On my last blog I featured two books: one on the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and the second, a book on Adolf Hitler. They were known as ‘cigarette’ books because they were sold by a cigarette company in an effort to sell more of their product. The books consisted of pages with text interspersed with spaces left blank for future insertions of photographs. These photos could be purchased with premiums found in packages of cigarettes.
This blog deals with two items: A RAD long service award and a RAD officers brocade belt.
The RAD, or National Labour Service, was the Third Reich’s labour division. RAD members were expected to provide service for mainly military and to a lesser extent civic and agricultural construction projects. This changed as the war progressed and more and more men were tasked with laying minefields, manning fortifications, and even helping guard vital locations and prisoners.
According to one website, each RAD member was given a spade (note the spade in the above award) and a bicycle. (I’m rather curious about the latter.) Women were in the service as well but their awards / logos do not show the spade.
There were different levels of long service awards – albeit these awards were given for a mere four years of service. This one would have been at the lower level because of its material. The highest awards were made of silver or silver-coloured metal and there would have been an additional insignia woven into the ribbon. This ribbon is plain. Value for such an item is in the neighbourhood of $150 – $200.
When I did research on the various items for appraisal purposes, it became pretty clear that any person who came in contact with Nazi personnel could know exactly how high up that person was in the Third Reich’s hierarchy. Every ribbon, belt buckle, or shoulder stripe etc. gave information about that person’s power and prestige.
My client’s grandfather was an engineer – officer with RAD. According to him, his ancestor’s main task was around building bridges. This type of belt is an officer’s belt and it is in excellent condition. There are different types of belt buckles with this insignia – some are square with this circular element in the center; other’s, like this one, show only the circular RAD symbol with spade and swastika encircled by sheaves of wheat (note the spade). Even the numbers of stripes and their placement on the belt had significance. The value of such an item, if in good condition, is between $250 and $300, sometimes more.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, although such items are associated with terrible worldwide events, they are nevertheless, also part of some person’s ancestry, and I was privileged to be invited to see them.