Weimar Republic

Stahlhelmbund Collar Insignia main

Stahlhelmbund Collar Insignia

Collar insignia of Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten (hereinafter referred to as just “Stahlhelmbund”) commonly seen on later photos of the League personnel, was introduced in 1932 only, on a decline of that once powerful veterans organization boasting nearly half a million members by that time. One should remember that there were actually no ranks for Stahlhelmbund members before 1932, and therefore collar insignia was never mentioned in none of the “Leader’s Handbooks” (Führer-Handbuch), from the first issue printed in Magdeburg in January 1925 to that published in March 1931. 

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Eagle Cockade main
M1919 Reichskokarde

1919 Pattern State Cockade

Soon after collapse of the German Empire, Weimar Republic authorities who feverishly tried to overcome imperial legacy and destroy as much more obsolete state emblems as possible, decided to abolish traditional black, white and red circular cockade that was introduced in 1897 as a token of remembrance of Wilhelm I, founder of the Second Reich.


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Cloth Sports Badges main
Cloth Sports Badges on Sports Dress

Visual unit affiliation of Reichswehr military personnel wearing sports dress was indicated by three cloth patches, viz. Sports Badge of 1922 pattern (Sportabzeichen), and since 1932 Military Sports Badge (Truppensportabzeichen) and Military Shield (Truppenschild).

Special 1 cm-wide colour stripes sewn on round the neck of the sports shirt were worn by officers and NCOs to distinguish them from lower ranks. Thus, officers wore cornflower blue stripes, while NCOs those of light green colour.


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Stahlhelm Sleeve Badges main
Sleeve Badges of Der Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten, 1925-1932

The earliest reference to sleeve badges for qualified personnel of the “Der Stahlhelm” League dates back to January 1925, when Leader’s Handbook (Führer-Handbuch) was published in Magdeburg, hometown of the veterans’ organization. The book contained images of three oval sleeve badges as well as description of a lace for sharpshooters.

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Reichswehr Tassels Sword Knots Buttons main
Tassels, Sword Knots and Buttons with Numbers of the Reichswehr

Traditional German tassels with their history going back as early as to the XVII century, did not disappear with the fall of the once mighty Second Reich in disastrous 1918, and that colourful element of the German Landser’s uniform was continued to be worn by the personnel of the Weimar Republic army, though in a slightly modified design. By that time, tassels and sword knots had merely become integral part of the complex system of insignia that the German Army used for unit identification. 


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Green Aiguillette with Westphalian Horse main
Grüne Fangschnur mit dem westfälischen Pferd

Green Aiguillette with Westphalian Horse

Green Aiguillette with Westphalian Horse was introduced on March 21, 1919 by an Order Nr.Ia3205 of the Chief of Staff of the VII Army Corps (Generalkommando des VII.Armeekorps) as a distinctive badge of honor in the shape of a lanyard for military personnel from volunteer units the above mentioned formation comprised of. Since January 18, 1919 the latter was commanded by Generalleutnant Freiherr Oskar von Watter (02.09.2861-23.08.1939) with headquarters in Münster. For that simple reason all the volunteer units of the VII Army Corps were named “Freikorps Watter” for convenience.

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Schwalbennester main


Swallows’ Nests or Musicians’ Wings

Musicians’ Wings (Schwalbennester) were a traditional item of uniform decoration worn by German military musicians that also showed the wearer’s branch of service by the use of various colors. They represented a matching pair of detachable cloth semicircular patches with a slightly curved lower edge sewn or fixed by hooks on both upper arms of tunic. They were worn with all types of dress but not during the battle. The lower edge remained horizontal to the tunic. The width from tip to tip was 24 cm while the height in the middle was 10 cm. The badge cloth was made of branch color, base cloth was field-grey.  

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BDMV main
Mützenabzeichen des Bundes Deutscher Marine Vereine

Cap cockade of the Union of German Naval Veterans Associations

One of the illustrious multibranch veterans organizations that operated in Germany since the end of XIX century and is still active today was known as Union of German Naval Veterans Associations (Bund Deutscher Marine-Vereine, BDMV) in 1922-1935. Initially known as German Naval Union (Deutschen Marine-Bund, DMB) it was founded on June 27, 1891 in Kiel and incorporated 16 veterans’ associations with manpower of 1,000 members approximately.


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Students main

Uniforms and Traditions of German Student Fraternities

This article that doesn’t claim to be an all-embracing one but rather of the summarizing nature, deals with the general description of uniforms worn by German students, or Burschen, who constituted a special elitist caste of German youth up to the mid-1930s. Striking resemblance of certain features of students outerwear to the military uniform is the major cause of common confusion in correct identification of photos by the beginning collectors who jump to false conclusions and label Burschen as members of obscure paramilitary organizations or even cavalrymen, mostly “hussars”.


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Regulations main
Regulations for wearing of awards in the Weimar Republic

Numerous but advantageously unsuccessful efforts of the early postwar German government to break off forcibly strong links with the Imperial legacy of the past resulted in imposing ban on wearing shoulder boards by officers, typical collar and cuff braid by NCOs, Imperial cockades by military personnel. Nevertheless the higher powers hadn’t infringed on the right of former frontline fighters to wear their combat awards and other decorations earned during military careers. 

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Provisional main
Ranks and insignia of the Provisional Reichswehr (05.05.1919-06.12.1920)

Before getting down to immediate description of ranks and insignia let’s adduce a brief introduction and provide a clarification remark of no small importance. The Law on Formation of the Provisional Reichswehr (Gesetz über die Bildung einer vorläufige Reichswehr) was enacted on March 06, 1919 and entered into force on Match 12, 1919. Although initially its effect was limited until March 31, 1920, it was extended for some reasons until March 23, 1921.


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Freikorps Epp main
Freikorps Epp Ärmelabzeichen

Arm badge of Freikorps Epp

This badge was a distinctive insignia of one of the most famous Bavarian volunteer corps – Bayerischen Schützenkorps, widely known as Freikorps von Epp named after its commander, Franz Xaver Ritter von Epp (16.10.1868 – 31.12.1946) who formed it on February 08, 1919 in Ohrdruff.


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Friedensheer main
Uniforms and ranks of the Peacetime Army (19.01.1919-05.05.1919)

The new German government agreed to withdraw its troops from the occupied territories according to the Armistice at Compiègne signed on November 11, 1918. The withdrawal from the Western front began next day, on November 12 and by January 17, 1919 all the areas left of the Rhine were clear of the German military personnel. The next herculean task was to demobilize nearly two millions of soldiers and 100,000 officers who were returning home.  


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Landwappen main
Steel Helmet Insignia

Decoration of steel helmets worn by military personnel of the Weimar-era army units with territorial shields dates back to the time of troubles experienced by the post-war Germany. Shortly after the end of the Great War numerous Freikorps units raised from patriotic soldiers and officers painted various emblems, e.g. coat of arms, shields, skulls, etc. for identification purposes on the side or the front of their steel helmets. 


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Schiessauszeichnungen main

Marksmanship Awards 

Marksmanship awards in form of sleeve stripes were instituted on December 22, 1920 and starting from that date traditional Imperial lanyards were banned for wearing. Nevertheless that order wasn’t followed immediately in the post-war chaos and some officers continued to wear their lanyards obtained during their military service in the old army. 


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