Diplomatic Corps Officials Tunic
Image courtesy of Hermann Historica Auctioneers, Munich
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The Diplomatic Corps was made up of officials (civil servants) of the Foreign Ministry. This ministry was taken over in 1938 by newly appointed Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop who, for the first time, introduced specific Diplomatic Corps uniforms. Prior to 1938, there had been no defined uniforms for members of the Foreign Office.
Prior to the war, the Foreign Ministry was heavily involved in the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland. During the war, some conquered territory, especially in Poland, was incorporated into the German Reich, while other territory was merely occupied. These countries, while officially still independent, were in reality administered by German officials of the Diplomatic Corps, and in some cases also German-approved puppet governments.
It is important to remember that the officials who served within the borders of the German Reich weren’t of course part of the Foreign Ministry, but rather of the Ministry of the Interior. However, the officials of both these ministries wore nearly identical uniforms.
Officials of the Diplomatic Corps were distinguished by rank as well as their educational level. The latter determined which kind of “Laufbahn” (career) an individual was able to choose. The “Höherer Dienst” (Higher Career) required a university degree, the “Gehobener Dienst” (Elevated Career) required a college degree, the “Mittlerer Dienst” (Middle Career) required a highschool degree, and the “Einfacher Dienst” (Lower Career) required a grade school education, to put it in a simplified way. Additionally, the Higher and Elevated Careers included several different pay groups.
Uniforms for the Diplomatic Corps were first introduced in 1938. They underwent near continuous modification between then and 1943.
In April of 1939, a uniform pattern for Officials was introduced. The garments are either navy blue or field-grey. This uniform pattern was not meant as a replacement for the June 1938 pattern uniforms worn by Diplomats.
Initially, both navy blue and field-grey garments were worn by all Officials, but in September of 1939 the field-grey uniform was restricted to those Officials stationed outside the German Reich (including the General Gouvernment) and the navy blue uniform was only worn by those stationed within the German borders. The highest ranked Officials, those that wore collar piping on their tunics, would continue to wear the navy blue uniform regardless of where they were stationed.
In March of 1940, field-grey uniforms were restricted to those Officials attached to Hitler’s headquarters or military headquarters, as well as higher ranked Officials in both the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the General Gouvernment (Poland).
Gold-coloured uniform fittings for certain ranks were introduced in May of 1939. Officials who qualified for them wore gold-coloured instead of silver-coloured buttons, (collar) piping, and pay grade insignia.
The tunic is double-breasted with two rows of four silver-coloured buttons each. It features one slash hip pocket on each side with an angled flap and without buttons. There is a single seam without a slit at the back.
Some Officials wore the tunic with silver collar piping.
In the beginning, shoulder boards were worn on the tunic in combination with a pay group sleeve eagle insignia on the lower left sleeve, but the shoulder boards were eventually removed in March of 1940. In November of 1942, the pay grade sleeve eagle insignia was discontinued and replaced with a system of rank stars.
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