Friday, June 8, 2012

The Color of Warfare

Waffenfarbe which literally translates into 'Armed Color' in German is a means in which the German armed forces have used throughout history to distinguish between different occupational specialties in regards to the different branches in its military forces. Waffenfarbe is generally the color located on the collar patch "Kragenspiegel" and piping or colored edges around the shoulder boards or shoulder straps and in the case of the enlisted ranks; of the piping around the collar and the garrison cap known as "schiffchen". The color of the waffenfarbe has fluctuated regarding to the period of history. Following the end of the Second World War when the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) was established; it establiched its armed forces the Bundeswehr "Federal Forces" with its three main branches:
  • Heer (Army)
  • Luftwaffe (Air Force)
  • Marine (Navy) 
The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) was established and soon formed its own armed forces the National Volksarmee "National People's Army" with four branches:
  • Landstreitkräfte (Ground Forces)
  • Luftstreitkräfte/Luftverteidigung (Air Force/Air Defense)
  • Volksmarine (People's Navy)
  • Grenztruppen der DDR (Border Troops of the German Democratic Republic)
 Each branch had its own respective color to signify troops in its ranks.

Heer (Army)

In the West German Heer Waffenfarbe were as follows:

Orange: Military Police
Lemon Yellow: Signals
Brown: Army Air Defense
Gray: Army Aviation
Purple: Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Defense
Red: Artillery
Golden Yellow: Armored Reconnaissance
Green: Infantry(Light Infantry & Mechanized Infantry)
Pink: Armored Troops
Black: Engineers
White: Music
Bright Blue: Technical Troops
Dark Blue: Medical Troops

Luftwaffe (Air Force)

The West German Luftwaffe only really signified itself with one color:

Golden Yellow: Air Force Personnel

Marine (Navy)

The West German Marine did not rely on Waffenfarbe instead using a system of various emblems above the rank stripes on the uniform sleeves.

Landstreitkräfte (Ground Forces)

In the East German Landstreitkräfte Waffenfarbe were as follows:

Scarlet Red: General Staff 
White: Motorized Infantry/Reconnaisance
Dark Red: Artillery/ Rockets/ Rockets & Weapon Technical Service/ Army Air Defense/ Command & Control
Pink: Armor
Black: Engineers/Chemical Service/Motorized Vehicle Service/Military Transport Service
Yellow: Signals
Orange: Paratroopers
Maroon: Stasi
Dark Green: Supply/ Legal/Finance
Olive: Construction Troops
Light Blue: Army Flying Forces

Luftstreitkräfte/Luftverteidigung (Air Force/Air Defense)

The East German Luftstreitkräfte/Luftverteidigung differentiated itself from the West German Luftwaffe instead by wearing gray uniforms resemblant of the Ground Forces. It's Waffenfarbe were as follows:

Light Blue: Air Force Personnel
Gray: Air Defense Personnel

Volksmarine (People's Navy)

The Volksmarine Waffenfarbe were as follows:

Light Blue: Navy Flying Forces
Dark Blue: Naval Forces

Grenztruppen der DDR (Border Troops of the German Democratic Republic)

The Grenztruppen Waffenfarbe were of one distinctive color:

Green: Border Troops

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