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Quiz about German Army Decorations
Quiz about German Army Decorations

German Army Decorations Trivia Quiz


Compared to many other countries, German army uniforms tend to be relatively subdued in symbolism and extent of decoration, but there are still quite a few interesting (and rare) insignia for German soldiers to earn. Let's have a look!

A photo quiz by WesleyCrusher. Estimated time: 7 mins.
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Time
7 mins
Type
Photo Quiz
Quiz #
397,020
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Difficult
Avg Score
4 / 10
Plays
149
Awards
Top 35% Quiz
-
Question 1 of 10
1. This simple epaulette belongs to an enlisted soldier. The three diagonal bars represent the rank of Hauptgefreiter (Private First Class), but what does the single horizontal one on top of them stand for?

(Note: The insignia is rotated for better screen presentation, the official presentation has the rounded part at the top)
Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. This insignia is also an uncommon sight, showing the last officer cadet rank before receiving a commission, equivalent to a sergeant 1st class in the US army. It combined the silver-bordered officer's epaulette with a braid-shaped insignia. The latter symbol resembles an old Germanic rune, but what does it represent in rank order? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. How about an even rarer insignia? The one shown in this picture is usually unique - only one officer at a time will normally hold this rank. It is the equivalent of a one-star general for a specific medical specialty, but which one? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. Now for something entirely different. This shoulder cord (worn on the right side) may only be worn by enlisted and NCO personnel, but not by officers although officers can earn it - what is it given for? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. This insignia, worn on the left chest pocket, is a really common sight - most soldiers will earn at least the bronze level. It is awarded for military proficiency and requires a soldier to pass multiple tests. Which of these is NOT included? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. These insignia look similar to the ones in the previous question, but are rather just service branch insignia worn on which part of the uniform? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. Of all the insignia in this quiz, this "coat of arms" has the most variety and color. Every soldier wears only one of these, on the upper left arm. They represent the unit the soldier is serving in, usually distinguishable down to what level? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. This is an older version of a prestigious and hard to earn insignia called "Einzelkämpferabzeichen". What would be the English name for this kind of soldier? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. These insignia are worn on the collar of the dress uniform. Apart from the generals' versions (top right), the design only subtly varies by rank. However, as you can see, they come in a variety of colors, denoting what? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. Similar to service branches, these badges reflect a soldier's function and service at an individual level. Up to two of these may be worn, but what determines whether the award is worn with a gold, silver or bronze center symbol? Hint



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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. This simple epaulette belongs to an enlisted soldier. The three diagonal bars represent the rank of Hauptgefreiter (Private First Class), but what does the single horizontal one on top of them stand for? (Note: The insignia is rotated for better screen presentation, the official presentation has the rounded part at the top)

Answer: The soldier is an NCO candidate

German military careers are separated into officers', senior NCO, NCO and enlisted careers. Cadet / training ranks use the ranks, insignia and pay grades of lower careers, with an additional symbol to designate career: Officer trainees wear a silver cord at the bottom of their rank insignia, senior NCO ones a bronze-golden one and those for junior NCO ranks have the horizontal bar.

A Hauptgefreiter with the NCO candidate bar is a relatively rare sight as the first NCO rank is usually reached after 12 months, the same time it takes to reach Haupfgefreiter, so this combination would typically only be seen on a soldier who started a basic enlisted career at first and upgraded to NCO later. Enlisted ranks go up to Oberstabsgefreiter, wearing five bars.
2. This insignia is also an uncommon sight, showing the last officer cadet rank before receiving a commission, equivalent to a sergeant 1st class in the US army. It combined the silver-bordered officer's epaulette with a braid-shaped insignia. The latter symbol resembles an old Germanic rune, but what does it represent in rank order?

Answer: It is composed of three senior sergeant's chevrons

The "Kopfwinkel" (literally translating as "headed chevron") is the insignia of the third senior NCO rank Hauptfeldwebel. The first two of these, Feldwebel and Oberfeldwebel, have one and two chevrons respectively. As these ranks have five levels, the higher numbers would not fit the epaulette, so instead of three chevrons, this symbol (essentially combined three chevrons with the middle one turned upside down) is used instead. It does not have any runic origin. Even with this symbol, the five-chevron rank of Oberstabsfeldwebel barely fits the available space.

The rank (named Oberfähnrich) is rarely seen in the field - the vast majority of holders are spending the six months during which it is held at university.
3. How about an even rarer insignia? The one shown in this picture is usually unique - only one officer at a time will normally hold this rank. It is the equivalent of a one-star general for a specific medical specialty, but which one?

Answer: Pharmacy

The German army knows four medical branches - regular medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and veterinary medicine. They use different renditions of Aesculap's snake: the basic one is double-wound around a staff, the dentists' version is single-wound around a staff, the pharmacists' is double-wound with a bowl beneath and the veterinarians' is just double-wound with no additional item. The one-star general rank is the highest possible for a pharmacist. Veterinarians are limited to colonel while doctors and dentists can theoretically reach three-star general rank (although it would be nearly impossible for a dentist to progress to this level reserved for the head of the Bundeswehr's medical service).

The medical service also has another quirk in the rank order: the rank of second lieutenant is actually considered an officer candidate rank in this branch and the first actual officer rank is Stabsarzt (equivalent to a captain and receiving a major's pay).
4. Now for something entirely different. This shoulder cord (worn on the right side) may only be worn by enlisted and NCO personnel, but not by officers although officers can earn it - what is it given for?

