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Vehicle registration numbers of the SS and Waffen-SS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since existence, the SA and SS had civilian license numbers of the local facilities. First in 1935, the SS introduced the runes for the registration number system. This was possible because the SS was separated from the SA after the Röhm-Putsch on 30th June 1934. Later, the SS was organised into the Allgemeine SS (general SS) with the administration and the ideological/racial-political departments, the SS Totenkopf (skull) units (guard units of the KZ), the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Head Office with the police, Gestapo and SD) and the SS-Verfügungstruppe which was renamed to Waffen-SS in 1940.
The department X (SS-mot) resp. the Kraftfahrwesen der Waffen-SS (motoring of the Waffen-SS), beginning in 1941 Kommandoamt der Waffen-SS, Abt. V (command-department of the Waffen-SS, directorate V), in the SS-Führungshauptamt (SS-head central office) was responsible for the management of the motor vehicles. The SS-Zentralzulassungsstelle (SS-central-registration-office) in Berlin-Wilmersdorf (Kaiserallee 188) was the responsible vehicle registration office for the whole SS. With order of the SS-Führungshauptamt from 18th October 1940, a new inspectorate of the SS-Kraftfahrwesen with SS-Kfz-Depot I (SS-motor vehicle-depot I) and a central registration office was established in the staff building of the inspectorate of the KL (KZ) in Oranienburg. The SS-Kfz-Depots were responsible for the distribution of the vehicles of the SS. There were at least six depots:

 

 

 

 

 

SS-Kfz-Depot Berlin-Lichterfelde

 

 

SS-Kfz-Depot I Oranienburg

 

 

SS-Kfz-Depot II Pätz (Bestensee/Brandenburg)

 

 

SS-Kfz-Depot III Prag VI (Passaherstr. 10) und Prag I (Nürnberger Str. 27)

 

 

SS-Kfz-Depot IV (no documents available)

 

 

SS-Kfz-Depot V Schröttersburg (East Prussia)

 

 

 

 

 

Different from the Wehrmacht, all Waffen-SS units were authorised to license motor vehicles until around 1941. The corresponding number ranges were assigned to the units by the SS-Zentralzulassungsstelle. The motor vehicles assigned to the units had to be registered immediately. The corresponding registration number had to be communicated to the SS-Zentralzulassungsstelle. If this was missed, the assignment of the motor vehicle could be annulated.
With the Verordnungsblatt der Waffen-SS (VOBl. D. W-SS) (official gazette of the Waffen-SS), issue 9/1941, this regulation was softened. Thus, also the SS-Kfz-Depots could register motor vehicles. The reporting obligation of the units for the license numbers to the SS-Zentralzulassungstelle was omitted in these cases. The re-registration of vehicles in the cases when the unit was changed was omitted, too. The registration number assigned most recently should be retained. Presumably, this regulation applied only to field-units because re-registration can be proven for replacement units of the Waffen-SS until 1944. The usage of concealed registration numbers was forbidden with the agreement of the Reichsverkehrsministerium (Reich Ministry of Transport) with VOBl. D. W-SS, issue 15/1942. According to VOBl. D. W-SS, issue 16/1942, all registration number series had to be reported to the Kommandoamt der Waffen-SS, Abt. V until 15 July 1942. The result was the invalidation of some registration number series. Beginning in 1942, the front number plate of motorcycles could be omitted, too.
From 1935 to 1945, the consistent number range from SS-1 to SS-199999 (highest known number SS-195201) was used. The staff car of RFSS Himmler had the license number SS-1 and the vehicles of his staff the following numbers. It seems that a numbering system based on registration districts was introduced in 1941. However, any official documents are missing. Following number ranges were introduced in 1941:

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS

200000

-

299999

 (highest known number SS-226227)

 

 

 

SS

300000

-

399999

 (highest known number SS-315133, among these the main part of the VW-Type 166 assigned to the W-SS)

 

 

 

SS

400000

-

499999

 (highest known number SS-419551)

 

 

 

SS

500000

-

599999

 (highest known number SS-503245, mainly SKODA-vehicles)

 

 

 

 

 

Following number ranges were assigned in 1943:

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS

600000

-

699999

 (highest known number SS-600045)

 

 

 

SS

700000

-

799999

 (highest known number SS-704224)

 

 

 

SS

900000

-

999999

 (highest known number SS-986???)

 

 

 

 

 

Any official documents or photos are missing for a possible number range from SS-800000 to SS-899999. Therefore, it is questionable if this number range was assigned. It seems that there were restrictions for the use of number ranges for some vehicle types and manufacturers but no official documents could be found on this topic. Red flyover or testing license numbers were assigned exclusively by the command of the SS and had to be given back to this authority. All handed out red registration numbers had to be given back to the SS-Kommandoamt until 30th March 1941.
The Allgemeine SS and Waffen-SS had aspirations for the assignment of specific contingents of motor vehicles from the total production. These assignments were not sufficient from time to time. Therefore, RFSS Himmler requested from the Army the assignment of 90 motorcycles for the Totenkopf-Division in 1940. Also the LAH-Division got motorcycles from the Army. Initially, these were not re-licensed and were used with the WH license numbers. In summer 1942, LAH was extended to a whole division. There is a known photo of a Mercedes-Benz type L 1500 A personnel carrier made during the parade in Paris which had the falsified SS-1097504 license number. The WH identification was painted over with white paint and the SS runes were painted over it with black paint. According to VOBl. D. W-SS from 1940, the SS runes had to be painted on the fenders. In other cases, vehicles of the army taken over by the Waffen-SS were re-licensed correctly (example VW-Type 166: WH-1567487 to SS-900868).
Although the motor vehicle situation of the SS was precarious, the SS units were not allowed to acquire vehicles by order of RFSS from 12th November 1941. Some units ignored that order but this was unveiled by requests to police departments for missing vehicle de-registers. These vehicles did not get a license number by the SS-Zentralzulassungsstelle Oranienburg which was equal to a prohibition of usage because every vehicle had to be licensed.
According to VOBl. D. W-SS, issue 3/1940, the assignment of motor vehicles to the SS units rested exclusively to the SS-Führungshauptamt of the Waffen-SS. Therefore, requests for vehicle registration documents had to be made at the Kommandoamt der Waffen-SS and not at the BdE des Heeres (collecting point for vehicle registration documents of the army).
Supplemental vehicles which were assigned to units of the Waffen-SS first got SS license numbers. By order of the SS-FHA from 22nd January 1941 (Tgb-Nr. 174/41), these vehicles should be re-licensed to the civilian license numbers after the campaign in the west. With VOBL. D. W-SS, issue 8/1941, this order was abolished. Until 31st August 1941 resp. 31st December 1942, all supplemental vehicles should receive a SS license number. Beginning in January 1942, the field units of the Waffen-SS were not allowed to have supplemental vehicles with civilian license numbers. Besides supplemental vehicles, also captured vehicles were taken over like the Italian vehicles in 1944. According to the automotive appendix of the VO of the WAFFEN-SS from 1940, the motor vehicles of the medical units should receive new license numbers. This was caused by the integration of the formerly independent medical units to the units of the SS-Verfügungstruppe.

A further exception: The X-registration.
In a vehicle overview of 32. SS-Pz. Gren. Div. from April 1945, 11 vehicles which had a X-license number instead of the SS-license number are listed. These are vehicles of SS-Regiment 86. The X-license number is a three-digit number beginning with X-100. No further details are known till now. Possibly these are division own license numbers which are also known for some other divisions (18. PD, 23. PD).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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