Waffen-SS Estonia Sleeve Shield
Sleeve shield for Estonian volunteers serving in the Waffen-SS. Replica made in black wool construction, shield with a pointed bottom tip with three, horizontal, bars in the Estonian national colors of blue, black and white.. Dimensions 55x70mm
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As early as 1938 Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and the Allgemeine-SS, (General-SS), began recruiting volunteer "Germanische", (Germanic), personnel who were considered to be suitably "Nordic", to serve in the SS-VT, SS-Verfügungstruppe, (SS-Special Purpose Troops). Originally these Germanic personnel were drawn from Dutch, Belgian, Danes and Norwegians but with only minor success. In March 1940 with the formation of the Waffen-SS, (Armed-SS), recruitment of the Germanic personnel began to increase slightly and with the outbreak of WWII additional Germanic volunteers came forward to join the ranks of the Waffen-SS. The invasion of the Balkans in 1941 brought forward another pool of suitable Volksdeutsche, (Ethnic Germans), personnel available for voluntary enlistment in the Waffen-SS. The invasion of Russia on June 22ND 1941 and the war against Bolshevism resulted in the Waffen-SS experiencing another surge in recruits willing to serve with the Germans. As the war continued and man-power shortages became severe the standard criteria for acceptance into the Waffen-SS was decreased dramatically and numerous personnel who would have been unacceptable in 1939 were readily conscripted into service with the Waffen-SS. By the end of the war more then half of all the personnel serving in the Waffen-SS were non-Germans. On August 28TH 1942 the German's called for volunteers in occupied Estonia to come forward and fight along side them in the battle against Bolshevism. Enough Estonians volunteered to raise three battalions which in early 1943 formed the basis of 1. Estnischen SS Freiwillingen Grenadier Regiment, (1ST Estonian SS Volunteer Grenadier Regiment). Additional volunteers and those Estonians transferred from the German army furthered the expansion of the unit to brigade strength in early 1943 and to divisional strength on January 24TH 1944. Estonian nationals were authorized the wear of an identifying sleeve shield to be worn just below the SS eagle on the upper left sleeve of the uniform. The shield was eventually worn by Estonian personnel serving with the 20.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (estnische Nr.1), and Estonians serving with the 11.SS-Freiwilligen-Panzer-Grenadier-Division "Nordland".