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Präsentiermarsch der Volksmarine

Volksmarine der DDR - Kurs liegt an DOKU

Soldaten Zur See Die Volksmarine Im Einsatz 


By Lee Stewart


Re-Printed from “Die Nationale Volksarmee –

Journal for the Society of East German Militaria Collectors, #17, Fall 1997

Edited for the NVANE by Joe Rivers ~ Major Kulow (September 2010)



            Named after the Peoples Naval Division, a unit formed by German communist sailors during the Kiel rebellion on 3 November 1918, a part of the “November Revolution” (November 1918 - January 1919) against The Kaiser’s government and against continued German participation in World War I, the Volksmarine was a continuation of a proud German naval tradition by the East German armed forces. With a strength in 1987 of approximately 16,300 personnel, the East German Navy was the smallest of the armed forces. This article presents a summary of the evolution of the Volksmarine following World War IL and the formal creation of the German Democratic Republic (DDR). It also discusses the mission and organization of the forces and provides details of its uniforms and insignia.




            Shortly before the end of World War II, the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union entered into the Yalta and Potsdam agreements which called for the complete disarmament of Germany. No German land, sea, or air forces capable of military action were to be allowed, and all police forces were to be local and decentralized. However this was not to occur. Almost immediately the military administration in the Soviet Zone of Occupation created a central police force in each of the five states of the future DDR, in clear violation of the agreements. In January 1946 the force was formally titled the Peoples Police, the Volkspolizei. By 1948 the Volkspolizei included special garrisoned units, termed the Kasernierte Volkspolizei (KVP) which were trained and equipped for paramilitary operations. The KVP included maritime elements.


            On 15 June 1950 the creation of a Main Administration of Sea Police (Volkspolizei - See), under the control of the Ministry of Interior, was announced. The Seepolizei organizational structure consisted of small flotillas, one of minesweepers and one of patrol torpedo        boats.       Headquartered at   Berlin Niederschoneweide, the Volkspolizei - See were initially responsible for fisheries protection and prevention of maritime smuggling activities. This was later expanded to include mine sweeping in coastal waters and surveillance of the sea. Naval schools were established on the Baltic coast; for sailors at Kuhlungsborn, for petty officers at Parow, and for officers at Stralsund. Initially the Volkspolizei - See were equipped with a few leftover German World War II patrol boats and minesweepers which were turned over to them by the Soviet Union. During the 1950s East Germany attempted to develop a submarine capability by salvaging German submarines which were scuttled at the end of World War II but this effort was abandoned after a short time.




            Based on a constitutional amendment permitting the establishment of a Ministry of National Defense, legislation enacted on 18 January 1956 created this ministry and the National Peoples Army (Nationale Volksarmee - NVA). At this time, the Kasernierte Volkspolizei, the Seepolizei, and the Luftpolizei (Air Police) were incorporated into the Nationale Volksarmee to become its land, sea, and air components. The naval component was initially titled the Seestreitkräfte, the Sea Forces. This name was used until 3  November 1960, when the naval component was given the honor title ‘Volksmarine’ in honor of the  Communist Sailors who took part in the Kiel rebellion. At the same time the NVA was created it was fully integrated into the Warsaw Pact. East Germany assumed complete responsibility for military security within its borders. The Sea Forces/Volksmarine constituted Military District IV until the mid-1970s. The Warsaw Pact ensured its external security with the NVA operating under joint command for any operations outside its borders. The Seestreitkräfte/Volksmarine was a fully functioning element of the Warsaw Pact’s Baltic Fleet.




            The mission of all of the regular forces, including the Volksmarine, was to defend the DDR against attack, to assist internal security forces in defense of the regime, and to participate in the military activities of the Warsaw Pact.




            The US Army area handbook, East Germany: A Country Study, published in 1988, offers the following description of the Volksmarine:


            “The People’s Navy (Volksmarine) of the NVA had a total strength in 1987 of approximately 16,300, of whom 50 percent are conscripts. The navy comprised three flotillas, the Coastal Border Brigade, and several supporting units; the command was in Rostock-Gehlsdorf.


