Michael Heckenbach 1846
Josef Heckenbach 1884
Peter Werner Heckenbach 1911
The uniform resembles the parade uniform as evidenced by the officer’s brocade dress belt and full medals displayed above his left tunic pocket. However, it is not quite so formal, so should be considered a walking-out uniform.This is the uniform of an officer. The Aiguillette that he is wearing is the normal dress Aiguillette worn by all officers, in silver, except it was gold for generalsThe brocade and buckle combination was intended for wear by DLV Deutscher Luftsports Verband officers. The Officer's peaked Cap displays the silver chinstrap; a NCO’s cap would have a black chinstrap. The collar tabs and gold stars on the shoulder boards signify the rank of 1st lieutenant or Oberleutnant in the infantry.The silver eagle devices above the right breast pocket and on the cap, along with the silver piping on the cap, indicate that his branch of service was the infantry or Wehrmacht. The shoulder boards also signify that his assignment was with the Wehrmacht.
The first medal, starting with the outside or the further most from the center of his tunic, is the west wall medal Deutsches Schutzwall-Ehrenzeichen. It was instituted on August 2nd 1939 and was given to those who designed and built the fortifications on Germany's western borders and/or the troops who served there prior to May 1940.
The medals progress higher in esteem or honor as they move toward the center. The next two medals suspended by the blue ribbons are long service awards. The four year service award had a black finish and was awarded only to NCOs and enlisted men. The eight year service award was finished in bronze and was awarded to all officers, NCOs, and enlisted men. The twelve-year service award was in the shape of the swastika, had a silver finish and was also awarded to all officers, NCOs, and enlisted men. The parade version of the twelve-year service medal was silver and round. All were emblazoned with the inscription: Für treue Dienste For Loyal Services. The eagle devices on both of the blue service award ribbons designated service in the infantry or Wehrmacht.
The next is The War Merit Cross Kriegsverdienstkreuz. The award had two variants: with swords given to soldiers for exceptional service in battle above and beyond the call of duty (but not worthy of an Iron Cross which was more a bravery award), and without swords for meritorious service behind the lines. The last is Iron Cross 2nd Class Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse. The Iron Cross was awarded for bravery in battle as well as other military contributions in a battlefield environment. The Iron Cross 2nd Class came with a ribbon and was worn in one of three different methods. For everyday wear, only the ribbon was worn from the second hole in the tunic button. The cross could be worn from the second button of the tunic. Finally when in formal dress, the entire cross was worn mounted alone or as part of a medal bar. The display of these medals in the “Parade Mount” corresponds with the formality of the overall uniform.
The outermost bronze badge is the German National Badge for Physical Training Deutsches Reichsabzeichen für Leibesübungen. The badge was awarded in grades Bronze, Silver and Gold. To qualify for the Bronze grade a man or woman had to be between the ages of 18 and 32. They also had to pass all five parts of a rigorous physical test within a 12-month period to qualify. The five physical tests were in Swimming, Jumping, Running, Weight Throwing and Speed.
Moving clockwise from our perspective is a Bronze class German Horseman's Badge Deutsches Reiterabzeichen. The requirements for this award were successes in the field of equestrian sport. This badge was also awarded in grades Bronze, Silver and Gold.The silver badge located closest to the tunic centerline is an Infantry Assault Badge Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen. The requirements for silver were: Participation in three or more infantry assaults, or Participation in three or more infantry counter-attacks, or Participation in three or more armed reconnaissance incidents, or Participation in three or more days in restitution of combat positions, or Participation in hand-to-hand combat in an assault position.
Finally located centered over the left pocket is the Iron Cross 1st Class Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse. This was a progressive medal and the Iron Cross 2nd Class must have been awarded first, then documented three to five acts of bravery above and beyond the call of duty.
Just as every item worn on a uniform has significance, absents can tell their own story. Absent insignia devices on the shoulder boards indicates that he was not in the medical or police corps. There are no badges for parachutist qualifications.
Finally, he was awarded an infantry badge, yet he does not display any hand to hand combat devices.
The final adornment is on his right shoulder. The Aiguillette that he is wearing indicates that he was an officer. Most belt buckles were square, but this round buckle is an officer's dress belt.
In conclusion Werner Heckenbach was a professional solider. He probably received his commission at the age of 20 to 21 in 1931 or 1932. By 1944 he had completed over 12 years of spotless military service. His professionalism, integrity, and performance had earned him the position of lieutenant, exceptional performance that any solider would be proud of.
It would be unusual for a post war German to display himself in full dress uniform. That shows that Werner Heckenbach was not your usual German officer. He must have been valuable to both the Germans and the Americans after the war. As a professional he was proud of his accomplishments and honorable service, and wanted to display this with his uniform. Besides a photograph with his family, he also wanted a color self-portrait. The color was required to document his service awards; the black and white photo would leave some doubt as to the degrees of the awards.
|Order received||Date received||Owner/informant||location||subject||Date created|
|8||3-2007||Robin||NH||Roman soldier and girl|
|13||11-2008||Julia||MS||old man with pipe|
|34||4-2015||Ming||mountain and lake|
|43||12-2017||Corinna||TX||Flowers in Vase||1945-46|