Puma Prototype Navy Dagger

September 2019

H. Hampe

There is endless debate between collectors about rare German Naval daggers from nearly every period. 

One of the most controversial, enigmatic and sought after is that which is commonly – though erroneously – named the ‘Naval Assault Dagger’, from the Nazi time.
The following is an attempt to bring some light into the discussion about these unique daggers.

In the July 1938 edition of the monthly specialist-periodical 'Die Klinge' there was a pictorial advertisement from the Lauterjung, 'Puma' company, introducing a new dagger pattern that was designed by and officially registered to them. 

This is the only known period reference to the dagger.

The common misconceptions surrounding this dagger have grown from one of their earliest subsequent references in a book titled ‘The Daggers and Edged Weapons of Hitler's Germany’, authored by James P. Atwood in 1965. 
Atwood was one of the most striking collectors of German daggers since the end of WW2.
He was on one hand a serious researcher of edged weapons and on the other a prolific reproducer who also worked on various techniques to forge Damascus blades and producing imagined Nazi daggers, which resulted in the remanufacture of several dagger configurations.
Fortunately most of them were made in such a way that experienced collectors are able to distinguish the originals from the fakes, commissioned by Atwood. 
In his book Atwood re-introduced the Puma dagger from 1938 as the 'Navy Assault Dagger'.  On page 104 he also stated that these distinctive daggers were produced by three different Solingen companies.

In 1971 the German author, Dr. Klietmann, wrote an interesting article about these daggers in 'Feldgrau', a small bimonthly brevier about military history. 
For the very first time since 1938 he re-published the advertisement of the 'Puma' company from 'Die Klinge' back in 1938. 

In his article Dr. Klietmann stated, that there is no evidence that these daggers were made by any other company than Lauterjung and went further by implying that those bearing any other manufacturers mark were made post-war.

Jan-Piet Puype stated in his profound work 'Der Marinedolch' from 1974, that the Pumadagger was named by Lauterjung as “pattern no.8”. 

To understand the true reason behind the design of this prototype dagger one have to understand that in May 1935 the Reichsmarine was changed to the new Kriegsmarine.
The idea of changing the dagger pommel from the reed-bundle of the 1929 Weimar pattern to something new was felt necessary by the Nazis.

Confronted with this new organizational changing it was obviously the intention of the Puma company to create, register and introduce an entire new dagger pattern into the market and present it to the Kriegsmarine in the hope, that it would be adopted by the Navy that had since 1929 continued to use the old Weimar dagger. 

This would have made Puma the leading company in delivering daggers to the Kriegsmarine in a very competitive market.

Unfortunately for Puma, the Kriegsmarine with typical German thriftiness decided to change only the pommel of the 1929 daggers from the reed-bundle to the Wehrmacht-eagle variation on Hitler’s birthday in 1938.

For the purpose of introducing a new dagger pattern it can be assumed that only very few items were made of highest quality.
By regulated procedure some were sent to the governmental authorities for being accepted.
After being refused, they were either sent back to Puma or were stored by the government.

It is also highly likely that those few daggers looked exactly as the advertised pattern in the magazine ‘Die Klinge’.

Caveat:  the author do not imply that any such Puma marked piece may be genuine.  Indeed quite the opposite is true.  Several so marked daggers have been studied and considered as unsuitable for inclusion for various reasons.  In all probability no more than a handful were ever made in the period and would most emphatically have to withstand the most diligent scrutiny and exactness to the original 1938 advertisement.