Waffen SS Oberst-gruppenfuhrer Josef “Sepp” Dietrich



Oberst-gruppenfuhrer Sepp Dietrich

Sepp Dietrich was one of Hitler’s favorites from the early days, acting as an organizer of SS districts as well as personal bodyguard to Hitler.


In 1933 under the direction of Hitler, Dietrich began assembling the first SS Guard units of Berlin, which eventually evolved into Hitler’s personal, elite bodyguard regiment, “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler”.  The Leibstandarte was utilized as a personal guard detachment as well as an eventual fighting force of some acclaim.  Dietrich later went on to command other units, most notably the 1st SS Panzer Korps and later the 6th SS Panzer Army.


Dietrich was at times a controversial figure, both among his peers and the Allies, his fellow Generals often of the opinion that he was inept as a commander, and the Allies viewing him as a war criminal for responsibility in the treatment of prisoners of war.


Dietrich was known for exercising the prerogative of a high ranking officer in his use of very distinct, non-regulation insignia that set him apart from other General officers in the SS.  Regulation required SS Generals to use silver (or aluminum) colored insignia for all embroidered eagles, cufftitles and piping.  Dietrich, however, utilized custom made gold arm eagles and cufftitles, as well as gold piping around the crown of his caps…all typical regulation for Heer army Generals, but certainly not SS.  It is this penchant for unique insignia and accoutrements that makes Dietrich an interesting study for collectors.





Dietrich’s Oberst-gruppenfuhrer Insignia

(Wolfe-Hardin collection)


Sepp Dietrich was one of only two men in the Waffen SS that were promoted to the rank of Oberst-gruppenfuhrer, or Generaloberst (Colonel General), which was the highest General officer rank in the SS.  The insignia was not worn until very late in the war, August of 1944, which by combination of the rarity of the rank and the late issue, makes this an incredibly scarce rank to encounter as a collector.






Dietrich’s shoulderboards for Oberst-gruppenfuhrer consisted of army style General officer shoulderboards of interwoven gold bullion cord and an inner aluminum cord.  These were backed with a light gray branch color underlay, which was the underlay color for all General officers in the Waffen SS.  The three aluminum rank pips indicate the rank of Oberst-gruppenfuhrer, or Generaloberst.  Notice the residual black uniform material on the boards, indicating that this set was removed from Dietrich’s black panzer wrapper.





Collar Tabs


A pair of right (top) and left (bottom) collar tabs for the rank of Oberst-gruppenfuhrer.  These were removed from the same uniform as the above shoulderboards and show much age and corrosion to the aluminum threads.




Arm Eagle


This is the very unique SS arm eagle that was created specifically for wear only by Sepp Dietrich.  SS regulation required that all SS officers and Generals wear aluminum or silver embroidered eagles on their uniforms.  Dietrich, for whatever reason, chose to have special insignia made utilizing gold embroidery similar to what his peers as Generals in the Germany Army (Heer) used.






Another unique and personality defining element of Dietrich’s insignia was his use of a gold embroidered regimental cufftitle.  To achieve this, a standard officer’s aluminum cufftitle was used as a template, and then gold bullion thread was embroidered over the top of the aluminum lettering.  Likewise, gold brocade piping was embroidered over the top and bottom aluminum piping.  The close up image below shows detail of how this was accomplished.









Dietrich also exercised a rather unique flair in his headgear, reflected on this crusher cap in the departure from regulation by the addition of gold piping to the crown and cap band, as well as gold chin cord and buttons.





Dietrich’s Obergruppenfuhrer Insignia



Dietrich displayed the rank of Obergruppenfuhrer on his uniforms from July 1934 until August of 1944, the rank of which is shown in the grouping above by two pips on the shoulderboard.



The army style General officer shoulderboards were worn by the Waffen SS Generals from 1939 until the end of the war in 1945.





Another example of a custom made gold arm eagle that was unique to Dietrich.




Sepp Dietrich Obergruppenfuhrer Uniforms

(Wolfe-Hardin collection)



Dietrich’s winter coat that was used during the years on the Russian Front.  The coat was customized by the addition of plastic buttons, as the metal snap buttons would freeze shut in the brutal Russian cold.


Dietrich’s overcoat with the typical Waffen SS General officers light gray lapel facings, and the additions of his unique insignia.



Yet another variation on the gold arm eagle, with black highlight threads.


Obergruppenfuhrer shoulderboards of the slip-on variety.