Military Decorations

Military Decorations

The War Merit Cross.
From left to right, top to bottom:
2nd Class with Swords, by Wilhelm Annetsberger (5 million awarded)
2nd Class without Swords (2 million awarded);
War Merit Medal ($ million awarded);
1st Class with Swords, by Bauer & Sohn (450,000 awarded);
1st Class without Swords, by Steinhauer & Luck (92,000 awarded).

Military Decorations

Adolf Hitler understood very well the philosophy of decorations, as embodied in Napoleon’s famous statement: ‘Give me enough ribbons to place on the tunics of my soldiers and I can conquer the world!’ The permanent display of war badges, campaign shields, cuff titles and other awards, a practice which reached its height during the 1942-5 period, gave the veteran Wehrmacht soldier his own distinctive appearance, calculated to play an important part in the morale-boosting psychology of Nazi Germany. Photographs of highly decorated officers and men were regularly spread across the front pages of newspapers throughout occupied Europe, and their stories were recalled in radio broadcasts and on the cinema screen. There is little doubt that the incentive of the Iron Cross alone was instrumental in spurring many troops on to perform almost superhuman deeds during the last few hopeless months of the war.

Senior Military Awards The Iron Cross was necessary that a recipient hold the lesser grades before a higher class could be awarded. All grades awarded were worn simultaneously.
During the Second World War, Iron Crosses were made by well over thirty different manufacturers, but all of these firms used master dies produced by just one company, Steinhauer & Liick of Liidenscheid, whose senior engraver, Emil Escher, designed the 1939 Iron Cross. This ensured that all genuine pieces, irrespective of maker, conformed to a single ideal with identical detailing. By 1 April 1942, Webrmacht demands for Iron Crosses had exceeded stocks available and this resulted in a new fully automated manufacturing process, devised to speed up production. Even so, a high-quality finish was maintained.
Authority to award the EK2 was delegated down to divisional commander level. An estimated 5 million awards were made during the Second World War, and many officers considered it a personal disgrace to return home from active service without one. Luftwaffe Oberst Hajo Herrmann, who went on to win far more prestigious decorations, related in his autobiography that the day he received die simple Iron Cross 2nd Class always remained the proudest day of his life. Twenty-seven females, mainly front-line nurses, received the cross, and boxes full of EK2s were retained at all field hospitals for distribution to the most severely wounded.
The Iron Cross 1st Class, or EK1, was the next highest grade. It had the same dimensions and obverse design as the EK2 but had a plain reverse, as it was worn on the left breast pocket at all times, in the form of a badge. The EK1 was normally attached to the pocket by means of a wide, tapering pin bar on the reverse, although the recipient could, if he desired, purchase an official copy with a screw- back device. Screw-back crosses were less likely to become detached in action and were sometimes bent to a slightly convex shape to improve fit.
A small hook on the reverse upper arm prevented the screw-back cross from swivelling around on the tunic pocket.
Many officers bought half a dozen duplicate crosses and affixed them permanently to all their combat and dress tunics. The primary reason for this was to avoid the damage which would have been caused to the tunics by the constant attaching and removal of a single pin-back or screw-back award. Construction of the EK1 was much like that of the EK2, except that some EKls featured hollow alloy cores, making them lighter to wear on shirts and denim tunics. The use of convex crosses was officially forbidden in February 1940, and again in March 1941, but they continued to be worn until the end of the war. The maker’s code number tended to be stamped into the pin or on the back of the lower arm.

Military Decorations

Navy war badges.
From left to right, top to bottom:
The U-Boat War Badge, by Karneth & Sobne;
The Dest royer Wa r Badge, by Josef Feix;
The Minesweeper War Badge;
‘The Blockade-Breaker Badge, by Schwerin & Sohn; The Auxiliary Cruiser War Badge, by Friedrich Orth; The High Seas Fleet War Badge, by Schwerin & Sohn.

Authority to bestow the EK1 was delegated down to divisional commander level, and around 730,000 awards were made between 1939 and 1945. Unlike the EK2, the 1st Class could not be conferred in recognition of serious wounds. Bravery or repeated meritorious combat service had to be demonstrated to qualify for the cross. A few examples follow to give an idea of the wide criteria involved. U-boat commanders were usually nominated for the EK1 on sinking 50,000 tons of enemy shipping, while Luftwaffe pilots might expect to receive it on clowning five enemy aircraft or completing eighty operational sorties.
The Army or Waffen-SS soldier could be recommended for the EK1 on performing three or four noteworthy acts over and above that which gained him the EK2, or for one act of exceptional courage or daring. On a very few occasions, the EK1 and EK2 were conferred simultaneously, as in the case of SS-Oberfuhrer Dr Eduard Deisenhofer, who received both classes on 26 June 1940. Two females were awarded the EK1, namely Austrian Red Cross Sister Else Grossmann and the test pilot Flugkapitan Hanna Reitsch.
All sentries with rifles were obliged to present arms to anyone holding the Ritterkreuz, regardless of his rank. The RK retained the same basic design as the EK2 but was larger, measuring 48 mm across. It was worn around the neck on all occasions. The frame was made from real silver, normally 80 per cent pure to allow sufficient hardness to withstand daily wear and tear, and the rim and suspension loop were usually stamped with the corresponding continental hallmark ‘800’.
Authority to confer the Ritterkreuz was vested in Hitler alone, although in cases of emergency, for example where the German troops concerned were besieged, he could delegate it to corps commander level. About 7,300 awards of the Knight’s Cross were made between 1939 and 1945.
While a high degree of bravery or achievement was always a prerequisite, criteria for award varied considerably throughout the Wehrmacht and were adjusted upwards as the war progressed. Luftwaffe Leutnant Egon Mayer, for example, won the RK in 1941 for his twentieth aerial victory, while Oberleutnant Otto Kittel had to shoot down 123 enemy planes before he received the cross in 1943. Fregattenkapitan Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, the commander of U-96, upon whose exploits the feature film Das Boot was based, was decorated with the Ritterkreuz for sinking sixteen ships in three months.
On land, Erwin Rommel earned the Knight’s Cross during the Battle of France in 1940, when his 7th Panzer Division (the ‘Ghost’ Division) captured 10,000 prisoners in two days, for littie loss. SS-Obersturmfuhrer Michael Wittmann of 1st SS-Panzer Regiment received the RK on 13 January 1944 for having destroyed a total of sixty-six Soviet tanks. On that same day, as if to celebrate, he shot up another nineteen T34s and three heavy assault guns! All SS holders of the Knight’s Cross automatically qualified for the Death’s Head Ring – the highest honour which Himmler could bestow upon members of his Black Order. Several non- Germans were decorated with the RK, but there were no female recipients.
It is worthy of note that the vast majority of Knight’s Cross holders wore only their original award pieces and never purchased so-called duplicates’ for front-line use. Unlike the EK1, the Ritterkreuz had to be taken off when changing uniform and so could very easily be moved from one order of dress to another. The private sale of replacements for lost or damaged Knight’s Crosses was expressly forbidden as early as 22 October 1941, after which date all duplicates were available only upon application through official channels. However, several photographs testify to the fact that a significant number of soldiers newly awarded the Ritterkreuz wore an Iron Cross 2nd Class around the throat, or even in rare cases an EK1 pinned through the knot of the neck tie, pending the presentation ceremony when the RK was formally bestowed. This practice became increasingly common towards the end of the war.
During the early campaigns of 1939-40, it became apparent that a still higher decoration was called for, and on 3 June 1940 Hitler instituted an oakleaf cluster to be attached above the Knight’s Cross. The Oakleaves, or Eicbenlaub, device was roughly circular in shape and measured 20 mm in diameter. It featured three vertical silver oakleaves, the middle one superimposed upon the other two. The reverse was smooth and slightly concave (never hollow or flat) and bore a suspension loop and hallmark. When awarded his Oakleaves, the recipient simply removed the original suspension loop from his RK and replaced it with the cluster.
The original short-lived intention was that the Oakleaves, like those to the Order Pour le Merite during the First World War, would be presented only to senior officers in recognition of tactical battles won, and the first award duly went to Generaloberst Eduard Died in July 1940, for his direction of the capture of Narvik. During the Second World War, 882 clusters were presented, eight of them to non-Germans. Luftwaffe Major Walter Nowotny received the decoration in 1943 for destroying 189 aircraft.
Naval Kapitanleutnant Siegfried Wuppermann earned it by sinking four destroyers, five tankers, a submarine and a torpedo boat in a three-month period. In the Army, Waffen-SS and other ground forces, personal bravery of the highest order, or outstanding leadership, had to be demonstrated before any recommendation for the cluster could be considered. Hitler personally scrutinised all recommendations and, in most cases, presented the awards himself at Fiihrer Headquarters. Moreover, recipients were given maximum publicity in the press and on the radio. In the upper social circles, a Ritterkreuz mit Eicbenlaub would open a great many doors normally closed to men of humble backgrounds.

Military Decorations

Left: The Eastern Front Medal, by Foerster & Barth;
Right: The Blue Division Medal, by Deschler & Sohn.

On 15 July 1941, Hitler upgraded the RK still further by instituting the Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds (Eicbenlaub mit Scbwertern und Brillanten), usually called simply the Diamonds. This award was similar to the Oakleaves and Swords device, but was encrusted with 45-50 diamonds of different sizes. Only twenty-seven awards of the Knight’s Cross with Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds were made during the war, the first being on 16 July 1941 to Luftwaffe Oberst Werner Molders, commander of Jagdgescb wader 51, for his destruction of twenty-eight Russian aircraft in the first three weeks of the eastern campaign.

The ever- changing nature of the presentation criteria is indi cated by the fact that Oberst Hermann Graf qualified for the Diamonds in September 1942 by shooting down 172 enemy planes, while 22-year-old Major Erich ‘Boy’ Hartmann had to destroy 301 aircraft before he won the award in August 1944. Almost half of all Diamonds bestowed went to the Luftwaffe.

