By Sebastian Bianchi




Almost all the weights and measurements used in Germany during the time period we study were metric. Below is a conversion table.


Length Equivalents

First, type the number you wish converted here:
Then, click radio buttons for desired conversion:
From: Centimeters
To: Centimeters

Glossary of Terms

Bar or Clasp – refers to a devise that is added to a medal or ribbon and denotes further merit, identifies a campaign, or commemorates an event in addition to what is represented by the medal itself. Examples are the Prague Castle bar and the Bars to the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class.

Bronzed/Gilt – the gold plating of an item to enhance it’s appearance or denote class.

Cased – item is in the container in which it was originally issued (ex - box, envelope).

Casting – an item made from a mold rather than a die. This construction method, most often used on reproductions, has a blurry appearance and through a magnifying glass the surface will appear pitted.

Denazified – Third Reich awards which have been stripped of its political imagery, which is not only the swastika but often includes the eagle. Recipients often did this on their own usually with a crude result, but the term most often refers to the 1957 re-issue of military awards.

Die Struck – in this construction method the award is struck from a die, rather than casting from a mold. This gives the award a sharp look, with clear features and no pitting. Almost all original Third Reich awards were constructed this way.

German Silver – a nickel compound that has a silver appearance.

Gold – the use of this term in awards does not mean that it is constructed from pure gold, but could (and most often does) refer to the grade. The actual piece is usually gilted.

Hallmark – a mark on the award which denotes its manufacturer or silver content. Third Reich manufacturers were given an LDO number (this will discussed in a separate section).

Jump Ring – this refers to the ring that passes through the suspension ring on top of the award. The ribbon normally goes through the jump ring.

Lapel Pin/Miniature – these are small version of the awards that are worn on civilian clothing (lapel pin) or military uniform (miniature). Third Reich lapel pins and miniatures are an inexpensive option in this expensive field.

Mounted – a group of medals to the same recipient that has been attached by the ribbon to a pin bar for wear.

Obverse – the front of an award

Pin Back – in the cases where the award is not to be worn on a ribbon, a pin and catch system was used to secure the award to the uniform. This is the case with the Iron Cross 1st Class and the War Merit Cross 1st class.

Pitting – in cast replicas, small holes that are visible through a loop and in time with the naked eye. This can also occur when mounted medals strike each other, or in the case of the Iron Cross as a side effect of rusting.

Prinzen – German term which refers to a smaller version of an award. It originated in the Royal practice of presenting young princes (prinzen) with smaller insignia.

Restrike – in Third Reich awards, a restrike often refers to awards that were produced after the war with original dies. These are therefore not original, and should be viewed as such.

Ribbon Bar – a small piece of ribbon mounted on a bar for wear in place of the original award.

Screw Back – these are pieces in which the reverse has a protruding screw which goes through the tunic, and is fastened with a plate. This method is used instead of the pin back for security reasons. This method is found in the Iron Cross 1st Class and War Merit Cross 1st Class.

Silvered – a silver plated award.

Vaulted – In this case, the award has an arched appearance instead of being flat. This was popular with the 1914 Iron Cross 1st Class, and some examples of the 1939 1st Class were constructed this way until this practice was banned in 1941.

War Metal/Kriegs Metal/Pot Medal – because of the shortages occurring from the war effort, particularly toward the end, many Third Reich awards were constructed with a mix of whatever metal was available being “thrown in the pot”.

Document Essentials

The following are certain common modalities on German Documents –  

-All dates in period documents are written in the day/month/year format

-Photographs attached to the documents most often had a “rubber stamp” applied to the edges to make it harder to remove and replace them.  

-Most documents had a pattern of very fine lines (Alteration Disclosing Background, “ADB”) that prevented alterations (if the words were erased, so would the background).

-Many Wehrmacht documents were “denazified” after the end of the war, usually by defacing the swastika throughout the document.  

-The size of documents was determined by the DIN (Deutsche Industrienorm), which determined standard sized of many things (and still does today).  DIN 476 regulated paper. Below is a cross reference chart translating into metric and inches.

-The value of the Reichmark at the outbreak of war as about .40 US Dollars.  

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