On page three of the March 15. 1944 issue of the Deutche Uniformen-Zeitschrift“ a small article reads: “The Germanic Proficiency Runes badge was awarded for the first time by Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler during his visit to the Netherlands. This honour is awarded in Bronze and Silver”
The above translated caption is in reference to Heinrich Himmler’s visit to the SS School Avegoor, near Arnhem in the Netherlands on February 1st 1944. Himmler personally presented 95 Germaansche Leistungsrune, the Dutch name of the award, to Dutch and German SS men.
Up until this time there were no badges available for sports and ideological proficiency across the whole Germanic SS and Himmler wanted an award made available to the German and the greater Germanic SS, a badge that would show the recipient had attained a high standard of sports proficiency and National Socialist ideology. The responsiblity for drawing up the rules and regulations for this badge was given to SS-Obergruppenführer and his SS-Hauptamt—SS-HA (SS Central Department), in particular Group ‘C’ which was responsible for propaganda, education, and physical training.
According to SS-Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler Hauptsturmführer Kurt von Eckenbrecher: “The ‘Germanische Leitungsrune’ was created at the Reich School for Physical Training of the SS and Police in Prague in 1943 under my supervision and considerable input from me. The conditions for the ‘Germanische Leistungsrune’ were largely conceived by me and we personally presented to the then Obergruppenführer, who found them to be in order”
Kurt von Eckenbrecher was the German youth champion swimmer at aged 15 in 1932. In 1934 he joined 1. Kompanie of the Leibstandarte and enjoyed a liberal leave policy which allowed him to continue his swimming, enabling him to become Brandenburg Champion in the 100 Meter crawl from 1936 to 1939. In 1937 he was victor of the SS swimming championships in Nuremburg and in 1938 with comrades Heinz-Otto Wille, Werner Birr, and Werner Plath set a 4×100-meter relay team 4:02,4 min world record in Copenhagen, Denmark, 1st April 1938.
Kurt von Eckenbrecher became a Sports Course leader at the SS-Reichschule for Physical Training in Prague and rose to become head of Hauptabteilung C II 4, Amt C II within the SS-Hauptamt. This Reichschule was the centre of Group CII of the SS-Hauptamt—SS-HA (SS Central Department) and clearly von Eckenbrecher would have been an ideal person to be engaged in drawing up the rules and regulations for the Germanische Leistungsrune.
Also in 1944 further recorded test and award events took place in Denmark on June 2nd and in Norway at the Norwegian SS School on August 16th 1944. I am unaware of further recordings of other big ceremonies to award the badge but it may also have been awarded on other occasions less grand than the events above, for example in Prague.
From details contained within the Wilhelm Wolfrum Germanische SS Profüngsbuch we can ascertain at least one further testing and awarding of this badge did indeed take place between the 26th and 29th of October 1944. On the fourth day of the test event Wilhelm Wolfrum, a German, was awarded the Germanische Leistungsrune in Silver, at the SS-Reichsschule near Prague, Czechoslovakia in October.
Qualifying for this badge must have been quite an achievement for Wolfrum as he was severely injured in battle on July 24th 1941. The injuries were so severe that Wolfrum was unable to recover and return to full duty status until January 1943.
The Names of the Germanische Leistungsrune by Country
Denmark: SS-Æresruner or SS-Ærestegn
Netherlands: Germaansche Leistungsrune
Norway: Germanske Runemerke or Germanske Dugleiksrune
Germany: Germanische Leistungsrune
English: Germanic Proficiency Runes
Germanische Leistungsrunen Winner Willhelm Wolfrum – A Short Biography
Wilhelm Wolfrum was born on September 2nd 1913 in Frankfurt am Main. After 8 years of preliminary schooling he trained and worked as a tool and die maker.
As a young man of 22 years he joined the SS-Verfuerungstruppe (SS-VT) 2nd Battalion of “Germania” in August 1935. He trained as Waffenmeister (Armorer) and saw combat in the Polish and Western campaigns assigned to the 2nd Battalion Staff, with Battalion Commander Werner Dörfler Schuband, Regimental commander Carl-Maria Demelhuber and Divisional Commander Paul Hausser. He was involved in the heaviest Waffen-SS engagements in the Arras region of France in 1940.
In February 1941 Wolfrum transferred to Waffen SS Division “Wiking” and was duly assigned to a Wiking Reconnaisance Detachment as it’s Waffenmeister (Armourer). The Detachment commander was Hans-Albin von Reitzenstein, later a Knight’s Cross holder as a Panzer Regiment Commander of “Das Reich”. The Divisional Commander was Felix Steiner.
Within 2 months of joining Wiking, Wolfrum was promoted to SS-Hauptscharführer (FA) [Officer Candidate] on April 1st 1941 with an effective seniority date of 20th April. In July he was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class and received an excellent evaluation by detachment Commander von Reitzenstein.
