THE REGIMENTAL COLORS

The matter of retaining traditional Austrian regimental colors became a significant issue after the Austrian Anschluss as the formations of the Austrian Army were incorporated into the Wehrmacht. As "Hoch-und Deutschmeister" Regiment Nr 4 was incorporated into Infantry Regiment 134, a part of the 44th Infantry Division, they were granted the unique distinction of carrying two different patterns of Colors based on the occasion. This occurred both before the war (such as when the troops were part of a parade in Berlin in 1938) and at certain special functions during the war (such as in June 1943 when the 44th Division was re-designated as Reichsgrenadier-Division "Hoch-und Deutschmeister" upon being reconstituted after Stalingrad).

Centered on a yellow field is the double-headed Imperial Austrian eagle, each head royally crowned. In his right talon, the Eagle wields the drawn sword of the Empire and a golden scepter, while his left talon grasps the Imperial orb. The shield on the center of the eagle's breast is divided into thirds to represent the old Imperial ruling family, Habsburg-Lothringen. From the left the centered coat of arms contains the symbols of the Houses of Hapsburg, Babenburg, and Lothringen. Around the wings and tail, feathers are eleven crowned shields. From the viewer's right to left in a clockwise manner, they represent Bohemia; Slavonia and Dalmatia; Styria; Salzburg; Upper and Lower Austria; Tyrol; Moravia and Silesia; Transylvania; Illyria; Carinthia and Carniola; and Hungary.

Around the three free standing edges of the flag there is a 10cm-wide border.  It consists of 69 triangles alternating in colors of red, white and black. The fourth side is wrapped around and secured to the flag-pole with four rows of 30 gilt nails each. Additional re-enforcement is provided by alternating red and white strips of a braided material under each row of nail heads between the heads and the cloth of the Colors. The flag-staff itself is adorned by stripes of yellow, red, white and black. The staff is capped by a plain spear-head. Unlike the Imperial Colors, the World War II era Colors were not adorned with battle streamers.

The Deutschmeister Kreuz takes its design from the crosses worn by the chevalier monks of the Deutschmeister-Orden. The Deutschmeister-Orden was part of the knightly orders that date back to at least the 11th Century.

THE DEUTSCHMEISTER KREUZ

The official name given by German Army to the device appears as "Deutschmeister-Kreuz" as opposed to one commonly used by collectors that memorializes a massive defeat. The misnomer of "Stalingrad-Kreuz" arises from the name Stalingrad written immediately below the national insignia. The Kreuz was authorized to be worn by any soldier or officer of the Hoch und Deutschmeister "HuD" Regiment or Staff officers of the 44th Division.

 

After the destruction of the bulk of Grenadier Regiment 134 in Stalingrad, the cadre was reformed into a Reichs-Grenadier-Division rather than just back into an infantry division. But of greatest importance of this reorganization was that on 31 December 1942 an order was issued permitting all troops of the new Reichs-Grenadier-Division H-uD to wear the Deutschmeister-Kreuz on their shoulder boards.

 

Interestingly enough, the Kreuz was such a popular item with the troops that they took to wearing them on their field caps on the left side. One source indicates that while this was against regulations, it was tolerated. Officers of the Hoch- und Deutschmeister would also wear the Deutschmeister-Kreuz on peaked caps between the cockade and the national emblem as several Brunswick and Prussian regiments were seen to do with their death heads and dragoon eagles.

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