Strap buckle

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Ribbon buckle of the European Police Achievement Badge in bronze

A ribbon buckle or interim clasp (in Switzerland ribbon , in Austria medal clasp , also outdated band clasp , interim clasp , small medal clasp or field clasp ) is a summary of the wearer's awards given or approved by a high-ranking bearer, worn on a uniform and sorted by value . It consists of one or more ribbons in the colors of the ribbon of the individual awards, usually combined with a miniature of the award as an edition.

Despite various similarities in practice, the carrying regulations for the strap buckle differ in detail nationally and internationally. The regulations of the organization whose uniform the honoree wears therefore apply. This can lead to different combinations for the wearer depending on the uniform worn.

Wearing a strap buckle on civilian clothes is uncommon in most states.

historical development

General of the cavalry Karl von Hänisch in parade uniform with a large medal buckle

The introduction of the strap buckle is related to the development of the uniform in the 19th century. Until the middle of the 19th century, soldiers were regularly only equipped with a single uniform, which was worn in an identical form in the garrison , during parades and in action . All medals and awards given to the wearer were applied to this in their original form.

Influenced by the experiences of the Napoleonic Wars , the Crimean War and the increasingly frequent colonial wars , reformers developed new uniforms in the following years that were based on practical considerations. Instead of the previous standard uniform, five basic forms were created: the parade uniform, the company uniform for officers , the work uniform for men and officers , the day service uniform and the field uniform . This classification still exists in the main to this day.

In day-to-day work, it was now increasingly impractical to wear all medals in large form with every uniform. The awards hindered the correct fit of the ever increasing number of personal equipment and also ran the risk of getting lost unnoticed. Since the award was seldom put on record and lost awards were usually not replaced, this could mean a great loss for the recipient.

After the introduction of the formal suit - originally a less formal modification of the uncomfortable parade uniform - it became common practice to wear the medals on a small half-size medal buckle, a further simplification for use in the field was obvious. After the introduction of the khaki uniform, the first strap buckles were put on by British officers in the last third of the 19th century. The way of carrying was not yet fully regulated; It became common practice to wear all decorations as narrow ribbons in the color of the ribbon above the left breast pocket.

Since the end of the Second World War , the strap buckle has almost fully established itself internationally . Original- size medals , i.e. neck medals , clip- on medals or on the large medal buckle, are rarely put on. Usual occasions are weddings , family celebrations or state receptions . In addition, awards are also rarely worn in a reduced form as a small medal buckle (e.g. on the dress of the Bundeswehr ) or in miniature form on a tailcoat chain .

Strap buckles in German armed forces between 1871 and 1945

Ribbon buckle of a Prussian officer 1897; (from left to right) Red Eagle Order IV. Class, Service Award Cross for 25 years, Zentenar Medal and Duke Saxony-Ernestine House Order Knight's Cross First Class
An officer's belt buckle in World War II

In Germany the strap buckle came on relatively late. It was worn on the interim skirt from around 1900 and, since its introduction in 1907, on the field-gray field suit. In contrast to other countries in Western Europe, in Germany only the ribbons of the (ribbon) medals worn on the Great Order Buckle were attached. Neck and pin medals, or a selection of them, were still created in the original. In the Prussian dress code of 1899, a distinction was made between the medal with and without medal, in the 1911 reprint between the 4 cm wide “large medal” (with medal) and the 1.7 cm wide “small medal” (without medal).

Large ribbon buckle from the interwar period in size comparison - cross of honor for combatants at the front

The older version of the strap buckle (4 cm) often had hooks on the back so that the originals could be attached if necessary.

The strap buckle, which was common until 1945, was modeled on the Prussian medal buckle and was therefore single-row; the bandwidth corresponded to the ribbons of the small tailcoat decoration.

In the interwar period, large strap buckles (approx. 30–35 mm high) with the original carrying strap were popular, especially for wearing on civilian suits. On the back there was a device for hanging the medals, so that the buckle could be worn with or without the original badge (medal jewel).

Alternatives to the strap buckle

Correct way of wearing the tape of the KVK II class on the uniform jacket

The second class of the Iron Cross and the War Merit Cross were worn in such a way that the original, 30 mm wide ribbon was sewn to the second buttonhole of the uniform jacket. If both medals were awarded, the ribbons were attached one on top of the other, slightly offset. The highest possible number of ribbons that could be worn in the buttonhole during World War II was the following combination: two war awards (e.g. EK II, KVK II. Kl.), Medal Winter Battle in the East 1941/42 in the second buttonhole the lifesaving medal also in the second buttonhole and the ribbon of the blood order in the buttonhole of the right breast pocket (all badges that are strongly interwoven with Nazi ideology, such as the German cross and the blood order, were worn on the unusual right side.) The German cross in gold was also available in an embroidered fabric version that could be sewn onto the right side of the uniform jacket.