The senior grade of the EK was the Grand Cross or Grosskreuz, which had existed since 1813. Worn around the neck, it was identical to the RK but was much larger, measuring 63 mm across. The Grosskreuz was not a bravery award, but was intended solely for general officers whose strategy had a decisive effect on the course of the war. The only holder of the Nazi Grand Cross was Hermann Goring, who received it on 19 July 1940 in recognition of his Luftwaffe’s contribution to the Blitzkrieg across Western Europe and the rapid defeat of France.
Like Blucher before him, he immediately incorporated the prestigious decoration into the design of his personal standard. A single Star of the Grand Cross exists, taking the form of an EK1 rivet- ted on to an eight-pointed gilded silver star measuring 87 mm across. It was apparently intended to be worn on the left breast in conjunction with the Grand Cross, as a higher class, by the field marshal whom Hitler would decide had contributed most to the ultimate victory of the Third Reich. Similar awards had been made to Bliicher after Waterloo and to von Hindenburg following the Battle of Amiens-Arras in March 1918. For obvious reasons, the Nazi star was never bestowed. It now resides in the US Military Academy Museum at West Point. In a similar vein, a planned Grand Cross in Gold with a gilded silver frame was considered but rejected by the Ftihrer on the grounds that it did not conform to the Iron Cross tradition.

On 9 March 1943, Dr Goebbels referred in his diary to plans for a ‘next-of-kin badge’ for presentation to the wives or mothers of soldiers killed in action . It was to take the form of a black ribbon with a small Iron Cross attached. The project never progressed, however, although the Iron Cross regularly featured on Nazi military grave markers and as a cancellation stamp in identity documents denoting the holder’s death in battle.

Along with the steel helmet and jackboot, the. Iron Cross became a symbol of the military forces of the Third Reich. It appeared on propaganda postcards, rostrums, flags and badges. Recipients painted it on dieir aircraft rudders, tanks and artillery pieces. Hotels were named after it, and songs extolled its glory. This mystique continued long after 1945, as exemplified by films and novels like Cross of Iron and Black Cross. As a result, the Iron Cross has arguably become the best-known military decoration in the world.

Military Decorations

This hammered aluminium photograph frame was probably made by a close family relation of the young SS-Scharfiihrer shown, who was killed in Russia. His dates, 1919-1942, are clearly evident and his initials ‘T.W are surrounded by swastikas, Sig-runes and other Nordic symbols. The fact that the dead man served ivith the 6th SS-Totenkopf Regiment means it is likely that he perished during the fighting at Demjansk. A piece of ribbon for the Eastern Front Medal, which would have been delivered posthumously to his next-of-kin, is mounted alongside his picture.

The Honour Roll Clasp
In July 1941, the Army High Command drew up a Roll of Honour to record gallant acts by soldiers who had already won the Iron Cross 1st Class but whose most recent brave actions did not qualify them for the Ritterkreuz. The Navy inaugurated a similar so-called Honour Table in February 1943, and the Luftwaffe did likewise with its Honour List. It was not until 1944, however, that a decoration was created to recognise those concerned outwardly.
The Honour Roll Clasp, or Ebrenblatt Spange, was allied to the Iron Cross series in that it was always worn through the second buttonhole of the tunic, attached to a piece of 1939 EK2 ribbon. All Honour Roll Clasps took the form of a wreath of oakleaves, about 24 mm in diameter. The Army version, instituted on 30 January 1944, featured a silhouetted swastika in the centre of the wreath, while the Navy clasp, dating from 13 May, had an anchor and swastika. The Luftwaffe clasp was established on 5 July, and featured a flying eagle.

Constructed from five main separate parts, riveted and pinned together, the earliest German Crosses were very heavy affairs, weighing 65 g, and could not comfortably or even safely be worn on field tunics, especially by those operating in tanks and other confined spaces. Lighter versions distinguished by hollow rather than solid rivets and weighing around 50 g were later produced, but these were less robust and more easily damaged. On
5 June 1942, therefore, an active-service version of the DK in Gold was authorised.
It was the same size as the heavy metal award but was hand-embroidered in cotton, silk and aluminium threads. The wreath generally remained metal but was much lighter. The active-service version, which was sewn to the tunic, had a background edging appropriate to the service of the holder, i.e. Army field-grey, Luftwaffe blue-grey, Navy blue, or black for Panzer troops. Unlike the metal version, the cloth German Cross could be purchased openly from uniform retailers upon presentation of the relevant proof of entitlement. It was very popular with those at the front, and allowed them to keep their presentation pieces safely at home. During the last year of the war the cloth badge was often conferred in lieu of its metal counterpart.
The first thirty-eight awards of the German Cross in Gold were made to Army officers and NCOs on 18 October 1941. Among the recipients were: Oberstleutnant Hans Kallner, who went on to win the Knight’s Cross with Oakleaves and Swords; Oberleutnant Georg Griiner; and Oberleutnant Hans-Henning Freiherr von Wolff. Both Griiner and von Wolff later earned the Knight’s Cross with Oakleaves. Typical holders of the German Cross in Silver were Kurt Daluege, head of the uniformed police, and Prof. Dr Karl Gebhardt, the Chief SS Medical Officer.
The gold and silver crosses could be worn simultaneously, although only two recipients of both grades, namely Admiral Paul Meixner and SS- Gruppenfuhrer Odilo Globocnik, are known. All SS holders of the German Cross automatically qualified for the SS Death’s Head Ring.
A prototype produced by the Munich jeweller Peter Rath at a cost of 2,800 Reichsmarks was delivered to the Reich Chancellery in October 1942. Qualification criteria for this decoration, which had the golden wreath studded with small diamonds, have never been ascertained but it is believed that Hitler intended it as a personal reward for his most enduring and longest-serving combat troops.
Although an illustration of the special grade appeared in the 1943 edition of Doehle’s book Die Auszeichnungen cles Grossdeutschen Reichs, few German servicemen knew that it existed and it was never bestowed. The twenty specimens ultimately produced remained locked in safes at the Chancellery and Klessheim Castle. It is entirely possible that Hitler decided to delay presentation of the special grade until the war had been won, perhaps with the intention of restricting its bestowal to a select few who had demonstrated the highest levels of continuous achievement throughout the entire conflict.

Military Decorations

top to bottom:
The Kreta Cuff Title;
The Afrika Cuff Title;
The Kurland Cuff Title.

Meritorious Service Decorations The War Merit Cross

Initially, the decoration consisted of a 1st and a 2nd Class, each with or without Swords. An award with Swords was used to recognise all types of
general military merit, where the recipient’s duties or branch of service were such that he or she could reasonably expect to be exposed to enemy fire (including aerial bombing). Qualifying service therefore ranged from the planning of successful military operations to the efficient maintenance of front-line vehicles and equipment and the meritorious performance of civil defence and security tasks. An award without Swords signified war service of a political, diplomatic, economic, industrial or generally non-military nature, where exposure to enemy fire was not routinely anticipated.
In August 1940, the War Merit Medal CKriegsverdienstmedaille) was instituted for award primarily to civilian industrial and agricultural workers, particularly those who exceeded production targets in munitions factories. It was also given to flak auxiliaries, Red Cross personnel and so on for two years’ general service in support of the war effort.
According to Armaments Minister Albert Speer, Hitler made a final addition to the War Merit Cross series in October 1944 by founding the Golden Knight’s Cross of the War Merit Cross, with and without Swords. Very significantly, this grade was never formally publicised in the Reichsgesetzblatt or any other official orders. Indeed, it is highly unlikely that any Golden Knight’s Crosses were actually placed into production.
The Spanish Cross
Dr Oskar Dirlewanger, the notorious counterguerrilla commander, served in Spain from April to October 1937 and from July 1938 until May 1939, winning the Spanish Cross in Silver with Swords as a result. He was the only man known to have subsequently worn the award with SS uniform. Dirlewanger doubtless spent much of his time in Spain learning various anti-terrorist and counterinsurgency tactics which he later perfected in Russia and Poland.

A smaller version of the Spanienkreuz in Bronze without Swords, suspended from a ribbon in the German and Spanish colours, was presented as a keepsake to the next-of-kin of those killed in action in the Civil War, or who later died of wounds sustained in the conflict. The parents of the above- named Leutnant Wilhelm Boddem, for example, received such an award when their son succumbed to his Civil War wounds in January 1940. Only 315 next-of-kin crosses were conferred, the prescribed order of precedence for relatives’ eligibility being:
1. widow
2. oldest son
3. oldest daughter
4. father
5. mother
6. brother
7. sister
All ribbons were cornflower blue, the colour of Germany’s national flower and traditionally symbolic of faithfulness. Each ribbon had a small appropriately coloured metal eagle attached, being either spread-winged (Army and Navy) or flying {Luftwaffe). When the Wehrmacht long-service awards first began to be distributed, they were retroactive and it was possible for a long-serving soldier to receive all the grades simultaneously. Exceptionally long service, beyond the scope of the crosses, was recognised by a certificate issued by the Wehrmacht High Command.

Military Decorations

Luftwaffe qualification and war badges.
From left to right:
The Radio Operator Badge, by Imme & Sohn;
The Paratroop Badge;
The Flak Battle Badge, by Gustav Brehmer;
The Ground Assault Badge.

Wehrmacht Marksmanship Lanyards On 29 June 1936, a series of Marksmanship Lanyards, or Schutzenschnur, was created for exel- lence in shooting with the carbine, rifle or machine- gun. The lanyard was conferred in twelve grades, depending on levels of proficiency, and was worn with one end attached to a button under the right shoulder strap and the other end draped across the breast and hooked to the second buttonhole of the tunic. It is included here for the sake of clarification, since lanyard badges were very similar in appearance to the later War Badges, for which they are often mistaken.

