TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



German decorations for valor consist of the various grades of Iron Cross shown on Plate XXII, together with the Honor Roll Clasp. In actuality, iron crosses of the first and second classes may be allotted in bulk to combat units, whether or not the personnel are individually deserving of such decorations. At one time there appeared to be some plan on the part of German authorities to keep locations of the various types of decorations, combat service, and ordinary service awards distinct and recognizable as such even to the relatively uninitiated. In brief, this plan seemed to be to locate campaign and ordinary service awards above the left breast pocket in the form of ribbons, with participation in notable campaigns indicated by badges on the sleeve. Combat and wounds would be indicated by badges of bronze, silver, and gold located on the left breast, while actual decorations would be worn as ribbons in the buttonhole, at the neck, or in the form of the easily recognizable actual metal medal pinned on the uniform. This rule holds as a rough guide, but there are many exceptions, notable among which are the various foreign ribbons for valor worn with other ribbons above the left breast pocket. Marksmanship awards are worn in the form of fourrageres across the right breast.

The German Armed Forces place much emphasis on the morale effect of the various decorations and awards, the numbers of which are almost incredibly large because of the authorization of the wearing of Nazi Party and Police badges, as well as foreign decorations and those of minor German states under the German Empire. Much of the paperwork of the German Army is concerned with the awarding of various types of medals and badges and their certificates. The German troops themselves prize these honors highly, and wear them on the field uniform even in combat.


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