Strap buckles in the armed organs of the GDR

Ribbon buckle for medals of the combat group and other medals

During its forty years of existence , the GDR donated a large number of orders, decorations and medals . Almost every army soldier or member of the border troops of the GDR was therefore honored in one form or another during his service. In addition, there were awards given by other member states of the Warsaw Pact to high-ranking members of friendly armed forces. Awards from former German states, however, were not allowed to be worn on the uniform. The strap buckle common in the GDR was multi-row and designed according to the Soviet model. The lavish socialist award practice meant that the ribbon buckle of longer-serving military personnel often assumed astonishing proportions.

In the early years of the GDR, these interim clasps were worn loosely next to each other, depending on their value. Whereby the rule applies, looking to the left the clasp of the highest order awarded and looking to the right the clasp of the order with the lowest value. Up to four awards could be carried side by side per row. From the 1970s, the highest military officials were allowed to wear five interim clasps per row. If a wearer had more than four awards, another row was added below. As a result, the interim clasp of the highest awarded order was to be attached to the top left and the interim clasp of the lowest awarded order to the bottom right.

The early copies were made in the Berlin Mint and consist of brass strips with rounded edges on which the ribbons were drawn. Since the interim brace had already become so extensive for some military in the 1960s, the weight of the brace caused increasing problems with the durability of the uniform. These so-called coin clips were provided with a needle and a lock on the back. If the clasp was heavier, however, it could happen that the fabric tore at the stitches of the needle on the back, which in particular with generals meant that a repair could not be carried out due to the representative character of the person, but a new uniform jacket would have to be tailored .

To take this into account, a new variant was introduced at the beginning of the 1970s. Images of the individual interim clasps were inserted into U-shaped brass strips that were punched out on thin cardboard. To prevent them from falling out, a plexiglass strip was pushed over it. A not inconsiderable number of clasps that can still be found today, however, were only put together after the end of the GDR. In some cases, such clasps are characterized by the reversed attachment of the cardboard strips and by incorrect arrangement of the individual clasps.

A third variant of the interim clips are the so-called "fabric clips". However, these were reserved for generals only and were made by special employees in tailoring.

Awards acquired in the GDR can still be worn after 1990 if “they [do not] violate the public policy of the Federal Republic of Germany. The same applies to foreign awards approved for acceptance by the German Democratic Republic. "

The strap buckle in the Federal Republic of Germany

Legal basis

Above: Large Federal Cross of Merit ; Middle (from left to right): Cross of Honor of the Bundeswehr , German sports badge in gold, German life- swimming badge of the DLRG in gold, German life- swimming badge of the water rescue in silver; Below (from left to right): US Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Médaille de la Défense nationale - Échelon Bronze - of the French Republic, UNTAC Medal (see Order of the US Military)

The legal basis for wearing a strap buckle is the law on titles, medals and decorations of July 26, 1957.

In practice, not all awards given by a state or semi-state organization may also be worn by every person wearing uniform. The exact provisions can be found in the respective service regulations.

In the Bundeswehr, strap buckles are only worn with large and small service suits and dress uniforms. The details are regulated in the Central Service Regulations (ZDv) 37/10. Unlike in various foreign armed forces, there is no obligation to wear awards received.

Similar regulations exist in aid organizations and uniformed authorities . For the technical relief organization , these are set out in the clothing guidelines (BeklRiLi).

Wearing all awards of the NSDAP and various other awards of the German Reich from 1933 to 1945 is prohibited in the Federal Republic of Germany ; Exceptions are certain military badges (e.g. the Iron Cross), which may be worn in special versions (usually without a swastika ).

Wearing awards from the GDR is permitted under certain conditions.

Technical aspects of the German strap buckle

German sports badge in bronze as a ribbon buckle

In Germany, a ribbon buckle consists of one or more metal rails (ribbon buckle lower part) onto which the scaled-down medal ribbons are pushed as a ribbon buckle upper part. The strap buckle has a height of 12 mm. The range of German war and peace decorations worn on the neck or shoulder strap is 40 mm. These decorations are worn on their own in the top row. All other pieces of tape, including all foreign medals, have a width of 25 mm (ZDv 37/10 Annex 13/8 5.). For example, the frequently worn NATO awards (32 mm) may only be worn as a self-procured 25 mm version. They are worn under the 40mm pieces of tape. When orders and medals, which are given in several stages with or staple, a religious thumbnail or scaled-down is additionally Agraffe as writing a " pad " attached to the belt buckle upper part. This construction, which was influenced by the US ribbon buckle, allows ribbon buckle tops to be reused at further awards .

