National Socialist Equestrian Corps

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NSRK reporting office sign (Meldestelle)

The National Socialist Equestrian Corps (German: Nationalsozialistisches Reiterkorps; NS.-Reiterkorps; NSRK) was the comprehensive name of all mounted units of the National Socialist combat organizations within the NSDAP since 1936. Formally it included the Reiter-SA, the Reiter-HJ and the Reiter-SS, which, however, acted autonomously within the framework of the NSRK. The NSRK existed between March 1936 and May 1945. The NSRK was subordinate to the Reich Inspectorate of SA Riding Schools and the Reich Inspector for Riding and Driving Training. Both functions were carried out by SA-Obergruppenführer Karl-Siegmund Litzmann (1893–1945) and he was solely responsible to the SA Chief of Staff (Viktor Lutze until 1943), who acted as Adolf Hitler's deputy.


The mounted SA was not only the mounted branch of the Sturmabteilung, but also, like it's pendant from the SS, took part in national and international equestrian competitions.
Honour Badge for services to the NSRK (Ehrenzeichen für Verdienste um das NS.-Reiterkorps, instituted on 23 February 1937) “For outstanding patrons of the work of the NSRK”
The German rider leader badge (Deutsches Reiterführer-Abzeichen, instituted on 24 February 1937) from the NSRK “For services to the military training of the German Equestrian Youth”
Sleeve diamond (Ärmelraute)
Sleeve badge (disc) for members of the Reiter-HJ with youth riding license

The German equestrian organizations were diverse: from riding clubs to equestrian and riding associations to equestrian events. Modern equestrian sport in Germany originated in the mid-19th century. A reorganization can be seen from 1919, when, especially due to the effects of the First World War, there was an increase in institutionalization. From 1933, a clear distinction was made between the elite men's sport (Herrenreiter) and the popular sport. Until 1933, civil riding clubs of all kinds continued to exist parallel to the Reiterstandarten that had been founded so far.

The NSRK was set up on 10 March 1936 with the task of providing uniform riding and driving training for all members of the special mounted formations of the National Socialist organizations before their military service. All conscripts who intended to belong to mounted units in the Wehrmacht or the SS-Verfügungstruppe were obliged to acquire their riding license in the NSRK. This also applied to members of the Reiter-SS, which otherwise acted autonomously.

The National Socialist Equestrian Corps was also responsible for the riding and driving training of all reserve officers and reserve officer candidates as well as Wehrmacht officers in the army, provided such an institution was not available in the main units. The cadet officers, who arrived at the Corps, were also helped to prepare for the final exam.

By order of the Reich Youth Leader, since 14 March 1936, all members of the Reiter-HJ were obliged to join the NSRK and take the riding license test there. The rule there was that riding training in the NSRK was given a higher priority than the Hitler Youth sports service.

On 23 November 1936, the Federal Leader of the Soldiers' Association announced that all former soldiers who had undergone equestrian training in the army had to voluntarily join the National Socialist Equestrian Corps in order to continue to renew and expand the skills they had acquired.

During the Second World War, the NSRK only played a minor role. Rather, it's main area of ​​responsibility was limited to the pre- and post-military training of SA and HJ. In addition, this organization supported officer candidates of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS with their final examinations, provided they came from the NSRK and this support was desired. After the end of the war, the NSRK was banned in 1946. It was exempted from being convicted as a criminal organization because the National Socialist Equestrian Corps was viewed as part of the overall SA.[1]

Riding license test

The Reich Inspector for Riding and Driving Training organized an annual test in the Reich to obtain a riding license. The acquisition of a riding license promised, on the one hand, that if a member voluntarily joined the Reichswehr, he would be able to serve in the desired unit. On the other hand, there was the promise of being given priority as a driver or rider when the soldiers were dutifully enlisted.


In contrast to other National Socialist organizations, no standard uniform was introduced for the NSRK and all members wore the uniforms of their parent organizations. The NSRK used both the brown SA uniforms and the black uniforms of the Allgemeine SS as well as the brown and black uniforms of the Hitler Youth.

All units were identified by two crossed lances, which were worn on the right collar tab of the SA and SS units and on a sleeve badge on the left forearm. For higher SA and SS leaders, the lances were only worn on a sleeve badge on the left forearm. Members of the Hitler Youth also only wore the lances on a sleeve badge on the left forearm.

NSRK Honour Badge

This award consists of a circular badge that measures 50 mm high by 51.5 mm wide, with a wreath of oak leaves running round the outside which comprises of nine single leaves (each side), laid tip over stalk and meeting at the apex tip to tip. At the base is a raised circle with the SA symbol, which measures 10.5 mm. On to the recessed flat field is superimposed a rider dressed in SA uniform, mounted on a horse performing piaffe.

The reverse is plain with a hinge and hook that are attached to an oblong plate that is then sweated to the body of the badge. Beneath this is the four-digit issue number, which is prefixed by a nought if less than four. The manufacturer's name is beneath this in small, stamped capital letters, 'ERNST L. MÜLLER, PFORZHEIM'. The design was by Paul Casberg and his logo is beneath, 'PC'. The overall colour of the badge is silver that has been artificially patinated.

