Germany produced and manufactured an enormous amount of medals, badges, decorations, pins, and awards, before and during the course of the war. Germany had a long history and tradition of issuing medals and awards, after Adolf Hitler came to power the way in which medals and awards were handled totally changed, all awards were treated as National awards. Many of the older style medals and awards were abolished, many of the more traditional medals were reinstated by Adolf Hitler, which generally involved redesigning the medal and adding the swastika to the design. Of course many new designs of medals and awards appeared throughout World War II.
German decorations for valour consist of the various grades of Iron Cross shown below. Together with the Honour Roll Clasp. In actuality iron crosses of the first and second classes may be allotted allotted in bulk to combat units, whether or not the personnel are individually deserving of such decorations. At one time there appeared to be some plan on the part of German authorities to keep locations of the various types of decorations, combat service, and ordinary service, and ordinary service awards distinct and recognizable as such to the relatively uninitiated. In brief, this plan seemed to be to locate campaign and ordinary service awards above the left breast pocket in the form of ribbons, with participation in notable campaigns indicated by badges on the sleeve. Combat and wounds would be indicated by badges of bronze, silver, and gold located on the left breast, while actual decorations would be worn as ribbons in the buttonhole, at the neck or in the form of the easily recognizable actual metal medal pinned on the uniform. This rule holds as a rough guide, but there are many exceptions, notable among which are the various foreign ribbons for valour worn with other ribbons above the left breast pocket. Marksmanship awards are worn in the form of fourragers across the right breast.
The German armed forces place much emphasis on the morale effect of various decorations and awards the numbers of which are almost incredibly large because of the authorisation of the wearing of the Nazi party and police badges, as well as foreign decorations and those of minor German states under the German Empire. Much of the paperwork of the German army is concerned with the awarding of various types of medals and badges and their certificates. The German troops themselves priced these honours highly and wear them on the field uniform even in combat.
Shown below are some of the more famous German medals, badges, decorations, pins, and awards, but I must emphasise this is not an exhaustive reference.
Military Long Service Award
Waffen-SS Long Service Award
Blue Division Medal
Ostvolk 1st Class
Awarded in Gold and Silver with and without Swords
Ostvolk 2nd Class
Awarded in Gold, Silver, and Bronze with and without Swords
This short clip shows a U-boat captain, being awarded the Knight,s Cross on the dockside after returning from a combat mission.
For a complete list of sources