Answer: Marksmanship

Dating back to the 19th century, the German marksmanship emblem has traditionally been given the form of a shoulder cord. In today's practice, it is awarded in three levels; bronze, silver and gold, differing only in the metal plaque. The cord itself is always silver. A soldier wishing to earn one must meet a specific performance standard with their main light weapon (rifle, pistol or machine pistol) and a heavy weapon (machine gun or bazooka) of their choice. The gold level can be repeated once per year, with every fifth award being represented on the plaque as an embossed number.

Officers, usually supposed not to enter infantry combat but rather shoot only in self-defence, are not allowed to wear this award. However they can still complete the needed exercises and be handed the insignia upon request.
5. This insignia, worn on the left chest pocket, is a really common sight - most soldiers will earn at least the bronze level. It is awarded for military proficiency and requires a soldier to pass multiple tests. Which of these is NOT included?

Answer: A theoretical exam

Apart from the mentioned, the soldier must also demonstrate at least satisfactory general performance and conduct and basic proficiency in first aid, swimming and NBC protection. The marching requirement has been significantly reduced since my active service - today, the requirements are 6, 9 or 12 kilometers depending on level while during my active days, we had to go 20, 25 or 30 respectively (at the same minimum average speed - 6 kph). Marches have to be done in regular combat uniform while carrying 15 kg of gear.
6. These insignia look similar to the ones in the previous question, but are rather just service branch insignia worn on which part of the uniform?

Answer: The beret

Beret insignia are usually worn in the tarnished silver color seen on the bottom right. The one exception is that for light infantry which is golden as seen on top (the shown version is a vintage one, today's variant has the flag in the same place as all the others).

The embroidered version shown at the bottom left is an optional variant for officers, which they can procure at their own cost. It is significantly more comfortable than the metal one, especially when you are indoor and thus have to carry your beret in the right leg pocket.
7. Of all the insignia in this quiz, this "coat of arms" has the most variety and color. Every soldier wears only one of these, on the upper left arm. They represent the unit the soldier is serving in, usually distinguishable down to what level?

Answer: Brigade level or equivalent

If you answered division, you're only almost correct - the actual designs on the field represent a division or equivalent grouping, but the border color narrows this down to brigade level - white shows the first brigade of a division, red the second and yellow the third. The silver/black border is used by battalions and companies directly attached to a division without an intervening brigade. The top right design is a quite special one - it is an independent brigade, namely the join French/German brigade.

Apart from the designs for the 14 divisions and associated brigades, several dozen designs exist for high commands and special units.

Battalions and independent companies can (and usually do) issue their own insignia, which is worn as an enamel badge with a black leather backing buttoned into the right chest pocket, but this is optional and anyone wishing to wear it must purchase their own.
8. This is an older version of a prestigious and hard to earn insignia called "Einzelkämpferabzeichen". What would be the English name for this kind of soldier?

Answer: Commando

"Einzelkämpfer" is the German term for a commando soldier. In the past, there was a single training for this status, which has now been replaced with two separate levels, the first focusing more on individual skills (and emphasizing physical exhaustion in a similar way to the USMC's Hell Week) and the second on leadership skills. Today's insignia replace the silver-white parts with a subdued dark brown / black wearable on a camouflage uniform without breaking the pattern. The first level has a single oak leaf while the second shows two like the depicted insignia.

Einzelkämpfer status was, in cold war times, required for any career officer (not for a reserve officer, however) - it was expected that officers make any possible effort to escape captivity and make it back to friendly territory. Nowadays, officers only require a simplified basic version of this training without as much emphasis on physical endurance.
9. These insignia are worn on the collar of the dress uniform. Apart from the generals' versions (top right), the design only subtly varies by rank. However, as you can see, they come in a variety of colors, denoting what?

Answer: Service branch

German and surrounding army traditions have a concept called "Waffenfarbe", literally "arms color". There are thirteen distinct colors for the service branches, although some share the same color, such as the light blue which is both used for technical (maintenance) and supply units. A fourteenth color is for officers serving in a general's staff (top left, with the more feathered design) and generals' red mirrors the one worn by artillery troops. The rarest colors are white (musicians), burgundy (mid-bottom, NBC defense) and orange (military police) while green (infantry) and pink (tanks) are the most common. The color is also reflected in the piping around shoulder boards and, on the combat uniform, a thin band worn beneath the rank insignia.

By law, the collar insignia is an integral part of a general's rank insignia - this is not the case for any of the lower ranks.

These insignia are worn in pairs and the generals' version is the only asymmetrical one; the curved part at the top points away from the neck.
10. Similar to service branches, these badges reflect a soldier's function and service at an individual level. Up to two of these may be worn, but what determines whether the award is worn with a gold, silver or bronze center symbol?

Answer: Duration of service

To be awarded one of these insignia, a soldier needs to first have training in a specific function at a sergeant's level (which is not restricted to NCOs - many enlisted service members do get this level of training as well) and then actively and satisfactorily serve for six months (bronze), five years (silver) or ten years (gold) in that function. Soldiers qualifying for more than two of these insignia have free choice of which of them to wear, it is neither required to reflect the current function nor to wear the highest two.
Source: Author WesleyCrusher

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor stedman before going online.
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