckles to find marked with the full

Pre RZM Neusilber SS buckle marked Overhoff & Cie, Lüdenscheid GES GESCH

This buckle is another typical buckle made by Overhoff. It is often referred to as the ‘full script’. The markings show the full manufacturers information; OVERHOFF & CIE. LÜDENSCHEID GES. GESCH. A lot of collectors believe this is the first marked example by Overhoff. Although hard proof does not exist; we place this buckle at the top of the list.




Pre RZM Neusilber SS Buckle marked O&C ges. gesch,

O&C ges. gesch. The buckle has some distinctive features that can identify it as a typical buckle made by Overhoff. This includes the overall dimensions but most of all the bold convex or round shape of the buckle which is typical for buckles by Overhoff. Why start with Overhoff? They were the first to design and produced these buckles in 1931 and most probably the least rare SS-Belt buckle to encounter.

The markings in the buckles by Overhoff are diverse. We can find the well known O&C ges. gesch. in many font and spelling such as; O&C ges. ge sch., O&C Ges. gesch. and many more.

Pre RZM Neusilber SS Buckle marked O&C ges. gesch. with ground markings

Following the installation of the official Reichzeugmeisterei or RZM, all manufacturers could only sell their wares being void of any markings that could identify its maker and should only be marked with the individual RZM code identifying it. Following this; the production on and around the installment Overhoff simply ground out the identifying markings. These ground markings can be observed with the O&C ges. gesch and the full motto marked buckles. This also indicates that both of these buckles were produced in the transitional period to the RZM system in 1935.


Neusilber SS buckle marked GZD 7

Interesting Nickel buckle marked GZD 7. The marking GDZ most probably means Gau-Zeugmeisterei Danzig. This same design buckle can be observed with the marking on another place on the left bottom on the back of the buckle reading GZM M1/131 which is in term, a RZM code and means Gauzeugmeisterei.


RZM Neusilber SS buckle marked RZM 24

This buckle is arguably the first of the RZM era buckles made by Overhoff. The RZM markings can be deciphered as following; 24 for the manufacturer. From 1935 onwards, Overhoff will use RZM markings on their buckles.

RZM Neusilber SS buckle marked RZM SS 35/36

This buckle is arguably the second of the RZM era buckles made by Overhoff in 1935. The RZM markings can be deciphered as following; 35 for the year and 36 for the manufacturer. From this year on, Overhoff will use this 36 marking on buckles. This variant also exists as a 36/36 marking yet I’ve not had the chance to add it to this reference yet.

RZM Neusilber SS buckle marked 57 RZM indicating production by M. Winter

These buckles are less common to encounter. It’s marking 57 most probably indicates production by M. Winter.

RZM Neusilber SS-Buckle marked SS 63 RZM

These buckles wear the markings of Steinhauer & Luck but they are actually made by M. Winter. These buckles were previously marked 57 RZM, professionally ground and re marked SS 63 RZM. This was done because M. Winter lost his RZM contract and thus had to sell his inventory. This inventory was bought up by Steinhauer & Lück, reworked, marked and sold under the RZM. The buckles are easily compared to the 57 marked examples and when looking closely one can observe its former markings. Less common buckle!

Unmarked Neusilber SS-Buckle by R. Fischer, Nixdorf

Rare pre war belt buckle with the typical design that is associated with R. Fischer, Nixdorf. The lower talons lack the individual feathers in combination with the sharp eye indicate this. The buckle is denazified by ways of hammering out the swastika. It is however still in presentable condition and for sure rare enough to fit in any buckle collection in this condition.

Unmarked Neusilber SS-Buckle by Friedrich keller

Rare pre war belt buckle by Friedrich Keller. The buckle is in worn condition with typical catch as can be observed by early HJ and DJ buckles by Friedrich Keller. The buckle is a rare variant, a first for me.

Unmarked Neusilber SS-Buckle by Giesse & Schmidt

Rare original pre war belt buckle by Giesse & Schmidt. The buckle is in good worn condition with original prongs, assembly and catch. The buckle is of a very rare but typically designed maker that is attributed to Giesse & Schmidt, which is one of the rarest buckles to encounter.

Unmarked Neusilber SS-Buckle named ‘Cracked Wing’

A rare buckle to find in great condition! The cracked wing can be identified trough the crack in the upper left wing and head of the eagle. These buckles are unmarked and it is unclear who made these exactly but it is generally known as the cracked wing variant. I have seen the variant of this buckle without the crack.

Unmarked Neusilber SS-Buckle named ‘Fat Eagle’

This example is referred to as the “Fat Eagle” variant which is unmarked but believed to be produced by Overhoff & Cie, Lüdenscheid.


