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Der Stahlhelm Insignia Identification Guide

Der Stahlhelm was founded by Franz Seldte as a parpmilitary organization on December 25, 1918, in Magdeburg, Germany. The league was formed of ex-servicemen as a rallying point for revanchist and nationalistic forces. The organization was oriented toward the Imperial regime and the Hohenzollern monarchy. Financing was provided by the Deutscher Herrenklub, an association of German industrialists and business leaders with elements of the landed gentry (Junker). Women and youth leagues were established in 1923. After the failed Kapp Putsch of 1920, the organization gained further support from dissolved Freikorps units. In 1924, the Landstrum chapters were formed to include both veterans and new recruits. These were expected to provide a standing armed force in support of the 100,000 man Reichswehr. With 500,000 members in 1930, the league was the largest paramilitary organization in the Weimar Republic. Although Der Stahlhelm was officially a non-party entity and above party politics, after 1929 it took on an anti-republican and anti-democratic character. Its goals were a German dictatorship, the preparation of a revanchist program, and the direction of local anti-parliamentarian action. For political reasons its members distinguished themselves from the Nazi Party (NSDAP) as "German Fascists". Among their demands were the establishment of a Greater Germanic People's Reich and repuidation of Social Democracy, the "mercantilism of the Jews" and the general liberal democratic worldview. After the Nazi seizure of power on 30 January 1933, the Nazi authorities urged Der Stahlhelm to merge into the party's Sturmabteilung (SA). Der Stahlhelm still tried to keep its distance from the Nazis. On 27 March 1933, an SA raid with the intention of disarming Stahlhelm members in Braunschweig, who had forged an alliance with scattered Republican Reichsbanner forces. The violent incident, later called Der Stahlhelm Putsch, was characteristic of the pressure applied by the Nazis on Der Stahlhelm. In April, Seldte applied for membership in the NSDAP and officially declared Der Stahlhelm subordinate to the SA. He joined the SA in August 1933 at the rank of Obergruppenführer. Der Stahlhelm was integrated into the party structure in November of 1933 in the course of the "voluntary" Synchronization process of veteran and paramilitary groups. Der Stahlhelm was renamed Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Frontkämpfer-Bund Stahlhelm. Large parts of the NSDFBSt were merged into the SA as members of the Wehrstahlhelm, Reserve I and Reserve II Standarte. The remaining NSDFBSt local groups were dissolved by decree on 7 November 1935. This is an identification guide for the different badges and patches worn by Der Stahlhelm. To the best of our knowledge, all the examples shown are original pre-1945 manufacture. If anyone has questions or suggestions, please contact [email protected].

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Membership badges and special awards.

Typically worn on the left lapel or left posket.

Der Stahlhelm Pin - Adopted 1919

JungStahlhelm Pin - Adopted 1923

Bund Koningin Luise Type 1 - Adopted 1923

Bund Koningin Luise Tyoe 2 - Adopted 1923

Bund Koningin Luise Type 3 - Adopted 1923

FrauenBund - Adopted 1924

MadchenBund - Adopted 1924

Landstrum Type 1 - Adopted 1924

Landstrum Type 2 - Adopted 1924

WehrSports Cross - Adopted 1930

WehrSports Collar Tab - Adopted 1930

Honor Award for Continuous Service - Adopted 1932
Dated 1918 to 1932

Honor Award for Non-members - Adopted 1932

Membership Pin - Adopted 1934

First style Rank Insignia

Because Der Stahlhelm members continued to wear their military uniforms, a different method of signifing rank was needed. A lether crossbelt with colored edging was adopted to identify the various ranks. Belt width could be 4cm, 3cm, or 2cm with one or two edging colors used to identify the individuals rank. A badge identifying functional assignment could be worn centered on the front of the belt. In 1924, the government forbid the wearing of military collar tabs and shoulder boards, but the crossbelt rank system continued in use until 1932. Ranks were changed and added over time, but the below ranks are as of 1929.

