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Odznak Rýchlej divízie 

Badge of the Fast Division

The 1st Slovak (Mobile) Infantry Division also known as the “Fast Division” was an elite mobile unit that fought against the USSR alongside of its German allies. Slovaks saw fierce action near Kiev, Kremenchug, Mariupol and Taganrog, advanced into the Caucasus Region where they played a vital role in the assault and capture of Rostov. The battle of Stalingrad turned out to be fatal for the Fast Division and remaining troops were sent to the Crimea for defensive operations. Growing demoralization led to surrender of nearly 2,000 Slovaks to the Red Army on October 30, 1943 in Melitopol.

After reorganization and short service in the Crimea Fast Division was pulled from the lines and disarmed in June 1944 as a result of its continued unreliability in combat. Being formed into a construction brigade that once elite unit was used in raising defensive installations in Rumania.

The exact date of the institution of this commemorative badge remains unknown as initially it came into existence unofficially being a result of a community initiative. It was commander of the Fast Division General Augustín (Gustav) Malár (18.07.1894 – 1945) who supported an idea of creation of a distinctive divisional insignia in the beginning of 1942, the time when Slovaks were quartered at positions near the Mius River. His order No.38/42 officially introduced the badge theretofore being produced in quite a primitive way. Starting from the spring 1942 the badge of the Fast Division was manufactured at Slovak automobile workshops.

The badge was worn on field tunics of military personnel regardless of rank and position.  

Official as it was commemorative badge of the Fast Division had quite a rugged shape. Laurel wreath encircled engine hood of a truck being a symbol of a motorized unit. Dates “1941/1942”, “1941/42/43” or “1941/1943”.run in two horizontal rows at the middle portion of a truck radiator. Top of the badge showed an eagle facing eastwards and resting on two capital letters “RD” (“Rýchla Divízia”) that appeared in the centre of the composition.

Artisanal production led to several varieties of a badge that differed in quality, material used (alloys or aluminum), finish (chromed or polished surface) and even form (solid or cut-out).   

Attachment method varied as well: screw, vertical pin with catching hook or special shoulder strap-like leather stripe. Some badges were numbered on reverse. 

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