Unmarked RZM Neusilber SS-Buckle named ‘Hammerhead’

One of the earliest and surely most sought after variants of the Waffen-SS belt buckles. There are two variants which is mainly in the catch of the buckle being a legged or C-shaped variant.


Unmarked Neusilber SS-Buckle named ‘Short wings’

This buckle is a unique example with only one known. The buckle is a ground dug example found in Poland and shows a large crack in the lower portion of the buckle.

It is posted on WAF here. The buckle has the prongs and sleeve replaced because there were none when it was found.


The Aluminum SS belt buckles

The aluminum SS belt buckles were made between 1936 and 1940. They were finished with a dull silver paint which is often hard to observe on the aluminum finish which is roughly the same colour. There are three known producers for these buckles; Assmann & Sohne, Richard Sieper & Sohne and Overhoff.

Aluminum SS belt buckle marked RZM 36/38 SS

Aluminum SS belt buckle marked RZM 36/39 SS

Aluminum SS belt buckle marked RZM 36/40 SS

Aluminum SS belt buckle by Assmann & Sohne

Assmann & Sohne produced aluminum belt buckles, along with Overhoff until 1940 whilst Sieper already halted production in 1939. Like its

Waffen-SS belt buckle marked RZM 155/39 SS – ‘Round 9’

In general; there are two different markings to be found on the 1939 production of Assmann. The buckles are generally the same but differ in details. To keep things clear; I’ve named them ‘Round 9’ and ‘Straight 9’ indicating the shape of the 9. Another difference can be seen in the back; just above the catch there is a series of vertical lines not to be observed with the ‘Straight 9’ variant.

Waffen-SS belt buckle marked RZM 155/39 SS – ‘Straight 9’

The second pattern 1939 dated buckle with a ‘Straight 9’.

Waffen-SS belt buckle marked RZM 155/40 SS

This 1940 dated variant features the design of the ‘Straight 9’ buckle without the vertical lines in the back of the wings. The markings on these buckles are always very blurry and it is hard to identify different marking variants.

Aluminum SS belt buckle marked RZM 822/37 SS, type 1

The first buckle produced by Sieper Sohne

Difference between the first and second type

Aluminum SS belt buckle marked RZM 822/37 SS, type 2

Aluminum SS belt buckle marked RZM 822/38 SS, type 1; small numbers

Aluminum SS belt buckle marked RZM 822/38 SS, type 2; big numbers

Aluminum SS belt buckle marked RZM 822/38 SS, type 3; round three

Sieper seemed to halt production in 1938 until 1942 when they introduced the injection moulded zinc example marked 822/42 which has a flat back. There is also another SS buckle by Sieper which is unmarked and like the zinc example injection moulded. This buckle was made from a aluminum alloy and is unmarked; hence we can’t categorize or date it exactly. It is exactly made like the regular 822 buckle and does not feature design changes on the front. The back however is very different.

The Steel SS belt buckles

The steel SS belt buckles were introduced in 1940. These were often finished with a zinc coating prior to their factory spray painted finish in grey, silver, green or blue. There are also buckles known only coated with the zinc coating without paint on the front or back. Allthough full zinc coated, non painted examples exist; most in collections are plain buckles with missing paint. One can take a good look at a buckle and observe the that the silver paint might have gone by checking in the details and crevasses of the front and back. There will always be remaining paint flakes on painted buckles.

There are four known producers for the steel Waffen-SS Belt buckles; Assmann & Sohne, Josef Feix & Söhne, Overhoff and C.Robert Dold. The ones made by Overhoff are the most common, followed by Assmann, Robert Dold and Josef Feix.

Steel Waffen-SS belt buckles manufactured by Overhoff & Cie

The steel SS buckles manufactured by Overhoff can be found marked or unmarked. The unmarked examples are far more common then the marked counterparts. We can observe several markings on original buckles such as RZM 36/42 SS, RZM 36/43 SS, RZM 36/44 SS, GES.GESCH and OLC in Diamond. There are little design variants except the different catches used. The buckle is zinc coated prior to its grey or silver finish.

Steel Waffen-SS belt buckle marked RZM 36/42 SS

Steel Waffen-SS belt buckle ‘Unmarked Overhoff’

This is probably the easiest buckle to find. It was probably produced between 1944 and 1945 after dropping the markings completely. The last known marked Overhoff buckle is marked 36/44 so these buckles must come after that.

Several variant catches we can observe on these buckles. For sure there could be more but this is what I have seen and photographed so far.

Steel Waffen-SS belt buckles marked RZM 155/40 and RZM 155/43

The buckles marked RZM 155 indicating procuction by Assmann & Sohne were very typical in their design. Notable are the striking details in the eagle and it’s broad chest. Not to be confused with the ‘fat eagle’; this buckle is very distinctive. It’s construction is also different to most SS buckles being a very flat design which is the first thing you will see. Secondly; the buckle has a set of distinct, bent prongs. There are no major design variants; the variations lie in markings and paint finish.


