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Medaille fuer Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst - Medal for Exemplary Border Service

Article about: Here is another DDR medal that has held my imagination ever since I first knew what the GT were! First issued in 1954 it went through three variations upto 1990; 1st pattern 1954 - 55 Obvers

  1. #1

    Default Medaille fuer Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst - Medal for Exemplary Border Service

    Here is another DDR medal that has held my imagination ever since I first knew what the GT were!

    First issued in 1954 it went through three variations upto 1990;

    1st pattern 1954 - 55 Obverse with wheat ears forming a "wreath" and the initials DDR at the top with the inscription "Fur Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst" in the centre and a plain reverse with an incuse serial number. This variant was on a soviet style suspension brooch..

    2nd pattern 1955 - 56. Identical to the first but without the serial number and now on the usual early DDR suspension brooch.

    3rd pattern 1956 - 90. New design obverse with image of a border guard holding a PPSH and binoculars beside a DDR border marker post. Around the upper edge is the relief inscription "Fur Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst. The reverse shows the Staatswappen (state emblem) and no serial number.

    The medal ribbon changed only in the shade of green becoming lighter along the timeline.

    The Mappe and Urkunde shown is for a 1966 therefore 3rd pattern award.

    Medaille fuer Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst - Medal for Exemplary Border ServiceMedaille fuer Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst - Medal for Exemplary Border ServiceMedaille fuer Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst - Medal for Exemplary Border ServiceMedaille fuer Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst - Medal for Exemplary Border ServiceMedaille fuer Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst - Medal for Exemplary Border ServiceMedaille fuer Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst - Medal for Exemplary Border Service

    Last attachment is a pdf scan.

    Vorbildlichen Grenzdienst 3rd pattmappe and urkunde.pdf

    Any comments and additional info most welcome as are other examples for comparison.

    Regards

    Mark
    Last edited by Watchdog; 12-09-2019 at 09:40 PM. Reason: typo
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

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  3. #2

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    In my opinion this would be one of those DDR items that actually got better over time. The early versions are rather lacking with the empty backsides.

    I also noticed that the medal ribbon on the first version slightly longer than in the later ones.

    -Joel

  4. #3

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    Quote by Blitzvogel View Post
    In my opinion this would be one of those DDR items that actually got better over time. The early versions are rather lacking with the empty backsides.

    I also noticed that the medal ribbon on the first version slightly longer than in the later ones.

    -Joel
    I agree Joel. The 3rd pattern is very much the iconic "border guard" medal that is best known.

    As for the ribbon being longer on the earlier type I think that is the difference between the Soviet pattern suspension brooch and the subsequent DDR suspension brooch. I will measure them both and post the dimensions here in the next day or two.

    Regards

    Mark
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  5. #4

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    Quote by Blitzvogel View Post
    I also noticed that the medal ribbon on the first version slightly longer than in the later ones.-Joel

    Hi Joel, as promised here is a comparision of the two early suspension brooches, properly called Spangen as plural or Spange in the singular. It is the same word as in the EK repetition clasps but it just means "clasp(s). The ribbon bar is the Interimspange (I have seen this spelled with double 's' in German references so I'm not exactly sure which is totally correct).

    There is a difference in length but this seems to be mostly optical illusion due to a greater difference in width of the Spangen and actual ribbons;

    Soviet style = 36mm x 38.5mm Spange with 20mm ribbon.

    DDR style = 34.5mm x 46.5mm with 25mm ribbon.

    These are the actual dimensions of the items shown here but the nominal "as manufactured" dimensions are likely +/- 0.5mm.

    On the Soviet style item the brass plate of the Spange is visible at one upper corner and the pin is very obviously different from the typically more sophisticated DDR style.

    Not so obvious in these pics but in hand the DDR style has a ribbon that appears rather "ridged" when the light is reflected off it. This is not apparent in the 3rd type so most probably a manufacturing batch difference.

    Medaille fuer Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst - Medal for Exemplary Border ServiceMedaille fuer Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst - Medal for Exemplary Border Service

    I hope this is helpful.

    Regards

    Mark
    PS Sorry about the poor picture quality, the light is not great here today but the illustration of the physical differences is clear I think.

    PPS Now I notice that the 2nd pattern medal looks smaller in these pic. That is just my hurried picture taking! They are exactly the same size
    Last edited by Watchdog; 12-11-2019 at 11:03 AM. Reason: pps
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  6. #5

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    Many thanks Mark, that clears things up. Just comes to show how our eyes sometimes play tricks on us!

  7. #6

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    Here is my example of this iconic medal with its Urkunde, but it is only thanks to the intervention of General Hoffman that this design survived. In 1976, graphic artist Hans Rade came up with four new designs for the medal. The feeling was that the current design depicted a border guard with an outdated uniform and a submachine gun which had long since become obsolete, and that the medal should represent something more in keeping with the modern Grenztruppen. But Hoffman insisted that the current design should remain because of its historic link to the forming of the Grenztruppen. Click on images to enlarge.

    Cheers,
    Steve.

    Medaille fuer Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst - Medal for Exemplary Border ServiceMedaille fuer Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst - Medal for Exemplary Border ServiceMedaille fuer Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst - Medal for Exemplary Border Service
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.... 'A Salford Pal: Pte Thomas Jay.'

  8. #7

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    Nice set Steve

    Could you please show the rear of the suspension and the IS to compare the pin fastening?

    I agree that this is an iconic medal and that the General was absolutely correct in his assertion!
    As I understand it the idea was to update the image to show an AK47 and M56 helmet. This of course would have made it look just like the "Reservistenabzeichen" so I fully appreciate the objection!

    Comparing your Urkunde and mine scanned in my post above we can see that in the decade that separates the two issue dates the Staatswappen was added behind the certificate script and an embossed unit stamp placed on the word "Armeegeneral" in the signature site. Also, the later type is filled in with a typewriter whilst the earlier entry is in manuscript.

    Does anyone know if these are official changes in production/practice or just circumstantial and if official when were the changes enacted?

    Regards

    Mark
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares more about than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature with no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

  9. #8

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    Here you go... angled to show more detail. Click to enlarge.

    Cheers,
    Steve


    Medaille fuer Vorbindlichen Grenzdienst - Medal for Exemplary Border Service
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.... 'A Salford Pal: Pte Thomas Jay.'

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