This node lists and briefly describes the purpose of most all of the common awards, medals, and honors the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces of World War II) bestowed upon it’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and civilian helpers. This project will node each of the awards in detail concerning purpose, appearance, criteria, documentation, and statistics. The English approximation of the award name is given along with the official German name. The awards have been grouped into General awards (available to all branches of the Wehrmacht), and by specific branch (Heer, Kriegsmarine, and Luftwaffe). Hardlinks followed by an astericks (*) have already noded. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, or want to node an award don’t hesitate to /msg me.

General Awards of the Wehrmacht

Iron Cross (Eiserne Kreuze or EK)

A traditional German award dating back to 1813 under Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III. It was a military award for bravery in combat, and also for a military leader’s success. Probably the most known and recognizable of German military awards. The Knight's Cross was the American equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
War Merit Cross (Das Kriegsverdienst Kreuz or KVK)

This award replaced the former noncombatant ribbon of the Iron Cross grades. It was awarded to both distinguished military, government, and civilian persons alike for combat and non-combat related work to further the war effort. The 1st and 2nd Classes were created before the war, the Medal and Knight’s Cross were added after war broke out to further distinguish individuals. Each level came with and without swords (swords distinguishing combat related work from non-combatant).

German Cross (Kriegsorden des Detuschen Kreuzes)

A different award for bravery, created by the Führer, specifically for heroism by troops dispatched to fight Communism/Bolshevism on the Eastern Front. The Gold level was for combatants, Silver was for administrative / military leadership. The awardee would have to do something that more than warrants an Iron Cross 1st Class, but not quite a Knight’s Cross merit.

Wound Badge

Military and Police (later also for civilians during air raids) award solely for those who spilled blood fighting for Germany. Equivalent to the American Purple Heart. There were 3 levels and an additional special Wound badge.
  • Wound Badge in Black - For any wound
  • Wound Badge in Silver - 3 or more wounds, or loss of senses or appendages
  • Wound Badge in Gold - Death or a total handicap
  • 20. Juli 1944 Wound Badge - For those hurt in the July 20th Assassination attempt on the Führer

East Medal / Winter Battle in the East (*) (Ostmedaille / Winterschacht im Osten)
Awarded to those soldiers who fought on the Eastern front of the war in the Soviet Union.

West Wall Medal
Awarded to those who built fortifications on Germany’s western borders in 1940, as well as those repelling the invasions and building fortifications on the Western front again in 1944.

Faithful Service Decoration (Treudienst-Ehrenzeichen)
Award for service to the Reich in the Wehrmacht, Polizei, SchutzStaffel, or civilian capacity. The award was given in 4, 12, 25, 40, and 50 year increments.

Occupation Medals
These were medals for the Wehrmacht’s occupations of the various lands before the invasion of Poland. Each occupation had a medal, and those who served in it were awarded one. There were three:
  • The March 13, 1938 Commemorative Medal (Die Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 13. Marz 1938)
  • The October 1, 1938 Commemorative Medal (Die Medaille zur Erinnering an den 1 Oktober 1939)
  • The Return of Memel Commemorative Medal (Die Medaille zur Erinnerung an die Heimkerhr des Memllander)

Heer / Army Awards

Army Honor Roll Clasp (*)
Clasp given to those individuals entered into the Army’s “Roll of Honor”
Anti Partisan Badge (Bandenkampfabzeichen) (*)
Given to those troops who fought against Anti-Nazi Partisans in the field.
Army Paratrooper Badge (Fallschirmschützenabzeichen des Heeres)
Awarded to Army Fallschrimjäger, or paratroopers after their completion of Jump training.
Anti Aircraft Artillery Badge / Flak Badge (Heeres-Flakabzeichen)
Awarded for proficient members of flak installations, sound-locator and searchlight crews who aided Flak installations.
Balloon Observer Badge (Ballonbeobachterabzeichen des Heers)
Rare award for balloon pilots and crew who placed themselves in danger inside stationary observation balloons.
Close Combat Bar (Die Nahkampfspange)
Awarded in Bronze, Silver, and Gold for soldiers who engaged in hand-to-hand combat.
Driver Proficiency Badge (Kraftfahrbewährungsabzeichen)
Issued in Bronze, Silver, and Gold for outstanding motorized transport drivers
General Assault Badge (Allgemeines Sturmabzeichen)
Same as Infantry Assault Badge, but for those who weren’t in Infantry units.
Infantry Assault Badge (Das Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen)
Awarded in Silver to Infantry personnel who gained experience in ground combat, or in Bronze to Panzer troops accomplishing the same.
Panzer Assault Badge (Panzerkamphabzeichen)
Given to Panzer troops who had engaged in tank combat. Badges with numbers 25, 50, 75, and 100 were available to troops with that number of combat tank engagements.
Special Badge for the Single Handed Destruction of a Tank (Das Sonderabzeichen fur das Niederkampfen von Panzer-kampfwagen usw. durch Einzenlkampfer)
Awarded to those who destroyed enemy tanks with hand grenades or explosives. A gold version was made for 5 awards.
Sniper Badge (Scharfschuetzenabzeichen)
Awarded to distinguish snipers with 20+ confirmed kills.

