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The Awards and decorations of the German Armed Forces are decorations awarded by the German Bundeswehr, the German government, and other organizations to the German military and allied forces. Modern era German military awards have been presented since the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949.

History

The history of modern German Armed Forces awards may be divided into three distinct eras, namely post-World War II, Cold War era, and modern day.

Post World War II

Johannes Steinhoff wearing several denazified decorations from the Second World War.
Johannes Steinhoff wearing several denazified decorations from the Second World War.

At the end of the Second World War, the wear of all Nazi era decorations was prohibited. When Germany divided in two, East Germany continued to ban such awards. However, from 1957 West German regulations permitted the wear of many wartime awards in Bundeswehr uniform,[1] provided the swastika symbol was removed.[2] This led to the re-design of many awards with, for example, the swastika being replaced by a three-leafed oakleaf cluster on the Iron Cross.[3] Neck decorations and pin-back badges were now worn in Bundeswehr uniform on the ribbon bar. Those decorations that did not have a ribbon were displayed by a small replica of the award on a field grey ribbon.[4]

Nazi political awards, those directly associated with the SA or SS, as well as occupation service medals relating to the expansion of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, continued to be forbidden and could not be worn.[4]

Cold War Era

Medal of Merit (Order of Merit)
Medal of Merit (Order of Merit)

During the 1960s, West Germany became a key NATO member, serving as a major base for forward deployed United States and allied forces along the border with the Eastern Bloc. During this time, the West German government began to introduce new military awards and decorations, most of them for non-combat meritorious service.

Chief among these was the Order of Merit, the principal order of Germany. Civil relief medals were also introduced into the German armed forces, beginning in 1962 with the first in series of Flood Relief Medals.

By the 1970s, German personnel were also eligible to receive foreign awards, most notable awards and decorations of the United States military. During the 1980s, the NATO Medal and United Nations Medal were also frequently awarded to German personnel.

Modern Day Awards

In the modern German armed forces, several combat service medals exist to reflect German deployment in overseas missions in the War on Terror and NATO-United Nations Peacekeeping ventures. German personnel are also eligible to receive and wear civil service medals, sports and fitness awards, and certain marksmanship awards.

The reunification of Germany saw new regulations concerning the status of East German awards introduced into the German military. These regulations typically stipulated that awards associated with the Communist regime were prohibited from display, but did recognize the status and continued wear of certain non-political service medals.

List of German Awards

Sample of a Modern era German ribbon bar. The two leftmost ribbons on the bottom row are the U.S. Army's Commendation and Achievement Medals.
Sample of a Modern era German ribbon bar. The two leftmost ribbons on the bottom row are the U.S. Army's Commendation and Achievement Medals.

Decorations awarded by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany

Decorations awarded by the Federal Minister of Defence

Decorations awarded by the Federal Minister of Interior

Ribbon of the 2002 Flood
Ribbon of the 2002 Flood

Decorations awarded by the Federal Ministers of Interior and Defence

Authorized Second World War Decorations

German Sports Badge
German Sports Badge

Sports Decorations

Qualification insignia

German Aviation Badge in Bronze
German Aviation Badge in Bronze
German Parachutist Badge
German Parachutist Badge

Foreign awards

See also

References

  1. ^ "Dienstvorschriften Nr. 14/97. Bezug: Anzugordnung für die Soldaten der Bundeswehr. ZDv 37/10. (Juli 1996)". German Federal regulation. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  2. ^ "Bundesministerium der Justiz: Gesetz über Titel, Orden und Ehrenzeichen, 26.7.1957. Bundesgesetzblatt Teil III, Gliederungsnummer 1132-1". German Federal law. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  3. ^ 1957 GERMAN IRON CROSS 1st CLASS
  4. ^ a b Littlejohn, and Dodkins. Orders, Decorations, Medals and Badges of the Third Reich. pp. 224–226. Published by R. James Bender Publishing, California. 1968. ISBN 978-0854200801.