Waffen-SS Belt buckle marked RZM 155/40 SS, marked near catch nickel plated prongs


In my opinion one of the first steel belt buckles by Assmann. The buckle is very sharply detailed and has a pair of nickel plated prongs. This buckle was made in the transitional period with the first steel buckles. The nickel prongs and sleeve are a typical Assmann product with the typical bend. Another distinctive feature of this buckle maker is the shape of the body which is clearly more elongated then other SS buckles. The buckles by Assmann were coated in zinc prior to painting.

Waffen-SS Belt buckle marked RZM 155/40 SS, marked near catch

Another 1940 dated buckle, but with painted steel prongs.

Waffen-SS Belt buckle marked RZM 155/40 SS, marked under prongs

At some point in 1940, the place of the markings moved from the catch to the prongs. Assmann would retain this marking position for the rest of the war.

Waffen-SS Belt buckle marked RZM 155/43 SS, marked under prongs

For the Assmann buckles produced in 1943 we can see one main production difference which is the catch. The ‘earlier’ 1943 buckles were produced with the catches which we can observe in the 1940 dated examples. The later buckles were manufactured with the later catch which has more flat ends. As with the 1940 dated buckles they were coated in zinc prior to painting. This coating can sometimes be completely gone revealing its full zinc coated finish. There are also buckles which seem to have never received a paint finish to the front, back or both sides. The painted finishes vary from a dull to a shiney grey, silver or green.

Steel Waffen-SS belt buckle marked RODO

A typical and well known buckle was made by Robert Dold, Offenberg. There are two varying factors in the design of the buckle. There is a small difference to be noted by the rope behind the head of the eagle. At the late war blue variant the rope is added. Although these buckles are reproduced to a certain degree; the broad shape of the chest of the eagle and the short and stumpy prongs are a dead give away of a good RODO buckle. The bent catch on the RODO buckles is also a typical feature. I have read that examples in black and with a clear coat have been found. I have not found any examples in black paint. I have seen some bare type two buckles with no remnants of paint whatsoever. This is not per se finished as is; I regard these as either unfinished or simply a complete loss of paint. Having observed several type 2 buckles it is clear that the blue paint was not adhering well to these buckles; it’s common to find them with no paint at all, with little to no wear. A example can be seen here without any traces of wear but no remnants of paint either.

Green steel Waffen-SS belt buckle marked Rodo type 1

Blue Steel Waffen-SS belt buckle marked RODO type 2

The blue RODO buckle was the only SS variant to follow the general switch to blue painted finish around 1943 when the Einheitskoppelschloss was introduced for the whole Wehrmacht.

Steel Waffen-SS Belt buckle made by Josef Feix


Zinc injection moulded SS belt buckle marked RZM 822/42 SS

Later in the war, the company of Richard Sieper made SS belt buckles out of zinc, coated with a dull silver paint. There are no other producers who made the EM/NCO buckles in zinc. Due to the nature of the base material, sometimes, these buckles can be highly corroded and or take a greenish hue.

Detecting reproductions

Waffen-SS equipment belts

Starting from 1931, the SS was a political organisation that was not run by the army. Hence they had no access to the supply chain ran by the army. Hence the Waffen-SS relied solely on privately purchased equipment for their soldiers. They had their own supply line which produced specific equipment for the Waffen-SS. Right up until around 1940, they solely used RZM issued pieces. This creates a nice new research angle in the form of the Waffen-SS RZM issue leather equipment belt. These belts all work with regular army buckles and are made loosely modeled after the Heer counterparts. These belts were made until around 1940 when the Waffen-SS started getting army issue generic equipment gradually. With generic equipment I mean combat belts, pioneer equipment, breadbags, y-straps, boots, shirts and weapons. The belts were mostly marked RZM as the SA, Hitlerjugend and NSDAP counterparts. The stitching on these belts is mostly black. The belt hook is either in Nickel or Aluminum.

Next to RZM markings they are also sometimes marked with Croupon or Kernstuck which indicates the section of leather used; the centre of the cow hide is the highest quality and is called the Croupon or Kernstuck. Unlike popular belief they are not manufacturers but a indicator of quality.

I have had quite a few of these through the years and I will list some of the more interesting examples below.

