Social Security Card Number tattoos predated Auschwitz & German National Socialism

Social Security Number Tattoo from 1939?
social security number SSA

America’s Police State: Social Security Number 1939 ?
social security number SSA


Oregon, August 1939. “Unemployed lumber worker goes with his wife to the bean harvest. Note Social Security number tattooed on his arm.” Oregon, Marion County, near West Stayton.

And now a bit of Shorpy scholarship/detective work. A public records search shows that 535-07-5248 belonged to one Thomas Cave, born July 1912, died in 1980 in Portland. Which would make him how old when this picture was taken? 27?

The letters are SSA not SSN. They stand for Social Security Administration. SSN did not become a common acronym until after World War II. The first SSNs were issued in 1935, not long before this picture. The New Deal agencies were referred to back then as “the alphabet agencies” and then “alphabet soup.” For example, Lange, a photographer working for the RA, had previously worked for FERA (forerunner of today’s FEMA) and later the FSA, took the picture under the auspices of the USDA. Before the New Deal, government was much smaller, and, saving the USDA, these “alphabetics” (as they were also called) did not exist.

Social Security Number Thomas Cave?
social security number SSA tattoo 1936 or 39? Thomas Cave

Social security numbers were tattooed on Americans under Roosevelt’s socialism before tattoos were used in Germany under the National Socialist German Workers Party.

This photograph shows a tattooed social security number (SS number) on an American around 1939. The tattoo reads “SSA 535-07-5248.”

The tattooed American was probably part of a quasi-military socialist camp program in the USA, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps or a subsistence farming community created by the federal police state. For more on the Civilian Conservation Corps see

For more information about subsistence farming programs see

In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt imposed the Civilian Conservation Corps and created camps consistent with the dogma of military socialism touted by Edward Bellamy and Francis Bellamy (author of the “Pledge of Allegiance,” the origin of the stiff-arm salute adopted later under German National Socialism). Hitler at first remarked admiringly about Roosevelt’s “dynamic” leadership.

The American numbering program was known as the “social security” program, or SS program. The German National Socialist tattoo program was operated by the SS division. The German SS division used stylized alphabetical symbolism for its logo, similar to the crossed S-letters in the swastika (Hakenkreuz or hooked cross) for “socialism” under the National Socialist German Workers Party. See the work of the symbologist Dr. Rex Curry (author of “Swastika Secrets”).

During the Holocaust, concentration camp prisoners received tattoos only at one location, the Auschwitz concentration camp complex, which consisted of Auschwitz I (Main Camp), Auschwitz II (Auschwitz-Birkenau), and Auschwitz III (Monowitz and the subcamps).

It was part of the Wholecaust (of which the Holocaust was a part): ~20 million slaughtered under the National Socialist German Workers Party; ~60 million under the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; ~50 million under the Peoples Republic of China.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the SS authorities under German National Socialism marked prisoners who were in the infirmary or who were to be executed with their camp serial number across the chest with indelible ink. As prisoners were executed or died in other ways, their clothing bearing the camp serial number was removed. Given the mortality rate at the camp and practice of removing clothing, there was no way to identify the bodies after the clothing was removed. Hence, the SS authorities introduced the practice of tattooing in order to identify the bodies of registered prisoners who had died, according to

Originally, a special metal stamp, holding interchangeable numbers made up of needles approximately one centimeter long was used. The entire serial number was punched in one blow onto the prisoner’s left upper chest. Ink was then rubbed into the bleeding wound.

When the metal stamp method proved impractical, a single-needle device was introduced, which pierced the outlines of the serial-number digits onto the skin. The site of the tattoo was changed to the outer side of the left forearm. However, prisoners from several transports in 1943 had their numbers tattooed on the inner side of their left upper forearms. Tattooing was generally performed during registration when each prisoner was assigned a camp serial number. Since prisoners sent directly to the gas chambers were never issued numbers, they were never tattooed.

Tattooing was introduced at Auschwitz in the autumn of 1941. Thousands of prisoners of war (POWs) arrived at the camp from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (two years earlier the Soviet socialists had been allies with German socialists at the beginning of WWII and the invasion of Poland in a pact to divide up Europr). Thousands of Soviet socialist prisoners rapidly died at the camp. The SS authorities began to tattoo the prisoners for identification purposes. At Auschwitz II (Birkenau), the SS staff introduced the practice of tattooing in March 1942 to keep up with the identification of large numbers of prisoners who arrived, sickened, and died quickly. By that time, the majority of registered prisoners in the Auschwitz complex were Jews. In the spring of 1943, the SS authorities throughout the entire Auschwitz complex adopted the practice of tattooing almost all previously registered and newly arrived prisoners, including female prisoners. Exceptions to this practice were prisoners of German nationality and “reeducation prisoners,” who were held in a separate compound. “Reeducation prisoners,” or “labor-education prisoners,” were non-Jewish persons of virtually all European nationalities (but at Auschwitz primarily Germans, Czechs, Poles, and Soviet civilians) who had run afoul of the harsh labor discipline imposed on civilian laborers in areas under German control.

social security card numbers thumbnail will become tattoos or worse photograph
Socialist Slave photograph
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Socialist slave numbers can be tattooed in the same way that the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (Nazis) numbered and tattooed people.  so apropos!


One Comment

  1. Mike
    Posted November 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    You failed to mention the large number of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their clothing was marked with a purple triangle. They could have left the camps at any time by denouncing their religion, but died as martyrs.

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