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DRK long service awards

Article about: In this thread, we will a look at the long service awards of the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz [German Red Cross] or DRK for short. First, a bit of history: Rather than awarding medals, long service

  1. #1

    Default DRK long service awards

    In this thread, we will a look at the long service awards of the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz [German Red Cross] or DRK for short.

    First, a bit of history: Rather than awarding medals, long service in the DRK was first identified by sleeve stripes that were introduced in 1930 and remained in place until 1945. These sleeve stripes were made of silver-colored aluminium braid with a narrow red center stripe and worn on the left lower sleeve.

    Here is the system as described in the 1938 regulations:

    • 5 years = 1 narrow silver stripe
    • 10 years = 2 narrow silver stripes
    • 15 years = 1 broad silver stripe
    • 20 years = 1 broad silver stripe + 1 narrow silver stripe
    • 25 years = 2 broad silver stripes


    These regulations specified a length of 9 centimeters and a width of 0.8 centimeters for the narrow stripes and 1.5 centimeters for the broad ones.

    Here is a period photograph (dated 1930) of a DRK veteran wearing the sleeve stripes for 25 years. (The chevron above them is the badge for a Gruppenführer.)

    DRK long service awards

    DRK long service awards


    In the post-war years, the practice of identifying long service by sleeve stripes was resumed in the West German DRK. The system was identical to the old one for the grades up to 25 years, with three new grades added for 30 to 40 years, which were identified by gold stripes.

    Here is the system as described in the uniform regulations of 1965:

    • 5 years = 1 narrow silver stripe
    • 10 years = 2 narrow silver stripes
    • 15 years = 1 broad silver stripe
    • 20 years = 1 broad silver stripe + 1 narrow silver stripe
    • 25 years = 2 broad silver stripes
    • 30 years = 1 broad gold stripe
    • 35 years = 1 broad gold stripe + 1 narrow gold stripe
    • 40 years = 2 broad gold stripes


    Regulations once again specified a length of 9 centimeters.

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  3. #2

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    In 1970, the sleeve stripes were discontinued in favor of ribbon bars. These are "ribbon only"-awards, without an associated medal/badge.

    Here is the full range of bars:

    DRK long service awards

    Top row, left to right:
    • 5 years
    • 10 years
    • 15 years
    • 20 years
    • 25 years

    Second row, left to right:
    • 30 years
    • 35 years
    • 40 years
    • 45 years
    • 50 years

    Third row, left to right:
    • 55 years
    • 60 years
    • 65 years (first model, grade instituted in 2006, used until 2008)
    • 65 years (second model, used since 2008)
    • 70 years (first model, grade instituted in 2006, used until 2008)

    Bottom row, left to right:
    • 70 years (second model, used since 2008)
    • 75 years (grade instituted in 2011)
    • 80 years (grade instituted in 2011)


    In case you are wondering about the very high range for these awards: There is no maximum age limit for volunteer service in the DRK. Basically, members can remain active as long as they are physically able and willing to do so. (Of course, members of advanced age usually reduce and adapt their activities accordingly.) Even if their age and/or health prevents them from remaining active, they may still retain membership of their respective unit in an inactive status, unless they wish to resign their membership altogether.

  4. #3

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    The present-day bars are in the German standard format of 23 x 13 millimeters. Older bars are of lesser height. (I don't know exactly when the changeover to the new format occurred, but the old system was used into the Noughties.) Here is an old-system bar (left) and a current-sized one (right):

    DRK long service awards


    The older bars came in two versions, as a slip-on version for mounting on a ribbon bar holder and as a ready-to-wear version with an attached pin assembly and felt backing. This version could only be worn on its own. The backing was usually light grey, although the gold-colored bars for the higher grades are sometimes seen with yellow backing:

    DRK long service awards


    Finally, here are my own bars, awarded in 1995, 2000 and 2005...:

    DRK long service awards


    ...and my old ribbon bar with the 15-year grade (only the highest awarded grade is worn):

    DRK long service awards

  5. #4

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    It's nice to be able to display years of service. Sometimes it can help keep people motivated. Thanks for displaying your service bars.

    Jay

  6. #5

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    Just in the mail today was a grouping of Red Cross decorations I had purchased off eBay that, according to the product description, were those of the seller's grandfather.

    Included in the grouping was this four-place ribbon bar with the 40-year ribbon, as well as the ribbons for 10, 15, 20, 25 and 35 years (the 30-year grade is missing). All pieces are in heavily worn condition:

    DRK long service awards

    DRK long service awards

    DRK long service awards

  7. #6

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    How many 80 years members are out there? Those people would surely be in their 90's by now. Nice thread, by the way.

  8. #7

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    Quote by thecyclist64 View Post
    How many 80 years members are out there? Those people would surely be in their 90's by now. Nice thread, by the way.
    A recipient would have to be at least 86 years of age, as it is possible to join the youth section of the Red Cross at 6 years of age (that is going by the present-day regulations; I don't know about the age requirements that were in place 80 years ago).

    Unfortunately, I have no award numbers, but the 80-year grade is obviously a very rare one.
    Last edited by HPL2008; 12-23-2018 at 12:40 AM.

  9. #8

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    I dug around a bit and found this article dated 14 May 2018 (sorry, German language only) that is of interest here:

    Meldung - BRK KV Garmisch-Partenkirchen

    Ms. Anni Endres, 97, was honored for 80 years of membership in the German Red Cross. The article states that she "is the only DRK member who can look back on 80 years of active service". Look closely at the photos and you can see that she is wearing the 75-year DRK ribbon bar as well the ribbon bar for the Winterschlachtmedaille (she had served as a Red Cross nurse in WW2).

  10. #9

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    Perhaps I should add these as well for the sake of completeness:

    In addition to the long service ribbon bars, which - as we have seen - are awarded in 5-year-intervals throughout someone's membership, the German Red Cross also bestows an additional award on the occasion of special, high anniversaries. This is the Goldene Ehrennadel des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes [Gold Honor Pin of the German Red Cross] which is awarded in the name of the President of the DRK. It is first awarded after 50 years and then subsequently in 10-year intervals for 60 and 70 years and then in 5-year intervals for 75 and 80 years of membership.

    Same as with the long service bars, only the highest awarded grade of the pin is to be worn. There is no ribbon for this award, as the full-size version is to be worn with service dress. There is a miniature for civilian wear, though:

    DRK long service awards

    DRK long service awards

    Top row, left to right:
    • 50 years (first model, grade instituted in 1964, used until 2003)
    • 50 years (second model, used since 2004)
    • 60 years (grade instituted in 1994)
    • 70 years (grade instituted in 1994)

    Bottom row, left to right:
    • 50 years (miniature)
    • 60 years (miniature)


    I don't own specimens (yet) for the 75-year grade (instituted in 2003) and the 80-year grade (instituted ca. 2013/2014).

    Note that the 70-year grade is adorned with a small "diamond". The 75- and 80-year grades have a "ruby". (They are all made of glass, actually.)
    Last edited by HPL2008; 12-23-2018 at 04:23 PM.

  11. #10

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    Interesting to note that Anni Endres didn't initially volunteer to join the DRK. Still, all credit to her for making ot to 80 years of service.

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