            The naval forces were viewed as the forward contingent of the Warsaw Pact’s Combined Baltic Fleet. The commander of the Soviet Baltic Fleet was also the head of this alliance of the three Warsaw Pact fleets in the Baltic [Soviet, Polish, and East German]. The Soviet Navy - unlike the Soviet ground and air forces in the GSFG [Group of Soviet Forces in Germany] - had no bases with personnel of its own in East Germany.


            The People’s Navy, which in 1987 had surface and naval aviation forces but no submarine component, performed intelligence and patrol missions in the western Baltic, antisubmarine warfare operations, minesweeping and mine laying, and amphibious landing operations. The Coastal Border Brigade patrolled the east- west border into the Baltic to secure the sea border against “those GDR citizens who turn their backs on the republic.” The Border Troops maintained their own boat companies on the ninety-three kilometers of the Elbe between East Germany and West Germany and in the waterways around Berlin. These units, although linked through their work to the People’s Navy, were subordinated to the Border Troops rather than the NVA. The boat crews wore naval uniforms and held naval ranks, but bands on their caps and sleeves identified them as Border Troops.


In early 1987, East Germany’s naval forces were structured as follows:

  • 1st Flotilla, headquartered in Peenemunde

  • 4th Flotilla, based in Rostock-Warnemunde

  • 6th Flotilla, headquartered in Dranske on Rugen Island

  • Coastal Border Brigade in Rostock

  • Communications regiment stationed on Rugen Island


Also subordinated to the People’s Navy Command;

  • Naval fighter regiment in Laage

  • Naval helicopter squadron in Parow

  • Combat swimmer company in Kuhlungsborn

  • Naval engineer battalion in Stralsund

  • Naval Hydrographic Service in Rostock

  • Karl Liebknecht Officer School in Stralsund

  • Walter Steffens Fleet School in Stralsund

  • Naval Manning Division, with offices in Rostock, Stralsund, and Wolgast

  • Testing facility at Wolgast

  • Central Military Hospital in Stralsund

  • At least one coastal rocket regiment, probably in Tamewitz

  • Central Supply Depot in Waren

  • A number of coastal artillery detachments


The People’s Navy had bases at;

  • Peenemunde

  • Warnemunde

  • Rostock

  • Stralsund

  • Tarnewitz

  • Dranske


The People’s Navy and the Coastal Border Brigade also made use of berths at;

  •  Darssar

  • Ott

  • Greifswald

  • Ueckermunde

  • Wisbom,

  • Kuhlungsborn

  • Sassnitz.


According to one source, patrol vessels from the Soviet Baltic Fleet were frequently present at Sassnitz.


The approximately 131 surface combatants and 48 auxiliary craft operated by the People’s Navy in 1987 were designed and built at shipyards in East Germany or the Soviet Union.


The largest were three Soviet Koni-class frigates;

  • Rostock

  • Berlin

  • Halle

They were commissioned in 1978, 1979, and 1986 respectively.


The Peoples Navy Fleet also consisted of;

  • Sixteen Parchim-class corvettes

  • Fifteen OSA-I (three of which were in reserve for training and were to be replaced)

  • Two Tarantul-I-class fast attack craft (missile)

  • Fifteen Shershen-class

  • Twenty-five Libelle-class fast attack craft (torpedo)

  • The mine force included twenty-five Kondor-II-class coastal minesweepers.

  • The amphibious capability was structured around twelve Frosch-I-class amphibious landing ships.

  • The Coastal Border Brigade had ten Bremse guard boats and eighteen Kondor-I-class submarine chasers.


In addition to the combatants, the navy operated;

  •  Two salvage and rescue ships

  • Six underway replenishment ships

  • One training ship ~ the Wilhelm Fleck

  • thirty-nine other auxiliaries (including intelligence-collection ships, hydrographic survey ships, and cargo ships)

  • A large number of service craft.



            The naval aviation branch was equipped with twenty MI-S and M1-14 I HAZE helicopters configured for antisubmarine warfare, coastal observation, and reconnaissance, and ten jet fighter-bombers.


