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Red Cross decorations and badges

Article about: Today, I would like to present various awards of the German Red Cross. I have already done a few threads on various awards of the DRK [Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (German Red Cross)] and the BRK [

  1. #1

    Default Red Cross decorations and badges

    Today, I would like to present some decorations and badges of the German Red Cross.

    I have already done a few threads on various awards of the DRK [Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (German Red Cross)] and the BRK [Bayerisches Rotes Kreuz (Bavarian Red Cross)] and to avoid repetition, will not feature any awards on this thread that have already been covered in those. For quick reference, they are:

    Das Ehrenzeichen des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes
    DRK long service awards
    Ehrenzeichen des Freistaates Bayern für Verdienste um das BRK
    Deutsches Rettungsschwimmabzeichen

    Let's start with a high and rather rare award of the DRK, the Leistungsspange des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes [Achievement Clasp of the German Red Cross].

    Instituted in 1964, this clasp is awarded by the President of the DRK for particular personal achievements above and beyond the call of duty for which no other German award or decoration has been bestowed. This may be during a single mission - such as work under particularly difficult conditions in a disaster relief operation or a rescue undertaken at the risk of one's own life - or on general Red Cross duty.
    Silver is for "exemplary, outstanding achievements", gold for "exemplary, extraordinary achievements". Generally, the two classes are to be awarded successively, although a direct award of the gold grade is possible in exceptional cases.

    This is the only award that is authorized for wear on work-/field uniforms, on which it may be worn in embroidered form only (which is also why it is the only Red Cross award for which a cloth version exists).

    The gold grade clasp in the metal version; I don't have one in silver (yet). Maker's mark is for M. & E. Fischer of Beuel on the Rhine (Beuel is a municipal district of Bonn). I can't help but notice the stylistic similarity to the WW2 Nahkampfspange [Close Combat Clasp]:

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges

    Together with the (much larger) cloth version:

    Red Cross decorations and badges


    Embroidered clasps; top to bottom: Silver grade in hand embroidery on black backing, silver grade in machine embroidery on dark green backing with press-stud fasteners, silver and gold grade in machine embroidery on grey backing (the gold grade is the one already seen above). The second piece is unusual in that the German Red Cross has never used green uniforms, which is why I wonder if this was worn on the uniform of some other organisation:

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges

    A closer look at the hand-embroidered version, which is of quite nice quality:

    Red Cross decorations and badges
    Last edited by HPL2008; 11-01-2019 at 05:57 PM.

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  3. #2

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    Although they are not actually awards per se, I decided to add these brooches to the thread as well.

    Brooches of the German Red Cross are a complicated subject as there were many differences between the various state-level organisations as well as changes over time.

    The brooches seen below are of a long-running, but still-current pattern as worn by female DRK volunteers. (Or technically current: They are still pictured and described in the 2007 uniform regulations, but only briefly mentioned in the 2014 ones. I doubt that they are widely worn nowadays.) They indicate the wearer's qualification- and assignment level.

    The circular badges in the top row are, from left to right:

    • no outer border = member with basic first-aid training
    • silver lettering and outer border = member with completed specialist training (medical-, technical-, signals service etc.) or equivalent qualification and duty assignment on local- or county-level.
    • gold lettering and outer border = member with completed specialist training (medical-, technical-, signals service etc.) or equivalent qualification and duty assignment on district-, state- or national level.

    The oval badge is for qualified state-examined professionals [examinierte Fachkräfte], i.e. nurses etc.

    The first and last badge bear the maker's mark for W. Biedermann of Asbach:

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges


    Different from these DRK brooches were the ones worn by female members of the BRK. Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to find detailed information on them and what the 4 grades (no outer wreath, outer wreath in bronze, silver and gold) signify. The wreathed badges may indicate a higher qualification-/assignment level over the basic unwreathed brooch or be in the nature of an award. All grades can be found with a clip attachment or a pin assembly:

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges

  4. #3

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    Here is a nice cased example of the Ehrenzeichen der Wasserwacht des DRK-Bundesverbandes in Gold [Water Rescue Service Decoration of the National Association of the German Red Cross in Gold].

    The second-highest honor of the Wasserwacht [Water Rescue Service] (after the Ehrenmitgliedschaft [Honorary Membership]), this decoration is awarded for merit in the interest of the organisation on a national level.
    It comes in two grades: Silver is for special merit, gold is for extraordinary, outstanding and repeated merit. Generally, the grades are to be awarded successively. Direct awards of the gold grade were permitted in the year of the award's institution and the following year, but are now reserved for exceptional cases. Holders of the silver and gold decorations are to wear the gold one only.

    The decoration is presented in a set consisting of the full-size award, a ribbon bar and two differently sized stickpins for civilian wear. Seen below is the first model of this award, used from the 1960s to 1979. The second model (1979 to 2012) had dark blue instead of white enamel work; for the third model (since 2012) the letters "DRK" were added to the top part. The silver grade has a silver laurel wreath; the other parts are gilt as in the gold grade. An equivalent decoration is also awarded by the Wasserwacht of the BRK, which differs from the DRK version only in that it has the letters "BRK" in the top part of the wreath:

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges


    This award is not to be confused with the basic duty badge [Dienstabzeichen] of the DRK and BRK Wasserwacht, which is identical except for the absence of the wreath. These duty badges can be found both unnumbered and with a number on the reverse. I have been told that the number identified the wearer's unit/duty station.

