Following the 1949 establishment of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) the new state prohibited the wearing of all pre-1945 German decorations and created a new system of awards inspired in part by those of the USSR.[1][2]

After German reunification in 1990, the wearing of East German decorations was not forbidden with the exception of those considered to be in breach of public order such as decorations of the Ministry for State Security, Border troops, Volkspolizei, Combat Groups, and Free German Youth (FDJ).[3]

Honorary Titles

Award Ribbon
bar
Name (English/German) Date of
creation
Description
Hero of the GDR
Held der DDR
1975-10-28 Awarded for heroic feats in service to the East German state and society.
Hero of Labour
Held der Arbeit
1950-04-19

Meritorious Member of State Security
(Ehrentitel Verdienter Mitarbeiter der Staatssicherheit)

1969-12-16 Awarded for outstanding contributions to the protection of the state from foreign intelligence services


Meritorious Military Pilot of the GDR
(Verdienter Militärflieger der DDR)

1974-08-01
Honoured People's Policeman
(Verdienter Volkspolizist )
1966-06-15 The medal was awarded in a single class for special achievements and personal dedication in the protection of the GDR. Also, for exemplary initiative that have contributed to increasing public safety and order.
Honoured Member of the National People's Army
(Ehrenzeichen der Deutschen Volkspolizei)
1976-02-20 The medal was awarded in a single class for outstanding achievements and merit leading to an increase in combat readiness and effectiveness.
Honoured Member of the Border Troops
(Verdienter Angehöriger der Grenztruppen)
1975-11-14 The medal was awarded in a single class for outstanding achievements and merit leading.
Honoured Member of Civil Defense
(Verdienter Angehöriger der Zivilverteidigung)
1977-10-25 The medal was awarded in a single class for outstanding achievements and special merit over many years of exemplary duty fulfillment of duties in increasing operational readiness.
Honoured Activist
(Verdienter Aktivist)
1953-11-01 The medal was awarded in a single class for outstanding improvements in production, in technology or in occupational safety.
Honoured Doctor of the People
(Verdienter Arzt des Volkes)
1949-03-31 The medal was awarded for significant and outstanding achievements in scientific research, in medical practice, in the organization of health protection, in teaching at universities and in medical colleges and in the training of the medical cadre.

State Prizes

Award Ribbon
bar
Name (English/German) Date of
creation
Description
National Prize of East Germany
Nationalpreis der DDR
1949 Awarded for scientific, artistic, and other meritorious achievement.
Heinrich Greif Prize
Heinrich-Greif-Preis
1951 Awarded for contribution to the state cinema and television industry.
Lessing Prize (East Germany)
Lessing-Preis
1954 Awarded for outstanding work in the field of the stage and the arts.
Prize for artistic folk art
Preis für künstlerisches Volksschaffen
1955 Awarded for outstanding new creations or artistic interpretations.
Heinrich Heine Prize
Heinrich-Heine-Preis
1956 Awarded for outstanding lyrical works and works of literary journalism.
Carl Blechen Prize
Carl-Blechen-Preis
1956 Awarded for the Arts, Literature and Artistic Folk Creations.
Johannes R. Becher Medal
Johannes-R.-Becher-Medaille
1961 Awarded for the development of national socialist culture.
Art Prize of the German Democratic Republic
Kunstpreis der DDR
1959 Awarded for outstanding creative and interpretive achievements in visual arts, applied arts, cinema, television, radio and entertainment.
Rudolf Virchow Prize
Rudolf-Virchow-Preis
1960 Awarded for special achievements in the field of medical literature, medical technology and medical production.
Guts Muths Prize
GutsMuths-Preis
1961 Awarded for scientific achievements in the field of sports science and sports medicine.

Friedrich Engels Prize
Friedrich-Engels-Preis
1970 Awarded in 3 classes for outstanding scientific and organizational achievements to strengthen national defense.
Theodor Körner Prize (East Germany)
Theodor-Körner-Preis
1970 Awarded for outstanding achievements in the creation or interpretation of works of art that contribute to strengthening the defense forces of the GDR.
Architecture Prize of the GDR
Architekturpreis des DDR
1976 Awarded for achievements in the field of architecture.
Design Prize of the GDR
Designpreis der DDR
1978 Awarded for significant contribution in increasing economic productivity.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Prize
Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Preis
1978 Awarded for the promotion of the German language and German studies abroad.

State Orders

Award Ribbon
bar
Name (English/German) Date of
creation
Description
Karl Marx Order
Karl Marx Orden
1953-05-05 Awarded for exceptional merit in relation to ideology, culture, economy, and other designations. Additionally, citizens of other countries could also be awarded the order.

