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DRK Awards

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    DRK Awards

    Following up on my thread about awards of the Bavarian Red Cross [Bayerisches Rotes Kreuz or BRK for short] specifically, let us now have a look at general awards of the German Red Cross [Deutsches Rotes Kreuz or DRK for short], i.e. those that are awarded by the national-level organisation itself or that are univeral to all of the component state-level organisations.

    Let's start with the DRK's highest honor, the Ehrenzeichen des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes [Decoration of the German Red Cross] in its post-war incarnation.

    An Ehrenzeichen des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes had already existed from 1922 to 1939, when it was discontinued and replaced by the Ehrenzeichen für Deutsche Volkspflege [Social Welfare Decoration]. In 1953, it was re-instituted as the highest decoration of the DRK in the Federal Republic of Germany.

    The new decoration came in two classes originally designated as the Ehrenzeichen des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes 1. Klasse [Decoration of the German Red Cross 1st Class] and the Ehrenzeichen des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes 2. Klasse [Decoration of the German Red Cross 2nd Class].
    In 1957, they were re-named as the Ehrenzeichen des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes in Gold [Decoration of the German Red Cross in Gold] and the Ehrenzeichen des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes in Silber [Decoration of the German Red Cross in Silver].

    According to most secondary sources, the gold grade was last awarded in 1982, although I was recently informed on a German forum that one more award was made in 1988. While theoretically still in place, for all practical purposes it has been discontinued and the silver grade is now simply designated as the Ehrenzeichen des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes [Decoration of the German Red Cross] even in official regulations.

    The first class/gold grade was awarded to persons of outstanding merit in the field of furthering the principles and goals of the Red Cross- and Red Crescent movement, both nationally or internationally.
    The second class/silver grade is awarded to members of the German Red Cross (only in exceptional cases special to non-members) for particular merit and achievements.

    Here is the gold grade in the version for women:
    Attached Files

    The awards are presented in a black case with the full-size decoration and a civilian-wear lapel bow. A cased silver class decoration in the version for women:
    Attached Files


      Another cased silver class decoration in the version for women with the award number 985:
      Attached Files


        The male version. When I purchased it, the case also included the miniature medal and ribbon bar for the decoration. I don't know whether they were kept there by the original recipient or added by another subsequent owner. This one is award number 6147:
        Attached Files


          A few more little things.

          Current-style ribbon bars for the silver and gold grade and an old-school bar for the silver grade:
          Attached Files


            A so-called Bandsteg for the silver grade; this is essentially a miniature ribbon bar for civilian wear:
            Attached Files


              Miniature stickpins for the silver grade. A 15 mm solo stickpin and a 9 mm two-place stickpin with the Steckkreuz [pinback cross] of the Ehrenzeichen des Freistaates Bayern für Verdienste um das BRK [Decoration of the Free State of Bavaria for Service to the Bavarian Red Cross]:


              Last edited by HPL2008; 09-17-2020, 02:41 PM.


                The DRK also has a number of long-service awards for its volunteer personnel.

                Rather than awarding medals, these were initially in the form of 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; regulations specified a length of 9 centimeters. The stripes were known as Auszeichnungsborten [award braid].

                In the post-war years, these were re-introduced 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

                Here are some of the post-war sleeve stripes in an obverse and reverse view and a closer look at the material:
                Attached Files


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

                  Shown below is the full range of bars. They are:

                  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 fixed maximum age limit for volunteer service in the DRK. Basically, members can remain active for 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. Even in this case, they remain eligible for the long service awards.

                  The first DRK member to be honored for 80 years of service in 2018 was Ms. Anni Endres, 97, who had joined the DRK at 17 years of age and served as a Red Cross nurse on the Eastern Front. An article (German language only) can be found here:


                  (Under present-day regulations, it is possible to join the the youth section of the German Red Cross [the Jugendrotkreuz] at 6 years of age, so any recipient of the 80-year grade will be at least 86 years of age.)
                  Attached Files


                    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):
                    Attached Files


                      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:
                      Attached Files


                        My own bars, awarded in 1995, 2000 and 2005:
                        Attached Files


                          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

                          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.)
                          Attached Files


                            I'll stray a bit off-topic now, as the following award is actually not universal to the entire DRK.

                            In addition to the so-called "Große Ehrennadel" [large honor pin] shown in my last post, there is also a so-called "Kleine Ehrennadel" [small honor pin] that is generally awarded in silver after 25 and in gold after 40 years of service.
                            Unlike the Große Ehrennadel, which is awarded by the nationwide federal DRK organisation [i.e. the Bundesverband], this award is in the responsibility of the various Landesverbände [state associations].

                            (The Landesverbände have some degree of independence. Because of this, DRK service dress as such is standardized throughout the country, but there are some differences in badges and insignia between the various states. Likewise, some awards apply to the entire DRK organisation, but there are additional ones specific to every state.)

                            Thus, there are also some differences when it comes to this award. For example, the LV Westfalen-Lippe actually awards this pin in no less than four grades (for 25 years with silver lettering and a silver wreath, 40 years with silver lettering and a gold wreath, 50 years with gold lettering and a gold wreath, 60 years with gold lettering and a gold wreath and the number "60") whereas the LV Saarland decided to go for something completely different and awards a pinback cross instead of the honor pin (bronze for 20, silver for 30 and gold for 40 years). The Bavarian Red Cross awards the honor pin in a slightl different versions both for long service and for merit (for details, see my parallel thread on BRK awards.)

                            Here is the "standard" Ehrennadel in its full-size version. Pictured below, left to right:
                            • silver (stickpin)
                            • silver (pinback)
                            • gold (pinback)
                            • gold (stickpin)

                            (Note the differences depending on the various manufacturers.)


                            Last edited by HPL2008; 09-17-2020, 02:46 PM.


                              ...And the ribbon bars:
                              Attached Files


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