The NVA Big Five Awards

and

Klassifizierungsabzeichen der Nationalen Volksarmee

(Classification  Badges of the NVA)

 

5 Big Soldier Decorations

The most important badges worn by East German soldiers were known collectively as the 5 Big Soldier Decorations. EM and NCO ranks were expected to earn these badges by passing a series of demanding qualifying examinations designed to test their professional competency and reward them for their improvement with decorations generally accompanied with cash prizes. They were encouraged to view these hard-earned decorations as honors, to be worn with pride on their uniforms.

NOTE: Officers frequently wore the same insignia as lower ranks.

 

Soldier 5 Big Decorations:

1. - Abzeichen fur Gutes Wissen - Sound Knowledge Badges

Issued by the FDJ/Free German Youth, this badge was considered of highest importance on military tunics of all ranks. It was awarded in 3 levels for demonstrating sound political knowledge of Communism. The badge features profiles of Karl Marx. Friedrich Engels and V. I. Lenin

2. - NVA Sport Badges:

Oval-shaped gold (brass) pin-back badge with a flag design featuring the letters “NVA” rimmed by the state motto and coat of arms of the DDR. The badge was awarded for passing rigorous military-oriented physical fitness tests. It was one of the 5 badges all NVA soldiers including officers were expected to earn and wear proudly on their tunics.

3. - Bestenabzeichen - Best Soldier Badges:

 Best Soldier Badges were awarded for good behavior and for demonstrating appropriate military knowledge. Multiple awards were possible. The badges vary considerably in design.

Klassifizierungsabzeichen - Classification Badges:

In addition to badges, best badges, marksman's line and military sports badge the classification badge belonged to the so-called "five soldier awards" of the NVA.

Increasingly more specialized badges awarded in various series and levels for demonstrating skills appropriate to the soldiers military specialty.

The classification badge of the National People's Army, colloquially also classification clips or Qualispange called, were an award of the National People's Army of the German Democratic Republic (DDR), which gradually from 1958 gradually by the Minister of National Defense Willi Stoph on January 6, 1958 for the members for tank driver of the NVA was introduced. The exception to this was the classification clip of the MdI.

Most East German agencies of any size - military (NVA) and Police especially - issued Classification badges/Klassifizierungsabzeichen as a way of encouraging continual professional improvement. The badges were also used to build morale, as they were generally awarded with a cash stipend in varying amounts and other benefits.

The Classification badges varied in design and size, but were broadly similar in that they were worn on the top right side of the wearer's tunic, and were divided into 3 levels of achievement, all of which were accompanied by stiff examinations. The result was a high level of professional competence common to all ranks of East Germans in uniform regardless of the agency.

NVA Classification (or Qualification) Badges

Classification badges/Klassifizierungsabzeichen ranked high as one of the NVA's 5 Good Soldier awards, which East German soldiers of all ranks were encouraged to earn and wear with honor.

Acquisition and Leveling

The classification badges could be awarded after passing a corresponding test for exemplary military achievements to soldiers, NCOs, cadets and officers in the following stages:

Level III (lowest)

Stage II

Stage I

Level M (master, only for tank drivers until 1963)

If they were used according to their employment for the operation, maintenance or also repair of combat, guidance and safety technology. Furthermore, to such officers who have to master this technique in accordance with their official duties as well as soldier’s specialists, NCOs, Ensigns and Officers.

5. - Swallowsnests:

Swallowsnests are the traditional German shoulder insignia worn by military bandsmen and continued by the East Germans. Each of the 3 main branches of the NVA - Army, Air Force/Air Defense and Border Guard - had its own color, worn in combination with silver tress. Swallowsnests also differed by level of the orchestra/band, with higher orchestras wearing Swallowsnests with silver metal fringes attached to the bottom.

4. - Schutzenschnur/Shooting Cords:

Shouldercords, Shooting Cords, and Swallowsnests - Awarded in 3 levels for marksmanship with weapons appropriate to the soldiers military specialty.

East German armed forces (NVA) and certain units of the People's Police/Volkspolizei followed German tradition in decorating their tunics with braided cords and other ornate, metallic-looking insignia. There were 4 basic types of this insignia, all worn with a flourish in the shoulder area.

At all levels the tests for the badges were exacting and thorough, designed to instill professional pride along with greater technical competence.