            The coastal Border Brigade, headquartered at Rostock, accounted for approximately 2,750 of the 16,300 members of East Germany’s naval forces the brigade was organized into eight boat groups to patrol coastal waters and twelve battalions to patrol beaches and shores. The Coastal Border Brigade operated its own school.


            Amphibious forces were subordinated to the 1st Flotilla, based at Peenemunde. Although the NVA did not have a naval infantry as such in 1987, the ‘Ernst Moritz Arndt’ Motorized Rifle Regiment 29, stationed at Prora on Rugen Island, and the ‘Wilhelm Florin’ Motorized Rifle Regiment 28, at Rostock, [both Land Forces regiments] were trained as amphibious landing units. Both were equipped with the BTR-6OPB, an eight-wheeled amphibious armored personnel carrier; both participated in amphibious training in cooperation with landing ships of the People’s Navy. If the NVA were to [have created] a force of naval infantry, these motorized rifle regiments undoubtedly would [have formed] its nucleus. In 1987 the principal shipyard supporting the People’s Navy was the Peenewerft shipyard in Wolgast. Peenewerft was apparently the primary source of amphibious ships.


            The People’s Navy was generally rated by Western observers as professionally competent and fully capable of securing the country’s Baltic seacoast. For more ambitious operations, however, the navy would [have been] employed as part of the Combined Baltic Fleet.”




            The training programs of the Volksmarine focused on two goals: political reliability and technical competence. While most basic training was conducted within the sailor’s parent unit, many naval personnel were trained in centralized special training units. Petty officer and officer training schools were maintained by the Volksmarine as well as technical training schools. Other training emphasized development of technical skills to employ, maintain, and repair equipment. Naval officers were also required to become proficient in the Russian language. The Volksmarine training programs served not only to provide skills to individuals and units but also to teach citizenship and socialist responsibility.


(See supplemental Photo gallery above for “Volksmarine Uniform Plates“referenced images).



            When the Seestreitkrifte were created in 1956, the dark-blue dress uniform adopted followed the general style of most navies around the world. The uniforms were in cut very similar to those worn during the late Imperial-period during World War 1. The jumper for the enlisted men was exactly the same as the 1917 model. Pictured at right is Albin Kobis, one of the leaders of the revolutionary Volksrnarine Division in 1918 - 19, here shown wearing the 1917 model jumper with the dress waist coat. It is interesting to note that this same model was also used by the West German Navy, the only difference between it and the East German version being the pocket for the Soldbuch (soldiers/sailors identity book) sewn inside the center of the chest in the East German version. Throughout the existence of the Volksmarine there was very little noticeable change in the uniforms. The distinctive insignia adopted in 1956 for the naval forces are shown on the following two pages (See supplemental Photo section for “Volksmarine Uniform Plates“referenced images).


Notes for 1950s Insignia:

