If you bought a uniform you might want to add some bling to it. Bling is ofcourse nice but it 'should' be done in a proper way. There are ofcourse a lot of medals and decorations, there are books writen about this subject but the explanation below should help a beginning collector on its way. This page is divided in three categories:

1. decorations that could be worn by the following ranks: Soldat/Matrose, Gefreiter, Unteroffiziere/Maate, Fähnrichschüler,  Feldwebel and Officiersschüler.

2. decorations that could be worn by Fähnriche

3. decorations that could be worn by Officers

4. Exceptions



Category 1.


These ranks could wear the 'big five' for soldiers: Schützenschur (A), Klassifizierungsabzeichen (B), Bestenabzeichen (C), Leistungsabzeichen and the Sportabzeichen . 


A. The Schützenschnur.

There are ten types of these lanyards as you can see here:

1. Tank (till 1985)

2. Artillery (till 1985)

3. Torpedo (till 1985)

4. Riflemen (army)

5. Riflemen (navy)

6. Grenztruppen (land forces)

7. Grenztruppen (Bootskompanie/GBK)

8. Artillery (army)

9. Artillery (navy)

10. Schützenpanzerwagen (Infantry Fighting Vehicle)

11. Panzer (tank)


The Schützenschnur was awarded for excellent shooting abilities. Most conscripts wouldn't have had one. It was a desirable order, which was rather an exception on a uniform of a conscript. On a uniform of a short term or long term career NCO it wasn't that seldom. Nevertheless it would be possible to obtain one being a conscript so you could add one to add one to a Soldat rank. A few things you should keep in mind:

  • The lanyard is worn on the right side.
  • The Schützenschnur wasn't to be worn by Officiersschüler in the 4th year of their education.
  • It could be awarded 4 times. For every next awarding one would attach an 'Eichel' (acorn) to the lanyard. There could be a maximum of 3 acorns attached to a lanyard, which would have drawn some attention back in the days. In the 80's the Schützenschnur was attached to the lace of the shoulderboard and the upper button of the jacket.
  • The type of Schützenschnur that was awarded depended on the branch a soldier was in.
  • The top of the Schützenschnur is mounted to the uniform by attaching it to the lace of the shoulder board. The other end should be attached to the upper front button.
  • Matrosen and Maaten attached their Schützenschnur on a handsewn 20mm anchor button on the right side of the kielerhemd to a similar button or safety pin that was applied on the knot of their Kieler Knoten.
  • For Meister, Fähnrich- and Offiziersschüler ranks of the Volksmarine the lanyard should be attached with a safety pin/DIY-button underneath the lower part of the collar of their uniform jacket. They did not attach the lanyard to the upper front button of their uniform.



B. Klassifizierungsabzeichen (Klassifizierungsspange / Qualispange)

The Qualispange was mounted to the uniform 0,5 centimeters above the flap of the right upper pocket. It should be alligned with the center button of the pocket. Uniforms without a pocket -like Volksmarine uniforms- would wear the spange at the same position as uniforms with pockets. You will need to pierce holes to attach it to the jacket because it is attached with a screw and bolt on the back of the spange. Using the sharp leg of a pair of scissors is quite effective for the job. Qualispangen were awarded in three levels (III (lowest), II and I (highest). There is also a M(eister) level for pilots.

In 1986 there was introduced a new design, so there are two main designs (actually three) of qualispangen used in the 80's. It is not very likely that a soldier would obtain his qualispange in his first year. One would start with obtaining level III so a conscript with a level I qualispange is not very realistic. A conscript wearing a Qualispange was rather exception than rule. A Schützenschnur by the way was a more common award than a Qualispange.

A soldier could have several qualispangen of different levels but you were allowed to just wear one (the highest level).

Till the end of 1985 the following types of Qualispangen were used:


1. Klassifizierungsabzeichen für Offiziere der Volksmarine im Borddienst. This Qualispange was awarded to officers that had their service on board of a ship. Next to the spange for pilots, it's the only spange that was only worn by officers. These badges are quite rare nowadays and you must be willing to pay a lot to acquire one. About 80-100 euro for a level III is a fair price. 

2. Klassifizierungsspange für ingenieurtechnisches Personal der Luftstreitkräfte. This badge was awarded to technical staff of the air force (and also Grenzflieger HS-16 and the Naval aviation branche). There are two types: one with indication of a level and one without any level on it.

3. Klassifizierungsabzeichen für Flugzeugführer. This badge was awarded to pilots of the air force and helicopter pilots of HS-16 and Naval pilots. The badge was introduced in 1964 and in 1974 there were mounted two hooks on the back that made it possible to attach a Flugstundenanhänger. It was a small hanger that indicated the number of hours the pilot had been in the air. A hanger with blue backing was awarded to MIG pilots and a hanger with a red backing was awarded to helicopter pilots and pilots of transport planes.

4. Einheitliche Klassifizierungsspange. For all other branches (Grenztruppen included) the general qualispange was awarded. The very first edition of the sixties had a enameled Staatswappen on it. But later variants of the seventies and eighties had a painted one. Somewhere at the beginning of the eighties a qualitative less impressive model of pressed metal was introduced. 

From 1986 to 1990 the Klassifizierungsabzeichen below were issued. Note that a pre 1986 qualispange could be worn until the end of the NVA in 1990.

1. Klassifizierungsspange für seemännisches Personal. This is a Qualispange for Navy staff on board of a ship. Unlike its predecessor this badge wasn't exclusively for officers of the Volksmarine.

2. Klassifizierungsspange für Schiffsmaschinenpersonal. This badge was awarded to staff on board of a ship with a technical career.

3. Klassifizierungsspange für Fliegeringenieurdienst. This badge was awarded to technical aviation staff of the air force, Grenztruppen and Volksmarine.

4. Klassifizierungsabzeichen für Flugzeugführer. This badge shows a MIG-23 and was awarded to pilots of the air force, Volksmarine and Grenztruppen. A Flugstundenanhänger could be attached in red for jet fighter and bomber pilots (from 500 up to 14.000 hours) and blue one for transport plane and helicopter pilots (from 500 up to 5000 hours). Every next 500 hours of flying experience a new Flugstundenanhänger was awarded. The pre 1986 model came with a different type of Flugstundenanhänger. The 1986 model can be distinguished by the curved 'arms' of the hanger. This award is the only 1986 qualispange that was made in 4 levels (III, II, I and M(eister). These Meister badges are pretty scarce nowadays.

5. Klassifizierungsspange für motorisierte Schützen. This badge was awarded to the crew of a Tank or 

C. Bestenabzeichen der NVA / Grenztruppen