Cuff title
A cuff title is a form of insignia placed on the sleeve, near the cuff
A cuff is an extra layer of fabric at the lower edge of the sleeve of a garment covering the arms. In US usage the word may also refer to the end of the leg of a pair of trousers...

 of German military and paramilitary uniforms, most commonly seen in the Second World War but also seen postwar.

Cuff titles are most commonly associated with units of the Waffen SS but were widely used by other branches of the German military, as well as paramilitary and civilian organizations as well. The Großdeutschland Infantry Regiment
Infantry Regiment Großdeutschland
The Infantry Regiment Großdeutschland was an élite German Heer ceremonial and combat unit which saw action during World War II. The regiment served in the campaigns in France and the Low Countries in 1940. It then served exclusively on the Eastern Front until the end of the war...

 (later Großdeutschland Division
Großdeutschland Division
The Großdeutschland Division was an elite Heer combat unit of the Wehrmacht. The Großdeutschland was considered to be the premier unit of the German Army and as such it was one of best-equipped unit of the German Armed Forces, receiving equipment before all other units.- Early history -...

) was also well known for their use of cuff titles. The Deutsche Afrikakorps
Afrika Korps
The German Africa Corps , or the Afrika Korps as it was popularly called, was the German expeditionary force in Libya and Tunisia during the North African Campaign of World War II...

was also famous for its cuff title, which was the genesis of future campaign cuff titles (see below).


The base portion of a cuff title is made of either wool, cotton, rayon or a cotton/rayon mix. It is approximately 4 cm wide and bears a name or symbol that identifies the wearer belonging to a particular unit or serving in a specific campaign. On cuff titles where the ribbon was of wool, cotton or blended materials, the embroidery of the name or symbol was usually done with rayon or cotton (some wire embroidery was worn on "officer's pattern" titles). These cuff titles were often edged with "Russia braid" (similar to the material used in waffenfarbe soutache
A soutache is narrow flat decorative braid, a type of galloon, used in the trimming of drapery or clothing. In clothing soutache is used to conceal a seam....

s on early pattern German field caps). Cuff titles that were made entirely of rayon were machine woven. The name or symbol on the ribbon is not really embroidered, but rather falsely embroidered into the ribbon during its manufacturing. This is known as the Jacquard weaving method. "Bevo" is a common term used by collectors to describe this type of insignia manufactured with this method in much the same way that "Kleenex" is used to describe facial tissue. Machine woven cuff titles became more common as the war progressed and newer titles were introduced. Waffen SS cuff titles reflected the colours of the SS, (black and silver) and were generally black in colour with grey or white lettering.

Lettering could be in Latin, Gothic
Blackletter, also known as Gothic script, Gothic minuscule, or Textura, was a script used throughout Western Europe from approximately 1150 to well into the 17th century. It continued to be used for the German language until the 20th century. Fraktur is a notable script of this type, and sometimes...

 or Sütterlin
Sütterlinschrift , or Sütterlin for short, is the last widely used form of the old German blackletter handwriting . In Germany, the old German cursive script developed in the 16th century, replacing the Gothic handwriting at the same time that bookletters developed into the Fraktur typeface...

 style script, as shown on the Grossdeutschland cuff title above right. Block letters were also used. For other unique uses of devices or script styles, see below.

Method of wear

As worn on Second World War uniforms, the bottom edge of German cuff titles were generally placed at the top of the split seam of a jacket cuff. This is how the measurement of 14.5 cm to 15 cm came about, because the split seam of the sleeve of a German enlisted man's field blouse is approximately 14.5 cm. The Germans had no defined measurement in their regulations as to how high the cuff title went, just that it was to be placed alongside the cuff's split seam. Wartime photographic evidence exists of jackets with the cuff title placed lower than 14.5 cm to 15 cm from the cuff edge. This is usually due to a reduced sleeve length. On jackets with a French cuff (the cuff turned back), the cuff title was placed above the cuff if it was an Army (Heer), Air force (Luftwaffe), or Navy (Kriegsmarine) uniform, and placed just below the cuff edge on the cuff itself on SS jackets (usually between the edge of the cuff and the seam of the cuff's edge, approximately 1 mm to 1.5 mm).

In the Army, Air force, or Navy, the unit cuff title was worn on the right arm. In the SS, the cuff title was worn on the left arm. All campaign cuff titles were worn on the left arm. For example, someone who was in the army and fought in North Africa and later transferred to Grossdeutschland had an "Afrika" campaign cuff title on their left arm and their Grossdeutschland cuff title on their right arm (General Manteuffel's leather coat was an anomaly to this rule). An SS soldier who fought in Crete as a paratrooper and later joined 2nd SS Division Das Reich would have both of his cuff titles on the left arm. In this case one would usually see the unit cuff title placed below the campaign cuff title because the chances are that the individual received his jacket with his unit cuff title beforehand and then had his campaign cuff title affixed after the fact, but this was not always the case.

