How to Identify WWII Nazi Memorabilia

Updated April 17, 2017

The hours of programming on cable TV that document the Nazi regime is one indicator of the interest still shown in Adolf Hitler's dictatorship. Nazi memorabilia is popular among relatives of veterans, military collectors and history buffs. Because of its popularity, a growing market exists for the authentic items from the Nazi era. With that comes counterfeit and knock-off replicas that can trick collectors. By examining each item carefully, you can reduce the risk of being taken by a fake artefact.

Ask to see the item in person. Do not buy the item on the Internet sight unseen. Reputable memorabilia dealers will allow you to examine the item before purchase. If you cannot see the item in person before shipment, arrange for a certified expert to verify the item before shipment.

Use a magnifying glass to examine the item closely. Some items, especially pins and badges, are easy to counterfeit. However, authentic Nazi materials have telltale engravings and markings from their manufacturing that were meticulously stamped on each piece. Also, upon closer inspection, the materials will show wear and oxidation while modern materials will tend not to show such wear. Write down your observations on each item.

Take several digital photographs of the item and upload them onto your computer. The pictures should be from several angles and viewpoints. Use software on your computer to enhance the item in several areas and save those enhancements. This will allow you to compare the item to certified memorabilia on websites, catalogues or in reference materials.

Go to websites that offer authentic memorabilia for sale. Several reputable merchants offer memorabilia, and these sites post detailed examinations of memorabilia. It is the interests of reputable merchants to offer authentic products because counterfeits, anywhere, hurt their reputation.

Consult a hard-copy memorabilia catalogue and reference materials. You might be able to find memorabilia candidates at Army-Navy stores or consignment shops. The library, especially university libraries, should have books and publications that detail and examine all aspects of Nazi life, including the clothing, weapons and other items that collectors desire. Compare your photographs and notes to those items to determine its authenticity.

Consult an expert if you are still questioning the item's origin. A local university might have an expert on Nazi-era Germany or can point you to someone nearby that has expertise in these items. If not, consult the Internet and find a reputable expert that you can send the photos to. They should be happy to do that for you.


Never pay for an item before you verify its authenticity, or pay by a method where you will be able to claim a refund quickly. Even if buying an item over the Internet, and you have assurances from the owner by an independent party that an item is genuine, do not release the money until you are satisfied that the item is genuine.


Counterfeit memorabilia can be difficult to detect because forgers can be clever in disguising their frauds. Experts can usually tell obvious fakes upon first glance, and will be able to tell all but the most meticulous counterfeits upon examination. Using photographs and reference materials, you should be able to spot most phoney items.

Things You'll Need

  • Memorabilia item
  • Magnifying glass
  • Camera
  • Memorabilia catalogue
  • Reference books
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About the Author

Beginning his writing career in 1987, Scott Fendley is a development operations professional and consultant who was published in "Advancement Services, A Foundation of Fundraising," published by CASE. He has also written articles for "The Paper of Montgomery County" and the "Crawfordsville Journal-Review." Fendley graduated from Wabash College with a B.A. in Mathematics and has an M.B.A. from Indiana University.