The badge was worn on the lower left breast of any uniform and took precedence over all other riding badges, excluding them from being worn in conjunction with this award. It was awarded with a miniature pin, a citation and a presentation box.


The conditions of award of the badge were:

  • a) Passing with 'merit' the riding and horse-drawn vehicles proficiency test.
  • b) Be capable of instructing others in horsemanship.
  • c) Possess the qualities of leadership.
  • d) Have gained the SA Sports Badge (SA-Sportabzeichen).
  • e) Have served one year as an officer in the NSRK.


The mounted SA (German: Reiter-SA) was the name for the mounted units of the General SA of the NSDAP from 1933 (from 1929/30 onwards it was still SA-Reiterstürme). On 24 August 1934, the Stürme were renamed the SA-Reiterstandarten (official abbreviation SA-RSt.), also the Reiterstandarten of the General SA. The first Reich rider leader (Reichsreiterführer) of the Reiterstandarten was the SA Obergruppenführer Litzmann.

Due to their different strength and social composition, there was a significant difference in the intention, role and appearance of the mounted formations between the SA and the SS. Ernst Röhm's organization intended to expand its selection of leisure facilities to attract people from a wide range of social environments. Most of its members, however, were farmers.

Each SA Reiter group was commanded by a Gruppenreiterführer who was subordinate to the Reichsinspekteur of the NSRK. The Gruppenreiterführer were trained at the SA-Gruppen-Reiterschule. At least 100 SA Reiterstandarten existed, but the exact number is unkown.

The Reiter-SA wore the current SA uniforms. Since 1936, they have had two crossed metal lancets in front of the unit designation on the back edge of the right collar patch, corresponding to the button color. Members of the staffs only carried crossed lances. There was also a second shoulder strap, while only one shoulder piece was worn on the service shirt or service skirt. After 1938, the General SA was reorganized along military lines. As a result, the previous SA group colors were no longer used and were replaced by regular weapon colors. For this reason, membership in the SA cavalry was symbolized with the color orange. The Reiter-SA uniforms also received a second shoulder piece.


The mounted SS (German: Reiter-SS) was the name for the mounted units of the Allgemeine SS of the NSDAP. The first SS-Reitersturm in Munich was created in 1931, while in Berlin we find the 1. SS-Reitersturm. In the summer of 1934, they were renamed SS-Reiter-Standarten (official abbreviation SS-RSt.), also Reiter-Standarten of the General SS. The Reiter-SS was, on the one hand, responsible for the inspection of the SS cavalry and, on the other hand, for the inspection of the SS riding schools in the SS main office and, after March 1936, was officially subordinate to the NS-Equestrian Corps.

Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the SS, intended to integrate rural elites, including many members of the German nobility, into his organization. For this purpose, he requested the most exclusive rural equestrian associations and incorporated several horse breeding farms in the Reiter-SS structure. Later successes in national and international equestrian competitions showed that Himmler's elite policy was paying off during the 1930s, as opposed to the massive inclusion of new members in the mounted units of the SA: the most talented riders could be find in the Reiter-SS.

Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger was the inspector of the Reiter-SS from 1936 to October 1939, while Christian Weber was the inspector of the SS riding schools from 1937 to 1945. In 1939, the SS Reiterstandarte “Totenkopf” was formed from parts of the Reiterstandarten 15 and 17. This was officially incorporated into the SS-Totenkopfverbände and was divided into the new SS Cavalry Regiments 1 and 2 in 1940. The new regiments were directly subordinate to the RFSS command staff (Kommandostab „RFSS“) and part of the Waffen-SS. The regiments were later combined into the SS Cavalry Brigade and the SS Cavalry Division, which was then expanded to form the 8th SS Cavalry Division “Florian Geyer”.

This SS sub-organization, which also included Bernhard zur Lippe-Biesterfeld (grandfather of Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands), Hermann Fegelein and Wernher von Braun, was the only active SS organization to be classified as “non-criminal” in 1946, after the end of the Second World War.


In 1933, newspapers called on interested Hitler Youth members between the ages of 16 and 18 to sign up for the Reiter-HJ. Initially, the Reiter-HJ borrowed its horses from the Reiter-SA, but a short time later it was able to publicly thank the authorities, farmers and haulage companies who had provided riding and draft horses. Some cities gave the Reiter-HJ riding halls and accommodation for horses and guards. During the guard duty, which each lasted a week, the assigned boys slept in the respective facility and – in addition to their school or vocational training – carried out stable, kitchen and housework.

Many rather poor boys signed up for the “Rider HJ” and received free riding lessons. For many it was a dream come true that would otherwise not have been possible. It was a carefree time for the children until 1939. Instead of official riding licenses, so-called youth riding licenses were issued to members of the Reiter-HJ. All holders of a riding license within the Reiter-HJ were awarded the HJ riding badge in the form of a sleeve disc.


Further reading

External links


  1. Der Reichsorganisationsleiter der NSDAP (publisher): Organisationsbuch der NSDAP. Zentralverlag der NSDAP, Franz Eher Nachf., München 1937