Back in 1998 I went to a traveling Ann Frank exhibit that was being displayed at the Civic Center in Bismarck, North Dakota. Along with the exhibit the Heritage Center Museum in Bismarck was displaying some of its artifacts in this exhibit, mostly Nazi paraphernalia. One interesting piece was a Nazi uniform and in reading the information on this uniform I was surprised to find the uniform had been donated to the Heritage Center by my Uncle Axel Nelson. Shortly thereafter I contacted my Uncle and asked about the circumstances of how he had came in possession of this uniform. Here is his story.
Axel Nelson of Oaks, North Dakota joined the U.S. Army in February of 1941. During the spring of 1945 Staff Sergeant Nelson was serving with the 86th Division (Black Hawk Division), 341st Infantry, Company L, and were traveling through Germany.
The war was coming to an end and the writing was on the wall for the Nazis. Most of the German soldiers had either surrendered or laid down their arms and melted into the civilian population. The Nazi leaders for the most part were taking off their uniforms and keeping a low profile. While driving through a town in southern Germany Axil saw a German all decked out in his Nazi Ortsgruppe political uniform and was showing obvious contempt for the American soldiers passing by him on the street. Sergeant Nelson pulled his jeep over and told the Nazi in German to take off his uniform. The Nazi replied “Nein”. Axil pulled up his carbine and pointed it at his head and repeated his request. This time the Nazi complied and removed his uniform and Axel draped each piece, jacket, pants, everything, over his arm. Axel got back in his jeep with the Nazi uniform and left the Nazi standing in his underwear, no longer looking so arrogant.
VE day found Axel in Salzburg, Austria. From there He was sent to the Pacific for the invasion of Japan and was in transit when the war ended. He spent his remaining service in the Philippines. Axil Nelson left the service on Christmas day, 1945
The uniform along with other souvenirs were donated by Axel Nelson to the North Dakota Heritage Center after the war.
This is a Political Leader service tunic of light brown wool. The light brown parallelogram on the collar and the blue piping of the jacket, hat, and armband denote the Ortsgruppe political level. The combination of the gold national emblem with four gold metal political pips designate this man as the Gemeinschaftsleiter (Community Leader). The armband is the rank of the Ortsgruppenleiter (Local Group Leader), or the highest-rank at the Ortsgruppe Level.
The badge on the left breast pocket is the SA (Sturmabteilung – Assault Detachment of the Nazi Party) under the 19 January 1939 order for training of the entire male populace, the compulsory conscripted Home Guard. The red, white, and black circular device on the left breast pocket is a Nazi Party pin.
SOURCES: Personal interview with Axel Nelson, book by John R. Angolia and Stan Cook: CLOTH INSIGNIA OF THE NSDAP AND SA (Nazi Party Uniforms).