Professor Karl Diebitsch (January 3, 1899 – August 6, 1985) was an artist and soldier responsible for much of the Third Reich SS regalia, including the chained SS officer's dagger scabbard. Diebitsch worked with graphic designer Walter Heck to design the notorious all-black SS uniform. Also with his business partner, industrialist Franz Nagy, Diebitsch began the production of art porcelain at the factory Porzellan Manufaktur Allach.
Diebitsch was born on January 3, 1899, in the city of Hanover, Germany. In Hanover, he attended school for the arts. This was interrupted by his enlistment in the Imperial German Navy in 1915. He earned the Iron Cross, Second Class, while with an artillery battery during World War I.
Diebitsch had completed an apprenticeship as a decorating painter when he was in school before the First World War. After a short time being employed as a merchant, he decided to resume his art education. Diebitsch enrolled in the Design School of the Academy of Plastic and Graphic Arts in Munich on October 29, 1919.
Joining the Nazi Party
On May 1, 1920, Diebitsch joined the Nazi Party or NSDAP. His membership number was 1,436. From 1920 to 1923 he was a member of the Freikorps. He went on to complete his formal art training in 1925, followed by several years of living and working in Munich as a painter and graphic artist. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Diebitsch moved his family to Berlin and there joined the Reichsverband Bildenden Künstler Deutschlands (National Association of German Visual Artists). In November 1933, he joined the SS. Later in 1937, he rejoined the NSDAP with a membership number of 4,690,956.
Artworks for the Third Reich
Diebitsch served as the director of SS Porzellan Manufaktur Allach in 1936 until the SS enterprise had its porcelain production facility moved to Dachau. In the same year he designed SS dagger and sword parts, along with many other SS items. In 1938 he received one of the top prizes at a House of German Art exhibition in Munich for his painting titled, “Mutter” (Mother). In 1939 Diebitsch designed the letterhead logo of the Ahnenerbe and crests for SS officers. In May 1939 he designed a window for an exterior wall of the “Konig-Heinrich” dome at the cathedral at Quedlinburg. Diebitsch also designed many German postage stamps during the Third Reich.
He designed a tapestry that was created by Elsie Seifert.
It was removed from Heinrich Himmler's residence in Berchtesgaden in 1945 by a member of the 506th Parachute Regiment of the American 101st Airborne Division. This piece originally hung in the Reichstag but was removed to Himmler's residence after a fire which destroyed a similar piece. The construction is of heavy gold bullion thread on a blood red velvet backing. Bullion tassels and chord. Size is approximately 7 x 9 feet.
War years and later life
Besides being an artist, Diebitsch was also a reserve officer in the Waffen-SS during the course of the Second World War. He received staff assignments to the SS-Totenkopfstandarte (SS Death’s Head Regiment), SS-Regiment "Germania", SS-Division "Wiking" and the Höhere SS und Polizei Führer (Higher SS and police leader) of Italy. Diebitsch was finally promoted to the rank of SS-Oberführer on April 20, 1944. He survived the war and died in 1985.
- An honorary title conveyed by Hitler. Johnson, Thomas M., Collecting Edged Weapons of the Third Reich, Volume 6, 1993, pp 78-81.
- Lumsden, Robin. A Collector's Guide To: The Allgemeine - SS, Ian Allan Publishing, Inc. 2001, p 53.
- Johnson, Thomas M., World War II German War Booty, Volume II, p 66.