In April 1941 Wiking completed it’s training in Truppen-Ubungsplatz Heuberg, Germany, in time for the fist attack on the Soviet Union, operation Barberossa. Wiking first saw combat in Tarnpool, Galicia.
On July 24th 1941 Wolfrum was severely wounded in his stomach and groin by mortar fire during combat in the Dnjeprpetrowsk area along the Djnieper River.
Until August 1942 Wolfrum underwent multiple surgeries in the Munich-Dachau SS Hospital and did not recover to full duty fitness until January 1943.
For these battle injuries Wolfrum was awarded the Wound Badge in Silver. His commanding officer in Wiking, Von Reitzenstein also recommended Wolfrum for promotion to Officer rank on 30th August 1941. He was commissioned as an SS-Untersturmführer d.R on November 9th 1941(the Reserve, to hold rank until the conclusion of the war)
After recovery to duty status Wolfrum was assigned to the “Waffentechniscen Lehranstalt der SS”, the SS Weapons Technical Training facility at Munich-Dachau on January 10th 1943 as an Assistant Instructor.
He became a full-duty Specialist Instructor as well as serving as the Weapons Technical Officer for the School. During this period he also attended advanced classes at the Army School for Armorers. After 1st April 1944 he headed the entire 4th teaching detachment at the training facility. For his service as an Instructor he was awarded the War Merit Cross 2nd Class and rated by senior school officials as “competent at all posts despite his physical disabilities” from his combat injuries.
Wolfrum was further promoted to SS-Oberstumführer d.R on January 30th 1943 and then to SS-Hauptsturmführer d.R. on November 9 1944.
On February 7th 1945 he was transferred to the SS-Tank Training and Replacement Regiment within SS-Troop Training area “Beneschau” near Prague. In the last months of the war Wolfrum once again found himself in battle when his training unit was absorbed as a component of SS Battle Group “Trabandt”, commanded by Knight’s Cross holder August-Wilhelm Tabandt.
Wilhelm Wolfrum survived the War and was taken into an Allied Interment Camp for Waffen-SS members. He was released but soon after died in the town of his birth, on the 31st May 1947, aged 33, around 2:45 AM, Frankfurt/Main, leaving a wife, no children.
Wilhelm Wolfrum’s Awards:
- SA Sports Badge in Bronze
- Reich Sports Badge in Gold
- Sudentanland 1938 Annexation Medal
- Iron Cross 2nd Class
- War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords
- Wound Badge in Silver
- General Assault Badge in Silver
- Infantry Assault Badge
- 4-Year SS Long Service
- SS Germanische Leistungsrune in Silver.
The Germanische Leistungsrune Profüngsbuch of Wilhelm Wolfrum.
Pictured above is the Wilhelm Wolfrum Profüngsbuch. At the time of writing I believe there are three books known to survive, the above being the only known award book in award grade silver. It contains all the test criterion, the sign-off sections for the testing officer to comment and enter the results for each individual test and the Award Citation.
An interesting point about this particular book is that Wolfrum, who walked with a limp since his battle injuries , was not required to take Test 12, the 30 Km march. A section of page 19 where test 12 is marked “bestanden” which means “existing”. Wolfrum had previously proven himself in his military service in combat, presumably sufficient “qualification” to be excused the test.
Estimating the Number of Awarded Badges
Wolfrum’s award book also yields some information that can help update current understanding of the number of badges awarded. It has been stated in a published militaria collector book that an estimate of 200 badges were awarded. The award certificate contained in this Profüngsbuch above allows us more insight to enable a more accurate estimate the number of awarded badges. An award book dated 26th September 1944 shows award S149 from Prague and Wilhelm Wolfrum’s badge is number S202 so we know there were, at a minimum, 202 silver grade badges at the date of Wolfrum’s award book which is 29th October 1944. This badge being S202 of the Silver badges awarded up to this date then the number of Bronze and Silver will equal many more. A single page of a late bronze award book dated 9th March 1945 I’m aware of lists the award as B866 which immediately gives a minimum of 866 total badges with the bronze awards outnumbering the silver by at least 4:1. If we look at the pictorial information from the full compliment of badges ready to be awarded by Himmler from the cushions held by the two men of the Wiking Division at the Avegoor ceremony the bronze out number the silver even more, at approximately 10:1. The number of genuine badges in silver grade known in collections today is very low, currently I’m aware of 5 examples.
The Award Ceremonies
The first awards of the Germaansche Leistungsrune were presented personally by Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler during his visit to the Netherlands on 1st February 1944. We can see from the two presentation boards held by members of the Germania Regiment of SS-Division ‘Wiking’ members that 95 awards were made. The Germania men stand each side of the podium, the member on the left holds 9 silver and 45 bronze while the member to the right holds 41 bronze.
