Warsaw Pact Badges
By Richard Hollingdale
Europa Militaria No 36
Published by The Crowood Press (www.crowood.com)
RRP GBP £10.95
Since the fall of European Communism the collection of uniforms, insignia and militaria of the Warsaw Pact (1955-91) has grown significantly in popularity in the West. The main problem which potential collectors of Warsaw Pact militaria have faced is the lack of high quality reference books on the subject.
The Crowood Press (the publisher) and the author have addressed this deficiency of reference material with this excellent guide to the badges of the Warsaw Pact. I am confident that given time this excellent volume will become the standard reference text on the subject.
The badges considered cover the Warsaw Pact countries of the USSR, DDR (East Germany), Poland, CSSR (Czechoslovakia), Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. Albania is not considered because it withdrew from the Pact in 1968 and as such it was in the Pact for less than half of the Pact’s overall history.
It is lavishly illustrated with superb images of the various badges and the text descriptions are easily linked to the images. The emphasis has been placed on the Pact’s land forces because they formed the main core of its fighting capabilities. Naval and air force badges are also featured but not to the same degree. Many of the badges awarded to the land forces were also distributed to the other services so these are not duplicated in the text. The aim of the book is to give a guide to those items frequently encountered and it also includes the awards of the border guards, workers’ militia and sports associations.
The USSR was the principle controlling influence over the Pact and the collector will undoubtedly notice that there is a similarity between many of these awards of the member states. Even when the designs differ they are still quite frequently linked by their function. The chapters cover Cap Badges, Excellence Badges, Proficiency Badges, Airborne Badges, Soviet Guards Badges, Graduation Badges, Sports Badges, Clasps and Miscellaneous Badges. The badges in each of these categories are illustrated and the text aptly describes the history of the badge, its function and it design.
As the Warsaw Pact existed for 36 years with seven member nations there is potentially a very large spectrum of badges and it is not therefore possible to list every badge and type – especially those rarely encountered. However a collector will be able to identify badges via typological analysis and the book covers at the very least the vast majority of the spectrum. The author has performed an outstanding investigation into the vast array of Warsaw Pact badges and to be able to collate so many images of badges is a stunning piece of research. Undoubtedly this will become the English language standard reference book on this topic.