AI4FR Virtual Militaria Items Tour 

German Items

 

I do not know the proper name for this pocket knife so I have called it the Deutschland Erwacht knife. For that matter, as of this writing I do not know  if it was produced during the 1930's or Third Reich era, or if it is a post war product. With that out of the way, I will continue on with what my research has discovered about this pocket knife.

The knife shown here is of exceptional quality. It in no way gives the impression of a cheap imitation. The blades are tight and they both open and  shut with a very solid feel. A pronounced "clunk" is heard and felt upon opening and closing of the blades. The blades are not made from stamped stainless steel, nor have they had an electroplated coating applied to them, but rather they have been ground by hand into shape and later buffed and polished.

I do know that a number of these particular pocket knives have been produced well after the ending of WWII. I have seen them called by numerous names such as, KKK knives, fantasy items, Hitler knives, and so on. Some of the fake or post WWII examples are found with writing on the large blade to include, "ALLES FUR DEUTSCHLAND"(All for Germany), "Deutschland Erwacht"(Germany Awake), and "Drittes Reich"(Third Reich).

Many of these post WWII pocket knives are found with a similar yet different design on the sides. Some have also been stamped with the country of origin, or were manufactured recently in countries such as Japan, Taiwan and China. Some of the examples that originated in Japan have the word "Japan" printed on the blade but it is easily rubbed off. Some were either produced in England, or sent there during the 1960's and 70's, after being made in Germany to have the NAZI designs added. I have read other reports that state that these knives were indeed made in Solingen Germany and were later imported into the US and then re-fitted with new scales(side plates) carrying the many different Nazi type of designs. Other reports state that a Mr. James Parker from Chattanooga, TN had a great number of these knives manufactured in Japan. Still others are said to have been made by Mr. Rhett Stidham and the Olbertz company in Solingen, Germany in the late 1960s.

The originals were manufactured by the J.A. Henckels company in Solingen, Germany. It is thought that they were never authorized by Hitler or by the NSDAP(Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) or National Socialist German Workers Party. It is believed by some that the original version of these knives were sold in the early 1930's to raise funds for the NSDAP. According to the 1976 book "Reproduction Recognition" by Frederick J. Stephens, it is suggested that the production of these pocket knives ceased around 1933. Then during the middle 1960s after the dies were set back up, a great many of these knives were manufactured.

Every one of the fake or post WWII versions of this pocket knife that I have studied show the blades opening from the opposite side compared to the example on this page. Or stated another way, with Adolf Hitler facing the operator, the blades open towards the right. On the fake or post WWII era examples, the blades open toward the left. Another distinct difference is in the location of the three rivets that hold the pocket knife together. On the example shown here, the middle rivet is in the right leg of Adolf Hitler, while the known post WWII examples have the middle rivet in his left leg. Again with Adolf Hitler facing the operator, both the top and bottom rivets on the example shown here are located slightly off center and towards the right side. On the known post WWII specimens, these rivets are found off center and towards the left side. The designs on each side of the example shown on this page are much more detailed then seen on the post WWII examples, and the text font is different as well. One thing that I did find quite interesting is that the side of the knife showing Adolf Hitler is slightly thicker under his feet in an attempt to display him standing upon the ground(see picture below). Many of the known post WWII examples do not have this feature. Lastly, underneath the manufacturers mark on the large blade is the word "Stainless" which is missing from the post WWII examples.

I was given this knife by my uncle who was in the Korean war. I always try my best to preserve the history of the items in the collection so I inquired as to where he picked up this pocket knife. He told me that he received it from his wife, now deceased and missed dearly, whom was a German American. Back in the 1970's, he took this knife and several other non WWII era pocket knives to a knife collector. Basically he stated that he was just cleaning out the junk drawer. The knife collector had no interest and only offered a few dollars for the lot. My uncle declined the offer and returned the knives to the junk drawer.

The above story could mean one of two things and brings us no closer to the authenticity of this pocket knife being from the Nazi era. On one hand, German WWII items were a dime a dozen back in the 1970's, there was simply no market for Nazi items back then as we are experiencing today. I have seen 1970's dated ads for Nazi helmets and bayonets ranging from a few dollars to ten dollars each. Today, these same items can easily fetch hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Now on the other hand, the knife collector could have spotted the pocket knife shown on this page as a fake or post Nazi era knife holding little if any value. Some knife experts such as Bernard Levine have written in the past that these type of knives were never produced during the Third Reich era, and that they were most likely produced for gullible collectors. Later he was forced to reverse that proclamation, when some examples that he studied was deemed by him to be genuine.

While this knife is different in many ways and appears to be made of superior quality, in the end though, I am still left questioning whether it was manufactured in the 1930's or during the Nazi era. The word "Germany" which is stamped on the blade of this item can be considered some what unusual unless the item was meant for export such as can be found with the German produced firearms that were sold on the commercial market. Many of these firearms have the word Germany stamped upon them.    

The photograph on the left displays the side plate(scale) of the pocket knife showing Adolf Hitler. As mentioned in the text above, with Adolf Hitler facing the operator, the blades open towards the right. Also notice the middle rivet that is in the right leg of Hitler. Most of the examples of this style of knife have the rivet in his left leg. Both the top and bottom rivets are slightly off center and are more towards the side in which the blades exits from.

The photograph on the right is of the side plate(scale) of the pocket knife showing the Nazi eagle, swastika, oak leaf clusters, and the words "Deutschland Erwacht"(Germany Awake).  

The photograph on the left is of the front and back of the pocket knife. The top picture is of the front while the bottom photograph is of the back. As mentioned in the text above, the red arrow is pointing to a slight thickening of the scale. The knife scale is slightly thicker in this area in order to make it appear that Adolf Hitler is standing on the ground. Talk about attention to detail, wow!

The picture on the right is of the stamp that is found at the bottom of the large blade. This marking reads as follows "SOLINGEN GERMANY STAINLESS". This marks tells us at least three things. It identifies the city that the knife was made in as Solingen, the country as Germany, and that the blades are manufactured from stainless steel. Digging into the use of stainless steel in knife blades yielded not much of a clue as to when this pocket knife was manufactured. Stainless steel was developed between 1903 and 1912. It was used in knives as early as 1921 when the Swiss company Victoria(now known as Victorinox) started using it to make the famous Swiss Army Knife. By the way, the letters "inox" in the suffix of the name is short for the French term "acier inoxydable"(stainless steel). Stainless steel was probably used in knives much early then the example above illustrates. I simply chose the example due to the enormous familiarity that folks around the world have with the famous Swiss army knife.

  

A little about the "City of Blades".

Solingen is a city in Germany that is located on the northern edge of the region called Bergisches Land, which is south of the Ruhr area, or more generally, it is located in the North Rhine Westphalia area of Germany. The city was founded in 1374 and is often called the "City of Blades". It has long been renowned for the manufacturing of swords, knives, bayonets, scissors, and razors. Solingen remains even today as the knife capital of Germany with some 90% of the German knives being produced there. 

Dating back hundreds of years, the quality of Solingen manufactured weaponry was prized in Northern Europe. Swords from Solingen have even turned up in places such as the Anglo Saxon kingdoms in the British Isles. Blade weapons from Solingen were traded all across the European continent. Several of the knife manufacturers that exist in Solingen today have been around for more than a hundred years. Albeit some have changed hands many times.

Solingen was a tiny village for centuries, but became a fortified town in the 15th century. In the second half of the 17th century, a group of swordsmiths from the city broke their guild oaths by taking their sword making secrets with them to England. During WWII the Town was completely destroyed by an air raid in 1944 in which over one thousand people died.  

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