 

Classification Badges:

  1. Classification clasp for tanks - Arten der Klassifizierungsabzeichen

  2. Classification clasp for drivers of armored personnel carriers and motorists - Klassifizierungsspange für Fahrer von Schützenpanzerwagen und Kraftfahrer

  3. Classification clasp for drivers and commanders of Schwimmwagen - Klassifizierungsspange für Fahrer und Kommandanten von Schwimmwagen

  4. Classification clasp for radio operator and teletype - Klassifizierungsspange für Funker und Fernschreiber

  5. Classification Clasp for Commander of Combat Ships and Combat Boats - Klassifizierungsspange für Kommandanten von Kampfschiffen und Kampfbooten

  6. Classification clip for radio operators and hydroacoustics of naval forces - Klassifizierungsspange für Funkorter und Hydroakustiker der Seestreitkräfte

  7. Classification clip for signalers - Klassifizierungsspange für Signäler

  8. Classification clip for divers - Klassifizierungsspange für Taucher

  9. Classification clip for special divers of the naval forces - Klassifizierungsspange für Spezialtaucher der Seestreitkräfte

  10. Classification clasp for service dog handlers - Klassifizierungsspange für Diensthundeführer

  11. Classification badges for pilots - Klassifizierungsabzeichen für Flugzeugführer

  12. Classification clasp for helmsmen - Klassifizierungsspange für Steuerleute

  13. Classification clasp for members of the parachute service - Klassifizierungsspange für Angehörige des Fallschirmdienstes

  14. Classification clasp for aerial fighters - Klassifizierungsspange für Funkorter der Luftstreitkräfte

  15. Classification clasp for officers of the People's Navy - Klassifizierungsspange für Offiziere der Volksmarine

  16. Uniform classification clasp - Einheitliche Klassifizierungsspange

  17. Classification clasp for engineering personnel of the Air Force - Klassifizierungsspange für ingenieurtechnisches Personal der Luftstreitkräfte

  18. Classification clasp for motorized shooters - Klassifizierungsspange für motorisierte Schützen

  19. Classification clasp for rocket troops, Fla rocket troops and troop air defense - Klassifizierungsspange für Raketentruppen, Fla-Raketentruppen und Truppenluftabwehr

  20. Classification clasp for news, radio, weapons and leadership technique and technique of radio electronic combat - Klassifizierungsspange für Nachrichten-, Funkmeß-, Waffenleit und Führungstechnik sowie Technik des Funkelektronischen Kampfes

  21. Classification clasp for artillery and explosive weapons - Klassifizierungsspange für Artillerie und Sprengwaffen

  22. Classification Clasp for Backward Services - Klassifizierungsspange für Rückwärtige Dienste

  23. Classification clasp for rocket and weapons service - Klassifizierungsspange für Raketen- und Waffentechnischen Dienst

  24. Classification Clasp for Pioneering and Chemical Services - Klassifizierungsspange für Pionierwesen und Chemische Dienste

  25. Classification clasp for motor vehicle service - Klassifizierungsspange für KfZ-Dienst

  26. Classification clasp for aviation engineer service (FID) - Klassifizierungsspange für Fliegeringenieurdienst (FID)

  27. Classification clasp for seafaring personnel - Klassifizierungsspange für seemännisches Personal

  28. Classification clasp for marine machine personnel - Klassifizierungsspange für Schiffsmaschinenpersonal

  29. Classification clasp of the border troops of the GDR - Klassifizierungsspange der Grenztruppen der DDR

1st Series, 1958-1967

Silver and some gold badges with a tapered wing design in varying lengths, issued in 3 skill levels: I, II and III plus Master/Meister levels for certain skills. NOTE: The badges for Doghandlers/Diensthundefuhrer were issued 1966-1990.

The badges originated in the late 1950s as an important part of East Germanys effort to create a more professional military by encouraging members of the armed forces to improve their technical skills. Over the years 1958 -1990, the badges were issued in 3 series as follows:

Fur Grosse Fahrt - 

The colorful Distant Voyage badge was worn with pride by Volksmarine sailors who had made their first high seas voyage, the East German equivalent of crossing the Equator for Kriegsmarine sailors in the World War 2. The badge was considered a major honor and appears frequently in photos of sailors wearing parade middys.

2nd Series, 1963-1985

Bronze badges with square centers, issued in 3 skill levels: I, II and III plus Master/Meister levels for certain skills.

3rd Series, 1986-1990

Gold badges with oval centers, issued in 3 levels: I, II and III plus Master/Meister levels for certain skills.