55 Long-Service Awards
Eligibility was restricted to volunteer soldiers of the 55- Verfugungstruppe, SS-Totenkopfverbande and 55- Junkerschulen, all of which came under the umbrella of the Waffen-SS in 1939-40. Former service in the Wehrmacht, Landespolizei, Freikorps or NSDAP paramilitary formations counted towards the total years necessary to qualify for the new award, but in any case every prospective recipient had to have served a minimum of four years in an appropriate armed 55 unit. Since membership of the armed 55 did not count as national military service until 1935, in effect no one could be eligible for these decorations until 1939 at the earliest. Moreover, members of the Allgemeine-SS could not receive them at all, and their long 55 service was later recognised by bestowal of the NSDAP Dienstauszeichnungen.
Following a design revision of the lowest grade on 21 October 1938, which gave it a unique obverse, the 55 range comprised black- and bronze- toned medals for four and eight years’ service respectively, and large silver and gold swastikashaped ‘crosses’ for twelve and twenty-five years. The width of the trial run was 35 mm and its Sig-runes were machine-embroidered in light grey cotton thread rather than being hand-embroidered in silver or gold bullion. However, none of this prototype ribbon was ever issued.
The 55 four-year medal was not open to officers, but the other grades could be bestowed regardless of rank. They closely paralleled prescribed armed SS service periods, as other ranks normally enlisted for four years and NCOs for twelve, with officers signing on’ for twenty-five years’ service. All grades featured the legend Fur Treue Dienste in der SS.
Designed by Karl Diebitsch, the SS Dienstaus- zeichnungen were produced in some quantity during the spring of 1939 by Deschler of Munich and Petz & Lorenz of Unterreichenbach, but they were not widely distributed thereafter since Waffen- SS soldiers became eligible to receive the standard Wehrmacht long-service awards from the outbreak of the Second World War. While at least one Wehrpass survives recording an award on paper’ of the SS four-year medal to a Scharfiibrer of the Das Reich’ division in August 1942, Waffen-SS officers and men during the 1939-45 period consistently sported Army eagles, not SS runes, on their service ribbon bars.
Indeed, pictorial evidence reveals only one prominent Waffen-SS officer, Otto Kumm, regularly wearing the runic ribbon of the twelve-year decoration during the war. No photographs at all are known to exist showing the four-or eight-year SS medals being worn on parade, and no one ever qualified for a twenty-five-year decoration. All the indications are that very few SS long-service awards of any grade were ever bestowed.
It is interesting to note that the twelve-year award was conferred upon Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler early in 1939 although he was, technically speaking, not entitled to receive it, never having served the requisite period in a military SS imit!

Military Decorations

From left to right:
The Krim Shield;
The Demjansk. Shield;
The Kuban Shield.

SS Marksmanship Awards
Members of the armed SS were prohibited from wearing Wehrmacht marksmanship lanyards. On 26 January 1937, a draft order instituting an SS Shooting Badge (SS-Schiessabzeicben) was drawn up describing four classes of cloth insignia, featuring targets, to be worn on the lower right sleeve. A further draft order dating from November 1937 refers to the creation of an Armed SS Shooting Badge (Schutzenabzeichen der SS-VT), in metal form, for wear on the left breast pocket. To further confuse the issue, a blank citation for an SS Marksmanship Lanyard (SS-Scbtitzenscbnur) also exists. However, none of these projected proficiency badges was ever produced and there was no outward recognition of SS marksmanship.
The ‘Flower War’ Medals
On 1 May 1938, Hitler instituted the Commemorative Medal of 13 March 1938, or Medaille zur Erinnerung an der 13 Mcirz 1938, usually known as the OstmarkmedaUle, or Anschluss Medal. Designed by Professor Puchinger of Vienna, it was awarded to those who prepared for or took part in the Nazi annexation of Austria. It was the first in a series of three medals celebrating the so- called ‘flower wars’, when invading German troops were greeted with floral tributes rather than gunfire and the Nazi regime scored some spectacular bloodless victories. The second in the series, the Medal of 1 October 1938, was awarded for participation in the occupation of the Czech Sudeten land, and a Bar, bearing a representation of Prague Castle, was authorised on 1 May 1939 for holders of the medal who were further engaged in the occupation of the rest of Czechoslovakia and the subsequent organisation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.
The last medal in the series commemorated the return of the Memel District from Lithuania to Germany. Each of these medals featured the same obverse design – a tall standing figure carrying a swastika banner (Germany) assisting a shorter figure with broken shackles (representing the ‘freed’ Austrians, Czechs and Memellanders) to mount a podium which symbolised the Greater German Reich.
The Anschluss and Sudetenland Medals had on their reverses the dates 13 Mcirz 1938 and 1 Oktober 1938 respectively, each surrounded by the legend Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fiihrer (‘One people, one nation, one leader ), a favourite pre-war slogan which promoted Hitler’s reunification policy. The Memel Medal had the reverse inscription Zur Erinnerung an die Heimkehr des Memellandes, 22 Mcirz 1939 (‘In commemoration of the return of the Memel district, 22 March 1939’)- The Anschluss Medal was silver in colour and the others bronze. It is noteworthy that the Blumenkrieg witnessed the first use of the Nazi field post office system, a sure sign that Hitler was by then expecting full-scale war.
The original design for the Anschluss Medal, as described in the foundation decree, had Hitler’s profile on the obverse and a large eagle and swastika on the reverse. However, this pattern was never produced, probably because it would have smacked of ‘occupation’ rather than ‘liberation’.
The numbers of ‘flower war’ medals distributed were as follows:
Anschluss Medal 318,689
Sudetenland Medal 1,162,617
Prague Castle Bar 134,563
Memel Medal 31,322
Military units taking part in any of these occupations were authorised to carry streamers, in the colours of the appropriate medal ribbons, attached to their regimental and battalion standards.

Military Decorations

Commemorative finger rings.
Left: Typical silver Afrika Ring, bearing the ‘DAK 1941’ tactical symbol in gold, The piece is double hallmarked, with both cm Arab silver stamp and the German ‘800’ equivalent;
Right: Russian silver ring, with a representation of the Krim Shield and the dates ‘1941-1943’ engraved on its copper mount.

The West Wall Medal
The German Defence Wall Decoration, or Deutsches Schutzwall Ehrenzeicben, usually called the West Wall Medal, was instituted on 2 August 1939 for bestowal upon designers, planners and over 600,000 workers who constructed the Siegfried line and other defensive fortifications along the western border of Germany. Members of the armed forces who were stationed on these defences prior to May 1940 were also eligible for the bronze award, which featured a pillbox surmounted by a sword and spade.
A second striking of the medal, this time in zinc, was made in October 1944 for distribution as a morale-booster to large forces of workers and soldiers then strengthening the defence lines along Germany’s western and eastern borders. Around 200,000 zinc medals were handed out en masse to the entire membership of Organisation Todt construction units, and the exigencies of duty at that late stage of the war frequently resulted in the award being presented with a partially blank citation so that the recipient could fill in his own details! A Bar comprising an eagle over a sword and spade was authorised for those who had already received the bronze medal in 1939-40, but it was never produced.
The Ostvolk Decoration
On 14 July 1942, at the suggestion of the Reicbsfubrer-SS, Hitler created the Ostvolk Decoration for bestowal on over 1 million former Soviet citizens, including a vast array of Moslem tribesmen from the Caucasus, who were serving as volunteers in the Webrmacbt. They were at that time ineligible for the Eastern Front Medal and other German combat awards, and so had recently taken to manufacturing their own ‘Mickey Mouse’ medals, most notably the 2nd Siberian and 5th Don Cossack Cavalry Regiment Crosses. The latter had no official standing whatsoever, but highlighted the desire of these people for some type of decoration to recognise their efforts.

The Ostvolk Auszeichnung came in two classes, a 1st Class in Gold and Silver and a 2nd Class in Gold, Silver and Bronze. The 1st Class was a 50 mm wide pin-back badge worn on the left breast pocket, while the 2nd Class was a 40 mm medal suspended from a ribbon in progressively lighter shades of ‘Turkic green’, with white edge stripes for the silver grade and red stripes for the gold grade. Designed by Elmar Lang of the Godet firm, the various divisions of the zinc-based decoration all took the form of an Islamic star bearing a traditional Russian sunflower surrounded by laurel leaves, and each could be with or without Swords.
An award with Swords denoted bravery in battle and could be bestowed by the local army divisional commander or, in the case of anti-partisan units, by the senior SS and police officer in the area. The award without Swords recognised meritorious service and was conferred in Hitler’s name by the Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories.
The Ostvolk Decoration was like all other German military and civil awards rolled into one and could be presented not only for valour or merit but also for being wounded, for taking part in close combat, or tor participating in a recognised campaign. Consequently, it was very widely distributed. All grades of the 2nd Class had to be held prior to award of the 1st Class. However, to complicate the issue still further, each grade of the 2nd Class could be conferred three times on a single individual (i.e. three Bronze, three Silver and three Gold), and multiple awards were often made and worn simultaneously, hanging from separately pinned on ribbons in the traditional Russian style.
For example, Oberst E.N. Kononov, commander of the 5th Don Cossacks, received the 2nd Class in Bronze twice, the 2nd Class in Silver once and the 2nd Class in Gold once, before being awarded the 1st Class in Silver. After that, he was presented with a further 2nd Class in Gold! Females could also qualify for the decoration, the first such recipient being 19-year- old Marij Studenikova, a front-line nurse with the 1st Cossack Division. To facilitate the ‘Eastern’ manner of their wearing, which was unique among Nazi awards, all examples of the 2nd Class were delivered from the factory attached to specially sewn ribbons through which the suspension ring was hooked. This necessitated the use of a relatively flimsy and easily bent aluminium ring, left unsoldered and open, for ease of pushing through prepunched holes in the ribbon.
Notable recipients of the Ostvolk Decoration 1st Class included the infamous SS-Oberfuhrer Dr Oskar Dirlewanger, who commanded an anti-partisan brigade frequently used as a terror unit against civilians; Bronislav Kaminski, leader of the so-called Russian People’s Liberation Army; and Boris Smyslovsky, commander of the German Army’s 1st Russian Division. The 1st Class was usually accompanied by a token cash payment which was often far more welcome than the award itself, given the poor financial circumstances of the majority of Russian auxiliaries in the Nazi forces.

Military Decorations

This Army corporal’s dress tunic displays a Marksmanship Lanyard, 4-Year Service Medal and German National Sports Badge.

