12 January 2023
Duncan Evans take a look at an award handed out for years of serving the people in Nazi Germany.
In amongst a raft of awards and decorations that Hitler authorised in 1938 (this one on 30 January) was the Faithful Service Decoration (Treudienst Ehrenzeichen), to reward long-serving civilians. Designed by Richard Klein, the award took the form of a cross with wreath oakleaves between the arms and a large, black enamelled swastika on a square background in the middle. On the reverse, in the central square, were the words: ‘für treue Dienste’ (for faithful service). It was suspended by a ring from a plain ribbon in cornflower blue – the colour of Germany’s national flower and also one associated with loyalty. A pin for attaching the ribbon to clothing was sown into the top of the ribbon.
There were three grades, known as Silver, Gold and the Special Grade, covering 25 years of public service, 40 years of public service and 50 years of working for the same private company. The 25 years version came in silver, the 40 years version in gold and the 50 years version featured silver arms with a golden ‘50’ on the upmost one, with the wreath in gold. A version for 50 years of public service featuring an oakleaf cluster was actually created on 12 August 1944, but given the deteriorating war situation it was never conferred or manufactured. An award of a higher grade automatically replaced the lower one so they were not worn together.
The public service versions were awarded to civil servants, people working in the Post Office, on the railways whether they were punching tickets or laying tracks, or any other organisations that served the public, at all levels, from local to national. Thousands were awarded, so they are one of the more affordable decorations of the Third Reich, though the Special Grade is the rarest and consequently has a much higher price. All the medals were issued in a red, two part display case, with a lid that had the years of service inscribed on the top. The name of the manufacturer was usually on the inside cloth of the lid, Deschler & Sohn, München, being the most common, though some cases don’t have the name on them at all. The style of the lid attachment varied, according to the manufacturer – the Deschler lid was attached to the case and flipped up, the Wächtler & Lange lid simply lifted on and off. Friedrich Keller was another of the manufacturers.
As with all Third Reich awards, there are fakes, especially of the 50 Years Service decoration, as that’s the expensive one. Look out for a lack of crisp detail, especially on the reverse and only buy from a source offering refunds.
Decorations on their own without a case are slightly cheaper but as there are plenty about, it’s worth finding one with the case.
- 25 Years Service (with case): £40 (£60)
- 40 Years Service: £70-£80
- 50 Years Service: £400-£600
Left: The reverse of the Silver award showing the inscription ‘für treue Dienste’
Left: The reverse of a supposed 50 Year award. The detail here is poor, making it likely to be a post-war fake
Can't get to the newsagents for your copy of The Armourer? Order it online (now with free postage!) or take out a subscription and avoid the general public for the next 12 months entirely. And if you're confined to quarters, stock up on some bookazines to keep you entertained.
Buy the latest copy or any back issues, either in print or digital editions by clicking on The Armourer.
It's our latest bookazine, Tanks of WWII, a 164-page guide to the tanks, commanders and battles of WWII. With over 170 tank prototypes, variants, models from the Axis and Allied nations, plus blueprints, rare photos and 3D illustrations. This collector's bookazine can be yours for just £9.99. Click here for your copy.
Celebrate the heroes of the Battle of Britain with a commemorative bookazine, with colour images throughout, for £8.99. Get your 164 page copy here.
Buy a copy of Aircraft of the RAF, featuring 595 flying machines, for £7.99 by clicking here.
Or how about a copy of the Collecting German Militaria bookazine for £7.99? Click here to buy this.