Badge of rank

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Badges of rank (previously used expression) or badges of rank (today's term), called distinctions or distinctive signs in Austria and degree badges in Switzerland , are badges and distinctive signs on clothing that indicate the rank or rank of the person concerned within an organization. They are not to be confused with the badges of a rank , which are granted to the holder of a rank as an additional attribute or piece of equipment (e.g. marshal's baton ).

Rank badges were historically worn for sergeants and crews as sleeve badges on the upper sleeve or on the lower sleeve. Epaulets and collar flaps were reserved for officers, the ring collar was worn on the chest. The headgear also mostly differed according to the rank . The reason for this was that officers did not carry their personal luggage themselves as marching luggage in a backpack, and were mostly mounted with the infantry. The uniform of the officers, since it had to be provided by them themselves, was usually much more splendid.

Common rank badge icons

  • generally for officers of different widths of strands or braids (naval forces, air forces, France)
  • Leaves (USA: seven-fingered leaf (stylized oak leaf, "rounded" over time) for major in gold and lieutenant-colonel in silver, Bundeswehr: oak leaves for staff officers in silver and generals in gold)
    • as a stylized edelweiss (Switzerland: for senior staff officers and the commander-in-chief of the army, Austria)
  • Crowns (UK, Sweden)
  • Order stars (Germany, some special regiments in Great Britain)
  • 4-pointed stars (Great Britain)
  • 5-pointed stars (USA, Russia, Poland, Italy, Belgium, German customs from 2018)
  • 6-pointed stars (German police, German Red Cross, fire brigade in Baden-Württemberg, Austria, Belgium)
  • 20-pointed stars (4 large and 16 small rays; Germany)
  • Braided angle (in almost all armies for men and / or NCOs)
  • Semi-arches made of stranded wire (USA, both under, over or without angles)
  • Inclined beams made of stranded wire or stamped sheet metal (Bundeswehr, Belgium)
  • Bars embroidered on fabric in red, silver, gold (German fire brigades and aid organizations, depending on the state / organization)

Animal representations (USA: Colonel wears a stylized eagle) and weapon representations (generals in the British Army , formerly field marshals of the German armies, Reichswehr and Wehrmacht, crossed sabers and command staff) are known, but less common .

In addition to the exemplary representation of animal symbols, organizational and country-specific traditions have also developed with regard to the attachment.

Army soldiers now mostly wear their rank badges as epaulettes on their shoulders, just like officers used to wear specially made shoulder pieces . In Belgium, the badges of rank in the army and police are worn on the collar. Are the distinguishing marks of Austria in army uniform and the uniform of the former body guard Bundesgendarmerie and security guard on the collar lapel . Since the Federal Police was founded in 2005, the distinctive signs have been put back on the stand-up collar.

Badges that indicate the rank within an organization on clothing are already known from the Roman army. The tabards in the knight armies also indicated who wore them and their rank.

Rank badges in the form we know today were not found until the 18th century, however, and in the early 19th century developed into the system that can still be found today in many large organizations, especially state organizations. Although badges of rank or rank can also be found in the police , fire brigade , railway companies , border guards, Red Cross , foresters , rifle clubs , etc., the pacemaker of this development was and is the military .

The introduction of camouflage and protective uniforms since the First World War has also led to changes in the design or attachment of the rank badges. American soldiers wear small burnished metal badges on their camouflage uniforms, which cannot be seen from a great distance. The Wehrmacht introduced badges of rank for the camouflage uniform, which deviated completely from the usual braid and star pattern and only had braids and horizontal oak leaves in different quantities and combinations and were also only noticeable up close. The usual rank badges were still worn on the normal field gray uniform.

In the mid-1990s, the Bundeswehr introduced black rank badges on an olive-green loop for field suits and camouflage uniforms. (Some of the black badges can also be seen on stain-camouflaged fabric and are therefore hardly recognizable even from close up; however, as these badges do not correspond to those supplied for business purposes, wearing them is generally not permitted, but is tolerated by some superiors.) The fragment protection vest is worn during deployment the shoulder flaps are no longer visible, which is why a single rank badge is attached in the middle of the chest with Velcro, which corresponds to the badge on the camouflage shoulder flap.

Officers of the naval forces wear golden braids on their lower sleeves, the different widths, numbers and sequence of which indicate the rank of rank. A large part of the world's navies and many land and air forces mark their ranks and NCOs with badges on their upper sleeves.

See also


  • Guido Rosignoli: Badges of rank and honor of the armies since 1945 , o. O. 1975, ISBN 3-453-81013-9 .