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Totenkopfring der SS / SS-Ehrenring (Death’s Head Ring of the SS / SS Honor Ring)

Literature in Perspective

The Totenkopfring or SS-Ehrenring has received limited coverage in published sources. Hienz Höhne’s Der Ordern unter dem Totenkopf , first published in 1966, shed some light on the ring. Without citing sources, Dutch author Frank van Gelder referenced the ring in Uniforms and Badges of the Third Reich: SA-NSKK-SS published in Holland during the 1970’s. In 1982, German author Dr. Kurt-Gerhard Kleitmann’s article "Der Totenkopfring" appeared in the journal Der Ordenssammler . German author Klaus D. Patzwall wrote two articles about the Totentopfring in 1982-83 before the publication of his book Der SS-Totenkopfring, Seine illustrierte Geschichte 1933-1945 in 1988. Patzwall’s work resulted in the first book about the subject. British collector Robin Lumsden featured a section about the ring in The Black Corps published in 1992. SS Totenkopfring H. Himmler Honor Ring 1933-1945 was first published circa 1993 and subsequently reprinted by American collector/dealer Donald Boyle. Unfortunately, the book lacks a bibliography to verify numerous pronouncements made by the author. No sources are given to substantiate his criteria for authentic rings, ring boxes and presentation documents. What sources were used to document the number of men awarded the ring? Where is the factual evidence to support the claim that the Gahr jewelry firm was the "sole producer and maker" of the ring? Additional research is required to determine if Wiligut was the "sole designer" of the ring as declared by Boyle. Michael H. Kater’s Das "Ahnenerbe" der SS, 1933-1945 was published in 1997. He cites a 1964 interview when Erwin Metzner informed him that Karl-Maria Wiligut (pseudonym Weisthor) was the " Runenmuster " of the Totenkopfring . In other words, Wiligut selected the Runes appearing on the ring. Metzner knew Wiligut. Erwin Metzner was an SS-Standartenführer in the Rasse-und Seidlungshauptamt (SS Central Office for Race and Settlement) when he served on the first Board of Das Ahnenerbe after it was founded in 1935. Presently, Patzwall and Boyle are the only authors to write books specifically about the Totenkopfring . More research would be appreciated by militaria collectors and historians.

Identification of Recipients

To the collector attempting to identify the recipient of a specific Totenkopfring , the inscription provides a date and the last name of the recipient without first name or rank. So how is it possible to identify the recipient? One approach is examination of the SS Dienstalterslisten .