1 - Classification clasp for tanks -

Klassifizierungsspange für Panzer

Awarded from January 6, 1958 to October 2, 1990

The classification badge of the first version, which was awarded from 1958 to 1960, has the shape of a silver-plated clasp, which is 63 mm wide and consists of five rays on both sides, which taper towards the outside. The middle of the five rays is the widest. In the center of the clasp is an oak leaves wreath, which has a diameter of about 25 mm and shows in its upper center three enameled fields, the black-red-gold are designed. In its lower part, a white oval field can be seen, on which the awarded power level can be seen. Inside the oak leaf wreath there is a T-34 moving from right to left at this clasp. The second version of this clip, which was awarded from 1960 to May 31, 1962, shows a nearly unchanged appearance, only now the state emblem of the GDR in the red enameled midfield in the upper part of the oak cane wreath can be seen. On June 1, 1963, a third variant of the clasp was introduced, including for BMP armored infantry combat vehicles (third line). The 93 mm wide golden clasp with indicated wing arms, on each side six Eichenlaubblätterund and three acorns are directed outwards. The upper third row of Eichenlaubblätter lies on the lower two and covers them partially. The two wing arms unite in the middle in a red square with the dimensions of 21 × 21 mm in which a left to right moving tank can be seen. Above this you can see the Roman numeral of the lent step. On December 1, 1986, this clip was changed one last time. It was inclusive for chain and armored engineering. The now made of sheet steel gilt clasp is 86 mm wide and 25 mm high. It shows in its center a gilded laurel wreath, showing at its upper center the colored emblem of the NVA and in its lower middle a white oval with the lent step. Inside the laurel wreath, this classifying clasp on pink background features a left-moving T-72. As the only classifying clasp created this has been awarded until 1963 in the level M for masters. After that accounted for this.

2 - Classification clasp for drivers of armored personnel carriers and motorists -

Klassifizierungsspange für Fahrer von Schützenpanzerwagen und Kraftfahrer

Awarded from March 31, 1960 to February 28, 1963

The classification badge is in the form of a silver-plated clasp, 63 mm wide, with five rays on both sides, tapering outwards. The middle of the five rays is the widest. In the center of the clasp is an oak leaves wreath, which has a diameter of about 25 mm and shows in its upper center three enameled fields, the black-red-gold are designed. The middle red shows the state coat of arms of the GDR. In its lower part, a white oval field can be seen, on which the awarded power level can be seen. Inside the oak-leaf wreath, there is a left-to-right truck Praga V-3S. There are both examples with broken front windows and windscreens that are continuous.

8 - Classification clip for divers -

Klassifizierungsspange für Taucher

Awarded from March 31, 1960 to February 28, 1963

The classification badge is in the form of a silver-plated clasp, 63 mm wide, with five rays on both sides, tapering outwards. The middle of the five rays is the widest. In the center of the clasp is an oak leaves wreath, which has a diameter of about 25 mm and shows in its upper center three enameled fields, the black-red-gold are designed. The middle red shows the state coat of arms of the GDR. In its lower part, a white oval field can be seen, on which the awarded power level can be seen. Inside the oak leaf wreath, this clasp features a stylized anchor that is almost completely covered by a diving helmet. The background is shown with vertical lines.

3 - Classification clip for drivers and commanders of Schwimmwagen -

Klassifizierungsspange für Fahrer und Kommandanten von Schwimmwagen

Awarded from March 31, 1960 to February 28, 1963

The classification badge is in the form of a silver-plated clasp, 63 mm wide and made up of five rays on both sides, which taper towards the outside. The middle of the five rays is the widest. In the center of the clasp is an oak leaves wreath, which has a diameter of about 25 mm and in its upper center shows three enameled fields, the black-red-gold are designed. The middle red shows the state coat of arms of the GDR. In its lower part, a white oval field can be seen, on which the awarded power level can be seen. Inside the oak-leaf wreath is found at this clasp a right-to-left moving Schwimmwagen of the type: K-61.

4 - Classification clasp for radio operators and telex -

Klassifizierungsspange für Funker und Fernschreiber

Awarded from March 31, 1960 to February 28, 1963

The classification badge is in the form of a silver-plated clasp, 63 mm wide, with five rays on both sides, tapering outwards. The middle of the five rays is the widest. In the center of the clasp is an oak leaves wreath, which has a diameter of about 25 mm and shows in its upper center three enameled fields, the black-red-gold are designed. The Mittlere Rote shows the state emblem of the GDR. In its lower part, a white oval field can be seen, on which the awarded power level can be seen. Inside the oak-leaf wreath, there are three stylized upward-pointing flashes of this clasp. In the original planning had been provided that this clasp would have been awarded only to telegraph.