Despite this latter incentive, however, the Eastern troops to whom this decoration was initially exclusively given soon felt slighted that no German ever appeared with one. Consequently, in November 1942 automatic eligibility for the 1 st and/or 2nd Class in Silver with Swords was extended to German cadre personnel who already held the Iron Cross 1st and/or 2nd Class respectively. On 14 February 1944 the equivalent Silver grades without Swords were authorised for appropriate German holders of the War Merit Cross. A number of 2nd Class decorations were supplied with variant ribbons in red, yellow, green and blue. Perhaps these were meant to correspond with the various national badges employed by Armenians, Volga Tartars and the like but, in any event, they do not appear to have been issued. Citations accompanying the Ostvolk Decoration were frequently bilingual, in German and the first language of the recipient.
It is worth mentioning that before the institution of the Afrika Cuff Title, members of the Afrikakorps gave themselves their own commemorative award’ in the form of a finger ring which attained widespread popularity amongst the earliest veterans of the desert campaign. The Afrika Ring was originally created by an imaginative German supplies officer, Robert Hoefle, who while walking through the bazaars of Tripoli in the spring of 1941 saw many troops visiting local shops and buying rings with various Arabic motifs as souvenirs.

He commissioned one of the Arab silversmiths to produce rings bearing the Afrikakorps tactical symbol of a palm tree surmounted by a swastika and the legend DAK 1941, for sale in unit canteens. The design soon became very well known and a number of Arab jewellers were subsequently kept busy applying Nazi symbolism to existing stocks of rings for their many eager German customers. The rings continued to be made well into 1942 and some elaborate examples bore gold tooling, elephant or camel designs and so on. Most had Arab silver hallmarks, although a few were stamped with German marks as well. The Afrika Ring soon took on the status of a campaign commemorative, since most of its wearers were the men who first saw action with Rommel in the desert. It continued to be displayed proudly on fingers until the end of the war although, of course, it had no official standing whatsoever.
The Kurland Cuff Title
The last campaign drmelband was instituted on 12 March 1945 as Hitler’s final award to the German forces in the Second World War. It was autiiorised for the men of Army Group Courland, who had been fighting a ferocious war of encirclement in Latvia for over five months. The woven title was made from a grey-white linen and bore the word ‘Kurland’ in black thread, between the stag’s head shield of Mitau, Courland’s chief city, and the shield of the Grand Master of the Order of Teutonic Knights, German colonisers of the area in the thirteenth century.
It was manufactured inside the Courland Pocket by the troops themselves, using a commandeered weaving mill at Kuldiga, and was cut short to conserve material so did not extend around the entire circumference of the left cuff. This complied with the General Order of 18 November 1944, which laid down that all cuff titles manufactured after that date had to be shortened to 22 cm for economy reasons. Distribution of the Kurland Cuff Title began on 20 April, and continued right up until after the capitulation. On 3 May Hitler’s successor, Grossadmiral Donitz, ordered the long-awaited evacuation of troops from the Courland peninsula.
Thousands managed to escape in a Dunkirk-like operation, but many more were trapped and captured by the Soviets. Of those, only a small number survived the years of hunger, disease and forced labour that were to be their lot in Russian captivity close to the Arctic Circle. The Kurland Cuff Title is by far the rarest of the three campaign bands which were issued during the Second World War. Most recipients simply never took the trouble to sew the decoration to their tunics – they had far more pressing things on their minds at the time. Consequently, the majority of issued titles were discarded at the end of the war. It is noteworthy that Hitler had ordered Courland to be held as long as possible for a special reason: he hoped to use the peninsula as a springboard for a flanking attack against the Russians in the unlikely event he could persuade the Western Allies to change sides at the last minute and join his crusade against Communism!

Military Decorations

The Ostvolk Decoration.
Top left: 2nd Class in Gold without Swords, by Wachtler & Lange;
Top right: 2nd Class in Silver without Swords, by Wachtler & Lange;
Bottom: 1st Class in Gold without Swords.
A neck version of this decoration carrying with it the Soviet-like title Held des Volkes, or Hero of the people’, was contemplated for award to pro-Nazi native generals, but was never instituted.

Unit Cuff Titles as Awards
Unit cuff titles were normally worn by members of selected formations only for as long as they were assigned to them. However, an Army order dated 25 October 1944 permitted, by Hitler’s authority, the award by divisional and regimental commanders of the cuff titles ‘ Grossdeutschland’, Feldherrnhalle’,
7 nfanterie-Regiment List’, Brandenburg’ and ‘ Generaloberst Dietl’ to individual soldiers of these units lor valour or extraordinary performance. When conferred personally in this way, such titles were allowed to be worn permanently by the recipients, irrespective of their subsequent transfer to other formations.

The 1939 Wound Badge

Multiple wounds were not uncommon amongst German soldiers, particularly on the eastern front, as exemplified by 55- Obersturmbannftihrer Boris Kraas, who was wounded sixteen times in four years! Even his luck ran out, and his final wound was fatal. Regulations dictated that, of the many serious and long-lasting illnesses commonly contracted by troops stationed in countries with extreme climatic conditions, only frostbite counted as a wound for the purposes of the badge.
All members of the Wehrmacht and their auxiliaries were eligible for the Wound Badge and, from March 1943, it was also distributed to uniformed civilians such as policemen, firemen, railwaymen and Hitler Youths seriously injured during air raids. Authority to award the badge was usually delegated to senior hospital doctors, who issued the relevant citations and bestowed the EK2 on amputees and those most severely maimed. Military doctors could also promote selected wounded servicemen in their care, where return to active duty was unlikely and the promotion would serve as a morale-booster to other patients. It is interesting to note that Dr Goebbels referred in his diary entry dated 26 September 1943 to plans for a special Total- Bombengescbadigten-Abzeicben, to be awarded to those killed, wounded or made homeless as a result of Allied bombing. However, no such decoration was ever produced.

War Badges
A uniquely German phenomenon, the war badge, or Kriegsabzeicben, had the effect of showing at a glance the degree to which any given soldier had combat experience. War badges of a sort were in existence in Germany prior to 1918, but after 1939 there was a real explosion in their creation, manufacture and distribution. By 1945 there were over forty different patterns for the Webrmacbt, and some of these were themselves divided into three classes, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Others were subdivided into grades by the inclusion of boxed numerals on the obverse of their designs. Though similar in appearance, war badges were distinct from qualification badges, which were given automatically on completion of specialist training.
The war badge reflected participation in active service, rather than showing a particular skill which die wearer had mastered. Basically, the war badge consisted of an oval wreath of oak or laurel leaves enclosing a symbol representative of the branch of service concerned. The whole badge was normally surmounted by a stylised eagle and swastika, and different ranges of badges existed for all three services, the Army Waffen-SS, the Navy and the Luftwaffe. Most war badges were worn permanently on the lower left breast pocket when in uniform, although the combat clasp, a senior form of war badge, was sported above the left pocket.
War badges could be solid or hollow-backed and were both die-struck and cast. The earliest awards were made from bronze, brass, nickel silver or Cupal (a lightweight but strong aluminium and copper sheeting), and were heavily plated in the appropriate colours. With new metal restrictions, 1942 saw the widespread use of greyish zinc-based alloys in their manufacture. Such badges were given a coloured lacquer, or were even painted, since plating would not adhere to the acidic zinc surface.
The most common coating used in this connection was known as Brennlack, a lacquer containing powdered metal of an appropriate bronze, silver or gold colour. When the treated badge was baked in an oven, the lacquer was burned off leaving a thin metallic coating adhering to the surface of the award. If the oven heat had been too intense, this coating was left with a ‘bubbled’ appearance. Badges so treated soon reverted to their base slate- grey as the fragile coloured coating wore off, or was dissolved gradually by the acid in the metal.
War badges were usually struck from one piece of metal, but where two or more parts were involved these were riveted or soldered together. Some exceptionally rare examples were elevated for particularly distinguished recipients (normally holders of the Knight’s Cross with Oakleaves) by being encrusted with small diamonds. These were constructed from hallmarked silver and were given as personal tokens of appreciation by the heads of the appropriate branches of the armed forces.

Military Decorations

The Wehrmacht 4-Year Long Service Medal, with ribbon emblem denoting presentation to a member of the Luftwaffe.

Army and Waffen-SS War Badges
The Condor Legion Tank Badge In September 1936 Oberst Wilhelm Ritter von Tlioma, commander of the Condor Legion’s Panzergruppe ‘Drohne’, a training unit, created a badge to be worn on the left breast pocket by his tank crews. It was at that stage simply a formation badge, with little or no official standing, and was produced locally by a firm in Spain. Around 400 presentations were made. The Condor Legion Tank Badge continued to be worn by its surviving recipients throughout the Second World War, sometimes in conjunction with the later Panzerkampfabzeicben. At least one photograph exists showing both awards being sported simultaneously by an Army Panzer crewman who had also affixed large 55-pattern cap death’s heads to both collar patches, thereby emphasising still further the prestigious totenkopf insignia.
The Army Paratroop Badge On 1 September 1937, the Army Paratroop Badge, or Fallschirmschiitzenabzeichen des Heeres, was created for award to Army paratroopers upon completion of their training. It was therefore a qualification badge rather than a war badge, but is included here for the sake of overall completeness.
To retain the Paratroop Badge, the recipient had to complete six jumps per year, thus demonstrating his continuing proficiency. When the Army parachute battalions transferred to the Luftwaffe on 1 January 1939, this aluminium award was cancelled, although holders could continue to wear it. The badge was resurrected in a zinc form in June 1943 for special forces men of the 15th (Parachute) Company, ‘Brandenburg’ Regiment, but it was seldom bestowed thereafter. It is worthy of note that the 1,000 or so qualified paratroopers of the Waffen-SS were trained by the Air Force and so received the Luftwaffe version of the paratroop badge, not the Army one.

