The most significant organizational expansion of the Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten fell on the mid-1920s, especially after it embraced thousands of new members throughout the Germany from various paramilitary organizations banned by the government of the Weimar Republic in 1923-1924. Trying to establish itself as by far the largest political movement of the post-war Germany torn by internal strife, the leadership of the Stahlhelmbund was focused on securing the rise of membership. Engagement of civilians who supported the Stahlhelmbund’s goals and were dedicated to promote the League’s agenda but because of age or other honorable reasons hadn’t participated in the Great War was considered as one of the most effective measures to achieve that object. Though such move contradicted original constitution of the Stahlhelmbund that previously had limited its membership to veterans who have served at least six months at the front, notorious maxim “the ends justify the means” was evidently regarded as of paramount importance. As a result, both Bundesführers, the founder Franz Seldte and Theodor Duesterberg nominated “the second leader” in April 1923, concentrated on opening ranks of the League to non-veterans (“Nichtfrontkämpfer”) – youth and men aged 25 and over provided their reason for not serving at the front was honorable, such as age or infirmity. As a result of such a personnel policy, by 1928-1929 the postwar generation and citizens without any combat experience made up about half of all members of the Stahlhelmbund, in spite of its name, “Bund der Frontsoldaten”.
Thus, the very first youth unit of the Stahlhelmbund – Jungstahlhelmgruppe – composing of 17-24 years old youngsters was raised in Gau Niedersachsen in October 1923. Come 1924, Jungstahlhelm officially joined the Stahlhelmbund during the annual Frontfighter’s Day (Frontsoldatentag).
As for the men over 25 years who were not admitted to the Jungstahlhelm, they were encouraged to join a new section raised in May 1924 – Landsturm des Stahlhelms. Its name roughly translated as a “Home guard of the Stahlhelmbund”, reminded pre-war structure of the German army: Nichtfrontkämpfer, unlike “original” League members were regarded not as “full-fledged” fighters but as a reserve. Theoretically every German citizen aged 25 and over was allowed to join ranks of Landsturm des Stahlhelms. However, since March 1924 Jews were no longer admitted into the Stahlhelmbund and Jewish members were slowly pushed out.
Members of the newly raised Landsturm des Stahlhelms were issued with a cardboard identification card, or Mitgliedskarte, unlike “regular” Stahlhelmbund members who possessed full-fledged multipage Mitgliedsbuch.
Having completed that necessary historical digression let’s return to the main subject of an article. Two types of Mitgliedsabzeichen des Stahlhelm-Landsturms are known to exist.
The badge of the first type had a shape of an equilateral Teutonic cross with a border. German steel helmet M1916 (Stahlhelm M1916) with clearly marked ventilation lug facing left was superimposed on the centre of the badge. Upper and lower arms of the cross bore inscriptions in Gothic letters “Stahlhelm” and “Landsturm”. The year Landsturm des Stahlhelms was founded was indicated at the left (“19”) and the right (“24”) arms. The badge with counter-relief reverse measured 20,9х31,4 mm and was made of white metal. It was attached to the tunic with a short vertical or horizontal pin soldered to its reverse.
The badge of the second type was nearly similar to the one described above, but the cross was superimposed on the square plate with beveled edges painted black. Another difference was that besides ventilation lug, helmet had liner attachment rivet. The badge measuring 18,2х19,6 mm was manufactured of white metal and was attached with a short pin soldered either horizontally or diagonally.
Despite Stahlhelmbund being appreciably reinforced by patriotically-minded newcomers, natural discontent amongst frontline veterans with inflow of neophytes lacking combat experience was on the rise. In order to distinguish members who met the original criteria from the host of others brought into the fold and ease further tensions, Stahlhelmbund leadership ordered the League to be divided into specific categories in 1926. Thus, besides Jungstahlhelm, the so-called Ringstahlhelm (“Ring” meaning association, union) was created from the cadres of the Landsturm des Stahlhelms, while original veteran members manned the Kernstahlhelm (“Kern” meaning core, essence, nature).
Mitgliedsabzeichen des Stahlhelm-Landsturms was issued from the middle of 1924 until 1926.