The Wound Badge /Verwundetenabzeichen, was a military decoration first promulgated by Wilhelm II German Emperor on 3 March 1918, which was awarded to wounded or frostbitten soldiers of the Imperial German Army, during World War I . Between the world wars, it was awarded to members of the German armed forces who fought on the Nationalist side of the Spanish Civil War, 1938-1939 and received combat related wounds It was awarded to members in the Reichswehr, 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 wounded civilians in air raids. It was awarded when the wound was the result of enemy hostile action, with an exception being for frost-bite.
The badge had three classes: Black (3rd class, representing Iron), for those wounded once or twice by hostile action (including air raids).
Silver (2nd class) for being wounded three or four times .
Gold (1st class, which could be awarded posthumously) for five or more times wounded
The “progression” could be waived in the event of lost of a limb or eyesight; when such a severe wound occurred, the silver badge was awarded.
Badges exist in pressed steel, brass and zinc. 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 ranked lower than combat badges. There were 24 approved manufacturers of the Wound Badge. At first, the Wound Badge in Black was stamped from sheet brass, painted semi-matte black with a hollow reverse pin back attachment or of solid construction. From 1942, steel was used to make the badges. 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. In 1957, a revised version of the Wound Badge was authorized for wear; however, the previous type could still be worn if the swastika were removed (for example by grinding).
The 20 July 1944 Wound Badge is the rarest of these awards, as it was only issued to those injured during the failed attempt on Adolf Hitler’s life at the Wolf’s Lair headquarters in Rastenburg, East Prussia. Twenty-four men were present when the bomb detonated; one officer was killed and three succumbed to their wounds a short time later. Thereafter, Hitler ordered a special wound badge be awarded commemorating the event, as he believed “fate had intervened” for him.Due to the July 20 Plot, Adolf Hitler automatically qualified for the “Wound Badge of 20 July 1944” although he never wore this medal, choosing instead to wear his Wound Badge in Black dating from the First World War.