Not really important regarding the scope, but some of the SS-T´s problems with equipment were that they were a party organisation.
The german state/government does not usually see it as their task to supply military equipment to private or party organisations.
So, they, as any other party organisation anywhere, struggled to get funded. It only helped when the nazi´s got control of the Munich police, ( I believe that was their first major police “acquisition”) later to be followed by the national police.
The police had funds, but then again, not plenty of funds. That came later.
The SS-T needed to tap in anywhere they could. Once they got jobs at the first camps and other public funded positions, they got on their way.
The state of their equipment, and what was available to them, reflected this.
They never really got sufficient funding. That is why the SS built up their own commercial empire, with factories etc. Stealing some, developing other, and so on.
Iif they had won the war, it was bound to become even more corrupt than it was. Even before the war, they allready had cases of theft and corruption.

Waffen-SS equipment belt SS Totenkopf standarte III ‘Thüringen’

Unique, untouched belt set for a EM/NCO serving in the 10. Rotte of the III SS-Totenkopf Standarte Thüringen. The belt is a typical SS issued belt marked SS RZM near the belt hook. The belt is unit marked 10./ 3 SS indicating the 10. Rotte in the 3. SS-Totenkopf-Standarte 3, Thüringen. This unit took part in the occupation of Sudetenland in 1938 and was later used for Police duties during the invasion of Poland behind the lines of the 10th. Armee between upper Silesia and the Vistula river. These duties consisted of hunting down remaining Polish soldiers and terrorizing and murdering civilians. Most of these men were later drafted for the Totenkopf Division. The buckle is a typical RZM 822/37 type 2 aluminum belt buckle which has always been with the belt.

SS equipment belt marked SS 1325/43 RZM

Unissued black Waffen-SS equipment belt marked SS 1325/43 RZM. Textbook example executed in black leather with black stitching and remnants of the paper RZM label under the tongue. Going by the date of 1943, and the remnants of a black paper RZM label I presume this belt was made for the Allgemeine SS.


Waffen-SS issue equipment belt marked Croupon ᛋᛋ 48/68 RZM

Hard to find pre war Waffen-SS equipment belt marked croupon ᛋᛋ 48/68 RZM. The belt is in good supple condition and a nice size 90. The belt comes with a nice original aluminum 822/38 marked buckle in equally good condition. One can observe three hollow rivets used to fixate the leather tongue to the belt which is a period repair.

Waffen-SS issue equipment belt marked VA413/38 SS

Rare original Waffen-SS issue equipment belt marked VA 413/38 ᛋᛋ. The belt is dry and should probably be treated but is a great display piece as is. Scarce authentic example !

Interesting 1938 dated example in good condition. Nicely marked VA413/38 SS. It has a aluminum hook marked OLC and black stitching on both sides.


Waffen-SS used equipment belts with steel hooks



https://fjm44.com/articles/presstoff-equipment-belt-rzm-m422-with-rzm-15543-ᛋᛋ-buckle/

Reproductions

Since there are so many reproductions floating in the collectors market I’d think it would be a good idea to at least sort of create a small reference for the novice and advanced collector. They range from very good, to very bad, I would try to show the difficult ones at the top. I have named some reproductions by their respective recognizable features.

Reproductions can be recognized by faults in their design or finish. When I could not get the complete range of marking, design and colour variants it seemed necessary to create another section in this reference which compiles some of many reproductions found. Whilst most reproductions could easily be compared; it takes a trained eye to know what to look for.

Fake Assmann marked 155/43 – round swastika

This buckle has been on the market for quite some time. Although the small font variation might fall within the acceptable range of known buckle variants; this buckle is a reproduction. It can be bought on militaria fairs from vendors who ‘have had it for many years’ and say ‘it looks really really good, should be original’. But in fact; its a reproduction. The easiest giveaway is the round swastika and the angle of the ‘1’ in 155.

Fake Assmann marked 155/43 – At the Front

Another well-made buckle which seems to be readily available from At The Front for the re-enactor market. Allthough it is a reproduction, unlike the above, it is not made to fool. But aged and badly photographed it could however be mis recognized for a real example. It’s recognizable feature compared to the original is the lack of feather details in the upper wings.

Fake Rodo marked Rodo – big bird

A easily recognizable buckle; the roundel is way too big and crosses the box below and the head touches the top border. Another giveaway is the RODO stamped with loose letters and the straight catch which is never seen on a real Rodo buckle.

Fake Ground overhoff – RZM SS OLT/62637

Another easily recognizable buckle. The major fault on this example is the material used and the catch which is wrong for steel. These buckles were originally made in nickel but this buckle is made fully from steel. There is no steel buckles with this type of catch which is only seen on nickel buckles. Another distinguishable feature is the bordered swastika.

The design of the buckle is in my opinion a Tony Oliver product; which are marked RZM OLT and runes in a diamond. When OLT should make you run; the SS Never used runes in a diamond marking their buckles. This buckle was ground down to remove its faulty markings hoping it will escape the collectors eye.