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Some DDR badges

Article about: Normally, I do not collect East German items, but I have now dabbled a bit in GDR badges and thought I would share them here. Still quite cheap, the items seen below (except for the last one

  1. #1

    Default Some DDR badges

    Normally, I do not collect East German items, but I have now dabbled a bit in GDR badges and thought I would share them here. Still quite cheap, the items seen below (except for the last one) were purchased from two different dealers and cost a total of little more than 40 Euros.

    First up, the Leistungsabzeichen der Nationalen Volksarmee [Proficiency Badge of the National People's Army] instituted in 1956.
    The (now quite expensive) first version of this badge did not include the national symbol of the wreathed hammer-and-dividers on the flag. This is the second design which was awarded from 1959 - 1989. The badge came in one grade only.
    Unlike the following, hollow-backed badges, this one is quite solid and massive. Note the name "Thiele" crudely scratched into the reverse side; probably the badge's former wearer. :

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    Next, we have the Militärsportabzeichen der Nationalen Volksarmee [Military Sports Badge of the National People's Army] instituted in 1968.
    A new design was proposed in 1984, but not accepted; this is the version awarded until the end of the GDR. This badge, too, had only one grade:

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    This is the GST's Leistungsabzeichen für Militärischen Mehrkampf [Proficiency Badge for Multiple-Discipline Military Sports/Skills] in all three grades (bronze, silver and gold).
    These are rather cheaply made badges made of thin, lightweight metal:

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    The Sportleistungsabzeichen der DDR [Sports Proficiency Badge of the GDR], usually referred to simply as Sportabzeichen [Sports Badge] in all three grades (bronze, silver and gold).
    This is the last design in its large version for adults. (There were also sports badges for children and adolescents.) Like its West German counterpart, the design is clearly inspired the DRA/DRL Sports Badges of yore.
    These, too, are cheap, lightweight badges. Very slightly larger than the other two, the silver one - which is unfortunately missing its catch - appears to be of earlier manufacture and is of slightly better quality; note that the pin actually has a hinge mechanism and that the space between the letters is not "filled"; the stabilizing hooks are also different:

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    The last item is actually not a new purchase. Given to me as a gift, I have owned for quite a while.
    This is the Ehrennadel der Armeesportvereinigung "Vorwärts"[Honor Pin of the Arme Sports Association "Vorwärts" (= "Forward")] in its bronze grade. (There were also silver and gold grades).
    Instituted in 1963, this is an early, good quality version with enamel work. After 1976, the color details were no more enamelled, but lacquered and then coated with transparent polyester resin:

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    As always, comments are welcome.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Some DDR badges

    Some recently purchased new additions.

    1964 saw the institution of the NVA's Bestenabzeichen. Literally translated "Badge of the Best" or "The Best's Badge", it is probably better translated as "Badge of Excellence".
    Originally, the badge could be awarded multiple times and as many as three of the badges could be worn together.
    In 1969, this practice was abolished with the introduction of numbered pendants showing the number of times the awardee had re-qualified for the badge. Up until 1982, up to 25 such "repetitions" were possible.
    In 1982, award conditions were modified and became more restrictive, limiting the number of repetitions to 3 (following the first award). Soldiers who theoretically fulfilled the conditions for subsequent additional awards of the badge were now rewarded with other badges/medals.

    Award conditions for the Grenztruppen [Border Troops] were identical to those of the NVA and initially, the same Bestenabzeichen was awarded. In 1981, a special version was created, which was basically identical in design except that the obverse bore the words "GRENZ-/TRUPPEN/DER DDR" instead of "DDR/NATIONALE/VOLKSARMEE".

    Here are three examples of the NVA badge. On the left, an early screw-back version. Center and right, later versions with a pin-back needle assembly and numbered pendants for, respectively, 2 and 6 re-qualifications:

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    In 1984, a re-design of the Bestenabzeichen was proposed, featuring a full laurel wreath with the word "BESTER" on top, the GDR's national emblem at the bottom and a bust portrait of a soldier instead of the helmeted head in profile. The background would have been red for the NVA and green for the Grenztruppen.

    This design was rejected and never implemented, although prototype badges were manufactured. Instead, a whole new design was introduced in 1986, which is seen in the post below.
    Last edited by HPL2008; 07-18-2013 at 10:18 PM.

  4. #3

    Default Re: Some DDR badges

    1986 saw the institution of a whole new version of the GDR military's Bestenabzeichen.

    Bearing hardly any resemblance to its predecessor anyway, the concept of numbered pendants was also dropped in favor of a rather novel approach: The number of times the badge was awarded was now displayed on small, removable inserts at the bottom of the badge. In case of an additional award, the insert could be exchanged against one with the now-appropriate number.

    The number of three repetitions was retained; upon the first award, the badge now bore the number "1", followed by "2", "3" and "4". This badge was awarded until the end of the GDR in 1990.

    Here is a complete set of all four grades:

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    A close-up of the removable insert displayed on the reverse of a badge, showing the insert's screwpost/washer/nut assembly:


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    Retaining one idea from the abolished 1984 re-design, the badge for the Grenztruppen was identical except for the color. What was red on the NVA version, was green on the Grenztruppen one.