5 - Classification Clasp for Commander of Combat Ships and Combat Boats -

Klassifizierungsspange für Kommandanten von Kampfschiffen und Kampfbooten

Awarded from March 31, 1960 to February 28, 1963

The classification badge is in the form of a silver-plated clasp, 63 mm wide, with five rays on both sides, tapering outwards. The middle of the five rays is the widest. In the center of the clasp is an oak leaves wreath, which has a diameter of about 25 mm and shows in its upper center three enameled fields, the black-red-gold are designed. The middle red shows the state coat of arms of the GDR. In its lower part, a white oval field can be seen, on which the awarded power level can be seen. Inside the oak-leaf wreath is found at this clasp a right-to-left moving combat boat, which is bounded at its lower edge by an anchor. The anchor stick itself is almost completely covered by the combat boat.

6-Classification clasp for radio operators and hydro acoustics of the naval forces - Klassifizierungsspange für Funkorter und Hydroakustiker der Seestreitkräfte

Awarded from March 31, 1960 to February 28, 1963

The classification badge is in the form of a silver-plated clasp, 63 mm wide, with five rays on both sides, tapering outwards. The middle of the five rays is the widest. In the center of the clasp is an oak leaves wreath, which has a diameter of about 25 mm and shows in its upper center three enameled fields, the black-red-gold are designed. The middle red shows the state coat of arms of the GDR. In its lower part, a white oval field can be seen, on which the awarded power level can be seen. Inside the oak leaf wreath, this clasp features a stylized anchor with two diagonally crossed flashes. The lower half of the oak leaf wreath is filled by vertical lines, which are to represent the radio waves for the hydro acoustics.

7 - Classification clip for signalers -

Klassifizierungsspange für Signäler

Awarded from March 31, 1960 to February 28, 1963

The classification badge is in the form of a silver-plated clasp, 63 mm wide, with five rays on both sides, tapering outwards. The middle of the five rays is the widest. In the center of the clasp is an oak leaves wreath, which has a diameter of about 25 mm and shows in its upper center three enameled fields, the black-red-gold are designed. The middle red shows the state coat of arms of the GDR. In its lower part, a white oval field can be seen, on which the awarded power level can be seen. Inside the oak leaf wreath, there is an anchor at this clasp, in front of which two diagonally crossed signal flags can be seen.

9 - Classification clasp for Special Divers of the Naval Forces - Klassifizierungsspange für Spezialtaucher der Seestreitkräfte

Awarded from March 31, 1960 to February 28, 1963

The classification badge is in the form of a silver-plated clasp, 63 mm wide, with five rays on both sides, tapering outwards. The middle of the five rays is the widest. In the center of the clasp is an oak leaves wreath, which has a diameter of about 25 mm and shows in its upper center three enameled fields, the black-red-gold are designed. The middle red shows the state coat of arms of the GDR. In its lower part, a white oval field can be seen, on which the awarded power level can be seen. Inside the oak leaf wreath is found at this clasp a diver with diving helmet, which rises on a ladder or in the water. The background is also shown here with vertical lines.

10 - Classification Clasp for Service Dog Handler -

Klassifizierungsspange für Diensthundeführer

Awarded from 1966 to October 2, 1990

The classification badge is in the form of a silver-plated clasp, 63 mm wide and made up of five rays on both sides, which taper towards the outside. The middle of the five rays is the widest. In the center of the clasp is an oak leaves wreath, which has a diameter of about 25 mm and in its upper center shows three enameled fields, the black-red-gold are designed. The middle red shows the state coat of arms of the GDR. In its lower part, a white oval field can be seen, on which the awarded power level can be seen. Inside the oak leaves wreath is found at this clasp the head of a shepherd dog. The ceremony is given to members of the border troops of the GDR as well as to members of the NVA and the Ministry of the Interior.

Method of Wearing:

 

The carrying method of the classifying clasp corresponded to the service career badge of the NVA. This meant that the classification braces of the NVA were worn five millimeters above the middle of the right chest pocket to all uniforms. For uniform jackets without breast pocket at the same height. On acquisition of a higher level, the lower was to be deposited, but remained in the possession of the Beliehenen. If the owner owned several classification badges, he was only allowed to wear one of them.