    Duty badge of the DRK Wasserwacht:

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    Duty badges of the BRK Wasserwacht (pre- and post-1979):

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges

    Another duty badge of the BRK Wasserwacht. Note that, unlike on the examples shown above, the rope border is flush with the life saver and that it has a different pin assembly. I would tend to think that this could be an early version:

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges

  5. #4

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    Like many other Red Cross organisations the world over, the DRK honors blood donors with wearable awards, known as Blutspendeehrenadeln [Blood Donation Honor Pins].

    The lowest grades are for 3 and then 6 donations. They are then awarded in various steps (5, 15 or 25) for up to 300 donations.

    It's a bit complicated: While these pins are awarded by all DRK state-level organisatons, not all grades are awarded by all of them.

    Since 1999, the DRK's general sequence for these awards has been: 10, 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, 200, 225, 250, 275 and 300.

    Prior to this, additional lower grades had existed, which are still awarded by some state-level organisations, so as to motivate new donors.

    Thus, for example, the BRK awards the following grades: 3, 10, 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, 200, 225, 250, 275 and 300, whereas Thuringia uses this sequence: 3, 6, 10, 15, 25, 40, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150 and 175. In North Rhine-Westphalia, a more elaborate version with diamonds is awarded from 50 donations upwards.

    The pins are worn as pinback badges or stickpins on the left lapel of civilian clothing; the grades from 25 upwards are also available as miniature pendants for wear on medal chains. With DRK service dress, the blood donor pins are worn as ribbon bars.

    I don't have the full range of pins, but these will give you a good idea:

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges

  6. #5

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    Here is another award of the BRK, the Plakette für treue Dienste in der Sanitätskolonne des Bayerischen Roten Kreuzes [Badge for faithful service in the Sanitätskolonne of the Bavarian Red Cross], which was awarded from ca. 1954 to 1978. It came in the three grades of Bronze, Silver and Gold. The badge can be found with two metal loops on the back (apparently, this version was to be sewn to the uniform) as well as with a pin assembly (which may be a later version).

    ("Sanitätskolonne" could roughly be translated as "Medical Column" and was the designation for the basic, local-level unit. Initially, these were all-male units, whereas women served in seperate Frauenbereitschaften [roughly "Women's Readiness Units"]. When I joined the BRK back in 1990, this separation was actually still in place, although it was abolished soon after, with mixed units becoming the norm.)

    Bronze:

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    Silver:

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges


    Gold:

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges


    There is also a badge that is identical to this award except for the absence of a wreath. I have not found any data on it yet, but would assume it to be a Dienstabzeichen [duty badge] equivalent to that of the Wasserwacht (seen in post # 4) and the Bergwacht [Mountain Rescue Service] (shown in the last two photos below):

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges

  7. #6

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    In 1978, it was replaced by the Verdienstmedaille der Sanitätskolonne des Bayerischen Roten Kreuzes [Medal for Merit of the Sanitätskolonne of the Bavarian Red Cross], which was awarded until 1995.

    The medal was awarded to active members who had particulary proven themselves on everyday duty and kept rendering exceptionally meritorious volunteer services. It, too, came in three grades, Bronze, Silver and Gold. These were awarded successively, with only the highest grade worn.

    Here are cased examples for all three grades. Note the loop at the top of the ribbon: The medal was worn buttoned under the flap of the left breast pocket of the grey tunic. (At least officially, the full-size medal was to be worn only for special occasions; otherwise it was to be represented by the ribbon bar. A stickpin for civilian wear was available as well.)

    Red Cross decorations and badges

    Red Cross decorations and badges

    Red Cross decorations and badges

  8. #7

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    The former Sanitätskolonnen were re-designated as Bereitschaften [roughly "Readiness Units"] in the 1990s, and the above medals were replaced by the new Ehrenzeichen der BRK-Bereitschaften [Decoration of the BRK Bereitschaften] in 1995. This award was a pinback badge worn on the lower left breast of the service dress. (The former attachment method wouldn't have worked with the new service dress anyway, as it included a civilian-style suitcoat.) The three grades were retained.

    Cased examples of the Bronze and Silver grade:

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges


    The gold grade:

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges

  9. #8

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    The female equivalent to the Verdienstmedaille was the Verdienstabzeichen der Frauenbereitschaften des Bayerischen Roten Kreuzes [Badge of Merit of the Frauenbereitschaften of the Bavarian Red Cross]. It was awarded concurrently to the male medal from from 1978 to 1995 and, like the medal, succeeded by the new Ehrenzeichen. It, too, came in Bronze, Silver and Gold grades. I only have a bronze one:

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges

  10. #9

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    Here is the Leistungsabzeichen des BRK [Proficiency Badge of the BRK] (this one is also awarded by a few other DRK state-level organistions).

    The badge comes in three grades - Bronze, Silver and Gold - which are awarded successively. Each grade requires a written and practical knowledge- and skill test of increasing difficulty, with a minium of 2 years having to pass before taking the test for the next-higher grade.

    Examples for the full-size badge as worn on the left breast of the service dress. As usual, only the highest grade is worn and it also comes as a ribbon bar and civilian-wear miniature:

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges

  11. #10

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    A humble ribbon-only award, the Fluthelfer-Ehrenzeichen der BRK-Bereitschaften [Flood Helper Decoration of the BRK-Bereitschaften], awarded to personnel serving in the relief operations for the 2002 floods:

    Red Cross decorations and badges Red Cross decorations and badges

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