    Grades 1, 2 and 3 of the Grenztruppen badge, together with a "blank" one with no numbered insert fitted. Unfortunately, the "3rd award" badge is cracked:

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Some DDR badges

    Other uniformed services also had their Bestenabzeichen. Here is the one for the Feuerwehr [Firefighting Service], instituted in 1980 and awarded up until 1990.

    A rather nice design, the badge features three of the firefighters' typical "tools of the trade":

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    The Bestenabzeichen of the MdI or Ministerium des Inneren [Ministry of the Interior], primarily awarded to the barracked units of the Volkspolizei. The first version was in one grade only, the second one - awarded since ca. 1972 - came in three grades from I to III, III being the highest.

    On the left is the first version, on the right is a grade II badge of the second version:

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    Last edited by HPL2008; 07-18-2013 at 10:04 PM.

  6. #5

    Default Re: Some DDR badges

    The last for today is the Schießabzeichen der Kampfgruppen [Shooting Badge of the Kampfgruppen; the Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse (Combat Groups of the Working Class) being a paramilitary combat organization for internal deployment.]

    The badge came in the three classes of bronze, silver and gold. The first version, awarded from 1966 - 1974 additionally bore Roman numerals at the bottom of the badge, displaying the number of times the wearer had requalified for that grade. In 1975, the system was simplified and the badge now came in the three grades only, with no additional identifying marks for the numbe of re-qualifiactions.

    Left, the first version bronze grade (2nd award), center and right the second version silver and gold grades:

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  7. #6
    ?

    Default Re: Some DDR badges

    Excellent history of the Bester Badges. And you have some fantastic examples!

  8. #7

    Default

    A few new additions to the fold, including two more Bestenabzeichen.

    First, we have the Bestenabzeichen of the Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik [Association for Sports and Technology] or GST for short.
    The badge was awarded "in recognition of outstanding achievements in pre-military training" and came in one class only:

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    Here is the Bestenabzeichen der Zivilverteidung der DDR [Civil Defense of the GDR] or ZV for short. The badge was instituted in 1971 and awarded up to the end of the GDR in 1990.
    Numbered pendants for higher grades were added in 1981. Up until 1985, up to 10 repetitions identified by these pendants were possible; the number was then reduced to 5. The design of the pendants was identical to that used by the NVA and the Grenztruppen prior to the introduction of their new-model badges in 1986, but I understand that the pebbled reverse side as seen on the separate piece added below the badge was only found on the pendants used by the ZV:

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    Finally, the Leistungsabzeichen der Grenztruppen [Achievement Badge of the Border Troops].
    The history of this badge starts with the Leistungsabzeichen der Deutschen Grenzpolizei [Achievement Badge of the German Border Police]. Instituted in 1958, the (now very rare) first model of that badge was a rather insignificant-looking massive badge of oval shape with the text "DGP/FÜR/AUSGEZEICHNETE/LEISTUNGEN" surrounded by an open wreath of oak leaves. This was soon replaced by a more attractive second design in 1959.
    When the Grenzpolizei evolved into the Grenztruppen in 1962, the second-design badge was carried over unchanged with only its name adapted to the new designation.
    The badge could also be awarded to volunteer civilian auxiliaries of the border troops [Freiwillige Helfer der Grenztruppen], in which case it was awarded together with a stickpin miniature version for wear on civilian clothes:

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  9. #8
    ?

    Default

    Good thread, mr Lovecraft.

    Quote by HPL2008 View Post


    Next, we have the Militärsportabzeichen der Nationalen Volksarmee [Military Sports Badge of the National People's Army] instituted in 1968.
    A new design was proposed in 1984, but not accepted; this is the version awarded until the end of the GDR. This badge, too, had only one grade:
    You mention this only comes in one grade - does the colour 'wash out' in the pic or is it silver.

    I have the badge in gold.

    EDIT; disregard. I assume your badge is likewise gold, as the relatively 'bleak' or weak golden colour didnt come over too well either in my non-flash pic of my badge here below.

    2. EDIT: Removed annoying double posting of OPs pics, so as not to clutter up thread (always personally thought it makes for 'noise' in a thread, if one has to scroll down past countless repitions of the same pics due to posts being quoted over and over again).

    Hope more chime in on this interesting subject. HPL; I appreciate the time and (usual) effort you put into this - thanks
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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  10. #9

    Default

    Quote by Scout View Post
    You mention this only comes in one grade - does the colour 'wash out' in the pic or is it silver.

    I have the badge in gold.

    EDIT; disregard. I assume your badge is likewise gold, as the relatively 'bleak' or weak golden colour didnt come over too well either in my non-flash pic of my badge here below.
    As Scout said: The badge is gold-colored, but the color doesn't come across well in our photographs.

  11. #10

    Default

    I really like the designs which incorporate the PPSh41.

    Thanks for showing them.

    Cheers, Ade.
    Had good advice? Saved money? Why not become a Gold Club Member, just hit the green "Join WRF Club" tab at the top of the page and help support the forum!

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