  1. Matrosenmütze (Matrosen und Maate)

  2. Schirmmutze (Meister)

  3. Obermatrose

  4. Maat

  5. Obermaat

  6. Meister (technische Laufbahn)

  7. Offiziersschüler (4. Lehrjahr)

  8. Kragenspiegel (Matrose bis Obermaat)

  9. KoppelschloB (Matrose bis Obermeister)

  10. Dienstlaufbahnabzeichen Matrosen (seemannische Laufbahn)

  11. Dienstlaufbahnabzeichen Matrosen (technische Laufbahn)

  12. Dienstlaufbahnabzeichen Matrosen (KustendienstIaufbahn)

  13. Abzeichen für Sonderausbildung fur Matrosen und Maate (Navigation)

  14. Abzeichen für Sonderausbildung für Matrosen und Maate (Sperr)

  15. Abzeichen für Sonderausbildung für Matrosen und Maate (Torpedo)

  16. DienstlaufbahnabzeichenMaate (Verwaltungslaufbahn)

  17. Dienstlaufbahnabzeichen Obermaate (seemannische Laufbahn)

  18. Dienstiaufbahnabzeichen Kustendienst-Offizierslaufbahn (2. Lehrjahr)

  19. Unterleutnant

  20. Kapitanleutnant

  21. Korvettenlcapitän

  22. Kapitãn zur See

  23. Dienstlaufbahnabzeichen Offiziere (seemännische Laufbahn)

  24. Dienstlaufbahnabzeichen Offiziere (Sonderabzeichen des Musikdienstes)

  25. Koppelschnalle

  26. Scharpe mit SchIoB

  27. Schirmmütze (Unterieutnant bis. Kapitänleutnant)

  28. Schirmmütze (Korvettenkapitãn bis Kapitãn zur See)

  29. Konteradmiral

  30. Vizeadmiral

  31. Admiral

  32. Scharpe mit SchIoB

  33. Seestern für Admirale

  34.  Koppelschnalle

  35. Schirmmütze (Admirale)

Cap Tallies:

            These were the black and gold ribbon worn of the ‘Donald Duck’ hat of the sailors (matrosen) and junior petty officers (maate). Initially they were inscribed “See” but on 3 February 1956 this was changed to “Seestreitkrafte.” On 3 November 1960 they were changed to read “Volksmarine.”


Cay Insignia:

            Initially all were of hand stitched gold bouillon or gold rayon thread with the gold-red-black. “Bullseye” cockade. The cap insignia for chief petty officers took the form used up until the end of the DDR . Those for officers and admirals followed the form used during WW II (see items 27, 28, and 35 above) until 1961 when the general shape of those for officers was changed to that used by the Land Forces. At this same time, on 9 August 1961, the “bullseye” cockade was replaced by the national emblem cockade in all services. In 1966 metal cap insignia of gold colored tombac were introduced for enlisted and officers. Admirals retained the historical shape of the wreath until 1978 when metal insignia of a new shape were introduced for flag rank officers of all the services. Officers and admirals caps bore a distinctive metal decoration on the leather brim, with junior officers having a single row of scalloped trim, senior officers having a single row of oak leaf design trim and admirals had a forked double row of oak leaf design trim.


Shoulder Straps and Service Career Insignia (Dienstlautbahnabzeichen);

            Junior enlisted personnel wore the Kieler shirt (jumper) which did not take shoulder straps. They wore the service career insignia patch on the left sleeve of the jumper to indicate rank as well as specialty. Matrosen wore strips of gold tresse below the patch to denote their level. Mates used the oval anchor career specialty insignia, with the Obermaat having an inverted small gold chevron beneath the anchor to show his level. Shoulder straps of navy blue, with gold tresse as appropriate to the rank, were worn on the winter wool Pea Coat, on the field service uniform and on the work outfit. Career mates wore small metal service career insignia in the center of their shoulder straps. Chief petty officers, warrant officers, and officers wore shoulder straps / boards, as appropriate, on their uniforms. Warrant officers and officers also wore stripes and service career insignia on both lower sleeves.

Volksmarine Uniform Types

(See supplemental Photo section for “Volksmarine Uniform Plates“referenced images).


            The Volksmarine had a variety of uniforms, much more varied than the other services due to its requirements both on sea and land. These included;

  • Combat uniform (Gefechtsuniform)

  • Field service uniform (Felddienstuniform)

  • Service uniform (Dienstuniform)

  • On-board uniform (Borduniform)

  • Walking-out uniform (Ausgangsuniform)

  • Parade uniform (Paradeuniform)

  • Social uniform (Gesselschaftsanzug) - The social uniform was reserved for officers

  • Work uniform (Arbeitsuniform)

Each of these uniform types will be discussed briefly and illustrated on separate plates.

            In addition to the basic types of uniforms there were seasonal variations. By 1986, the Volksmarine had four prescribed uniform wearing periods;


  1. The summer period (Sommer /So.) period was from 16 April until 31 October.

  2. A transition period (Ubergangs I Ub.) ran from 1 through 30 November.

  3. Winter uniform wearing period (Winter I Wi.) ran from 1 December through 28 February.

  4. Followed by another transitional period from I through 31 March.


            For junior enlisted personnel, sunnier uniforms were generally in white and winter uniforms in navy blue. The uniforms of chief petty officers and officers were in navy blue year around, with the exception that a white jack shirt and white cap cover were worn with some uniform combinations in the summer period. Specific uniform items were prescribed for wear with each uniform type for each wearing period. For simplicity, all uniform types, but not all seasonal combinations, will be illustrated in the separate plates. However each plate has a chart which lists the items worn with each combination. (See supplemental Photo section for “Volksmarine Uniform Plates“referenced images).


