German Reich Finance Administration/Customs Border Protection Sleeve Shield
Vertically oval, die struck aluminum sleeve shield with a gilt wash. The shield features an embossed political style national eagle with out-stretched wings clutching a wreathed, canted swastika, and embossed Gothic script, “Reichsfinanzverwaltung-Zollgrenzschutz” (National Finance Administration Customs Border Guard), all on a subtly pebbled background field.
The bottom edge of the shield has a small, embossed, smooth field, plate with a blackened, stamped serial number, “35958”. The shield also has dual raised outer border lines and two holes to both sides and the top and bottom edges intended to attach it to a sleeve. The reverse of the shield is a mirror image of the obverse excluding the serial number.
Measures 82mm by 65mm.
The German Customs Service can be traced back to 1834 when a Customs Union was formed to allow the separate German States to trade amongst themselves without trade and tariff taxes, while still imposing import trade taxes on other European nations. With the unification of the German States into a single nation in 1871 the Customs Service became a national paramilitary organization, under control of the Reichsfinanzministerium, (National Finance Ministry), in Berlin. The national Customs Service was still responsible for imposing and collecting import trade taxes but was also tasked with border defence duties. In 1936 the Customs Service was reorganized and given further policing responsibilities including the apprehension of individuals attempting to escape from the NSDAP’s yoke. The German Customs service was divided into two separate branches with one branch consisting of the Landzollbeamte, (Land Customs Officials), which was subdivided into the Zollgrenzschutz, (Land Customs Border Guards), and the Wasserzollbeamte, (Water Customs Officials), and the second branch consisting of the remaining Zollbeamte, (Customs Officials). On June 17TH 1936, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler was appointed to the newly created position of Chef der Deutschen Polizei im Reichsministerium des Innern, (Chief of the German Police in the National Ministry of the Interior), effectively giving him full control of all police agencies within Germany including the Customs service. It is believed that this shield was introduced with other new uniform and insignia regulations that were instituted, on June 25TH 1936 to be worn on the upper left sleeve of the service uniform by border guards when performing their duties.
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