A rifle with fixed bayonet was chosen as the central feature of this decoration, for obvious reasons, and the simplicity of its design made the Infanterie-Sturmabzeicben something of a classic’ among Third Reich awards. It is noteworthy that the badge was very similar in appearance to that worn on the Grade 5-8 Marksmanship Lanyard for tank crews, introduced on 19 December 1938 with a Panzer Mk I as the centrepiece. This has given rise to speculation that the design of the Infantry Assault Badge may have been drawn up as early as 1938, with the original intention that it should be used on the Army’s general Marksmanship Lanyard for nontank crews.
The Tank Battle Badge

On 22 June 1943, larger numbered Tank Battle Badges were introduced, since it had by then become apparent that the basic badge was insufficient to recognise the mounting number of actions that a Panzer crewman might have participated in. The new grades had one of the numerals ‘25’, ‘50’, ‘75’ or ‘100’ in a box at the base of the badge, to indicate participation in that number of assaults.
The following variants were duly authorised:
in silver for 25 actions in silver for 50 actions in silver for 75 actions in silver for 100 actions
in silver for 200 actions (only one award known to have been made on paper’) in bronze for 25 actions in bronze for 50 actions in bronze for 75 actions in bronze for 100 actions Many Panzer crews soon qualified for these numbered badges by virtue of their involvement in the decisive Kursk offensive of July-August 1943, where 70 per cent of Germany’s tanks on the eastern front were mustered and engaged the Soviets almost continuously over a seven-week period. Indeed, the numbered Tank Battle and General Assault Badges may have been created specifically as an incentive for Kursk participants, which would explain the lack of a numbered Infantry Assault Badge, as footsoldiers at Kursk were Panzer grenadiere rather than infantry proper. Eight out of ten Panzer crews were killed in action during the Second World War, so these badges were very hard-won.
It is interesting to note that Michael Wittmann, who knocked out 138 enemy armoured vehicles and was the most successful tank commander of the war, was never photographed wearing a numbered Panzerkampfabzeicben. Even the pictures taken shortly before his death in August 1944 show him sporting the basic, unnumbered award. All photographs of the numbered versions being worn seem to date from September 1944 and later, which suggests that distribution of these badges, like their General Assault counterparts, did not take place until that time. Such a delay between the institution of a decoration and its actual manufacture and bestowal would not be unusual, particularly in wartime. The Silver version for 200 actions, while authorised very late in the war, was never actually produced.

Military Decorations

The Narvik Shield

Qualification might therefore be built up over many months or even years on different battlefronts, taking account of absence from action because of wounds sustained and so on. Divisional commanders could authorise men severely wounded, with no opportunity to complete the requisite number of days, to be awarded the Close Combat Clasp in Bronze for ten combat days, in Silver for twenty days and in Gold for forty days. Prisoners of war and those missing in action forfeited all right of claim to the clasp, although on at least one occasion an NCO received the Bronze grade following his escape from American captivity in November 1944. It must have been a significant feat, as the recipient, Hermann Drechsler of the 149th Grenadier Regiment, was also promoted to Leutnant and presented with the Honour Roll Clasp on account of the same escape.
The first awards of the Gold Clasp were made on 27 August 1944, when Hitler personally invested fourteen Army and Waffen-SS officers with it. Of those, two held the Knight’s Cross and all wore the German Cross in Gold. Leon Degrelle, commander of the Belgian SS Brigade, was among this group and was given the Oakleaves at the same time as the Gold Clasp.
By virtue of an order from Hitler dated 30 August 1944, all holders of the Close Combat Clasp in Silver were automatically to be awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class on account of their combat achievements, while future recipients of the Close Combat Clasp in Gold were also to be given the German Cross in Gold, if they did not already possess it. A total of 619 Gold Clasps were conferred by the end of the Second World War. Of these, Hitler presented fifty-three in ten separate ceremonies, while Himmler presented 106 and General Guderian thirteen. The remainder were bestowed at the front by senior divisional officers. Some recipients qualified for the Gold grade as early as mid-1943.
Qualification for award was therefore very high, making the Bandenkampfabzeichen far more difficult to achieve than similar decorations like the Infantry Assault Badge. Even so, fair numbers of SS and police troops were eligible from the date of its inception, due to their long involvement in anti-partisan operations. For example, in late February 1944 SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Dr Oskar Dirlewanger requested delivery of 200 blank citations for the badge in Bronze, thirty in Silver and twenty in Gold so that he might prepare them for presentation to deserving soldiers of his 600-strong counter-guerrilla battalion.
One of these recipients was SS- Obersturmfuhrer Erich Kiihbandner of the 24th SS Division, which had been raised specifically to combat partisans in the Carso and Julian Alps. While the badge was hard-won, however, Knight’s Cross holder Hans Sturm, who was awarded the Bronze grade while serving with the army in Italy, stated after the war that he never wore it as he did not wish to be associated with the atrocities which it represented. Many of his comrades appear to have been like-minded, for it is hardly ever seen in wartime photographs depicting regular Wehrmacht personnel. The Waffen-SS and Police, on the other hand, held the Guerrilla Warfare Badge in high regard and displayed it proudly on every possible occasion, giving it precedence over all other war badges. They saw it as their badge’, recognising their particular role in quelling rebellion behind the front lines.

Military Decorations

The highest awards won by Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel, including no fewer• than five diamond-encrusted pieces. Of particular note are: the Golden Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds to the Knight’s Cross (centre); the Combined Pilot-Observer Badge with Diamonds (lower left); and the Operational Flying Clasp in Gold and Diamonds with 2,000 mission pendant for Air-to- Ground Support crews (bottom).

It has been suggested that Himmler ordered the manufacture of ten Guerrilla Warfare Badges in gold- plated hallmarked silver with diamond-encrusted swastikas for presentation as personal gifts to those soldiers who won the Knight’s Cross with Oakleaves while fighting partisans. However, no proof of the actual existence of such badges has come to light.
The Balloon Observer Badge Large barrage balloons were widely used by the German Army for artillery-spotting on the Eastern front, where air opposition was not so effective as in the West. As the war progressed, however, this form of observation became ever more dangerous as the Luftwaffe lost its aerial supremacy, and on 8 July 1944 a new war badge, the Ballon-beobachterabzeichen, was instituted to recognise that fact.
The decoration featured a balloon surmounted by a Wehrmacht eagle and was presented on a points basis, in Bronze for twenty points, Silver for forty-five points and Gold for seventy-five points. Points were based on the difficulty of the events involved with, for example, a forced parachute jump from a balloon earning the observer ten points. The first Balloon Observer Badge in Bronze was bestowed on 12 December 1944 to Ober- wachtmeister Willibald Sellner of 3rd Company, 12th Motorised Observation Battalion. However, it is not known whether the badge itself was ever presented with the surviving citation, hi any event, no authenticated wartime photograph of this award being worn is known to exist. It may, in fact, never have been manufactured before the end of hostilities.

The Sniper Badge
By mid-1944, Germany was well and truly on the defensive, and the time had come to reward those manning static positions which were subject to regular and intensive attack. The most effective of such personnel were snipers, who concealed themselves in trees, haystacks and the like ‘picking off’ enemy officers and men at will and creating a high degree of fear amongst opposing front-line troops.
The following excerpi from Wehrmacht Daily Older No. 11 of I November 19 И recommends appropriate levels of recognition to be given in respect of confirmed kills’ by Army and Waffen-SS snipers, or by VolkssUmn sharpshooters engaged in the static defence of the Reich.
During the winter of 1944-5. the periods of leave allocated were probably much more welcome than the decorations they accompanied!
The fools Kriegsnbzehben was instituted on 13 October 1939, anil was therefore the first war Iwdge to be created during the Second World War. It featured a Type VII submarine and was given to U-boat crews who completed two operational trips, or were wounded in battle. Олег 80 per cent of U-boat personnel ultimately died in action, so the badge was very highly prized. Л version in gilded silver with a diamond-encrusted swastika was presented by Grvssadinind Donitz as a personal gilt to his twenty-nine most successful submarine commanders, each of whom held at least the Knight’s Cross with Oakleaves.

Tin: Destroyer War B.
The estOrer Krlcgsabzelcben was created on 4 June 1940 exclusively for destroyer crews who had served at the Battle of Narvik. It could also Ik- given for being wounded, for serving on a ship sunk in action, or for taking part in special or successful operations. The central design of the award featured the 7.11 WilMin Hetdkamp. a 1936-class vessel commanded by Knight’s Cross holder Korivlten- kapttan Kixlmengcr anti sunk at Narvik. An interesting recipient of this award was Karl Krause. Hitler’s personal SS orderly, who served with the Navy on a destroyer in Norway. As a later Waffen-SS Panzer officer, he was the only man to wear the Warvlkscbild in Gold anil the Destroyer War Badge with the black ЛЛ tank uniform.
The Minesweeper War Badge The full title of this award was the War Badge for Minesweepers. Submarine! lunters and Escort Vessels (das Kriegsabzeicben fur Mlnensucb-. IHiootS-Jagd-. ntul Sicberungsvvrbilnile’). Authorised on 31 August 1940. it was again given for participation in three operational sorties and could be presented fora lesser number if the man concerned had been wounded, the ship sunk or the mission particularly successful. The badge could also be awarded for continued excellence in performance of duty over a six-month period, for especially hazardous duty in a mined area, or for completing twenty-five days of escort duty. The central feature of the award, an exploding water column, was inspired by a propaganda photograph which
appeared in the military publication Fahrten unci Fliige gegen England during the summer of 1940.

The decoration featured a merchant ship breaking through chains, and was presented in the name of the Reich Commissioner for Sea Travel, Karl Kaufmann, who was also Gauleiter of Hamburg and an SS-Obergruppenfuhrer. It is interesting to note that during the 1920s, Kaufmann was expelled from the Nazi Party for wearing an Iron Cross to which he was not entitled!
The Auxiliary Cruiser War Badge This badge was also given to those serving on merchant vessels, but of an entirely different sort. Auxiliary cruisers were merchant ships crewed and armed by the Navy, which acted under the guise of cargo vessels and harassed undefended Allied shipping. The most successful of these were the Atlantis, Komet, Kormoran, Michel, Orion, Pinguin, Stier, Thor and Widder, all of which had been sunk by 1943.