Kriegsmarine / Navy Awards

Kriegsmarine Roll of Honor Clasp (*)
Given to those who had been entered into the Kriegsmarine’s roll of honor.
Auxiliary Cruiser War Badge (Kriegsabzeichen für Hilfskreuzer)
Awarded to those merchant shippers who outfitted their vessels with weapons to patrol the seas for Germany.
Blockade Runner Badge (Abzeichen für Blockadebrecher)
Given to crews who attempted to or managed to break through Allied naval blockades around German held territory.
Coastal Artillery Badge (Kriegsabzeichebn für die Marine-Artillerie)
Granted to seasoned coastal artillery battery crew.
Destroyer War Badge (Zestörer-Kriegsabzeichen)
Accorded to experienced destroyer crew.
Patrol Boat Badge (Schnellboot-Kriegsabzeichen)
Awarded to experienced crews of “E-Boats
High Seas Fleet Badge (Flotten-Kriegsabzeichen)
Designed for crews of battleships, cruisers, and other warships in combat zones and for those KIA at sea.
Minesweeper Badge (Kriegsabzeicheb für Minensuch-Sicherungsverbände)
Given to those who engaged in hazardous minesweeping duty, escort service, and sub chasers.
Naval Combat Clasp (Marine-Frontspange)
Awarded in two classes to Surface ship crew experienced with combat on the high seas.
Small Battle Units War Badge (Kampfazeinchen der Klienkampfmittel)
Awarded in 7 grades to members of the K-Verbände (Small Battle Units), who used special tactics and minisubs against the enemy.
U-Boat Combat Clasp (U-Boots-Fontsspange)
Awarded in Bronze and Silver classes to seasoned U-Boat crew and commanders.
U-Boat War Badge (U-Boot Kriegsabzeichen)
Awarded after 2 engagements with the enemy on a U-Boat. A badge with diamonds was also made, but an award made by Großadmiral Dönitz and not the government.

Luftwaffe / Air Force Awards

The Luftwaffe’s qualification badges were not in the tradition of the Heer and Kriegsmarine war badges. Rather than identifying combat experience, Luftwaffe qualifications badges identified qualified personnel. A Pilot’s badge would therefore indicate that the airman was a capable pilot, but not necessarily combat seasoned. The Luftwaffe also had war badges to honor those airmen who had served against the enemy in the air.

Qualification Badges:

Air Crew Badge
Air Gunner & Flight Engineers Badge (Flighterschützenabzeichen für Bordschützen und Bordmechaniker)
Combined Pilot-Observer Badge (Gemeinsames Flugzeugführer und Beobachter-Abzeichen)
          Replaced former Air Crew Badge. A version with Diamonds was also existed.
Flyer Commemorative Badge (Flieger-Erinnerungsabzeichen)
          For honorably discharged and retired pilots, paratroopers, air gunners, and observers.
Glider Pilot Badge (Segelflugzeughüherabzeichen)
Observer Badge (Beobachterabzeichen)
Parachutist Badge (Fallschirmschützenabzeichen)
Pilot’s Badge (Flugzeugführerabzeichen)
Radio Operator & Air Gunner Badge

War Badges:

Anti-Aircraft Badge (Flak-Kampfabzeichen der Luftwaffe)
Close Combat Clasp (Nahkampfspange der Luftwaffe)
Ground Combat Badge (Erdkampfabzeichen der Luftwaffe)
Operational Flying Clasp (Frontflugspange)
Sea Battle Badge (Seekampfabzeichen der Luftwaffe)
Panzer Badge (Panzerkampfabzeichen der Luftwaffe)

Other Luftwaffe Awards:

Luftwaffe Roll of Honor Clasp (Ehrenlistespange der Luftwaffe) (*)
The Luftwaffe equivalent of its Kriegsmarine and Heer counterparts..
Honor Goblet (Ehrenpokal)
Awarded by Göring for “for special achievement in the air war”, and specifically for air crew.
Portrait of Reichsmarshall Herman Göring (Bild der Reichsmarschall)

Salver of Honor (Ehrenschale für Besondere Leistung im Erdkampf)
Only about 50 of these awards for bravery in ground combat were awarded. It was replaced by the Honor Roll Clasp in 1944.
Medal for Excellent Technical Achievement (Medaille für Ausgezeichnete Technische Leistung)
Award from Hermann Göring for special achievements in the Technical branch of the Luftwaffe for which the War Merit Cross could not be given.

This node does not attempt to cover the numerous campaign shields, nor the awards of the NSDAP (Nazi party), or the Waffen-SS. These are only awards of the German military, and therefore political, governmental, diplomatic, and Schutz-Staffel awards are purposely left out.

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