The Volksmarine Combat Uniform: (Plate 1)

            Given the perpetually cold environment of the Baltic Sea, where exposure in the water could quickly lead to hypothermia, the Volksmarine combat uniform was a vital necessity. It was worn by all ranks on board ship for combat readiness and for maneuvers at sea. This uniform was developed over time. The early uniform consisted of oil skins and leather coats and trousers, all of which often became soaked through. In 1960 a grey protective suit for torpedo boat crews, the ‘TS-Boot’ suit of dederon (rayon) and PVC was introduced. This was replaced in 1963 with the Volksmarine combat uniform, consisting of a single breasted jacket fitted with a hood, a pair of pants with close fitting cuffs, and a life jacket which buttoned inside the jacket. This uniform was of orange colored dederon. In 1970 an improved version of the Volksmarine combat uniform was introduced. It was of seamless polyamid construction with a waterproof coating. The lifebelt with back rest was made an integral part of the coat and a safety line ring was added. The hood was coated with luminous paint for increased visibility in the event that one fell into the water. Rubber boots, the gasmask bag with mask, protective gloves, and the steel helmet complete this uniform.


Field Service Uniform: (Plate 2)

            Although through the 1970s the Volksmarine had a distinctive field service uniform in navy blue, by 1986 it used the rain pattern battle dress uniform for combat units and staff on land. It was worn for combat readiness, for tactical maneuvers, for training, for border security patrols, for guard duty, and for daily garrison duty on land in the summer. The field service uniform consisted of the rain pattern BDU shirt and trousers with the blue on-board cap (blue fur hat for winter) or steel helmet, the grey web belt worn over the shirt, and pebble grained jack boots. In winter the padded BDU uniform was worn with a dark blue fur collar on the coat. Volksmarine shoulder straps I boards were worn on both the summer and winter uniforms. No other insignia were worn on this uniform.

Service Uniform: (Plate 3) 

            The service uniform was prescribed in the 1986 uniform regulation for combat units and staff on land and for combat units on board. On land it was worn for service travel, daily and garrison duty (in the interim and winter periods), staff service, and post and patrol duty. For officers it was also worn for guard and duty officer and for inspections. On board it was worn for guard and daily service, post and patrol duty, and for travel. The service dress uniform for career chief petty officers and those for warrant officers and officers was virtually identical with the exception of the rank shoulder straps / boards and the trim on the hat brim. The silver gray shirt was worn with the service uniform.


On-Board Uniform: (Plate 4)

            The on-board uniform was for combat units on board. It was worn for training (outside for weapons and technical duties), for meal time, and for garrison duty. For chief petty officers and officers it was also worn for daily duty on board. The on-board uniform for seamen and mates was of white herring bone twill material, worn with the blue and white Kieler collar. In contrast to most other navies, this was the only uniform with which white trousers were worn. The on-board uniform for chief petty officers was of navy blue herring bone twill with gold navy buttons. Officers wore either the herring bone twill uniform or the gabardine trousers with the silver gray jack shirt.


Walking Out Uniform: (Plate 5)

            The walking out uniform was the uniform worn primarily when out in public. It was used for free time and pass away from the base, for leave, for cultural and festive events, for funerals, etc. The walking out uniform for seamen and mates consisted of the cotton white Kieler shirt or the navy blue wool shirt, with the blue and white Kieler collar, depending on the season, and navy blue wool ‘klapp’ trousers. Chief petty officers, warrants, and officers wore a navy blue uniform blouse and trousers of wool gabardine (Kammgarn). The white shirt was worn with the walking out uniform.