Patriotic Order of Merit
Vaterländischer Verdienstorden
1954-05-21 Awarded for special services to the state and to society

Banner of Labour
Banner der Arbeit
1954-08-04 Awarded for outstanding achievements over many years which stabilised and strengthened the country, and in particular for high results in work in the national economy.
Star of People's Friendship
Stern der Völkerfreundschaft
1959-08-20 Awarded for exceptional merit in contributing to the "understanding and friendship between nations and preservation of peace".
Blücher Order
Blücher Orden
1965-10-13 Awarded for valour in time of war (never awarded).
Scharnhorst Order
Scharnhorst-Orden
1966-02-17 Awarded for major contributions to the improvement principles of ideology of the GDR




Combat Order of Merit for the People and the Fatherland
Kampforden für Verdienste um Volk und Vaterland
1966-02-17 The medal was awarded in three classes:
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold

State Medals

Military and para-military decorations

Award Ribbon
bar
Name (English/German) Date of
creation
Description
Decoration of the German People's Police
(Ehrenzeichen der Deutschen Volkspolizei)
1949-06-01 The medal was awarded in a single class for outstanding achievements, for personal bravery and selfless dedication.
Decoration of Honour for Excellent Performance in Fire Protection
(Ehrenzeichen für hervorragende Leistungen im Brandschutz)
1983-02-10 The medal was awarded in a single class for exemplary performances in ensuring fire protection, for great bravery in fighting fires in the protection of the lives of citizens of the GDR, in preventing major damage, for significant results in the development of fire protection in the GDR, for international cooperation of bodies of fire protection.
Medal for Exemplary Border Service
(Medaille für vorbildlichen Grenzdienst der Grenztruppen der DDR)
1954-05-28 The medal was awarded in a single class for exemplary performance and personal commitment in securing the state border of the GDR
Medal for Excellence in the Armed Organs of the Interior Ministry
(Medaille für ausgezeichnete Leistungen in den bewaffneten Organen des Ministeriums des Innern

)

1959-06-04 The medal was awarded in a single class for excellent performance of tasks, in particular in the strengthening and consolidation of the GDR.
Medal for excellent performance in the fighting groups of the working class
(Medaille für ausgezeichnete Leistungen in den Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse

)

1965-10-06 The medal was awarded in a single class for special merit in the deployment, development and consolidation of combat groups, for excellent performance in leadership and training, for the care and maintenance of equipment and armament.
Medal of Merit in Fire Protection
(Medaille für Verdienste im Brandschutz)
1968-08-24 The medal was awarded in a single class for outstanding achievements as well as personal bravery and selfless dedication in the fulfillment of fire protection duties in the safeguarding of the national economy as well as the life, health and protection of the personal property of the citizens of the GDR.




Medal of Merit of the National People's Army
(Verdienstmedaille der Nationalen Volksarmee)
1956-06-01 The medal was awarded in three classes for outstanding merit and personal readiness in support of increases in combat capabilities and readiness of the National People's Army:
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold




Medal of Merit of Organs of the Ministry of the Interior
(Verdienstmedaille der Organe des Ministeriums des Innern)
1966-06-15 The medal was awarded in three classes for merit and personal commitment in increasing public order and security; for the protection of the structure of socialism in the GDR and the consolidation of the German People's Police and the Ministry of the Interior:
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold

Medal of Merit of the Border Troops of the GDR
(Verdienstmedaille der Grenztruppen der DDR)
1977-10-25 The medal was awarded in 3 classes for outstanding achievements and personal dedication in maintaining the security of the borders of the GDR. Also for political and military leadership as well as for education and training.
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold



Medal of Merit of the Combat Groups of the Working-Class
(Verdienstmedaille der Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse)
1961-09-25 The medal was awarded in three classes for faithful fulfillment of duties and recognition of exemplary achievements in the ranks of the combat groups of the GDR:
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold




Medal of Merit of the Customs Administration of the GDR
(Verdienstmedaille der Zollverwaltung der DDR)
1967-05-12 The medal was awarded in three classes to individuals or collectives of the GDR or other socialist states, for services in fulfilling duties in the customs administration that contributed to strengthening and securing the GDR:
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold




Medal of Merit of Civil Defense
(Verdienstmedaille der Zivilverteidigung)
1970-09-16 The medal was awarded in three classes to members and collectives of the Civil Defense of the GDR, to citizens of the GDR as well as to foreign nationals of socialist brother states, companies and institutions; for special merit in increasing the operational readiness, the education and training, the maintenance of and development of technical equipment of civil defense:
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold



Medal Brotherhood in Arms
(Medaille der Waffenbrüderschaft)
1966-02-17 The medal was awarded in three classes for achievements and merit in the consolidation of the relationships between the fraternal socialist armies and the development of mutual cooperation:
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold
Medal for Faithful Service in the Barracked People's Police
(Medaille für treue Dienste in der Kasernierten Volkspolizei)
1954-04-28 The medal was awarded in a single class for 5 years of honest, conscientious and faithful service in the armed organs of the GDR. It was replaced by the Medal For Faithful Service in the National People’s Army in 1956.