Usually, in addition to the original size award and a certificate, a first strap buckle top is presented at the award ceremony . Further copies and lower parts of the strap buckle are to be procured by the honoree himself.


The order of the medals and decorations on the ribbon buckle results from the value of the award, the date of award and the principle that German and then foreign medals and decorations are to be applied (whereby the acceptance of foreign orders and decorations must be approved by the Federal President):

  • Orders and decorations of the Federal Republic of Germany and its organs
  • German medals and decorations awarded between 1871 and 1945, as far as listed in the law on titles, medals and decorations of July 26, 1957
  • Awards from national aid organizations, as far as listed in the law on titles, medals and decorations of July 26, 1957
  • Awards of the countries
  • Awards from international organizations, if approved by the Federal President
  • Awards from foreign countries, if approved by the Federal President

Within the individual groups, the awards are arranged according to degree and date of award.

Belt buckles in the Bundeswehr

Historical development

When the Bundeswehr was founded in 1955, management personnel were used who had previously served in the Wehrmacht , the Waffen-SS , the Reichswehr and, in some cases, even during the First World War and had been awarded for this. These awards, insofar as they are permitted by the law on titles, medals and decorations of July 26, 1957, may be worn in the post-war version on the strap buckle with the service suit.

Since the Bundeswehr did not initially have its own awards, the number of strap buckle carriers steadily decreased over the years.

In addition to the German Sports Badge, the Federal Cross of Merit and the Holland March Medal, awards to be worn on the ribbon buckle were only occasionally presented:

The introduction of the Bundeswehr Cross of Honor in 1980 did not stop this trend at first, as this award is also rarely given.

A change only occurred after the reunification of Germany in 1990; On the one hand, through the deployment of the Bundeswehr during the flood disasters in East Germany in 1997 and 2002 , on the other hand, through the foundation of the Bundeswehr's Mission Medal in 1996. There are also medals from NATO and the United Nations , which are also awarded on missions abroad under the leadership of this organization .

In addition, awards were and are occasionally given by the French armed forces stationed in Germany or the US army .


Carrying method of the band buckle at the service suit (basic form) of the German Federal Armed Forces ( Gen. a. D. Wolfgang Schneiderhan )

The order listed above applies to the strap buckle. There is no obligation to wear individual awards or the strap buckle as a whole. For the Bundeswehr, the wearing regulations in the central guideline A2-2630 / 0-0-5 “Dress code for soldiers in the Bundeswehr” in Sections 6.2. Authorized wearing methods and 6.4 wearing of awards on the strap buckle are regulated. According to this, the strap buckle is only to be worn on the service suit (but not on the formal or combat suit) in the middle on the left side of the chest, immediately above the upper edge of the breast pocket (or in a corresponding place if there is no breast pocket). A maximum of four awards may be worn in a row. From the fifth award onwards, a new row is started below the first, with the fifth being below the first.

Typical characteristics of the Bundeswehr

The Bundeswehr itself gives comparatively few awards, of which the strap buckles may only be worn on service suits. Soldiers who wear the service suit as a day service suit usually wear little or no markings on them. On official occasions or when working in an international headquarters, however, badges are worn significantly more often and more often.

The regulation on how to wear the award in several stages is inconsistent:

  • The Federal Cross of Merit may be worn on the strap buckle in all awarded levels. The same applies to foreign honors.
  • Order of Merit of the federal states and the German sports badge may only be worn at the highest level awarded.
  • The Cross of Honor of the Bundeswehr may be worn at each awarded level (medal, bronze, silver, gold) at the same time.

Common mistakes when wearing strap buckles

Defective strap buckle (from left to right) Badge of achievement (may only be worn in the original on the uniform), SFOR mission , NATO medal

Wearing the straps in the wrong order (first those awarded by the federal government, then those of the federal states) is the most common mistake when wearing a strap buckle. In addition, the following strap buckles are often put on by mistake:

Strap buckles in the German fire departments

Historical development

Belt buckles were rarely worn in the fire service in the post-war period and then only by higher officials such as association officials or senior management ranks . It is only since the 1990s that strap buckles have become more and more popular on fire brigade uniforms. This may also be due to the fact that meanwhile medals and decorations are no longer wearable as ribbon buckles, but also badges of achievement and honors at district level are available as ribbon buckles. This development has also been reinforced by the increased awarding of so-called deployment badges - badges that are awarded for longer participation in a natural disaster deployment.

