SS Long Service Award
SS Long Service Awards (German: SS-Dienstauszeichnungen) were given in grades of four years, eight years, twelve years, twenty-five years, and forty years. The four and eight-year service awards were in the form of circular medals while the 12 and 25-year service awards were in the form of swastikas. The SS service awards were designed in Munich by Professor Karl Diebitsch. The awards varied in design depending on the length of service of the recipient. According to historian Chris Ailsby the awards ceased to be given at the end of 1941.
The branches of the Wehrmacht (Luftwaffe, Heer and Kriegsmarine) had different insignia. The Nazi Party and German Police had a similar service award. The NSDAP Long Service Award was given in grades of ten, fifteen, and twenty-five years. The Police Long Service Award was given in grades of eight, eighteen, twenty-five, and forty years (approved but never awarded).
It was first introduced by Adolf Hitler on 30 January 1938, On its reverse side, each award had emblazoned the inscription, in German: FÜR TREUE DIENSTE IN DER SS ("For Loyal Service in the SS"). The medal was awarded to SS members in the SS-Verfügungstruppe, SS-Totenkopfverbände and the SS-Junkerschule who served honorably and were on active service.
The four-year and eight-year awards are the most common awards. Despite the fact that the whole Nazi movement lasted for little over 25 years (1919-1945) and the SS were founded only in 1923, awards of the 25-year version were made well before 25 years of actual service were completed. This was because the period between 1925 and 1933 (what the Nazis termed Kampfzeit ("Time of Struggle") counted double, and any service in the Armed Forces in the First World War and afterwards, as well as the Police, was also included. Nevertheless, it was one of the rarer awards given out by Nazi Germany. The 40-year award was never officially instituted and given out because no one fulfilled its criteria.
The SS service medals were manufactured by two firms Deschler of Munich and Petz & Lorenz of Unterreichenbach. The medals were die struck and had a metal composition of different alloys such as bronze, tin, copper and zinc. All levels of the long service awards were held on blue ribbons (See images). The 12 years and 25 years service class awards normally had the SS runes service branch embroidered into the ribbons (See images). These awards were presented in a black case, which bore white or silver wash SS runes posted on the top center of the box cover. Both medals, the twelve and twenty-five-year medals, have the tear-drop suspension loop.
Four year award
The four-year service award had a black finish and was awarded only to NCOs and enlisted men. The four-year service medal was manufactured by the firm Petz & Lorenz.
Eight year award
The eight-year service award was finished in bronze and was awarded to all Officers, NCOs and enlisted men. The eight-year service medal was manufactured by the firm Deschler.
Twelve year award
Twenty-Five year award
The twenty-five-year service award was in the shape of the swastika, had a gold finish and was awarded to all Officers, NCOs and enlisted men.
Forty year award
The forty-year service award was never officially instituted and distributed because no one achieved the necessary length of service before the fall of the Third Reich in 1945.