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Mitgliedsabzeichen des Nationalsozialistischen Deutschen Frontkämpfer-Bundes (Stahlhelm)

Membership badge of the Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Frontkämpfer-Bund (Stahlhelm)

The last type of Stahlhelmbund’s membership badge was instituted after renaming of Stahlhelm Bund der Frontsoldaten to Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Frontkämpfer-Bund (Stahlhelm) on March 28, 1934 within the scope of the all-German policy of “Gleichschaltung”. That concept, roughly meaning “unification”, was aimed at gradual but comprehensive inclusion of all the aspects of internal political processes into the national socialist ideology. Particularly, in respect to numerous Weimar-era associations inherited by NSDAP, that doctrine called for legal transformation of their ideology and, undoubtedly, names.

Unfortunately it must be admitted that 1,5 years of existence of the Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Frontkämpfer-Bund (Stahlhelm) were in fact a true decline of the once influential and strong association, and that brief period was nothing but a prelude to its inevitable dissolution. As far back as on April 27, 1933, Stahlhelm Bundesführer Franz Seldte (29.06.1882-01.04.1947) announced during his radio address, the day he joined the NSDAP, that his organization should be regarded as a “solid tactical element of the Führer”. However, unreserved institutional loyalty proclaimed by the leader of the Stahlhelmbund and his willingness to follow lead of the NSDAP could not secure the very existence of his brainchild, even though it was the largest Weimar-era paramilitary organization with 500,000 members by 1930. Its branched Germany-wide network comprising of several associated bodies and advocating its own beliefs undoubtedly contradicted conception of the New Germany to come nurtured by the newly elected Reichschancellor. Moreover, the latter had an aversion for the second-in-command of the Stahlhelmbund, renowned monarchist and conservator Theodor Duesterberg (19.10.1875-04.11.1950), who ran for Reichspräsident in 1932 opposing Hindenburg, Hitler and Thälmann. Although Duesterberg lost presidential election of 1932, he managed to secure more than 2,5 million votes, or 6,8 percent at the first round of votes.  

Despite nominally independent status of the Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Frontkämpfer-Bund (Stahlhelm), its self-reliance was irretrievably lost. Thus, presence of swastika on insignia of the veterans’ association stood for sincere or forced backing of national socialist ideology. Moreover, personnel of the Stahlhelmbund was gradually incorporated into the ranks of Stormtroopers (Sturmabteilungen, SA), wearing of armband with swastika was made compulsory. Since July 1933, ca.314,000 members of the Stahlhelmbund aged 35 and below were enlisted to “Wehrstahlhelm” under control of the SA, retaining their Stahlhelmbund memnbership for a while. Come November 1933, Stahlhelmbund members aged 36-45 were put on the list of “SA-Reserve I”, while those above 45 were listed as “SA-Reserve II”. However, status of the SA reservist imposed certain obligations. Thus, “members of the former Stahlhelmbund who have already been transferred into SA-Reserve I, cannot of their own volition sever their connection with SA-Reserve I for the sole purpose of joining other associations. Anyone who, because of a physical defect, cannot discharge his duties or who, for other reasons, wishes to leave the SA Reserve, must apply for his discharge, stating the reasons for his request. Dual membership in the SA-Reserve I and in the National Socialist Veterans’ Association is permitted, provided the individual joined the former Stahlhelmbund before January 30, 1933”.

Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Frontkämpfer-Bund (Stahlhelm) was finally dissolved on November 09, 1935, soon after the VII NSDAP Congress “Rally of Freedom” (Reichsparteitag der Freiheit) was held in Nuremberg, on September 10-16, 1935. It’s worth mentioning here that Stahlhelmbund was restored to life in West German Cologne in November 1951 as a non-profit association “Der Stahlhelm e.V. [eingetragener Verein] - Bund der Frontsoldaten - Kampfbund für Europa”.

Having completed that necessary historical digression let’s return to the main subject of an article. Thus, membership badge of the Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Frontkämpfer-Bund (Stahlhelm) had a shape of the wide ring with raised borders and swastika with wavy surface superimposed on it. The central element of the badge was a German steel helmet M1916 (Stahlhelm M1916) facing left. Lower part of the ring carried an abbreviation of the veterans’ organization in Gothic letters: “N.S.D.” (on the left of the protruding swastika arm) and “F.B.St.” (on the right). A reverse had a patent mark “Ges.Gesch.” (standing for “gesetzlich geschützt”, i.e. “registered”) as well as manufacturer’s mark, e.g. C.Th.Dicke Ludenscheid, W.D., M.W., M.M., E.V., etc.

The badge was attached with a short horizontal pin soldered to a reverse. Some membership badges are found with long vertical pin.

Round badges measuring 21 mm in diameter and weighing 2,5 g were made of silvered bronze and .800 silver.

Distribution of badges discontinued with the dissolution of the Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Frontkämpfer-Bund (Stahlhelm) on November 07, 1935.

NSDFB Stahlhelm badge 1