Carrying method

Belt buckles on a rail system, centrally above the breast pocket of the upper edge, in this case from left Rettungsmedaille , Deutsches Sportabzeichen in Gold, German firefighting fitness badge in Gold

For many medals and decorations, the method of wearing the strap buckle is anchored in the respective laws, ordinances or guidelines. However, there are no uniform federal regulations for the way of carrying, and there are often even no nationwide regulations.

The order of the portable awards can be derived from their value. If strap buckles have the same value, the award given first is postponed. When viewed from above, the most valuable award is to be pushed open as a strap buckle on the left.

The way of wearing is generally very much based on the Bundeswehr: According to this, the strap buckle is only to be worn on the service suit in the middle on the left side of the chest, immediately above the top edge of the breast pocket. Two or more strap buckles are attached to a support rail ("strap buckle lower part"). A maximum of four awards are carried in a row, from the fifth award a new row is started below the first, with the fifth strap below the first. A maximum of 16 strap buckles can be worn on the uniform. As an exception applies when the carrier as owner with the Order level commander has been awarded or higher. Here the neck medal is shown with a 40 mm wide strap buckle and this is worn in the middle over the "normal" 25 mm wide strap buckles, so 17 strap buckles are also possible.

Fire department-typical quirks

The following awards are usually carried in this order:

Due to the lack of regulations in some federal states, no value is placed there on a certain order (value of the badges). If only one to three strap buckles can be found on a uniform, which is not unusual because awards are rarely given, these are often attached to the top edge of the breast pocket starting from the right instead of being carried in the middle, as in the case of the Bundeswehr.

Regulations in the aid organizations

At the German aid organizations such as the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB), the German Red Cross (DRK), the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe (JUH) or the Malteser-Hilfsdienst (MHD), the way of wearing is defined by the respective clothing guidelines but generally those of the fire brigades of the federal states.

Strap buckles at the Federal Agency for Technical Relief

Historical development

With the golden helper needle - today helper's mark in gold - the first internal organization-internal decoration of the technical relief organization was created on August 7, 1952 . The medals of honor donated on September 2, 1975 by the Technical Relief Organization in gold and silver were approved by the Federal President and thus belong to the medals within the meaning of the Ordensgesetz On June 13, 1990, the two existing decorations were newly donated and a version as a bronze medal was added.

Circular decree 39 of 2005 regulates the execution of the THW awards as strap buckle parts. Since then, the foreign employment badge and the service badge have only existed as a strap buckle version.

Carrying method

Strap buckle on the THW service suit

The directive on clothing and labeling in the technical relief organization (BeklRiLi) regulates the wearing of medals and decorations. The following rules apply to the way of wearing the service suit :

  • The order of the medals and decorations worn is based on § 12 of the Ordensgesetz.
  • Orders and decorations, which are listed in the Ordensgesetz, may not be worn with other other awards on a row of buckles.
  • The way of wearing medals not listed in the BeklRiLi can be requested from the THW management.

There are no special regulations for wearing medals and decorations on civilian suits. No medals or decorations are worn with the emergency suit.

Characteristics of the THW

The regulation on how to wear the same label in several stages is inconsistent:

  • The badge of honor of the technical relief organization may be worn on the strap buckle in all three awarded levels - gold, silver and bronze.
  • The THW helper's mark in gold and gold with a wreath may only be worn at the highest level.
  • Only the highest annual service badge is worn.
  • Foreign assignment badge is only awarded when a foreign assignment is awarded for the first time. A mission certificate can be awarded for every further assignment abroad.

Strap buckles international

The German wearing practice sometimes differs greatly from international customs. At about the same height, the German strap buckles are significantly narrower. In addition, in most western armed forces, a maximum of three strap buckles are grouped together in a row. New rows are started in the middle under the last row.


Medal clasp and, for comparison, two medals and a mark of merit from a fire brigade member from Lower Austria (2018)

In Austria , the ribbon buckle is known as a medal clasp and is worn by uniformed associations such as the fire brigade , the Austrian Red Cross and the armed forces in the middle above the left breast pocket. The medal clasp may contain a maximum of 15 orders, awards and medals. Up to three awards per row are carried.


The Swiss Army calls the ribbon buckle badges ribbons . There are three types: service badges, awards and operational badges. They are worn in the middle, 0.5 cm above the left breast pocket (as seen from the wearer) on the exit suit ("Tenue A"), whereby a maximum of nine ribbons (three rows of three) may be worn.


