SS-Oberführer Karl Diebitsch
wearing all-black SS uniform he designed
3 January 1899|
|Died||6 August 1985(aged 86)|
|Years of service||1915-1918; 1934-1945|
Karl Diebitsch (3 January 1899 – 6 August 1985) was an artist and the Schutzstaffel (SS) officer responsible for designing much of the SS regalia in the Third Reich, including the chained SS officer's dagger scabbard. Diebitsch worked with graphic designer Walter Heck to draft the well-known 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 3 January 1899, in the city of Hanover, Germany. In Hanover, he attended school for the arts, and completed his apprenticeship as a decorating painter before the First World War. His studies were 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.
After a short time being employed as a merchant, he resumed his art education. Diebitsch enrolled in the Design School of the Academy of Plastic and Graphic Arts in Munich on 29 October 1919.
Joining the Nazi Party
On 1 May 1920, Diebitsch joined the Nazi Party (NSDAP). His membership number was 1,436. From 1920 to 1923 he was a member of the Freikorps (Free Corps), which used to engage in political assassinations. Two years after the Beer Hall Putsch Diebitsch 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 1932, the new all-black SS uniform was designed by Diebitsch with graphic designer Walter Heck. In November 1933 he joined the SS, and in 1937 he re-joined 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 "König-Heinrich" dome at Quedlinburg Abbey. Diebitsch also designed many German postage stamps during the Third Reich. He was given an honorary title of Professor by Adolf Hitler.
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 Höchste SS- und Polizeiführer Italien (Highest SS and Police Leader Italy). Diebitsch was finally promoted to the rank of SS-Oberführer on 20 April 1944. He died in 1985.
Summary of SS career
- SS number: 141,990
- Nazi Party number: 1,436
- Primary positions: Persönlicher Stab Reichsführer-SS, Supreme SS and Police Leader of Italy
- Waffen-SS service: * SS-Standartenführer der Reserve (1 March 1940)
Dates of rank
- SS-Sturmführer (second lieutenant) – 9 September 1934
- SS-Obersturmführer (first lieutenant) – 20 April 1935
- SS-Hauptsturmführer (captain) – 1 January 1936
- SS-Sturmbannführer (major) – 9 November 1936
- SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) – 25 July 1937
- SS-Standartenführer (colonel) – 20 April 1939
- SS-Oberführer (senior colonel) – 20 April 1944
- An honorary title conveyed by Hitler. Johnson, Thomas M., Collecting Edged Weapons of the Third Reich, Volume 6, 1993, pp 78-81.
- Nigel Jones (2004), A Brief History of the Birth of the Nazis: How the Freikorps Blazed a Trail for Hitler, Carroll & Graf, ISBN 0786713429.
- McNab, Chris. Hitler's Elite: The SS 1939–45, Osprey 2013, p 90.
- Johnson, Thomas M., World War II German War Booty, Volume II, p 66.