Medal For Faithful Service in the National People’s Army
(Medaille für treue Dienste in der Nationalen Volksarmee)
1956-06-01 The medal was awarded in four classes:
  • 5 years service (bronze)
  • 10 years service (silver)
  • 15 years service (gold)
  • 20 years service (gold) with colored flags on the medal and Roman numerals XX on the ribbon




Medal For Faithful Service in the Border Guards of the GDR
(Medaille für treue Dienste in den Grenztruppen der DDR)
1977-10-25 The medal was awarded in four classes:
  • 5 years service (bronze)
  • 10 years service (silver)
  • 15 years service (gold)
  • 20 years service (gold) with colored flags on the medal and Roman numerals XX on the ribbon




Medal for Faithful Service in the Civil Defense of the GDR
(Medaille für treue Dienste in der Zivilverteidigung der DDR)
1977-10-25 The medal was awarded to personnel of the Civil Defense in four classes:
  • 5 years service (bronze)
  • 10 years service (silver)
  • 15 years service (gold)
  • 20 years service (gold) with Roman numerals XX on the ribbon






Medal for Faithful Service in Militarised Organs of the Interior Ministry
(Medaille für Treue Dienste in den bewaffneten Organen des Ministeriums des Innern)
1959-01-22 The medal was awarded in six classes:
  • 5 years service (bronze)
  • 10 years service (silver)
  • 15 years service (gold)
  • 20 years service (gold)
  • 25 years service (gold)
  • 30 years service (gold)






Medal for Loyal Service in the Customs Administration of the GDR
(Medaille für treue Dienste in der Zollverwaltung der DDR)
1967-05-12 The medal was awarded in six classes to all employees of the customs administration upon reaching a fixed, uninterrupted period of honest, conscientious and faithful service:
  • 5 years service (bronze)
  • 10 years service (silver)
  • 15 years service (gold)
  • 20 years service (gold + 1 oak leaf)
  • 25 years service (gold + 2 oak leaves)
  • 30 years service (gold + 3 oak leaves)




Medal for Faithful Service in Fighting Groups of the Working Class
(Medaille für Treue Dienste in den Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse)
1965-10-06 The medal was awarded in four classes:
  • 5 years service (bronze)
  • 10 years service (silver)
  • 15 years service (gold)
  • 20 years service (gold) with gold circular ribbon device (post 1978)



Medal for Faithful Fulfillment of Duties in the Civil Defense of the GDR
(Medaille für treue Pflichterfüllung in der Zivilverteidigung der DDR)
1977-10-25 The medal was awarded in three classes to volunteers:
  • 10 years service (bronze)
  • 20 years service (silver)
  • 30 years service (gold)

Civilian decorations

Award Ribbon
bar
Name (English/German) Date of
creation
Description

Medal of Merit of the GDR
(Verdienstmedaille der DDR)

1959-06-04 Awarded for distinction through special achievements and faithful fulfillment of duties in the construction of socialism.

Hans Beimler Medal
(Hans Beimler Medaille)

1956-05-17 Awarded for fighting in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Republicans.

Medal for Fighters Against Fascism
(Medaille für Kämpfer gegen den Faschismus)

1958-02-22 Awarded for involvement in the resistance against the Nazi regime 1933–45.

Lifesaving Medal of the GDR
(Lebensrettungsmedaille der DDR)

1954-05-28 Awarded for the salvation of people while in mortal danger to the rescuer.

Medal for Fighting the Flood Disaster in July 1954
(Medaille für die Bekämpfung der Hochwasserkatastrophe im Juli 1954)

1954-08-05 Awarded for selfless commitment, exemplary work and self-sacrifice in combating the floods and in the subsequent repairs of damages in Saxony, the Ore Mountains and the Elster Mountains in July 1954.

