Collar Tabs

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GenLtn José Manuel de Goyeneche with arabesque embroidery as a collar tab .

Insignia , even collar Patten are badges , distinctions or rank insignia on the collar ends of the uniform jacket , usually to indicate a branch of service , branch of service are used, military use or police lineup. Collar tabs can also wear rank badges and be in defined weapon colors .


The collar tab was created in Germany in the 19th century to mark a specific unit of the troops and as an ornament . They give - depending on the army and time - various information about the carrier. The term "collar tab" was initially only used colloquially, the original term was collar embroidery (before 1918), double strands on the collar or "collar tabs for tunic and field blouse" (1938). The term collar tab was officially used in the Luftwaffe from March 1, 1935, otherwise only after 1945.


German Empire 1871–1918

After the founding of the Reich in 1871, the uniforms within the Reichsheer were brought into line with the uniform of the Prussian army , but there was no uniform uniform. Collar embroidery was only found on the generals and admirals of the Imperial Navy , on the troops of the (Prussian) Guard Corps (Gardelitzen), on the officers of the War Ministry , the General Staff and the Cadet Corps , on Adjutants General and Wing Adjutants, and on some of the officials of the Reich Military Court and with individual regiments , especially the grenadier regiments. The shape and color of this embroidery varied greatly.

The sailors and NCOs without Portepee the Imperial Navy wore monochrome collar Patten, namely medium blue sailors Division, the Torpedo Boat Division likewise with red border, the sailors Division and the torpedo department of the Imperial Yacht Hohenzollern but white instead of medium blue.

By 1915 the other countries of the German Empire also introduced this embroidery, only in Bavaria in silver. After the First World War, it was finally worn in a reduced form by German and Austrian generals. Later the generals of the Bundeswehr also received these traditional badges.

German Empire 1919–1945


With the establishment of the provisional Reichswehr in 1919, uniform uniforms for the armed forces were established for the first time in Germany. In 1921 the final uniform was determined. For the Reichsheer, uniform collar tabs in three different forms were specified, which were worn on the collar of the dress skirt, skirt and field blouse. Officers of the general rank wore light gold arabesque embroidery, similar to how they were worn by the Prussian generals before 1918: generals in crimson , medical officers in general in dark blue , veterinary officers in general in crimson and army officials in general on dark green . Officers of the Reichswehr Ministry and army officials of the higher service wore gold, officers of the Fuehrer's staff (General Staff officers) silver butt embroidery , similar to officers of the War Ministry before 1918. The other officers and the army officials of the middle service wore silver, non-commissioned officers and simple, field-gray woven double-layered men , connected by a central mirror. The embroidery was attached to a strip of cloth in the color of the weapon . For the colors assigned to the individual weapon branches, see: weapon color.

The Reichsmarine did not wear a collar tab.


With the conversion of the Reichswehr to the Wehrmacht in 1935, uniforms for the army were initially retained. It was not until 1937 that the uniform was changed slightly. The weapon colors were largely retained, but the

  • News troop lemon yellow collar tabs.

In addition, the following were introduced for the new branches / uses :

  • Nebeltruppe: Bordeaux red
  • Defense substitute: orange

For the armored troops , special collar tabs were introduced in addition to the black field suit . They consisted of rectangular black cloth with pink piping . In the center of the collar tab was a metal-embossed, silver skull and crossbones, similar to the way that hussar regiments had worn on their hats before 1918.

The newly formed air force also received collar tabs , which, however, differed from those of the army . A different number of wings were embroidered on the colored base cloth in the weapon color of the Luftwaffe , with officers also embroidered with small oak leaves or wreaths of oak leaves, which also indicated the rank.

Illustration 1
illustration 1

1 field marshal (from April 3, 1941)
2 field marshal (until April 3, 1941) and generals
3 officers in the OKW; Other general staff officers: braid with silver-colored butt embroidery
4 officers (for the tunic, on a badge in the same color as the weapon)
5 officers (in the field blouse always on a greenish-blue badge, but with piping in the middle of the braids in the color of the weapon)

Figure 2
Figure 2

6 NCOs (to the tunic)
7 men (to the field blouse)
8 armored troops

The Navy continued to wear no collar tabs.

Armed SS

The Waffen-SS was uniformed similar to the army, but wore the collar tabs of the General SS .

Other organizations

In addition to the armed forces, other state, uniformed organizations such as the police , fire brigade and Reichsbahn wore collar tabs that were partially similar to those of the armed forces. After 1933, the National Socialist rulers founded a large number of new state, parastatal and party organizations that were uniformed. Among other things, the political leaders of the NSDAP , the members of the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD), Reichsluftschutzbund (RLB) and the party organizations SA , SS , NS-Kraftfahrkorps (NSKK) and NS-Fliegerkorps (NSFK) wore collar tabs. These were designed differently than those of the armed forces and generally indicated both the rank and the organizational affiliation.

Federal Republic of Germany

Collar tabs of German generals in the Bundeswehr, here Major General Reinhard Kammerer .

Whereas the Bundeswehr on the collar points of service suit the Heeres- and Air Force Uniform sewn collar mirrors can by the color of the base cloth (see. Waffenfarbe) and the form and design of the illustrated on the collar patches symbols conclusions on the branch of service , the armed force or to a particular official position or Rank group too. The shape of the collar tabs is a slightly modified further development of the collar tabs of earlier German armed forces.

GDR 1949–1990

GDR Army Arab OF6-9.jpg
"Bright red" generals LaSK / MfS
GDR Navy Arab OF6-9.jpg
" Navy blue" Admirale Volksmarine
GDR AF Arab-l OF6-8.JPG

See also

Generals of the armed organs of the GDR wore golden arabesque embroidery on their uniform jacket on a basic cloth in the color of the weapon.

