General Officer Rank Insignia

WW2 Germany

 

Reichsmarschall Goring:

 

One of the more interesting figures in the Third Reich was Hermann Goring.  He was a man obsessed by regalia and decorations.  Goring is said to have changed uniforms five to six times a day and period photos show numerous variations on every uniform style that he wore.  When appointed by Hitler to the rank of Reichsmarschall in July of 1940, Goring became the highest ranking military officer in the Third Reich, the equivalent of a six star General.  With the new rank, came new insignia, and the new insignia designed was as grandiose as its recipient.

 

From period photos there is evidence that Goring’s Reichsmarschall insignia evolved through three different variations.  The earliest and last variations I do not have contemporary photos of original examples to show, as they are so rare that I’ve never seen them “in the wild”.  I do know of some that exist in collections, but the owners do not wish to share photos of these examples with the collecting world for fear of the details being copied.  As such, we will have to deal with looking at poor resolution period photo close-ups to get an idea of what this insignia looked like.

 

 

 

Shoulderboards

 

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First Pattern

The very first pattern of shoulderboards that Goring had produced to reflect his new rank was rather crude in comparison to what was developed to replace it.  The insignia attached to the boards was very flat with little relief and consisted of an eagle with outstretched curved wings, clutching a swastika with a pair of crossed field marshal batons beneath.  As I’ve never seen or examined an original example, I’m not sure exactly what this device was constructed of.  It would appear from the smooth surface of the swastika that it may have been made from metal, but this is pure speculation based on the fact that all ciphers, pips and batons on shoulderboards were always made from either a silver or gold metal, depending on rank grade.  It also appears that the base shoulderboard is constructed of three interwoven gold cords, similar to both field marshal rank and the second pattern Reichsmarschall boards.

(period press photo)

 

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Second Pattern

These are the shoulderboards most commonly associated with Goring and his Reichsmarschall rank and worn throughout the duration of his career.  It consists of large, wide interwoven gold cords over a white underlay, with a gold metal Wehrmacht eagle clutching a swastika, with the crossed batons now positioned underneath the wreath.  Even though a final, Third Pattern of cloth embroidered shoulderboards were developed (see below), Goring was still seen wearing this pattern at times after his capture when he wore his standard light grey Reichsmarschall uniform for the cameras during his interview with the Press.

(private collection)

 

 

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Third Pattern

This third and final pattern of shoulderboards were actually shoulder straps and were first noticed in wear sometime late in 1944.  The straps were designed in a more subtle fashion in what was thought to be an attempt to look more like his soon-to-be captors, the Allied forces.  The straps were meant to be worn as the only insignia on a very Spartan looking new uniform more suited to wear in the field.  The base straps were a grey cloth slip-on strap, piped in gold with the Reichsmarschall insignia hand-embroidered in gold.

(example shown is a modern copy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collar Tabs

 

 

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First Pattern Pair

The first pattern of collar tabs Goring wore with his new uniform consisted of two separate designs.  On his right collar was a Wehrmacht eagle with wings folded downward clutching a swastika.  On his left collar was a pair of crossed batons.  This first pattern pair of collar tabs were worn with both the first pattern shoulderboards and for a short time the second pattern shoulderboards.  It appears from examination of period photos that the crossed batons on the left collar tab were of the same pattern and design of the second pattern collar tabs, which are shown below.  I have seen contemporary photos published in books of alleged original examples of first pattern collar tabs with crossed batons which look different and more crude.  Until further examples of clear period photos substantiate these examples, the question will remain unanswered as to whether they are indeed early examples.

(examples shown are modern copies)

 

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Second Pattern

The second and final pattern of collar tabs worn by Goring as Reichsmarschall were mirror images and each had a pair of crossed batons.

(private collection)

 

 

 

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Reichsmarschall

Here is another example that shows in close up detail the very high quality of Reichsmarshcall insignia. There is a finely detailed gold bullion embroidered laurel wreath surrounding highly detailed, gold crossed marshals batons over a silver brocade fabric.