In the French armed forces , it is customary to wear the strap buckle with a short-sleeved service shirt when working in staff . On special occasions (roll calls, parades, security guards), the strap buckle is also worn directly on the combat suit. These traditions are also maintained by the armed forces of former French colonies .

In the French police , fire brigade , gendarmerie and other uniformed authorities, awards are worn on uniform jackets and service shirts in everyday life.

Unlike in Germany, civilians in France usually wear higher quality awards in public, clearly visible on the lapel of their jacket. Orders and decorations are neither put on as miniature nor as a ribbon buckle, but symbolized by a narrow fabric thread in the color of the ribbon. Bearers of higher levels wear a small rosette in the color of the order in the buttonhole. Bearers of the Legion of Honor (red), the Ordre national du Mérite (blue) and the Ordre de la Liberation (green) are openly respected and given preferential treatment by both their fellow citizens and the authorities.

Great Britain

In the British Army , strap buckles are only worn with khaki service suits and blue service suits. The medals are created in their original size for the red parade uniform. Order miniatures are worn with the society uniform.

Similar rules apply in the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy .

British ribbon buckles, as well as those of most former British possessions, are noticeable in that the individual ribbons have a different width depending on the religious class. This makes the British strap buckle appear more irregular than its counterparts from other nations. In addition, there is a significantly higher wearing method.

In addition to police officers, customs officers, firefighters and other uniformed officers , strap buckles are also worn by civilian uniforms such as guards, museum guards or officers of the merchant navy during working hours, provided the uniform resembles a service suit.

In private settings, orders and medals in original size are worn on civilian suits for family celebrations, honors and memorials. The same applies to participation in public commemorations. On private formal suits, tails and tuxedos, which are very common in Great Britain, religious miniatures are also worn privately.

United States

US band buckle (military)

The armed forces of the United States either all orders and decorations are worn or only a single series with the three highest awards each. Cross-armed forces awards as well as ribbons of foreign countries (e.g. the Legion of Honor) or international organizations (e.g. the NATO medal) approved by the Ministry of Defense may be worn . Awards from one branch of the armed forces are sometimes not recognized by all other branches of the armed forces (e.g. the US Air Force shooting badge for members of the armed forces) and must therefore be discarded in the event of a change of branch of the armed forces. United States National Guard Awards may not be worn by active service soldiers, including federally called up National Guard officers. The same applies to awards from the US states , the police authorities or the fire departments. Some United States law enforcement agencies wear the strap buckles on everyday uniform.

Soviet Union

Like all socialist states, the Soviet Union had an exuberant tendency towards state honors. While these were mostly worn in large form until the 1950s, the strap buckle then became commonplace for daily duty. Except for the star of the Order of the Hero of the Soviet Union , all orders, decorations and awards were worn as a ribbon buckle. Awards that have been awarded multiple times have been worn several times.


The miniature for the award is worn in the buttonhole on civilian suits. The term ribbon bridge and pin is used here. The band bridge is approx. 15 mm wide and 9 mm high. Another miniature of the original award is the miniature bow, it is worn with a formal suit (tailcoat).

See also

Web links

Commons : Ribbon Buckle  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
  • THW-Helfervereinigung Ronnenberg e. V. - Illustrations, overviews and information
  • Police NRW (Institute for Education and Training) - Police-related miniatures of orders (missions abroad)
  • Austria- specific information and images
  • Order of Knights / Order of Merit / Brotherhoods in Germany / Austria and Switzerland.
  • Military decorations in the Austrian Armed Forces

Individual evidence

  1. Protocol amending the notice OrdensG by the Unification Treaty 1990th
  5. ^ A b Federal Agency for Technical Relief - historical collection (THWhS): THW Chronik . In: . Federal Agency for Technical Relief - historical collection (THWhS). Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  6. Fifth decree on the approval of the foundation and the award of medals and decorations . In: . Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. September 2, 1975. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  7. RV 0039/2005 Awards and honors in THW, July 5, 2005.
  8. Directive on clothing and labeling in the technical relief organization (BeklRiLi), November 1, 2013.
  9. a b c Art. 5.1 Directive on clothing and labeling in the technical relief organization (BeklRiLi), November 1, 2013.
  10. Art. 5.2 Directive on clothing and labeling in the technical relief organization (BeklRiLi), November 1, 2013.
  11. Military decorations - wearing methods (item 2, medal clasp) (PDF; 442 kB)