More than one title could be worn if the soldier was entitled. General Manteuffel wore the "Afrika" campaign cuff title over his Grossdeutschland cuff title during the period he commanded that division. Unit cuff titles were not granted as a mark of prior service in the same manner that divisional patches were and continues to be worn on the right sleeve of US Army uniforms. However, members who were entitled to wear a unit cuff title, who were also military policemen, combat correspondents, or members of the Führerhauptquartier (Hitler's headquarters), could wear both their unit's cuff title and the cuff title of their specialty service. An example of this would be a military policeman in the 17th SS Division "Götz von Berlichingen", who would or could wear both this SS-Feldgendarmerie (SS Military Police) cuff title and his Götz von Berlichingen cuff title. In this specific case, they would both be worn on the left arm.


  • Unit Cuff Titles - These generally referred to the name of a division, although some regiments also had distinctive titles.
  • Branch of Service Cuff Titles - These identified those who served in a specific branch of service like the military police and war correspondents. The cuff title of the Feldgendarmerie (Military Police) wore a distinctive cuff title, often in conjunction with a unit cuff title, if entitled.
  • Campaign Cuff Titles - Participation in some campaigns, such as the Kurland, Crete or North African campaigns (seen right), was recognized by the award of a special commemorative cuff title.

There are several hundred patterns of cuff titles known to have been used; some units had several unique patterns. Among the more interesting designs were:
  • The 3rd SS Division Totenkopf had a version of their cuff title that was only a skull and crossbones design.
  • The 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler had "Adolf Hitler" written on their cuff title in the German Sütterlin
    Sütterlinschrift , or Sütterlin for short, is the last widely used form of the old German blackletter handwriting . In Germany, the old German cursive script developed in the 16th century, replacing the Gothic handwriting at the same time that bookletters developed into the Fraktur typeface...

     script. Contrary to a common belief, the design did not bear any resemblance to Adolf Hitler's signature.
  • The British Free Corps
    British Free Corps
    During World War II, the British Free Corps was a unit of the consisting of British and Dominion prisoners of war who had been recruited by the Nazis. The unit was originally known as The Legion of St...

     had a cuff title in block Gothic script with the name of the unit in English (Any found in German are post-war fakes).
  • The "Afrikakorps" cuff title (unique in being worn by an entire corps) was worn informally as a campaign title until replaced with an "Afrika" cuff title bearing that name as well as depictions of palm trees. (seen right)


Cuff titles worn by the Waffen SS or Heer were considered a special honour. The history of the Grossdeutschland Division by Helmuth Spaeter describes an instance in which the motorcycle company of the Infantry Regiment "Grossdeutschland" was held to account for losing a position; they were forbidden from wearing their cuff titles until they had earned the privilege back by success in a later battle.

When Waffen SS divisions failed to perform satisfactorily near Vienna in April 1945, Adolf Hitler ordered the units involved to remove their cuff titles as a punishment. SS-Oberstgruppenführer Sepp Dietrich
Sepp Dietrich
Josef "Sepp" Dietrich was a German SS General. He was one of Nazi Germany's most decorated soldiers and commanded formations up to Army level during World War II. Prior to 1929 he was Adolf Hitler's chauffeur and bodyguard but received rapid promotion after his participation in the murder of...

 was enraged, and reportedly sent his own back to Berlin in a night vase
Chamber pot
A chamber pot is a bowl-shaped container with a handle, and often a lid, kept in the bedroom under a bed or in the cabinet of a nightstand and...

 (chamber pot).

Soldiers in training were usually presented the cuff title only on completion of that training, and the award of the title was seen as a rite of passage. This rite is described in the controversial book The Forgotten Soldier
The Forgotten Soldier
The Forgotten Soldier , originally published in French as Le Soldat Oublie, is presented as an autobiographical account of Guy Sajer, the pseudonym of Guy Mouminoux who was a well known french comics writer also known under the pseudonym of Dimitri...


Post World War II

The East German Nationale Volksarmee continued the tradition of cuff titles, most notably worn by Border Guards and Guard Regiments named after famous German communists.

The West German Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

(Federal German Air Force) continued the tradition of awarding cuff titles to its Traditionsverbände such as: "Jagdgeschwader Mölders", "Jagdgeschwader Steinhoff", "Jagdgeschwader Richthofen" and "Jagdgeschwader Boelke", which were named after famous fighter pilots of the First and Second World Wars.

The German Army
German Army
The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force...

 continues to wear some distinctive cuff titles today.
The first, used by the German Army Aviation Corps is a stylized silver grey "wing" on a black band with silver piping on the top and bottom edges.
The second for its Armoured Training Battalion (and School) which is a silver grey embroidered "Panzerlehrbrigade 9" in Gothic script.
The third for its Wachbataillon
The Wachbataillon is the German Bundeswehr's elite drill unit. The Wachbataillon is the largest battalion of the German forces with about 1,800 soldiers, split in two garrisons in Berlin and Siegburg...

 which is a silver grey embroidered "Wachbataillon" in Gothic script on a black band with silver piping on the top and bottom edges.

Popular culture

The uniforms in the film Starship Troopers echoed WWII German uniforms; the Fleet officers in the film wore cuff bands with the name of their ship on them.
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