The Danish name of the Germanische Leistungsrune is SS-Æresruner or SS-Ærestegn and it translates in English to “Germanic Honour Rune”.
Period information exists of the Danish Award Ceremony in the form of the SS monthly magazine ‘Daggry’. Quoting the Germanic Honour Rune article:
“The first SS-honour runes awarded in Denmark were distributed by SS-Obergruppenführer Berger in connection with the inauguration of the memorial hillock at Hövelte 2 June (1944). This is the first honour badge outside the German Reich that can be awarded to men of German and related blood who profess the National Socialist view of the world and thereby to the new order of the German way of life.”
”It is not Germanic custom to grieve or mourn at the memorials of the dead for whom we bow in respect. Our dead urge us to live and fight in accordance with the example they gave, for that reason we will promise them united deed and united battle. In order to obtain the honour rune the battle conditions must be fulfilled and this requires courage, manhood, stamina, hardship, determination and the confession to our Germanic view of the world. Our dead could die in peace because they knew that behind them were new rows of Germanic fighters. In memory of the fallen Danish volunteers and under their countenance and in their spirit I hereby award the first Germanic Honour Runes on Danish soil”.
The only recorded awards of the Germanic Proficiency Runes in Norway were made at the Norwegian SS School on August 16th, 1944, when SS-Obergruppenführer Rediess, acting upon instructions from Himmler, awarded ten in silver and fifteen in bronze to members of GSSN Also present were SS-Neststandartfører Riisnæs, and the leader of the Germanische Leitstelle in Norway, SS-Sturmbannführer Leib.
The SS Honour Rune Awards
1. Individual performance
2. Team performance
3. Knowledge of the national-socialistic ideology.
For the individual performances the tests include:
a. Endurance race
b. Grenade throw and swimming.
Amongst the other exercises there is riding, motorcycle driving, skiing etc.
The field exercises require a description of terrain, judgement of a terrain,compass knowledge,camouflage skills,orientation and target description ecetera. The tests are rounded off by shooting exercises.
The team exercises include, the 100 meter relay race, a 110 meter obstacle race with hand grenade throws that must be made in 60 seconds to achieve the honour runes in bronze, and 50 seconds for the silver grade, a 2Km cross-country race and a 30 Km march (with obstacles). All exercises can from time to time be required to be repeated to maintain the individual’s ability.”
Period photographs of both bronze and silver badges.
Bronze and Silver Germanische Leistungsrune. The two known types shown.
With such a rare badge and the extreme scarcity of original period material even a small article of this type would not be possible without the help of many individuals. I would like to thank the following people for taking the time to discuss this badge with me or providing original reference material or leads to such material: Hugh Page Taylor, Otto Spronk, Soren N. and Alex J.
Primary Source References:
- DEUTSCHE UNIFORMEN-ZEITSCHRIFT March 15. 1944
- DAGGRY–TIDSSKRIFT FOR DET GEMANSKE FRONT—OG KAMPFAELLESSKAB – A monthly illustrated magazine produced from 1944 to April 1945
- DIE GERMANISCHE LEISTUNSGRUNE PROFUENGSBUCH awarded to Wilhelm Wolfrum, Prague, 1944
- ‘STORM’ SS – The Dutch SS Newspaper
-  1. Kompanie LAH Veteran’s Association edited by Hans Quassowski 12 YEARS WITH HITLER – A HISTORY OF 1.KOMPANIE LEIBSTANDARTE SS ADDOLF HITLER 1933-1945 , Schiffer Publishing Ltd. 1999.
- Hugh Page Taylor UNIFORMS OF THE SS VOLUME II – GERMANISCHE-SS 1940-1945 Historical Research Unit, London, 1969
- David Littlejohn, M.A., A.L.A. and Col. C.M. Dodkins, D.S.O., O.B.E., ORDERS DECORATIONS, MEDALS AND BADGES OF THE THIRD REICH (INCLUDING THE FREE CITY OF DANZIG), R. James Bender Publishing, California, 1968
- A. Hayes SS UNIFORMS INSIGNIA AND ACCOUTREMENTS -Schiffer Publishing
- Robin Lumsden “DETECTING THE FAKES”
- Ltc John R. Angolia FOR FUEHRER AND FATHERLAND – MILITARY AWARDS OF THE THIRD REICH 3rd Edition 1987, R. James Bender Publishing, California, 1987
1. The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945.
(3) The SS Central Department (SS-Hauptamt—SS-HA) is responsible for miscellaneous over-all administrative and personnel matters. It is divided into the following five groups (Amtsgruppen—Ag):
Group A handles general administration matter.
Group B takes care of recruiting and registration of all categories of SS personnel.
Group C is responsible for propaganda, education, and physical training.
Group D controls the Germanic SS (Germanische SS) including recruitment in cooperation with Group B.