The text that follows is the english version of a conference on the insignias topic delivered by the speaker of the "Cercle", the French association of the families of the eastern front veterans. Please pardon me is there are some "Franglish" expressions here and there, thanks.
"Are there precisions on the origin of the badge of division Charlemagne, the band of arm, the badges of collar?
These questions still feed and will feed hours of discussions. What we know for sure is that the men of Charlemagne division never were informed of the shape of its Division blazon (That’s why the plates or the tablecloths appearing “by miracle” with the badge of Division are forgeries.) For two reasons, the first is that division was of recent formation and that many projects still remained at the state of design or prototype. The Division blazon appeared in public at the end of the Fifties, little after the files seized in February 45 by the US army in Germany were partly opened to the public. Thus one learned of the project from the collar tag, a sword with laurel leaves, which was to replace the SS runes. It should be noted that the majority of the European units of Waffen-SS would have to carry a distinctive badge indeed. Some have affirmed that they wanted to give the name of Jeanne d'Arc (Joanne of Arch) to the Division. The sword would have been perhaps an allusion to her, but it is not the monopoly of this heroin. It is a legend that allowed some anticlerical to justify their conviction. They make amalgam with the brigade Jeanne d'Arc that existed indeed, but gathered the French volunteers within the Nationalist army during the Spanish civil war. The exacerbated Paganism of the Sturmbrigade is a myth, generated by few veterans who made too much noise. We know definitely more Catholics trationnalists from the Sturmbrigade, than paganism militant. It is those few who were first met by Jean Mabire in his first researches. The author always told us that if his works were to be written today, they would be different on that point.
The cuff title never existed, in any case officially. No stock ever has been found. What is true is that men of the Division, in training at Beneschau, close to Prague, a very small group, had ordered an artisan cuff title in the name of Charlemagne. It should be known that the town of Prague was to some extent the capital of Waffen-SS. Many designs, studies were made there. The central bank of the Waffen-SS was there. The projects and the implementation of insignias were parts of them. But the “innovators” were given order and could never carry a long time the artisan embroidery. It was out of question in an organized army that a small group of soldiers can take the initiative on such an insignia that had its protocol besides, since the cuff title was to be given according to certain rules of seniority, of creation of the unit and of operational time.
To return to the runes, some zealous are affirming that only those of the Sturmbrigade wore them. That is wrong. Indeed, simple common sense or simply military experience shows that in phase of reconstitution, equipment and provisioning the processes are immutable. Those which are already equipped like the Strumbrigade do not cause a large concern, if it is not that many arrived at Wildflecken, equipped with what they could manage, because the logistic after a retreat is not an easy thing. As for the LVF, then the Militia, the distribution of the uniforms is made as in all the armies: by order of the organigram (OoB) or an organic way. My father who belonged to the 1st section of the 1st company of Ist battalion has received complete equipment, "It was to who would put them the first" he wrote in his memories. The last companies of each battalion have been perhaps less provided. And then as there was this project of collar tag to replace the runes, it was certainly a second reason of the brake of the supplying. This being said, it is sure that there was not everything for everyone whatever is the origin. And one should not forget than this was realized by an agonizing army and regime. As for the photography of end of war, it is necessary to be a simply realist, because men who are in full retreat changes ten times of uniform, for multiple reasons, of wear, loss, unit change, etc. For example, Zimmermann who was in charge of the Division training, does not wear on his uniform the tricolour badge of the Waffen-SS, but the one of the LVF. Not by political conviction, but by lack of availability at the moment, whereas at Christmas 44 (date of the photograph) the equipment should have being available. Moreover, before to be made prisoners, much men belonging to special units or elites units took the precaution of removing their distinctive insignia and sometimes ranks. In Berlin, in the hospitals and medical posts, the nurses received the instruction to remove the SS runes systematically from the collars of the wounded.
It is the same for the tattooing of the blood group. Thousands of men do not pass in same time at the infirmary. There are always those who miss, in training courses, etc. And in spite of some recalls a certain number could not be marked, the movement to the frontline having been ordered early and in emergency."