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Cuff-titles of German Imperial Railways (1937-1941)

The very first cuff insignia of the German Imperial Railways was undoubtedly an obscure cuff-title (Band) “Deutsche Reichsbahn”. It was described in the German Imperial Railways Service Uniform Regulations (Dienstkleidungsordnung der Deutschen Reichsbahn) issued on July 01, 1937. That cuff-title was referred to in Part A “Railways” (“Eisenbahn”), Section II “Special regulations” (“Besondere Vorschriften”). As provided for in subparagraph “e”, paragraph 1 of the Article 2 “Service uniform and equipment” (“Form und Ausstattung der Dienstkleidung”), dark blue cuff-title  with inscription “Deutsche Reichsbahn” was worn on the lower left sleeve of a white linen tunic (Leinenkittel). Wearing of that cuff-title was discontinued in 1941.

More common cuff-titles (Ärmelstreifen) and national sleeve emblems (Ärmelhoheitszeichen) for German Imperial Railways (Deutsche Reichsbahn) personnel were instituted on February 13, 1941 by the Decree of the Imperial Transport/Traffic Ministry (Reichsverkehrsministerium). Some general information was given in Section I “Service uniform” (“Dienstanzug”). Thus, paragraph 5 of Part A “In Western and Eastern areas” (“Im besetzen Westgebiet und Ostgebiet”) stated that “national emblem embroidered in yellow on a black cloth underlay is worn on the upper part of the left sleeve of a tunic”. Exact design of cuff-titles was stipulated in paragraph 6: “Black cuff-title with yellow borders and a yellow machine woven script “Wehrmachtsverkehrsdirektion (sic!) Brüssel” or “Wehrmachtsverkehrsdirektion (sic!) Paris”, or “Ostbahn” for General Government”. It was prescribed to be worn on the lower part of the left sleeve of a tunic and an overcoat.

Paragraph 2 of Part B “In Reich territory” (“Im Reich”) stated that national emblems described above would be worn together with cuff-titles bearing a name of an appropriate German Imperial Railways Directorate (Reichsbahndirektion).

Cuff-titles and national emblems were also mentioned in Section III “Description” (“Beschreibung”), namely in paragraphs 1 and 4 that described in details tunic with stand-and-fall collar (Rock mit Stehumlegekragen) and overcoat (Mantel). In addition to general regulations from Section I it was stated that cuff-titles were to be sewn above sleeve cuffs, and inscriptions were to be made of matt-yellow thread.

As a rule, national emblems, i.e. eagles were machine woven using an artificial silk thread and following a so-called BEVo technique, an acronym that derived its name from the Wuppertal-Barmen-based company Bandfabrik Ewald Vorsteher, the principal manufacturer of Third Reich-era woven insignia. Privately purchased emblems for senior railways personnel were of hand embroidered bullion pattern. Those eagles were worn centered on the upper left sleeve.

Cuff-titles worn by personnel of Military Transportation Directorates “Brussels” (Wehrmachtsverkehrsdirektion Brüssel) in occupied Belgium and the Netherlands as well as “Paris” (Wehrmachtsverkehrsdirektion Paris) were 38 mm tall while those worn by employees of Eastern Railways (Ostbahn), a structure controlling railway traffic in the occupied Polish territories, were slightly narrow, 32 mm

However, this insignia turned out to be short-lived as within less than five months it was replaced with National emblems of German Imperial Railways Directorates (Hoheitszeichen mit Direktionsbezeichnung) introduced on July 03, 1941 by the Decree of the Imperial Transport Minister (Reichsverkehrsminister) Dr.-Ing. Julius Heinrich Dorpmüller (24.07.1869-05.07.1945). Paragraph 8 of Article I (“Service uniform”) from Section A (“Regulations for the German territory including Alsace, Lorraine and Luxembourg”) stipulated that “cuff-titles were no longer to be worn”. Yet, wearing of few cuff-titles that had been already issued soon after their introduction continued until September 1941, when they were finally abolished.

Due to the short duration of its official use, cuff-titles are rarely seen on period photos of Reichsbahn personnel. Moreover, some Directorates had no time either to issue their own insignia, or to distribute manufactured cuff-titles to their employees.

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