01 May 2010
Warsaw Pact Cap Badges A guide for collectors by Richard Hollingdale ...
The Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation, and Mutual Assistance (also known as the Warsaw Pact) was a military alliance signed between the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc neighbours, 1955-91. It was meant to form a defensive barrier against the American led western alliance, NATO, but ended up only seeing action against its fellow member states (Hungary, 1956, and Czechoslovakia, 1968).
Initially, the Treaty had eight signatories: USSR, Poland, DDR (East Germany), CSSR (Czechoslovakia), Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Albania; but was reduced to seven after Albania withdrew due to ideological differences with the USSR. In all, it served more as an internal police force than a defender of socialism and so was never a truly happy alliance. With the exception of Bulgaria, whose cultural identity was similar to that of Russia, none of the member states had any real sense of allegiance towards the USSR. Equally, they had no real liking for one another with traditional rivalries existing between the Germans and Poles, Hungarians and Romanians, Czechs and Slovaks, to highlight just a few. There was a great deal of speculation over how well they would have fought in the event of a war with the West. In the end, it all proved to be idle speculation as the Treaty swiftly dissolved with the collapse of the Eastern Bloc between 1989 and 1991.
This article will look at the cap badges of the Warsaw Pact, focusing on the ground forces of the non-Soviet member states. It will demonstrate the range and variety of badges worn by each nation, noting the differences generated by variations in rank, usage, and manufacture.
Where once it was quite commonplace, the Warsaw Pact is becoming an increasingly scarce corner of the collecting market. The level of success a collector may enjoy depends upon how much of the Pact he may wish to collect. In general terms, the Warsaw Pact can be divided into two halves: Western and Eastern. The Western half comprised the DDR, Poland, and CSSR, and represents the slightly larger and better equipped armies. As such, any collector setting out to collect these badges will do so with reasonable ease. Badges to the Eastern nations – Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania – are more difficult to find. In most cases, the best option is to buy them from the country of origin. Thanks to the Internet this can be done with a number of searches and a bit of patience.
For more pictures and information please see the May/June issue of the Armourer.