Wooden Relics of the Reich - Military Trader/Vehicles

Wooden Relics of the Reich

Because of the increase of the Nazi romanticized "Blood and Soil" movement and the decrease of traditional materials, wood was used throughout the Reich as a substitute in some wartime production.
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The natural beauty of trees and the image of the peasant class was prominent in Third Reich ideology. This snapshot of a mother and daughter wearing traditional costume was made in the Alps in 1943.

The natural beauty of trees and the image of the peasant class was prominent in Third Reich ideology. This snapshot of a mother and daughter wearing traditional costume was made in the Alps in 1943.

When Adolf Hitler and the Nationalsozialischte Deutscher Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP — Nazi Party) came to power in 1933, they embraced the concept of Blut und Boden (Blood and Soil) This movement idealized the rural life of German peasants over those of urban city dwellers. Members of the Schutzstaffel (SS — Hitler’s personal guards and the “new age black knights”) along with many other Nazi organizations were incessantly bombarded with dogma idolizing farms and country living. This, in turn, played into Hitler’s goal of Lebensraum, the idea that Germans needed to reclaim their eastern areas for agricultural, racial, and cultural growth.

At the same time that the NSDAP came to power, the Great Depression had all but destroyed much of the German economy. With Hitler’s clandestine (and later, out-in-the-open) rearmament programs gaining speed, many vital materials were needed for wartime production rather than being used for consumer goods.

This chair, once owned by Adolf Hitler, is an excellent example of a wooden peasants’ chair, embellished with an eagle, swastika and the 1933 date of Hitler’s rise to power.

This chair, once owned by Adolf Hitler, is an excellent example of a wooden peasants’ chair, embellished with an eagle, swastika and the 1933 date of Hitler’s rise to power.

Because of the increase in Nazi rural place worship and the decrease of traditional materials, wood was used throughout the Reich as a substitute in some production. It cost less than other materials and was readily available.

Beautifully crafted decorative items were skillfully carved and distributed to both identify with the simple peasant life of the soil and to save valuable materials. Oberammergau in southern Bavaria had been the wood carving capital of Germany since the 16th century. During the era of the Third Reich, this small enclave of talented artists continued to provide a variety of items for the German public.

A beautifully carved “Reichs Adler” (national eagle) desk statuette.

A beautifully carved “Reichs Adler” (national eagle) desk statuette.

In addition, the SS controlled many of their own industries, producing wooden articles, along with other goods, through the use of slave laborers in concentration camps. Political, commemorative and patriotic themes were often woven into the elaborate carvings on plates, bowls, statuettes, furniture, book covers and other pieces of wooden art. Some items bore significant meanings for their owners, such as the SS wedding salvers or Honor Ring plates bearing swastikas, death’s heads, or runic symbols. Others were decorative, hung on home walls to show the owners’ patriotic or political affiliation. The pieces bore SS runes, SA symbols, or paramilitary emblems.

Richly carved Iron Crosses and oak leaves were often used to commemorate time in service or honor a fallen relative in the Wehrmacht (military services). Still others were purchased as souvenirs (many with Nazi overtones) and displayed to remember a particular place visited while on holiday.

A prominently displayed SS birthday celebration wooden ring for a child. Each birthday, a progressive number of candles were placed in the holes until his 14th year, at which time the child would join the Hitler Youth.

A prominently displayed SS birthday celebration wooden ring for a child. Each birthday, a progressive number of candles were placed in the holes until his 14th year, at which time the child would join the Hitler Youth.

When the war finally turned against Germany, the folly of the Nazi regime became apparent to many of its citizens who watched as their country was pulverized by the unstoppable enemy. As the Allied forces began their occupation of the former Reich, thousands of wooden pieces that had previously been enjoyed — even honored — were unceremoniously thrown into the fire.

This destruction, together with the subsequent 70-year passage of time since the end of WWII, few of the wooden pieces from the Third Reich still exist. Those that do, however, serve as reminders of Hitler and his hold over the German people. 

A decorative SS wall plate bears the motto “Meine Ehre Heisst Treue” (My Honor is Loyalty), SS runes and a Life rune with oak leaves along the bottom.

A decorative SS wall plate bears the motto “Meine Ehre Heisst Treue” (My Honor is Loyalty), SS runes and a Life rune with oak leaves along the bottom.

A sword carrying ideal Aryan strides above “Für Vaterland” (For the Fatherland) on this patriotic wall plate.

A sword carrying ideal Aryan strides above “Für Vaterland” (For the Fatherland) on this patriotic wall plate.

An artfully carved farmer with his pipe covers the photo album of a soldier who participated in the Polish invasion of 1939.

An artfully carved farmer with his pipe covers the photo album of a soldier who participated in the Polish invasion of 1939.

A decorative wooden SS wedding casket used to hold a presentation copy of Hitler’s book,“Mein Kampf.” These wooden boxes were given to newly married SS couples.

A decorative wooden SS wedding casket used to hold a presentation copy of Hitler’s book,“Mein Kampf.” These wooden boxes were given to newly married SS couples.

A wooden flagpole finial which was machine cut, then painted with the national colors.

A wooden flagpole finial which was machine cut, then painted with the national colors.

A small Deutscher Arbeitsfront (DAF)“tinnie” made from stamped and painted wood with a metal pin back.

A small Deutscher Arbeitsfront (DAF)“tinnie” made from stamped and painted wood with a metal pin back.

This was carved by a Buchenwald Concentration Camp inmate who put his name and date on the reverse.

This was carved by a Buchenwald Concentration Camp inmate who put his name and date on the reverse.

The name of the artist is carved on the back.

The name of the artist is carved on the back.

The very rare (one of three known) SS honor ring plate. This was taken from Wewelsburg Castle.

The very rare (one of three known) SS honor ring plate. This was taken from Wewelsburg Castle.

The SS wedding salver with inscription, “Seid des Brotes deines eigenen Bodens würdig, dann wird dein Stamm für immer leben” (Be worthy of the bread of your own soil, then your tribe will live forever).

The SS wedding salver with inscription, “Seid des Brotes deines eigenen Bodens würdig, dann wird dein Stamm für immer leben” (Be worthy of the bread of your own soil, then your tribe will live forever).

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