  • NVA:

Land Forces

The collar tabs for officers, ensigns, non-commissioned officers and men of the land forces (Lask) corresponded in principle to those of the army of the German Wehrmacht, but with the following differences:

  • Basic cloth always stone gray, no basic cloth in the same color as the weapon
  • Cantilla filling until 1974 (officers, ensigns and professional NCOs ) or until 1979 ( NCOs on a temporary basis ) and crews in the weapon color, then uniformly white
  • Paratroopers have been wearing an orange basic cloth with a stylized parachute and wing since 1969, officers wearing a silver-colored cord border

Air Force

Light blue basic cloth, silver-colored wing, ensigns and officers with a cord border and an open or closed wreath of oak leaves around the wing

People's Navy

Only for sailors, non-commissioned officers and mates to the overcoat made of cornflower blue basic cloth, no other badges.

French army

The heavy blue-gray fabric coat introduced in 1877, which remained in use until 1914, had red mirrors sewn onto the low stand-up collar. The regimental numbers were on the mirrors in the same color as the coat.

First World War

In 1914, shortly after the start of the First World War, the then leading fashion designer Paul Poiret developed a new military coat in horizon blue color. The single-breasted coat then presented in September 1914 has a large collar on which yellow mirrors with dark blue regimental numbers and braids were sewn in accordance with the regulation for the infantry of December 9, 1914. As early as the end of 1915, the new coat was further modified and adapted to the theater of war. The yellow collar tab had already been abolished in the spring of the same year because it was too conspicuous. From May 1915, the mirrors were worn in the horizon blue color of the coat, with the bezels and regimental numbers highlighted in dark blue. In July 1916, colored dots were embroidered behind the actual collar tab, which marked the battalion. The collar tab underwent a last change during the First World War in January 1917, when it was moved to the collar corners and a gray fabric was used instead of dark blue.

Interwar period

In 1920, 1935 and 1938 the coat was changed again, but always retained the appearance it had gained in the First World War. The only innovation was the change from a horizon blue to a khaki fabric. The mirrors on the khaki-colored collar corners still bore the regimental number, which was framed by two dark blue strands. The dots for displaying the battalion had disappeared again.

Vichy government

After the conquest of France by the German Wehrmacht in June 1940, the French government in Vichy was re- armed and a much more modern uniform was introduced. On the khaki tunic, introduced in 1942, the regimental numbers and borders were again attached to the collar corners - now in crimson red.

Italian armed forces

See the collar tabs of the Italian army



Distinction of a soldier with the rank of general

The pentagonal collar tabs of the armed forces indicate both the rank and the type of service (including the air force ). General staff officers have specially designed collar tabs. All Austrian distinctions are identical to those of the monarchy , only they are no longer worn on the stand-up collar, but on the lapel in a pentagonal shape.

Security executive

Collar identification of a police officer with the usage designation General

The representative uniform of the Federal Police and the legally qualified service at the security authorities as well as the other wearers of the police uniform, which was introduced after the merger of the police and gendarmerie , has classic collar tabs again after the distinctions on the lapel of the predecessor organizations gendarmerie and security guard. They had a madder-red or burgundy-purple basic color ( equalization ) and were provided with stars and strands in the colors platinum, silver and gold. In 2015, a redesign came into force after which the leveling was uniformly changed to crimson. The strands on the postponement distances have also been completely abolished. The distinctions now only show stars, borders and acanthus ornaments in the colors platinum, silver and gold.

Fire Department and Red Cross

The fire brigade and the Red Cross in Austria also use the following ranks, which were originally worn on the collar tabs, according to the historically evolved system of the armed forces and police. Today these are worn as postponement or on the collar lapel. The ranks of the Red Cross are uniformly regulated nationwide, the ranks and distinctions of the fire departments differ depending on the federal state.

Swiss Army

Collar tab logistics from 2006 for camouflage suit
Collar tab for military post from 1949 for tunic

The collar tabs of the Swiss Armed Forces have been attached to both camouflage suits (service and combat suits) and home suits since the 1990s . Until then, there were no tabs on the collar of Army 61 combat uniforms, only on the tunic of home and service suits.

On the camouflage suit, the metal badges introduced in 1991 were replaced from January 1, 2006 by new rectangular grade and military type badges made of fabric with Velcro . The main reason for this army-wide conversion was the safety of the members of the army. The new khaki-colored badges made of fabric, which blend well with the basic colors of the camouflage suit, do not reflect the light in contrast to their metal predecessors and are therefore no longer recognizable with binoculars and residual light amplifiers. On the collar tab, the rank can be identified on the right and the type of service or branch on the left.

At the exit suit (Tenue A) the traditional diamond-shaped collar mirror in embroidered felt show on both sides of the branch of service of the carrier and the branch of service are held in the respective color.


  • Keubke, Kunz: Uniforms of the National People's Army of the GDR 1956–1986 . Berlin (GDR) 1990.
  • Laurent Mirouze: Infantrymen of the First World War . Verlag Karl-Heinz Dissberger, Düsseldorf 1990, ISBN 3-924753-28-8 .
  • Laurent Mirouze: Infantrymen of World War II . Verlag Karl-Heinz Dissberger, Düsseldorf 1990, ISBN 3-924753-27-X .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: collar tabs  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. ^ Karl-Heinz Völker: Documents and documentary photos on the history of the German Air Force . In: Contributions to military and war history, ed. v. Military History Research Office (series of publications by MGFA), Volume 9, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt , Stuttgart 1968, pp. 363-367 (Document 147, especially in Section A the number “4th collar tab”).
  2. Eichler / Krenz: The Imperial Fleet , ISBN 3-327-01252-0 , Plate III.