Understanding The Nazi Armband System: A Quick Guide For War Memorabilia Collectors

Wearing a uniform is a protocol that is observed in different fields and industries. That is especially apparent during times of turmoil when you have to identify your political affiliation and other traits that you would want to be known upfront. A good way to do this during times of war was by using an armband.

If you are a war memorabilia collector, you might be wondering why you encounter so many different variants of armbands with the most prominent being the Nazi armband. Although they’re easy to tell apart, their significance is something that isn’t understood by too many outside the circle of those who are collecting war memorabilia.

Roots of the Nazi Armband System

Originally done by the members of the NSDAP to separate themselves from the members of other political parties, the armband system was used by those who wished to be easily identifiable when put in the same room as their political opponents. Many political factions used this as a way to ensure that they do not get into a scuffle with those who are supposed to be their friend.

Party members who did not have had a sizeable amount of people that weren’t able to wear a uniform to indicate their political affiliation and status. The armband system became a cheap way to get around this dilemma.

Political events and rallies

When the Nazi Party gained more notoriety, members of lower rank flocked to political events and rallies held by the group. Due to the number of people that were in these events, it became difficult to tell apart who held a certain rank which meant that they should be followed.

The armband system was used as a way to ensure that those who had three different powers were identified as quickly as possible to maintain structure. These groups are administrative, command, and operational. Pioneers also had their own identifying marks on their armband to distinguish them.

Titles before and during the war

The titles held by Nazi Party members and what they had displayed on their Nazi armband differed through several phases. Most of the changes came prior to World War II. Before the war, the armband system har these positional titles:

Blockleiter – Block Leader

Unterabteilungsleiter – Junior Section LEader

Abteilungsleiter – Section Leader

Zellenleiter – Cell Leader

Operational, administrative, and command armbands were finalized during the war with some of the titles including:


Political Leader Candidate

Block Operations Foreman

Block Assistant

Cell Operations Foreman

Cell/Block Leader

Regional Office LEader


Sub Area Leader

Area Leader

Head Area Leader

Department Leader

Head Department Leader

Supreme Department Leader


Deputy District Leader

Gauleiter – District Leader

Reichsleiter – National Leader

As the ranking became more significant in the scheme of things, the insignia also featured more intricate designs. This can be observed when comparing the Political Leader Candidate operational Nazi armband which featured the Nazi swastika inside a white circle over a red rectangular background to the Reichsleiter which is adorned by golden designs to make it stand out as much as possible.

At Gettysburg Museum of History you can find Nazi armband and other World War II memorabilia. Visit our website or contact us for more details.

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