Medal for Selfless Action in the Fight Against Disasters
(Medaille für selbstlosen Einsatz bei der Bekämpfung von Katastrophen)

1957-08-15 Awarded for selfless dedication, exemplary assistance and personal sacrifice, as well as other outstanding services in preventing or combating disasters and eliminating their aftermath.

Medal for excellent performance in the water management of the GDR
(Medaille für hervorragende Leistungen in der Wasserwirtschaft der DDR)

1975-01-30 Awarded for excellent performance in the socialist competition as well as the fulfillment of, or zeal in the tasks set by the water management of the GDR, in connection with many years of activity in this field.

Commemorative medal 20th anniversary of land reform - democratic land reform
(Erinnerungsmedaille 20. Jahrestag der Bodenreform – demokratische Bodenreform)

1965-07-27 Awarded for a special contribution to the implementation of land reform, the founding of agricultural cooperatives or to the socialist transformation of agriculture.

Medal of Honour for the 40th anniversary of the GDR
(Ehrenmedaille zum 40. Jahrestag der GDR)

1988-10-14 Awarded for outstanding achievements in the emergence and overall strengthening of the GDR and for the active participation in the design of the socialist society.




Hufeland Medal
(Hufeland-Medaille)
1958-09-13 The medal was awarded in three classes for special merit, exemplary initiative in socialist competition and the fulfillment of prescribed tasks in health and social services of the GDR. Also for many years of meritorious work in these areas as well as in administration and in the medical professions:
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold




Dr. Theodor Neubauer Medal
(Dr. Theodor Neubauer Medaille)
1959-08-20 The medal was awarded in three classes both to individuals and collectives for extraordinary contributions and achievements in the development of socialist education in the GDR:
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold




Medal of Merit of the Maritime Industry
(Verdienstmedaille der Seeverkehrswirtschaft)
1965-07-01 The medal was awarded in three classes for exemplary work successes through active and selfless commitment or longstanding meritorious activities in the field of maritime transport:
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold




Medal of Merit of the German Post
(Verdienstmedaille der Deutschen Post)
1970-11-19 The medal was awarded to individuals in three classes for outstanding achievements in the development of the postal and telecommunications system. Also for services in ensuring the constant operational readiness of the telecommunication systems:
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold




Medal of Merit of the German Railroads
(Verdienstmedaille der Deutschen Reichsbahn)
1956-10-18 The medal was awarded in three classes for selfless service, for high achievements or for courage:
  • 3rd class
  • 2nd class
  • 1st class




Medal of Merit in the People's Control of the GDR
(Medaille für Verdienste in der Volkskontrolle der DDR)
1973-02-12 The medal was awarded in three classes for many years of exemplary work in the People's Control of the GDR and for excellent results in the control of the implementation of the resolutions of the SED and the government of the GDR:
  • 3rd class
  • 2nd class
  • 1st class




Pestalozzi Medal for Faithful Services
(Pestalozzi-Medaille für treue Dienste)
1956-11-15 The medal was awarded in three classes to teachers and educators of vacational and educational institutions of the GDR.
  • 10 years (Bronze)
  • 20 years (Silver)
  • 30 years (Gold)






Medal for Faithful Service for Voluntary Helpers in Guarding State Borders
(Medaille für Treue Dienste freiwilliger Helfer beim Schutz der Staatsgrenze der DDR)
1986-12-05 The medal was awarded in six classes:
  • 5 years service (bronze)
  • 10 years service (bronze)
  • 15 years service (silver)
  • 20 years service (silver)
  • 25 years service (gold)
  • 30 years service (gold)







Medal for Faithful Service in Civil Aviation
(Medaille für treue Dienste in der zivilen Luftfahrt)
1962-09-13 The medal was awarded in seven classes:
  • 5 years service (bronze)
  • 10 years service (silver)
  • 15 years service (gold level 1)
  • 20 years service (gold level 2)
  • 30 years service (gold level 3)
  • 35 years service (gold with honour clasp for women)
  • 40 years service (gold with honour clasp for men)





Medal for Faithful Service in the German Railroads
(Medaille für Treue Dienste bei der Deutschen Reichsbahn)
1956-03-18 The medal was originally awarded in three classes increased to five in 1973:
  • 10 years service (bronze)
  • 20 years service (silver)
  • 30 years service (gold)
  • 35 years service (gold with honour clasp for women)
  • 40 years service (gold with honour clasp for men)




Medal for Faithful Service in Health and Social Services
(Medaille für Treue Dienste im Gesundheits und Sozialwesens)
1973-11-15 The medal was awarded in three classes:
  • 10 years servigrantedce (bronze)
  • 20 years service (silver)
  • 30 years service (gold)