The Kriegsabzeichen fur Hilfskreuzer was created on 24 April 1941, and centred upon a Viking longship, the archetypal surface raider, on top of a globe. It was awarded for participation in a single long-distance voyage, or for being wounded. A version in gilded ‘900’ silver with diamonds in the swastika was presented at least once, to Bernhard Rogge, Captain of the Atlantis, which sank twenty- five Allied ships. Rogge won the Knight’s Cross with Oakleaves and was the most celebrated of all the auxiliary cruiser commanders. It is unclear whether the other three auxiliary cruiser captains who held the Oakleaves, Kaehler, Kriider and von Ruckteschell, also received the diamond-studded badge.

The E-Boat War Badge
During the war, the Allies referred to German torpedo boats as ‘E-Boats’ or ‘enemy boats’, and this term has now become the standard one used. In fact, the correct abbreviation so far as the Germans were concerned was S-Boot (for Schnellboot, or ‘speed boat ). E-boat crews originally received the Destroyer War Badge but in 1941 the E-boat offensive was considerably stepped up and on 30 May of that year the Schnellboot Kriegsabzeichen was instituted for torpedo-boat personnel. As usual, it was given for twelve sorties, being wounded, being sunk or participating in successful missions. In January 1943, the design of the badge was altered to incorporate the new E-boat recently brought into service with the Kriegsmarine. This design change of a war badge was unique.

Military Decorations

From left to right:
The Infantry Assault Badge;
The Tank Battle Badge, by Hermann Aurich;
The General Assault Badge, by Assmann & S&hne.

The Paratroop Badge
The Fallschirmschutzenabzeicben der Luftwaffe was instituted on 5 November 1936 for Air Force (and, later, Waffen-SS) paratroops who successfully completed six parachute training jumps and other required tests. In order to retain the badge, the holder usually had to requalify each year. However, under the terms of an order dated 2 May 1944, Luftwaffe administrators, medical and legal personnel qualified for the award on making a single combat jump, and could continue to wear it thereafter. The badge featured a gold diving eagle in a dark grey wreath. It is interesting to note that the first man to qualify for the badge, Major Bruno Brauer, received his jump certificate, serial no. 1, as early as 4 July 1936.
He was subsequently referred to by his men as ‘Paratrooper No. 1 ’. During the last year of the war, the badge was distributed only in its embroidered cloth form for reasons of practicality and economy, with accompanying citations making specific reference to the Fallschirmschiitzenabzeichen in Stoff.
The variance in these gradings was intended to reflect the level of danger faced by the crews concerned.
On 14 August 1942, the central wreaths of fighter clasps were blackened to denote service with night fighters. A sixth form of the Frontflugspange, with crossed swords as the centrepiece, was authorised on 12 April 1944 for air-to-ground support squadrons. This came a few days after Oberst Rudel, the famed tank-busting Stuka pilot, had received the Diamonds to the Knight’s Cross for completing over 1, 800 successful sorties on the eastern front. His achievement no doubt prompted the institution of the new clasp. Air-to-ground support crews previously in receipt of the long-range fighter clasp were obliged to exchange it for die new type.
On 29 April 1944, the star pendants were replaced by boxed numerals rising in increments of 100. These ranged from 200 to 2,000, the latter being a special diamond-encrusted gold and platinum version given to Rudel upon completion of his 2,000th combat mission. Werner Molders had also been presented with a diamond-studded fighter clasp prior to his death in an air accident on 21 November 1941, although in his case the bejewelled badge was purely a personal gift from Goring, in recognition of Molders’s status at that time as the most highly decorated man in the Wehrmacht.
An operational flight was deemed to be one which penetrated enemy territory to a distance of at least 30 km, or one during which contact was made with the enemy in the air. Any flight which lasted more than four hours counted as double. Operational flights with different types of squadron could be added together towards the award of a clasp. Aircrew kept logbooks, which were checked and certified, and were automatically awarded the clasp or pendant by their unit commanding officer when the designated number of operational flights was reached.

Military Decorations

Luftwaffe qualification and war badges.
From left to right:
The Radio Operator Badge, by Imme & Sohn;
The Paratroop Badge;
The Flak Battle Badge, by Gustav Brehmer;
The Ground Assault Badge.

The history of this decoration is particularly interesting when viewed against that of the European air war as a whole. When the clasp was first introduced, the Battle of Britain was at its height and tactically the most important Luftwaffe squadrons were day-fighters and bombers. As the Allied air offensive against Germany intensified in 1942, night-fighters became crucial to the strategic defence of the Reich, while air-to-ground support on the Russian front was vital after mid-1943 to stem the mass tank and infantry assaults increasingly being launched against Wehrmacht positions. By 1944-5, the few Luftwaffe pilots and aircrew left flying were airborne virtually around the clock, typically taking part in several combat missions daily. It is therefore evident that the development of the Operational Flying Clasp clearly reflected Germany’s changing fortunes in the air war.

The Lorient Shield
The Lorient Shield is said to have been approved as a local, unofficial award by General Wilhelm Fahrmbacher at the end of 1944, for men of his 25,000-strong garrison encircled since 7 August that year within the port of Lorient, a Ll-boat base in Brittany. The shield had no national standing and there is great doubt as to whether it ever existed at all, even in theory. The alleged design, featuring a hekneted soldier standing guard over a berthed submarine, is totally unlike anything of Third Reich vintage.
A so-called alternative shield, comprising a standard identity disc stamped with the words Festung Lorient 1944, has not been positively confirmed either. Fahrmbacher’s forces held out against bombardment until the end of the war. Significantly, Admiral Hennecke, the naval commander at Lorient, said after the war that he never knew anything about plans for a Lorient Shield during his time in the fortress. This item is more than likely the product of an over-active postwar imagination. However, there is a possibility that examples were distributed as commemorative unit Christmas presents to some of the garrison personnel, for retention as keepsakes.

The Dunkirk Shield
The Dunkirk Shield has a similar background to the Lorient and Memel Shields. It is supposed to have been created by Admiral Friedrich Frisius, Channel Coast Commander, for the 14,000 defenders of Dunkirk which, like Lorient, remained in German hands until the armistice. Over the years, a few bronze examples of this item have appeared, bearing a watchtower, waves, chain links and the inscription Duenkircben 1944. They all measure only 32 mm X 40 mm, giving rise to the suggestion that they may have been intended for wear on the field cap as tradition badges’, like the Sardinia Shield, a common practice amongst U-boat crews and other naval personnel.

Alternatively, the small shield could have been used on the shoulder straps, like the Stalingrad Cross. However, it is also possible that this piece is simply a postwar fabrication. It is worthy of note that, during the 1970s, several completely spurious campaign shields were produced in rusted steel, for the collector market. These included Afrika, Atlantik, Arnheim, Charkow, St Nazaire and La Rochelle shields. None of these existed, even as proposals, before 1945.

The Aircraft Destruction Badge Localised pennants acknowledging anti-aircraft batteries which were particularly successful in shooting down enemy planes were distributed throughout the war by the Kriegsmarine, and by Luftgaue VTI and XI of the Air Force. On 12 January 1945, Hitler instituted a national badge for shooting down low-flying aircraft, the Tieffliegervernich- tungsabzeicben. It came in two grades, gold and silver, and was identical in appearance to the Tank Destruction Badge except that the centrepiece was a black aeroplane.
Unlike the pennants, the badge was to be given to those who downed a flying aircraft using only a rifle, sub-machine-gun or machine- gun under 20 mm in calibre. A silver badge recognised one plane destroyed, and a gold badge five planes. The award was conferred at least once ‘on paper’, by way of an entry in the Soldbucb of a member of Sturm-Regiment /, who shot down a Russian Yak 2 aircraft, flying at a height of 50 metres, with his rifle near Jankendorf on 3 May 1945. However, the decoration was never actually manufactured before the end of the war.

The Balkan Shield
Early in 1945, Hitler approved the institution of the Balkanscbild to reward troops fighting both the Red Army and Tito’s partisans. The somewhat unimaginative design, produced by Benno von Arent in March 1945, was akin to that of the Krimschild and comprised an 55-pattern eagle, the legend Balkan 1944-1945 and a map of the Aegean archipelago. Three trial samples were made, one in bronzed zinc, one in silvered zinc and one in plain subdued zinc. The latter sample was chosen for economy and camouflage reasons, but due to the late stage in the war the Balkan Shield was never manufactured.

Non-Portable Awards

A significant number of Nazi military awards fall into the ‘non-portable’ category. This generic term is used to cover items which were not designed to be worn on the uniform in the usual way.

The Luftwaffe Honour Goblet On 12 January 1940, aviation industry representatives presented Goring on his forty-seventh birthday with a specimen goblet and citation and urged him to revive the practice of awarding these to victorious aircrew, as had been done during the First World War. They also provided a fund totalling 50,000 Reichsmarks to cover goblet production costs. On 27 February that year, Goring duly inaugurated the Ehrenpokalfur Besondere Leistung im Luftkrieg, or Honour Goblet for Distinguished Achievements in the Air War, bearing two fighting eagles on the obverse and a representation of the 1939 Iron Cross on the reverse. The goblet measured 20 cm in height and was constructed in two parts from silver or, after 1942, silver plate.
The recipient’s name was engraved around the base portion by the sole manufacturer of the award, the Berlin firm of Wagner & Sohn.
Unlike the First World War procedure when a goblet or, later, a small silver beaker was bestowed for each enemy aircraft destroyed in combat, the Luftwaffe Honour Goblet recognised various actions which did not merit the German Cross or Knight’s Cross. It was awarded as a personal gift from Goring, and he often handed it over himself. It was given only to aircrew who already held the EKI and continued to distinguish themselves in battle.