Orange and Gold
4 cm - BundesFuhrer

Carmine and Gold
4 cm - Bundestanzler

Carmine and Gold
3 cm - Abteilungschefs

Carmine and Gold
2 cm - Mitarbeiter

White and Silver
4 cm - Landesfuhrer

White and Silver
2 cm - Mitglieder des Stabs

Carmine and Silver
3 cm - Leiter des Landesamtes

4 cm - Gaufuhrer

2 cm - Gau Siellvertreter

4 cm - Kreisfuhrer

2 cm - Kreis Siellvertreter

4 cm - Ortsgruppenfuhrer

2 cm - Orts Siellvertreter

2 cm - Kameradschaftsfuhrer

2 cm - Scharnhorst Bund der Jungmannen

Assignment pin examples.

Staff Leader Badge - Adopted 1919

Leader Badge - Adopted 1919

Scharnhorst Bund Jungmennen - Adopted 1922

Jungstahlhelm Leader - Adopted 1923

Konigin Luise Leader - Adopted 1924

Kraftfahr Leader - Adopted 1926

Wehrsports Leader - Adopted 1930

Signals Leader - Adopted 1931

Leader Badge - Adopted 1933

Staff Leader Badge - Adopted 1934

Leader Badge - Adopted 1934

Second style Rank Insignia

With over 500,000 members, a new rank structure was needed. A rank system based on collar tabs was adopted in 1932. Note that in addition to the collar tab, a Gruppenfuhrer wore three chevrons on the upper left sleeve, a Stabswehrmann wore two chevrons on the upper left sleeve, and an Oberwehrmann wore one chevron on the upper left sleeve. The collar tabs were piped in white for regular members, green for reserve members, and blue for local self defense squad members.











Gruppenfuhrer Chevron

Stabswehrmann Chevron

Oberwehrmann Chevron

In early 1933, two additional ranks were added. The collar tab piping was changed to reflect the member's branch of service. White was used for infantry, yellow for cavalry, pick for motorized units, light brown for signals, light blue for quartermasters and paymasters, red for staff, and twisted red and black for press, welfare, and culture specialties.



In late 1933, four additional ranks were added. This system of collar tabs remained in effect until November 1933 when Der Stahlhelm was absorbed into the SA.





Cufftitles and District Patches

Der Stahlhelm was originally formed in Madgeberg. As membership spread to other cities and states, a method of local identification was needed. Cuff titles began to appear around 1926 and were worn on the right lower sleeve. By 1929, patches identifying districts appear on the right upper sleeve, but cuff titles could still be worn.

Gau Braunkohle

Gau Magdeburg

Gau Minden Ravensberg West

Gau Neidersachsen

Gau Salle-Thuringen

Landes Verband Gross Hamburg

Landes Verband Niedersachsen

Landes Verband Rheinland

Landes Verband Nordmark








Gross Berlin

Gross hessen












Pommern Grenzmark








Speciality Patches

Occupational Speciality patches were authorized beginning in 1925. They were worn on the left upper sleeve.

Signals Service Personnel - Adopted 1925

Medical Orderlies - Adopted 1925

Stretcher Bearers - Adopted 1925

Medical Orderlies - Adopted 1926

Senior Medical Orderlies - Adopted 1926

Stretcher Bearers - Adopted 1926

Qualified Doctors - Adopted 1926

Consulting Physicians - Adopted 1926

Qualified Drivers - Adopted 1928

Cyclist Unit Personnel - Adopted 1931

Qualified Doctors - Adopted 1931

Mounted Unit Personnel - Adopted 1932

Signals Unit Personnel - Adopted 1932

Motor Unit Personnel - Adopted 1932

Cyclist Unit Personnel - Adopted 1932

Medical Orderlies - Adopted 1932

Branch of Service Badgeses

Adopted in 1932, the Branch of Service badges were worn on the left lower sleeve and identified the frountline soldier's Imperial Army Branch of Service.



Field Artillery

Foot Artillery

Machine Gun Detachments

Mortar Units



Signal Units

Railway Troops

Mobile Train Units

Motor Car Units

Baloon Crews


Airship Crews

Flame-thrower Units

Tank Crews

Medical Orderlies


U-Boat Crews

Colonial Troops