A unique German phenomenon that blossomed during Word War II, War Badges (“Kriegsabzeichen”), allowed an observer to determine the level of experience of a particular soldier at first glance. Though they were in existence before 1918, the number of German War Badges dramatically increased during the war and by 1945 there were over 40 different patterns. These were often subdivided into classes, distinguished by the metal type (Gold, Silver, and Bronze), and/or by having a boxed number on the obverse of the Badge.
All three branches of the Wehrmacht awarded War Badges. They were generally composed of a wreath of Oak or Laurel leaves surrounding a symbol that represented the branch and service, with a German Eagle clutching a swastika surmounting the award. They were constructed in a variety of methods, which are thoroughly discussed in the Badge Construction Techniques page.
Qualification badges were different than War Badges in that the former only required the mastering of a skill, usually not requiring combat experience. Though again the three branches of the armed forces issued Qualification badges, the Luftwaffe had the most notable and visually impressive repertoire.
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