Membership Badge of the Colonial Veterans Association was instituted in the very beginning of the XX century, in 1900 approximately. It was also issued to the members of the German Colonial Veterans Union (Deutsche Kolonialkriegerbund, DKKB) headed by the Major-General Georg Ludwig Rudolf Maercker (21.09.1865 – 31.12.1924) after the establishment of the latter in 1922.
The history of colonial veterans structures and their traditions can be traced back to 1896 when the very first one, Association of the Former Colonial German-African Fighters (Verein ehemaliger Kamerader der Deutsch-Afrikanischen Schutztruppen) was created in Berlin by a retired NCO Ernst Brüggemann and his fifty brothers in arms. That successful initiative led to establishment of various associations and unions across the German Empire that housed plenty of them in various constituent states. The first large-scale structure being an umbrella organization, German Union of the Veterans Associations of Chinese and African Military Campaigns (Vereinigung der Kriegervereine ehemaliger China-und Afrikakrieger von Deutschland) was established in 1902 in the capital of Prussia. 110 various colonial veterans associations were created by the beginning of the Great War. Brothers in arms kept traditions alive in Weimar Republic as well – 80 associations and 34 territorial groups existed by 1926 and each of them had its own membership and commemorative badges.
The role of an “umbrella organization” for veterans associations during the Third Reich era was played by an Imperial Colonial Union (Reichskolonialbund, RKB) headed by Franz Xaver Ritter von Epp (16.10.1868 – 31.12.1946). By 1942 that organization (dissolved a year later, on February 17, 1943 together with the NSDAP Office of Colonial Policy – Kolonialpolitisches Amt der NSDAP) united 12,000 former colonial fighters nationwide approximately, being grouped in 120 various associations. Ten years after the Second World War Union of the Former Colonial Troops (Verband ehemaliger Kolonialtruppen) was established in Hamburg.
Let’s return to the subject at hand now. Colonial Veterans Association Membership Badge had a shape of a so-called “Südwester” or “Schutztruppenhut” – the most famous headgear of the Schutztruppe, i.e. German colonial troops. Slight digression seems to be admissible here once again.
The hat made of grey felt was worn by all ranks on almost all occasions in German South West Africa as well as on home duties back in Germany. It wasn’t widely used in East Africa and Cameroon though, often being replaced by the tropical helmet. The hatband ribbon and edging were blue for German South West Africa, white for East Africa and red for Cameroon. Generals and colonial officials had different colors. Südwester had a large round metal black-white-red imperial cockade on a right lifted up brim.
Though small in size (27x12 mm approximately) the badge was detailed enough to show above mentioned distinctive details, round cockade and hatband ribbon.
Due to the quite long period of issuance Colonial Veterans Association Membership Badge is known to exist in two slightly different shapes. Badge, 2nd form had much bigger cockade that was situated in the very middle of a right lifted up brim of a hat. Badge, 1st form had more realistic shape.
Hollow stamped badge was made of silvered non-ferrous metal (so-called Buntmetal) and had 4 g in weight only. It was attached by a long vertical pin soldered to a reverse.
Colonial Veterans Association Membership Badge was issued in 1900-1945.