The first award went to Oberstleutnant Johann Schalk shortly after institution. Presentations tailed off after June 1943, and a Luftwaffe High Command memorandum dated 6 July 1944 referred to a goblet production lag due to war conditions and the fact that goblets would in future be sent direct to the recipients’ relatives for safekeeping, as many had been damaged or lost in transit to front-line squadrons. By 10 December 1944, when the last presentation was made, around 50,000 Honour Goblets had been authorised. However, it is believed that only 14,000 or so were actually produced and bestowed.

The Luftwaffe Salver of Honour On 15 June 1942, Goring created a new award, the Ehrenschalefur Hervorragenda Kampfleistung, or Salver of Honour for Distinguished Achievements in Battle. The large silver plate measured 28 cm in diameter and bore as its central motif the Reichsmarschairs eagle with crossed batons surmounted by the name of the recipient and date of presentation. The Salver was the ground troops’ equivalent of the Honour Goblet and was again bestowed by Goring on a personal basis for bravery
ill action which did not merit the German Cross or Knight’s Cross. All paratroops, members of Luftwaffe field divisions and Air Force tank crews were eligible, provided they already held the Iron Cross 1st Class and the Ground Assault Badge or its equivalent. The Salver of Honour was a very rare award, and it is believed that fewer than 100 examples were conferred. As with the Goblet, presentations of the Salver declined sharply with the advent of the Luftwaffe Honour List in April 1943, and Honour Roll Clasp in July 1944, which were
cheaper means of recognising the relevant achievements.
The Army High Command Commendation Certificate
In addition to the normal Army and Waffen-SS war badges and decorations, a special certificate of commendation signed by Generalfeldmarschall von Brauchitsch, Commander-in-Chief of the Army, was created after the invasion of Russia in June 1941, and could be presented for single acts of bravery. When Hitler assumed personal command of the Army at the end of the year, issue of this certificate ceased. It was conferred 1,322 times.
The Fuhrer Commendation Certificate Around 20 December 1941, the Fuhrer Commendation Certificate was introduced to replace that formerly awarded by von Brauchitsch. The document was headed by a large eagle and swastika. A typical surviving example reads:
Ich spreche clem Oberleutnant Lotbar Roessler fur seine hervorragenden leistungen auf detn schlachtfelde bei Mal-Sapadenka am 24.1.1943 meine besondere anerkennung aus. Hauptquartier den 18.April 1943Der Fuhrer. (‘I express my special appreciation to Oberleutnant Lothar Roessler for his outstanding distinction on the battlefield at Mal-Sapadenka on 24 January 1943- Headquarters, 18 April, 1943. Der Fuhrer’)
The certificate was signed by Hitler, or bore a facsimile of his signature.
The Fuhrer Commendation Certificate was used to recognise acts such as the single-handed destruction of a tank or aircraft, until separate badges were instituted to acknowledge such feats. It could also be conferred on an entire unit, as was the case on 1 August 1944 when SS-Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion 10 of the ‘Frundsberg’ Division received the Certificate in recognition of its personnel having shot down three enemy aircraft by means of infantry weapons at Kurdwanowka on 6 April that year.
The Reichsmarsciiall Commendation Certificate Hermann Goring is known to have presented his own Anerkennungsurkunde des Reichsministers der Luftfahrt und Oberbefehlshabers der Luftwaffe to Air Force personnel for singular actions. An example dating from 25 June 1941 was issued jointly to four aircrew in recognition of their having sunk an 80-ton vessel in Sagunt harbour on 8 November 1938, during the Spanish Civil War.

The Reichsfuhrer-SS Commendation Certificate This document certainly existed, and is referred to in official SS orders, but its appearance and award criteria are shrouded in obscurity. The Certificate was issued personally by Himmler to members of the SS and police for ‘distinguished personal actions and special achievements’. As the front-line troops of the Waffen-SS were eligible to receive the Ftihrer Commendation Certificate and other awards for heroism in battle, it can reasonably be assumed that the Reichsftihrer’s Certificate related to personnel engaged in non-combatant duties and security tasks.
Gauleiter Commendation Certificates A number of NSDAP Gauleitem took upon themselves to issue semi-official certificates of commendation to citizens who distinguished themselves in civil-defence duties during air raids. A surviving example dated 24 December 1941 was presented by Hartmann Lauterbacher, Gauleiter of South Hanover-Brunswick, and bears the exhortation: A lie fiir Einen – Einer fur Alle! (All for one and one for aim
The Flak Auxiliary Commendation Certificate The Anerkennungsurkunde fiir Luftwaffen-Helfer dated from 1944-5 and was presented to Hitler Youths and others serving as auxiliary anti-aircraft gunners in the defence of the Reich. No further details arc known.

Wall Plaques
A number of unofficial wall plaques were created by Luftwaffe divisional and other commanders to recognise merit in their own areas of jurisdiction. The plaques generally took the form of small metal plates, rectangular in shape, bearing a suitable design and inscription. They were intended to be hung from a wall, or stood on a desk. The following are known to have existed:
• Plaque for Outstanding Achievement in Air District XL Instituted at the end of 1939 by Generalleutnant Ludwig Wolff, commander of Luftgau XI (Hamburg), in Iron and Silver versions. In January 1940, an Iron plaque went to Gefreiter Hall of Searchlight Transport Battery 112, who prevented the spread (if a fire which occurred when a 70,000 litre petrol tank ruptured.
In February 1942, Oberfeldivebel Nelke saved three aircrew from a German plane which crashed and burst into flames at Rechlin airfield, for which he received the plaque in Silver. These give an idea of the criteria for award. Only fourteen Silver plaques are known to have been bestowed during the period 1942-4. General major von Hip pel, Commander of 3rd Flak Division, received both versions, being awarded the Iron plaque on 24 December 1942 and the Silver one on 24 December 1943.
• Plaque for Outstanding Merit in Air District If. Instituted in 1941, this bore a sword and coat-of- arms.
« Plaque for Special Merit in the Battle of Crete. Authorised by Generaloberst Kurt Student, commander of XI Fliegerkorps, tor those who distinguished themselves in the conquest of Crete during May-June 1941.
• Ehrenschild der Kampfgruppe z.b.v. 105. For merit in the 105th Special Bomber Group, this shield bore a map of Europe with the words Narvik and Kreta.
• Plaque for Technical Merit in Russia.
GeneraIJ’eldmarscball Albert Kesselring, Commander of Luftflotte 2, instituted a plaque in autumn 1941 ‘in recognition of technical merit in the campaign against Soviet Russia’. At least one plaque was awarded, to an IJnteroffizier in a motor- repair platoon. Further details are unknown.
• Plaque for Outstanding Merit in Air District Kiev. Instituted towards the end of 1941, this bore an eagle over the city of Kiev and was awarded to Luftwaffe personnel serv ing in the Ukraine.
• Plaque for Outstanding Merit in Air District Kharkov. For Luftwaffe personnel serving in the Kharkov area. Further details are unknown.
• Plaque for Special Achievement in Air District XII/XIII. Created by General der Flakartillerie Heilingbrunner in Autumn 1942. Further details are unknown.
• Plaque for Outstanding Achievement in the 21st Field Division. The 21st Field Division of the Luftwaffe was formed during the siege of Cholm, from various ground units, and was then known as the Mcindl Division. In 1943, Generalleutnant Richard Schimpf instituted a plaque, designed by Gefreiter Schroder of the 1st Luftwaffe Field Regiment, to reward his men for special merit at Cholm and subsequent battles. Around 1,000 were manufactured, although only 400 were bestowed.
• Plaque for Merit in Air District Finland. Created in 1943 by the Luftwaffe commander in Finland, General der Flieger Schultz. Around 1,000 were made. Further details are unknown.
Honour Plaque of Air District Norway. Manufactured in Oslo for bestowal by the Luftwaffe commander in Norway, General Wilhelm Harmjanz. Over 6,000 are believed to have been made, since surviving examples bear serial numbers ranging from 1268 to 6641. Awards ceased in December 1943.
Plaque for Outstanding Technical Achievement in the Southern Command. Also created by Generalfeldmarschall Kesselring for merit in the technical branch of the Luftwaffe. The few known recipients included Oberleutnant Dr Hahn, commander of a transport unit of the Military Railways Directorate in Florence, who received the plaque on 18 May 1944.
Plaque for Special Achievement in the South-East Theatre of Operations. Instituted by General der Flieger Fiebig for merit in the Balkans. The plaque was manufactured by the firm of Pleuger und Voss in Ludenscheid. No further details are known. Plaque for Merit in Military A ir District XXX. Authorised by General der Flieger Waber in the autumn of 1944 for front-line Luftwaffe troops in the northern Balkans. The plaque bore heraldic shields with the names Agram, Skopije, Tirana and Belgrad. No further details are known.
• Honour Plaque for Luftflotte 1. No details arc- known.
• Honour Plaque for Luftflotte 4. No details are known.
Ill addition to the above, there were three Luftwaffe medallions which were akin to the plaque-type awards. These were as follows:
• Medal for Merit in the Technical Branch of the Luftwaffe. This non-portable medal bore Goring’s head on one side and the Air Force eagle on the other and was given for technical achievements between 1940 and 1941. It was superseded by the German Cross in Silver.
• Medal for Merit in Air District West France. Instituted in the summer of 1944 by General der Flakartillerie Dr Weissmann. At least one is recorded as having been presented to a female auxiliary.
• Medal for Merit in Air District Belgium-North France. Instituted by General der Flieger Wimmer. Further details are unknown.
The majority of these Luftwaffe plaques and medallions were only very rarely bestowed. This was partly because some were created to recognise acts soon to be covered by official decorations. The Crete Plaque, for example, was rendered obsolete by the introduction of the Kreta Cuff Title, while those for technical merit were overtaken by events when the War Merit Cross began to be widely distributed for that purpose.