Parade Uniform: (Plate 6)

            The parade uniform was worn for official occasions and holidays. It was required for parades and honor guard duty, in honor formations and wreath laying delegations, on state holidays and NVA Day, and for military ceremonies. For seamen and mates, the wool ‘klapp’ trousers were worn with a half cuff, that is, the trouser legs were folded twice outward to form a four centimeter wide cuff; and jack boots were worn. Officers wore the brocade belt and honor dagger, the aiguillette, and full size medals with the parade uniform. The parade uniform for chief petty officers and warrants was the same as for officers, minus the aiguillette and honor dagger. In place of the brocade belt, they wore the brown leather belt. The white shirt was worn with the parade uniform.        

Social Uniform: (Plate 7)

            The social uniform was the only Volksmarine uniform reserved exclusively for officers. It was authorized in conjunction with the 20th Anniversary of the NVA, with wear commencing on 20 February 1976. This uniform was first introduced for admirals and officers serving as military attaches, with a phased delivery to all other officers. The social uniform jacket for Volksmarine officers was of cream colored kammgarn with a matching cap cover.


            Women officers were authorized a social uniform on 28 May 1976. With Change 2 to the 1986 Ministry of Defense Uniform Regulation, wear of the honor dagger with this uniform was also authorized for female officers.


            In 1983 the social uniform was divided into two categories; the greater social uniform and the lesser. The greater social uniform was worn as a formal dress uniform for party events and receptions on the occasions of the National Day and NVA Day, organizational jubilees, organizational award ceremonies of the State and the Ministries of the DDR, and for the bestowal of prizes. The aiguillette, honor dagger, and full size medals were worn with the greater social uniform. The lesser social uniform was considered a semi-formal uniform. It was worn for festive occasions, for receptions, for theater and cultural events, and for family funerals. Only ribbon bars were worn with this uniform. Prior to the 1986 uniform regulation there was a version of the social uniform which permitted wear of the silver gray jack shirt in lieu of the social jacket with the lesser social uniform.


            Although the social uniform was reserved for officers, there were some special provisions for its wear by military musicians as a performance uniform. These provisions are explained in the table with Plate 7.


Work Uniform (Plate 8):

Until 1983 the Volksmarine had a work uniform for sailors of navy blue herring bone twill in the same style as the on board uniform. In 1983, however, the work uniform for all services was standardized as a two piece uniform of heavy duty durable material in dark gray. The work uniform was issued in both summer and winter versions. This uniform was used by both enlisted and officers for training and technical duties of a nature which would unduly soil or damage other uniforms, for depot service, and for weapons and post

clean up. It was also used as the uniform for military prisoners on punishment details. Volksmarine personnel wore either the on-board cap or the black work hat and on-board shoes with the work uniform.


Volksmarine Insignia

            Although the Volksmarine was a part of the NVA just as the Ground Forces and the Air Forces / Air Defense, just as its uniforms were distinctly different, so were many of its  insignia. The two primary types were the service career insignia (Dienstlautbahnabzeichen) and the specialty training insignia.


Long Voyage Badge  

            The Long voyage badge, pictured enlarged at right, was authorized by the Minister of National Defense in 1981. It was awarded to both military and civilian personnel of the Volksmarine and could also be awarded to foreign naval personnel of the Warsaw Pact fleets (It IS NOT - as thought early on in NVA collecting - the Navy version of the Bester Badge. The VN used the standard Bester Badges for the NVA ~ editor). I (original author) do not have the standards for award of this badge. The badge was of brass and enamel construction, covered with clear polyester resin. The actual size of the badge was 45 millimeters high and 38 millimeters wide. The naval ensign pictured at the top of the badge is in full color (red, black, and gold). Below that is pictured a gold ship in front of a navy blue background, floating on an aquamarine sea. The Long Voyage Badge was worn on the right breast centered below the Classification shirt and on the officers’ double breasted dress uniform tunic.


