Nazi's & Totenkopfrings. ( Who can resist a Nazi thread?)

During a rather fierce thunderstorm this morning instead of turning on my computer I grabbed a book instead. It is a book on heraldry.

There is a chapter on those fun loving Nazi’s and how they forced the swastika onto every ancient Germany cities coat of arms to prove their loyalty to Adolph.

Apparently, this mania went further and produced heraldic rings of such called Totenkopfrings which I am translating as Dead Head rings (Tote=dead. Kopf=head) to be given out to elite members of the SS in a rather serious ceremony more here the punctuation leaves much to be desired. Very Goth looking, indeed!

Apparently, when the SS officer died, the ring would be put in a Shrine of honor of sorts. At the end of the war, Himmler took the rings and had them blasted somewhere in to the mountainside near Wewlsburg (austria?) and it has never been found.

Apparently, they have never been found.

Has anyone else ever heard of this? (This is so fascinating in an Indiana Jones kinda way.)

Not only that, they built towns in the shape of a swastika. Near where I was born, there is a small farming village called Allmendfeld that was built smack dab in the middle of some asparagus fields. Here is a nice aerial photograph (the link will only work for 48 hours though) which vaguely shows the swastika shape (the plans were changed after the war, so that the actual swastika was never really completed).

Actually the Wewelsburg is near Paderborn in Eastern Westphalia. It was originally built by the diocese of Paderborn just before the Thirty Years War (in the early seventeenth century).

As to where the rings are now: I got nothing. I will have to ask some of my relatives if my grandfather ever had a Totenkopfsring. He was an “Oberstleutnant” (lieutenant colonel) in the Waffen SS. Near the Wewelsburg, there is another monument to all that is Germanic: the Hermannsdenkmal near Detmold. The huge statue represents Arminius, who decimated the Roman troops of Varus during the battle of the Teutoburg Forest.

Mycroft, that is strangely fascinating about your Grandfather. Product of the times and all that, but GAH, those rings, which I only just found out about, are interesting in a gruesome sort of way.

This explains Ring Of Evil. DC did an Elseworlds Green Lantern story with the premise that Himmler completed the concentric village of Wewlsburg and that this gave him the power to make a magic ring fueled by the souls of SS officers.

Ring Of Evil NOTE- The linked page has a copy of the cover, but alsp contains total spoilers.

Shirley Ujest While Mycroft Holmes is in no way responsible for or tainted by anything his grandfather may have done (It says so in the Torah.), I’d have to know a lot more before I can dismiss anything his grandfather did as ‘product of the times’


As a Jew, I have been taught since early childhood that the SS were some of the most evil men to ever live. However, one must admit that they really looked great. The SS uniform is beautiful. Himmler meant this ring to inspire awe, and so it does. It may be a symbol of evil. But it’s one gorgeous symbol.

Re Totenkopf

I always thought it meant “death’s head”.

It does mean deaths head,

Here’s an image of one of the rings that shows himmlers name which was on all of the rings.

The ring from the front…

The Nazis loved adopting Norse/Teutonic symbols and either perverting their meaning or creating new ones. The majority of people you’ll see wearing sig runes, hagal, or other Norse symbols are not NeoNazis.

In German,
tot = dead
Tod = death.

So a Totenkopf is a dead’s head, a dead person’s head. It’s used as a more emotional synonym for the technical term Schädel (=skull).

Death’s head, (the head of the “grim reaper”) would be Todeskopf. I’ve never heard anyone using that word, though.

I don’t know if anyone noticed, but there is an image of a Totenkopfring on the Wewelsburg link that Mycroft Holmes provided. It is the 5th image down on the right side.

The thing about Nazi thread is, it will keep your buttons on for one thousand years.

A nitpick - if your grandfather was in the Waffen SS, his rank would have been “SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer”, the SS equivalent to a Lieutenant Colonel. If your grandfather’s rank is actually referred to as “Oberstleutnant” on any documents you may have, then he was in the regular German army (“Heer” in German).

Nazi occultism and memorabila is exactly the sort of conjunction such that any amount of nonsense will have been asserted in the past, but this particular statement has reputable backing.
The rings were apparently designed by Karl Maria Wiligut. Amongst that vast amount of alleged nonsense, Wiligut was the real deal: a complete loony obsessed with an occultist reading of German history who was a confident of Himmler, at least until the late 1930s when he went so round the bend that even the SS realised that he had to be committed to a mental institution. Also using the name Weisthor, Wiligut is the subject of one of the chapters in Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke’s sensible The Occult Roots of Nazism. He mentions Wiligut having designed the rings and Himmler deciding in 1938 that any SS officer who dies in battle should have his ring returned to Wewelsburg, where it would be contained in a special chest. In this connection, it’s worth mentioning that Wiligut was the person behind Himmler’s entire conception of Wewelsburg as a centre for SS ritual. Goodrick-Clarke’s cite for the arrangement with returning the rings is Karl Huser’s book Wewelsburg 1933-1945 (1982); from this and other references, this appears to be produced by the museum in the castle and is, again, sensible.

As Mycroft Holmes’s link mentions, Himmler ordered Wewelsburg dynamited at the end of the war. Whether the chest with the rings were destroyed in this explosion or seperately, I don’t know. But I’d want pretty good evidence for any specific story of their fate: this is the sort of subject people, worryingly, tend to come up with all sorts of fantasies about.

You are of course correct. His actual rank (I checked with my grandfather’s sister yesterday, because I wanted to ask about the Totenkopfring. More on that later in this post). His rank was actually Sturmbannführer, which corresponds to major and is below Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel).

You are right, my grandfather’s being an officer in the Waffen-SS was more than just a product of the times. He was an ardent Nazi (he joined the party in 1933) and volunteered for the Waffen-SS (the SS was an all-volunteer organization anyway, and anyone volunteering was also screened extensively to make sure they were real party supporters and didn’t have any non-Arian ancestors).

You are also right about the uniforms being beautiful. My grandfather was a handsome man anyway (and quite a dandy and ladies man from what I have heard from his surviving siblings) and he looks great in the few remaining pictures of him in uniform. My grandmother had to burn or bury almost all of his pictures and memorabilia, because they lived in the Russian occupation zone, and if the Russians had found pictures of her husband in an SS uniform, she and the rest of the family would have been imprisoned or killed immediately.

My grandmother actually ended up smuggling her three children and herself out of the Russian zone under cover of night and forest. She also survived the days after the war by smuggling cigarettes and food across the border illegaly. Before her death two years ago she told me some harrowing stories about how she was shot at by Russian border guards one night.

As to the Totenkopfring, according to my great-aunt, my grandfather actually did receive one, but rarely wore it. He died in Russia in 1943 and the ring was not heard of or seen since then. My great-aunt thinks it was probably taken from him, because according to some letters he wrote shortly before his death, he was probably executed by his comrades for refusing an order. The official cause of death was “Granatsplitter” (grenade fragments), but it seems that was just a cover up.

Here’s another interesting (and creepy) fact about the SS:

Himmler also created the “Lebensborn” plan. There were several “Lebensbornheime” across the Reich and also in occupied areas (Norway actually had more “Lebensborn” children than Germany). The plan was to create as many Arian children as possible. All children born of SS officers were born in a “Lebensbornheim” and later in the war Arian children from occupied areas were even kidnapped. My mother and my aunt were born in the Lebensbornheim in Klosterheide (near Berlin).

Here and here is some interesting background information on the Lebensborn plan and Lebensborn mothers and children.