Unit Medallions
Many semi-official and unofficial unit medals’ were created by battalion and regimental commanders lor distribution among their men, to acknowledge participation in specific campaigns which had not been recognised by national decorations. Although often made with suspension hooks or rings, such medals were not authorised for wear and were simply commemorative souvenirs. They usually fea- tured an inscription naming the unit concerned, and a design representative of that unit or of a par ticular campaign in which the unit had been engaged. The following are known to have existed:
• Panzer-Abwehr-Abteilung 39 – Occupation of Prague. The 39th Anti-Tank Battalion was the first German unit to be posted at Prague Castle after the occupation of Czechoslovakia, and later produced a bronze medal to celebrate the fact. It was distributed to all personnel who had actually served during the occupation.
• 4th Company, 7th Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion – 1939-40. Two hundred medals were manufactured to reward members of this unit, part of the 4th Panzer Division, who took part in the conquest of France.
• 207th Luftwaffe Territorial Battalion – Christmas 1940. This formation was disbanded at the end of 1940, and produced a medal to commemorate its existence. It comprised three anti-aircraft batteries based at Bad Saarow.
• 3rd Company 7th Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion – 1941. This unit distributed medals for participation in the opening of the Russian campaign.
• 4th Company 7th Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion – 1941-2. Two hundred medals were produced lor unit personnel taking part in the opening of the Russian campaign, and the First winter on the eastern front.
• 40th Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion – 1940-2. This unit was part of the 14th Panzer Division, and the medal commemorated its actions in France, Yugoslavia and Russia.
• 98th Mountain Regiment – Caucasus 1942. The 13th Company of Gebirgsjager Regiment 98 produced a medal, bearing an edelweiss and mountain, to commemorate its actions in the Caucasus in 1942.
• 54th Mountain Signals Battalion – Caucasus 1942. This was similar to the medal above.
• Mountain Units – Arctic Front 1942. This anonymous medal simply bore a mountain troop edelweiss badge and the legend Eismeerfront 1942-43.
• 64th Motorcycle Battalion – 1943- This formation was part of the 14th Panzer Division. The battalion was created in May 1942 and within a year its personnel had won ten German Crosses in Gold, three Knight’s Crosses and one set of Oakleaves.
The unit was annihilated at Stalingrad.
• 1st Volunteer Bersaglieri Battalion. This unit was formed by loyal Italian Fascists on 8 September 1943 under the name Primo Battaglione Volontari delle SS Benito Mussolini. The SS designation was later dropped. A commemorative medal featuring SS runes and the legend Sempre Fedele al Duce e al Fuherer ( Always loyal to Duce and Fuhrer) was produced and distributed to members as a commemorative. It hung from a green ribbon.
• 269th Luftwaffe Reserve Flak Searchlight Battalion. Major Holtfort, commander of this unit which was based on the island of Sylt, used the profits from liis staff canteen to pay a Bremen firm to make medals which he distributed to his men as Christmas presents at the end of 1943- They featured the Luftwaffe eagle on the obverse and unit name on the reverse, and were produced in aluminium.

Unit Cap Badges
A vast array of semi-official unit cap badges, such as the ‘Grenadier’ of the 26th Panzer Division and the well-known ‘Greyhound’ of the 116th Panzer Division, were produced and awarded by local commanding officers for loyal service in the formations concerned. The qualification criteria varied from unit to unit, but the fact that diese badges were usually accompanied by citations elevated them to the status of minor awards rather than simple formation insignia.

The Volkhov Stick
The Volkhov Stick was yet another form of unofficial campaign commemorative and was given by enlisted men on the eastern front to the more popular of their officers, particularly after an award of the Knight’s Cross, German Cross or other decoration. It took the form of a walking stick carved in varying qualities from assorted woods by the men themselves, or by local native Russian craftsmen commissioned for the purpose.
The Wolcbowstock usually featured swastikas, Iron Crosses, divisional, regimental or other suitable emblems, and sometimes campaign names. First used on the Volkhov front during the winter of 1941-2, these sticks were very highly prized by their recipients as they denoted the esteem in which they were held by their own men.
91. A typical Volkhov Stick, carved with a swastika and unit emblems. The chequerboard and stripe designs were characteristic of such pieces.
During the war, Germany and her allies exchanged decorations as a matter of diplomatic course. Foreign soldiers fighting alongside the Wehrmacht were often presented with the Iron Cross for bravery on the battlefield. German troops similarly received military awards from Italy, Romania, Finland, Hungary, Slovakia and so on. Consequently, a variety of non-German military decorations could be seen on German uniforms. It is not within the scope of this book to describe them in any detail, but a few examples follow to give a general idea of the selection involved.
92. A typical selection of foreign decorations worn with German uniform.
From left to right, top to bottom:
The Croatian Order of the Crown of King Zvonimir 3rd Class with Oakleaves, on its traditional Austro- Hungarian style triangular ribbon;
The ltalo-German Campaign Medal;
The Romanian Commemorative Medal for the Crusade Against Communism;
The Finnish Arctic Front Cross;
The Turkish War Decoration, by Boerger & Co.;
The Sports Badge of the Volksbund der Deutschen in Ungarn, created in the spring of 1942 by pro-Nazi Hungarian citizens of German descent as their equivalent of the German National Sports Badge.
The Croatian Order of the Crown of King Zvonimir was created in May 1941 in five classes. It featured a white trefoil upon which was superimposed a crown, with swords for military service and oakleaves for bravery. The following November, a similar decoration but black in colour, the so-called Order of the Iron Trefoil, was instituted as the highest award for members of the Croat armed forces.
Many Germans, and even some of their Cossack auxiliaries, received these Orders for participation in the struggle against Tito s partisans. Holders included Oberst Kononov of the 5th Don Cossacks, and staff officers of the SS Division Prinz Eugen’.
A common Romanian decoration was the Commemorative Medal for the Crusade Against Communism, instituted on 1 April 1942 as the predecessor of the German Ostmedaille. The ribbon was dark red with white edges, and had a distinctive central ladder’ effect in the Romanian national colours, red/yellow/blue. No fewer than fourteen Bars were eventually authorised, including Crimea’ and Stalingrad’. The medal was bestowed liberally upon German troops fighting alongside Romanians on the Russian front.
The Arctic Front Cross was given by Finland as a campaign honour for service in Lapland between 1941 and 1944. Convex in form, with a screw-back fitting, it was a small blue enamel cross bearing a map of the region, national flags and details of the principal battles of the campaign. Prior to September 1944, when Finland broke off relations with Germany, it was distributed to members of the 20th Mountain Army, a few of whom wore it as a commemorative badge. Use of the cross was officially forbidden in November that year, which may have prompted General Bohme to suggest an alternative award, the Lapland Shield.
Another award often seen on German uniforms during the Third Reich period was the very distinctive Turkish War Decoration, worn on the right breast pocket. It was instituted on 1 March 1915 by Sultan Mehmet Resat V for bravery or meritorious service during the First World War, and was in a single class taking the form of a large pin-back red enamelled star with silver border. The centre featured a silver crescent beneath the Sultan’s cypher, the characters of which represented El Gbazi, or the victorious’.
Below was the date ‘333’ in Turkish figures, corresponding to 1915 on the Western calendar. The Germans referred to the decoration as the Eisener Flalbmond, or Iron Crescent’, since it was to all intents and purposes the Turkish equivalent of the Iron Cross. It was widely awarded to German troops serving in the Near East, and the Turkish government in fact contracted three Berlin firms, Boerger, Godet and Wagner to manufacture the award on its behalf. A buttonhole ribbon in red and white, similar in configuration to that of the 1914 Iron Cross, was authorised for use in the field and was also made in Germany. The Turkish War Decoration could regularly be seen on the uniforms of senior Wehrmacht officers during the Second World War, being worn below the German Cross or Spanish Cross if these were also held.
Other foreign awards bestowed upon German forces during the Second World War included the Slovakian War Victory Cross, the Order of the Star of Romania, the Bulgarian Military Order for Bravery in War. The Spanish War Cross, the Hungarian Signum Laudis Medal, the Finnish Order of the Cross of Liberty and the Azad Hind decoration of the Free Indian Provisional Government.
Some of these were made in Germany and Austria by established companies like Juncker and Souval, while others were produced by authorised firms based in the countries concerned, for example Kraus of Zagreb in Croatia. German racial communities outside the Reich, and collaborationist parties in occupied Europe, also had their own plethora of pseudo-Nazi medals and badges, a lew of which occasionally appeared on Wehrmacht uniforms. Most notable was the Belgian Rexist Decoration, worn unofficially by Walloon volunteers in the German Army from 1941 and approved by Hitler at the end of 1944.
Remarkably, foreign volunteers in the Wehrmacht were permitted to continue to sport decorations they had won many years before, even if the regimes which had bestowed them had been enemies of Germany at the time! For example, a number of Frenchmen serving with the Nazi forces in Russia wore medals they had earned killing Germans on the Western front in 1914-18. This apparent anomaly was in fact a deliberate policy, intended to cultivate the loyalty of soldiers in the conquered territories.

Order of Precedence of Military Awards
The official order of precedence of standard Third Reich military decorations is given below. In reality, certain awards were harder to win than others technically senior to them. For example, numbered war badges represented long and active service at the front which had usually resulted in an earlier award of at least the Iron Cross 1st Class. The Spanish Cross also undoubtedly deserved to be higher up the scale. Wartime decorations, or Kriegsorden, always took precedence over peacetime awards.
1. Grand Cross of the Iron Cross
2. Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves and higher additions
3. Golden Knight’s Cross of the War Merit Cross
4. Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross
5. Knight’s Cross of the War Merit Cross
6. German Cross
7. Honour Roll Clasps
8. Fuhrer Commendation Certificate
9. Luftwaffe Honour Goblet and Salver
10. Iron Cross 1st Class
11. War Merit Cross 1st Class
12. Iron Cross 2nd Class
13. Combat clasps
14. Numbered war badges
15. Wound badges
16. Tank Destruction Badge
17. Unnumbered war badges
18. Campaign shields and cuff titles
19. War Merit Cross 2nd Class
20. Ostvolk Decoration
21. Eastern Front Medal
22. War Merit Medal
23. Cross of Honour, 1914-18
24. Spanish Cross
25. Qualification badges
26. Long-service awards
27. Commemorative medals
28. West Will Medal
29. Foreign decorations

Military Decorations of Hitlers Germany badges, cross, medals