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During research for the 2nd edition of my book on Totenkopf rings, one of my goals was to make contact with and interview Elisabeth Nickel, daughter of the now-deceased jeweler, Berthold Peichl (left), who had allegedly worked for the firm of Otto Gahr, the company that manufactured the Totenkopf ring for the SS.  Peichl did cast reproductions throughout previous decades, but his association with Gahr was never established. 

On page 86, I stated that Peichl claimed to have been a jeweler for the Munich company.  This statement was not verifiable, as I was not aware of any written claim made by Peichl.  In reality, the only connection to Gahr was based upon previous statements & claims made by author Don Boyle.  It was according to Boyle that Peichl had worked for Gahr.  This connection was, according to Boyle, one of his sources for the "inside-track" knowledge that he had on Totenkopf Rings and on Otto Gahr.  In his book, Boyle states "A master jeweler who original made rings for the Otto Gahr company was Berthold Peichl."

Recently, I was able to speak with Mrs. Nickel on the phone, who continued her father's Jewelry business in Nordenham, where the family has lived since her father immigrated to Germany from Czechoslovakia . Nordenham is a town in the far north of Germany, approximately 400 miles north of Munich (see map).   

Peichl was in fact born in 1920 in what is now the Czech Republic, and began casting jewelry there.   He came from a small town called Sumperk, in Marisch-Schonberg, a town that in present day is called Sumperk.

Peichl relocated to Nordenham and began working as a metal worker  in the aircraft industry.   Nordenham was home to an aircraft plant owned by Weser Flugzeugbau GmBH, which manufactured the JU-388 and JU-52.  Piechl worked there until he was drafted for the war effort in the late 1940s.  According to Nickel, her he was never employed by Gahr, and never lived in Munich.   This is corroborated by a 25-year friend of Peichl, In a letter to me (to be published here), James Donald McLeod states that Peichl, in all the years they were friends, never mentioned Otto Gahr or even Don Boyle.  According to this source, Peichl as late as 1987 did not have an original ring to work from, and designed his rings from photos.

PiechlPeichl was a member of the Allgemeine-SS in the 98. SS Standarte.  This photo was given to McCleod, who states that Peichl told him the photo was take in 1938.  In 1944, he was drafted into the Waffen-SS, into the 17th SS-Pz-Gren-Div. GvB.

In my analysis, I have considered the possibility that there might have been not one but two Bertold Piechls in Germany who were jewelers.  However, the address label pictured below, taken from a letter from Peichl, places him Nordenham - the same town in which Elisabeth Nickel lives and works.  In addition, McCleod confirms that he visited both Piechl and his daughter Elisabeth, and even purchased jewelry from her.  Accordingly, we can be certain that there is no confusion surrounding the identity of Peichl.

Of interest is also the fact that Peichl never mentioned any affiliation with Otto Gahr in his advertising in veterans newspapers in Germany, or in his catalogs.  I will continue to develop this article with additional facts, and am working on a written statement from Nichel and McCleod.  However, suffice to say, this revelation leaves many additional serious questions unanswered.  While it is now known that Don Boyle dealt in reproduction rings from Peichl that were in Boyle's words, "very difficult to tell from originals." rings from Peichl (see check for 4 reproduction rings, below), there is currently no indication that Peichl ever worked for Otto Gahr.  If anyone has additional documented facts to help expand this project, please do not hesitate to email me.

Check provided to me by Don Boyle, for use in my book.  Account number removed.

Below: Letter from Piechl friend, James Donald McLeod.

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Berthold Piechl & Otto Gahr#3309

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