Medal for Faithful Service in the German Post
(Treuedienstmedaille der Deutschen Post)
1960-10-13 The medal was awarded in five classes:
  • 10 years service (bronze)
  • 20 years service (silver)
  • 30 years service (gold)
  • 35 years service (gold with honour clasp for women)
  • 40 years service (gold with honour clasp for men)





Medal for Faithful Service in the Volunteer Fire Department
(Medaille für Treue Dienste in der Freiwilligen Feuerwehr)
1959-01-22 The medal was awarded in four classes:
  • 10 years service (bronze)
  • 20 years service (silver)
  • 30 years service (gold)
  • 40 years service (gold with ribbon device)




Medal for Faithful Service in the Maritime Industry
(Medaille für Treue Dienste in der Seeverkehrswirtschaft)
1965-07-01
Amended 1981-09-21
The medal was awarded in three classes:
  • 10 years service (bronze)
  • 20 years service (silver)
  • 30 years service (gold)
  • 35 years service (gold with honour clasp for women)
  • 40 years service (gold with honour clasp for men)





Medal for Many Years of Duty to Strengthen the National Defense of the GDR
(Medaille für langjährige Pflichterfüllung zur Stärkung der Landesverteidigung der DDR)
1974-08-08 The medal was awarded in four classes to employees of the Defense Industry:
  • 10 years service (bronze)
  • 20 years service (silver)
  • 30 years service (gold)
  • 35 years service for women, 40 for men (special gold)




Humboldt Medal
(Humboldt-Medaille)
1975-02-13 The medal was awarded in three classes for exemplary fulfillment of tasks at higher and technical colleges, also for many years of loyal service.
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold

Ministerial and associative awards

Ministry of National Defence

Award Ribbon
bar
Name (English/German) Date of
creation
Description




Medal for Merit in Reservist Work
(Medaille für Verdienste in der Reservistenarbeit)
1985-05-28 The medal was awarded in three classes to reservists or veterans of military service, for outstanding services in the development and management of reservist work while not on reservist military service:
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold
Medal For Faithful Service in the National People's Army Reserve
(Reservistenabzeichen)
1969 The medal was awarded in three classes:
  • 18 to 24 months service (bronze)
  • 2 to 10 years service (silver)
  • More than 10 years service (gold)
Jubilee Medal 30 Years of the National People's Army
(Jubiläumsmedaille 30 Jahre Nationale Volksarmee)
1986-03-01 The medal was awarded to a select group of people from the NVA, others receiving a related badge.

Ministry of Education

Award Ribbon
bar
Name (English/German) Date of
creation
Description



Lessing Medal
(Lessing Medaille)

1950-04-28 Awarded in 2 classes for excellent performance and very good social and extra-curricular work in senior high school.
  • Silver
  • Gold

Combat Groups of the Working Class of the GDR

Award Ribbon
bar
Name (English/German) Date of
creation
Description

Commemorative Medal 20 Years of Combat Groups of the Working Class
(Erinnerungsmedaille 20 Jahre Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse)

September 1973 The medal was awarded in a single class to deserving members of the combat groups of the working class.

Society for Sports and Technology

Award Ribbon
bar
Name (English/German) Date of
creation
Description

Ernst Schneller Medal
(Ernst-Schneller-Medaille)

1961 The medal was awarded in three classes for outstanding services in the education of youth in defense readiness:
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold

Free German Youth Society

These were awarded to Free German Youth (F.D.J.) members;

Award Ribbon
bar
Name (English/German) Date of
creation
Description




Artur Becker Medal
(Artur-Becker-Medaille)
1959 The medal was awarded in three classes for outstanding achievements in the socialist youth association:
  • Awarded by city leadership (bronze)
  • Awarded by county leadership (silver)
  • Awarded by district leadership (gold)


Thalmann medal
(Thälmann-Medaille)
1951-08-15 The medal was awarded to all participants of the peace demonstration of the Free German Youth.

Socialist Unity Party

These were conferred by the Socialist Unity Party (S.E.D.);

Award Ribbon
bar
Name (English/German) Date of
creation
Description
Medal of the 20th anniversary of the GDR
(Medaille zum 20. Jahrestag der DDR)
1969 The medal was awarded in a single class to members of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany and to honoured dignitaries.

See also

References

  1. ^ Medals of East Germany
  2. ^ East German Medals
  3. ^ Bernzen, Enno; Feder, Klaus H.: Das Tragen von Auszeichnungen der DDR im vereinten Deutschland. In: Deutsch-deutsche Rechts-Zeitschrift (DtZ) 1995