Ship Commander’s Badge

            Authorized in February 1989 for commanders of combat vessels of the Volksmarine, this insignia was worn only for a little over one year until the demise of the NVA in October 1990. This badge was authorized for commanders of combatant ships, special intelligence collection ships and coastal watch ships. The badge, in the form of a coastal combat ship, was of gold colored metal, 65.3 millimeters long by 20.5 millimeters high. On the hull of the ship was superimposed a commander’s pennon in black, gold, and red enamel. The Ship Commander Badge was worn on the right breast of the uniform tunic.

Service Career Insignia

(See supplemental Photo section for “Volksmarine Uniform Plates“referenced images).


            Service career Insignia were worn by both enlisted personnel and officers. The Line Seaman insignia came in two designs; a star and an anchor, the star worn by seamen and the anchor worn by petty officers. The star was worn by seamen on the left sleeve of their Kieler shirt (Fig. 1) and, in a slightly different form, by officers on both sleeves of their dress uniform tunic above their rank stripes (Fig. 2). Service career insignia for seamen came embroidered in gold on navy blue fabric for blue uniform shirts and in navy blue on white fabric for white uniform shirts. The officer’s service career insignia was in gold thread on blue for the navy blue uniform blouse and in gold on cream for the social uniform jacket.


Petty officers of the line seaman career specialty wore the anchor insignia shown at the right. In their case, it was specific for the rank. The fouled anchor (anchor line entwined around the anchor) was for service and the plain anchor was for coastal service. Short service petty officers wore the embroidered cloth insignia on the left s1eeve of their Kieler shirts and on their pea coat. Career petty officers wore the anchor as small gold metal insignia in the center of their shoulder straps. They also wore a larger metal anchor insignia centered on the upper left sleeve of their pea coats. Chief petty officers wore only the metal insignia of their particular career specialty on their shoulder straps. They wore no patch on their sleeve.


            The other service career specialty insignia were worn either as a sleeve patch or as an attachment to the shoulder straps for enlisted personnel. However, for petty officers the specialty insignia was superimposed over the fouled anchor insignia. Officers wore the other service career specialty insignias on both sleeves in the same manner as shown for the sea star.


Special Training Insignia

(See supplemental Photo section for “Volksmarine Uniform Plates“referenced images).


As the name implies special training insignia (Abzeichen fur Sonderausbildung) were given for completion of certain designated training courses. These special training insignia were worn by seamen and short service petty officers on the left sleeve of their Kieler shirt and pea coat, placed two centimeters below the service career insignia, as illustrated at right. Up to two of these special training insignia could be worn together, the second placed two centimeters below the first.


            The insignia for special training was a round patch, seven centimeters in diameter in either navy blue wool or white cotton fabric, to match the uniform types, the with the appropriate emblem embroidered on it in red. Special training insignia were not unique to the Volksmarine but were used by it more extensively than the other services. Although the 1986 uniform regulation greatly reduced the number of special training insignia for the other services, the Volksmarine retained its fill complement of these insignia


            The special training insignia of the Volksmarine are illustrated on the following page. (See supplemental Photo section for “Volksmarine Uniform Plates“referenced images).

Naval Service Grade Equivalents (as of 1986):


US Navy                                                      Volksmarine                   

Seaman Recruit                                                       No Equivalent)

Seaman Apprentice                                                Matrose

Seaman                                                                   Obermatrose

Petty Officer 3~ Class                                             Stabsmatrose

Petty Officer 2nd Class                                           Maat

Petty Officer 1 Class                                               Obermaat

Chief Petty Officer                                                   Meister

Senior Chief Petty Officer                                        Obermeister

Master Chief Petty Officer                                       Stabsobermeister

Warrant Officer                                                        Fanrich (All Grades)


 (No Equivalent)                                                      Unterleutnant

Ensign                                                                     Leutnant

Lieutenant, Junior Grade                                        Oberleutnant

Lieutenant                                                               Kapitanleutnant

Lieutenant Commander                                          Korvettenkapitan

Commander                                                            Fregattenkapitan

Captain                                                                   Kapitan zur See

Commodore I Rear Admiral (Lower Halt)               Konteradmiral

Rear Admiral (Upper Halt)

Vice Admiral                                                           Admiral

Admiral                                                                   Flottenadmiral

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