First War 1918 Wound Badge in Black (Verwundetenabzeichen)
The Wound Badge (German: Verwundetenabzeichen) was a military decoration first promulgated by Kaiser Wilhelm II on 3 March 1918, which was awarded to wounded or frostbitten soldiers of the Imperial German Army, during World War I, the Reichswehr between the wars, and the Wehrmacht, SS and the auxiliary service organizations during the Second World War. After March 1943, due to the increasing number of Allied bombings, it was also awarded to injured civilians. It was ultimately one of the most common of all Third Reich decorations, yet also one of the most highly prized, since it was earned "as a mark of honour for all who have risked their lives for the Fatherland and have been wounded or maimed."
The badge had three classes:
Black (3rd class, representing Iron), for those wounded once or twice by hostile action (including air raids), or frostbitten in the line of duty.
Silver (2nd class) for being wounded three or four times, or suffering loss of a hand, foot or eye from hostile action (also partial loss of hearing), facial disfigurement or brain damage via hostile action.
Gold (1st class, which could be awarded posthumously) for five or more times wounded, total blindness, "loss of manhood", or severe brain damage via hostile action.
Badges exist in pressed steel, brass and zinc, as well as some base metal privately commissioned versions. Those of the First World War were also produced in a cutout pattern.
All versions of the Wound Badge were worn on the lower left breast of the uniform or tunic. The badge was worn below all other awards on the left. It is thought that more than 5 million were awarded during World War II. In 1957, a revised version of the Wound Badge was authorised for wear; however, the previous type could still be worn if the swastika was removed (for example by grinding).
There were 24 approved manufacturers of the Wound Badge including the Vienna mint and the firm Klein & Quenzer. At first, the Wound Badge in Black was stamped from sheet brass, painted semi-matt black, and had a hollow reverse with a needle pin attachment. From 1942, steel was used to make the badges, which made them prone to rust.
The Wound Badge in silver was made (before 1942) from silver-plated brass, and (after 1942) from lacquered zinc, and had a solid reverse with either a needle pin or a broad flat pin bar. The Wound Badge in Gold was a gilded version of the Wound Badge in Silver.