The SS Dienstauszeichnung (Long Service Honour Award) was instituted on 30 January 1938. On the same day also the statute of the SS service honor was issued, and the text published on Pages 66-67 of the Reichsblatt Part 1 of No 8, published Berlin, 30 January 1938.
Above – The SS Dienstauszeichnung (Long Service Honour Award) period image from the Reichsblatt Part 1 of No 8, published Berlin, 30 January 1938.
The award is an acknowledgment for faithful and true services of SS members in the SS-Verfügungstruppen, SS-Totenkopfverbänden und SS-Junkerschulen. (Other SS personel were eligible to recieve the NSDAP Long Service awards.)
The four classes of awards were designed by Professor Karl Diebitsch of Munich.
The grades are awarded to the respective ranks as follows:
- 1st Class (Gold) for 25 years true service awards to eligable Officers, NCO’s and Men
- 2nd Class (Silver) for 12 years true service awards to eligable Officers, NCO’s and Men
- 3th Class (Bronze) for 8 years true service awards to eligable Officers, NCO’s and Men
- 4th Class (Black) for 4 yrs true service for eligable NCO’s and Men.
Honourable service time from 1925 counted towards this award. I’m not sure of the date but the award was suspended during the war period, probably during 1941 so I guess the service period was 1925 to 1941, a period of only 12 years.
The ‘Kampfzeit’ period 1925 to 1933 and active military service counted as double, hence it was possible to accumulate enough eligible service time to recieve the 25 Year Long Service award in the 12 year period.
All the four awards presented are generally referred to as ‘Deschler’ versions by collectors today in a belief that they were made by the firm of Deschler & Sohns though I am personally unaware of any clear documentation to support this. Another maker is Petz & Lorenz and their catalogue does show the SS awards, with round suspension rings. These SS awards do not have to have ‘tear-drop’ shaped suspension rings though all of the ‘Deschler’ type I have seen do.
The four and eight year awards came in a card box with flecked interior, embossed and white painted SS runes on the lid and with a paper hinge. The twelve and twenty-five year awards came in a metal hinged case with a simulated ‘leatherette’ patterned paper finish and again embossed runes in silver or gold dependent on grade. The 25 Year medal has been found in the standard width case (as per 12 Year award) with gold embossed runes and also in the de-luxe wider case, again with gold embossed runes.
The four and eight year awards have the year number included in the design on the reverse, the twelve and twenty-five year awards do not and are exactly the same medal in all but colour finish. The twenty-five year awards do look slightly different in detail, for example the small pockets inside the wreath look deeper but this is only due to the finishing layer being thinner than many twelve year awards. (see trio picture below). There is significant variation in the resultant tone of the “fire-gilding”, sometimes called “mercury-gilding” of the highest grade award, examples can be found from yellow gold through to rose gold. Both the 12 and 25 year awards have burnished and polished highlights, as can be seen around the wreath, runes and swastika arm accent lines.
SS Long Service Awards – 12 and 25 Year. Note the thickest finish from left to thinnest on right.
All images show thus far are allegedly produced by the firm of Deschler & Sohns, below is a period image from another maker, Petz & Lorenz.
1. ‘Zur Geschichte der SS Dienstauzeichnung’ von Dr. K-G Klietmann, Orden & Militaria Journal, März 1977.
2. “SS-Dienstauszeichnungen” von Gerhard Rudloff, Orden & Militaria Journal, März 1977.
3. “Political and Civil Awards of the Third Reich” by LTC Ret. John R. Angolia, 1978.
4. Reichsgesetzblatt Nr. 181 vom 3. November 1938