A Basic Guide by Military-Memorabilia
It seems a lot of sellers tout the presense of an RZM stamp on any German artifact that dates from 1923 to 1945 as a sure sign that the item they are selling is authentic. Worse is the number of buyers that feel that the only way to know if a Nazi relic is original is to look for the RZM code or logo. What is the RZM logo, and what does it signify? Is the presence of the RZM logo a guarantee of originality?
First of all, you need to know what RZM stands for. It is the abbreviation for ReichZeugMeisterei, (National Equipment Quartermaster). The RZM was set up in 1934 to procure and distribute items to Party formations, and also approve chosen designs and to act as a quality control supervisor to ensure items manufactured for the Party met required specification and were standardized.
When expressed in code format, the standard format was RZMBG/####/YY, which stands for RZM, followed by the Branch Code Letter (A=Equipment, B=Cotton Items, D=Uniforms, K=Clothing, L=Leather Items, M=Metal Items, and W = Woolen Items). G stands for the Group Code Number. This is followed by a slash, and then the manufacture's number, and then normally another slash and the last two digits of the year of manufacture. Now, to list all the combinations of Branch Code Letters and their associated Group Code Number is FAR beyond the scope of a basic guide, and literally runs into the several hundreds. Let us limit ourselves to a few of the most collector popular combinations in the M (Metal Items) Branch.M4 are Belt Buckles. M9 are Meeting Badges, popularily called tinnies. M11 are all Party Long Service Medals. And, of course, M7 are the ever-popular Political Daggers. So, how does the RZM code help authenticate an item? Look for errors! The first basic error would be any RZM code with a date code of 33 or less, or found on ANY object with a date prior to 1934 - remember, the RZM was set up in 1934! A real BIG example here is the Rohm-signed SA and SS Daggers. They were made in 1933! In fact, Rohm was quite dead before the RZM was even formed - SO - any Rohm-signature on an RZM coded blade is a FAKE! Second, look for incorrect Branch and Group codes for the object you are looking at. Daggers must not be anything other than M7, period. A dagger sporting an M9 RZM code is a fake.
It is also important to know what the RZM logo lookes like, so take a look at it:
Not a very complicaterd logo, is it? Yet, this simple logo is often a very basic clue to if an item is original, or fake. First of all, take a close look at the 'Z'. Notice it is not a normal typewritten 'Z' - there is a bar in the middle. This is a normal European style to ensure that the letter Z is not confused with the number 2. For collectors - beware RZM logos with the plain, unbarred 'Z'! While an unbarred 'Z' can be found very occassionally, and is associated with only a few manufacturers, FW Assmann for one example; more often than not, an unbarred 'Z' is a red flag. Also be wary of barred 'Z's' with a bar that is centered! If you look at the logo above, you will note that the bar is slightly offset towards the top arm of the 'Z'. Second, look at the inner circle, especially at 6 o'clock. Notice that space between the legs of the 'M'? Avoid RZM logos with the space between the legs of the 'M' filled in. Finally, notice that there should be an outer ring around the inner RZM-ring.
The final clues is to know what you should find, or better yet, NOT find the RZM logos or codes on. You will NEVER find an RZM code or logo on ANYTHING that you use the terms 'Army', 'Navy', or 'Air Force' to describe. The armed forces had their own procurement and quality control organizations (WaffenAmt, for example) that was set up long before the RZM ever came into existance. Any military medal, badge, uniform or accessory with an RZM tag or logo is a fake, DOUBLE PERIOD.
A legitimate question you may have is 'What about items made for the Waffen-SS? Are they RZM marked, or not - like items made for the rest of the German Whermacht?' The answer is both, Yes and No. The Waffen (Armed)-SS was the arms-bearing branch of the Allgemeine (General)-SS. With its nebulous beginnings in the late 1930's, all equipment manufactured for the Waffen-SS was under RZM scrutiny, just like equipment manufactured for the Allgemeine-SS. In fact, unless you are an expert, it may be very difficult at first to determine if certian items such as ammo pouches or backpacks from the early period were made for the Waffen-SS or Allgemeine-SS, as they were similarily stamped. This was all well and good while the Waffen-SS was a small and Germanic unit utilizing equipment manufactured in the Reich proper. But as WWII progressed, and Waffen-SS recruitment expanded to include individuals from areas outside the Reich proper, who by all Nazi definations, were not Germanic, and were utilizing locally made equipment, RZM control became unfeasable. The result was that the Waffen-SS set up a quality control board that was largely based on the Army's WaffenAmt in 1943. So, Waffen-SS equipment made from 1936-1943 is RZM marked. Waffen-SS equipment made from 1943-1945 are not RZM marked. With this knowledge, if you do your research to know when specific Waffen-SS units were raised, you will know if they can, or cannot have equipment sporting RZM logos, stamps, or tags.
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