(private collection)

 

 

 

 

 

Period Photos of the Insignia in Wear

 

The First Pattern Insignia

 

 

 

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A press photo of Goring’s overcoat, lying on the seat of his car, displaying the new Reichsmarschall insignia, first pattern boards.

 

 

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A cropped version of the photo showing the details of the early, first pattern shoulderboards and devices.

 

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Reichsmarschall Goring, wearing his new insignia at the coast during the early days of the Battle of Britain.  Notice how Goring is wearing a blue-grey Luftwaffe tunic and has yet to have designed his iconic light grey Reichsmarschall uniform.  Notice the very distinct first pattern shoulderboards.  Also notice the batons on his left collar tab and how distinct and thin the crossed batons are, supporting the speculation that the crossed baton tabs were the same as the second pattern tabs. Notice also the eagle tab on his right collar.

 

 

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In this photo (from the same series as the above photo) we can see a clearer view of his right side eagle collar tab, as well as how thin the first pattern shoulderboards are.

 

 

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This photo shows us a nice, clear aerial view of one of his first pattern boards.  Notice how wide the curved wings of the eagle device are, in that they look to extend to the edge of the cords and beyond.

 

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In this interesting photo, we see Goring in an overcoat with first pattern shoulderboards and collar tabs.  Notice again how thin and flat the first pattern shoulderboard devices are.  The bright gold embroidery of the collar tabs is reflected even in the soft light of the day.

 

 

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Goring in a white tunic with the early insignia.

 

 

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At this stage, we see that Goring has now begun to wear his unique and iconic light grey Reichsmarchall uniform and visor cap, yet retains the first pattern shoulderboards.

 

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A formal portrait of Goring in his new Reichsmarchall uniform, with first pattern shoulderboards and collar tabs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Second Pattern Insignia

 

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Goring in a white tunic, now wearing the second pattern collar tabs and shoulderboards.  Both are easy to spot in photos, as the collar tabs now both have the crossed batons, and the shoulderboards have the thick metal second pattern devices attached, which give the shoulderboards much greater vertical height.

 

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Goring in his trademark light grey uniform.  In this example we can clearly see the large, thick second pattern devices on his shoulderboards.  Notice the full embroidered wreath around the cap band….just one of his variations in headgear.

 

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An excellent, detailed view of the second pattern collar tabs and of course the thicker shoulderboard devices.  Notice this photo has been flipped, as the breast eagle is on the wrong side of the tunic.

 

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Another clear, detailed image of the collar tabs.

 

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Again, a nice view of the thickness of the second pattern boards.

 

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This is a photo I use to illustrate a point in another section of the website.  Goring wearing the second pattern shoulderboards on his leather coat.  Notice that the boards were put on backwards (the button loop should be towards the back, not the front).  Again, you can clearly see the thick, metal second pattern devices.

 

 

The Third Pattern Insignia

 

 

 

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Goring wearing his third and final pattern of insignia on the day he surrendered to U.S. troops.  Notice the embroidered second pattern emblems on his cloth shoulder straps.  This very plain, unique uniform has been referred to as his “utility” uniform and his “grey” uniform.

 

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Another view of this unique uniform and insignia.

 

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Another photo during his surrender, where we can see some of the detail more clearly.  Notice the heavier wool texture of the uniform and hat, more of what you would expect for field wear, yet the shoulder straps are an obvious giveaway that this is no ordinary field soldier!

 

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An image from a filmed press interview with Goring after his surrender, in which he had switched from his utility uniform with third pattern field insignia back into his more familiar and recognizable light grey Reichsmarchall uniform with second pattern insignia.

 

If you’d like to learn more about Hermann Goring’s various uniforms and regalia, I’d highly encourage you to pick up the following books which are excellent resources;

“Uniforms and Traditions of the Luftwaffe, Volume II” by John Angolia and Adolf Schlicht

“Uniforms and Insignia of the Luftwaffe, Volume 2: 1940-1945” by Brian L. Davis

Both books devote entire chapters to Hermann Goring’s uniforms, insignia and headgear.  Highly recommended!

 

 

 

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