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The Lapplandshield was the last decoration of the German Wehrmacht in the form of an arm shield. As far as known at this moment it also has been the last German produced war decoration of the Second World War. The official data for the institution of the decoration have been lost. Therefore an exact date of the institution and its criteria are not precisely known. Sources state that General der Gebirgstruppen Franz Böhme, asked the German High Command to install such a decoration in February 1945. The installation has to have found place somewhere before May 1st 1945. Fact is that already on April 20th 1945 the shield has been decorated to members of the Kriegsmarine.

The documents belonging to the awarding prove that the decoration has formally been instituted. Texts on the documents state it has been awarded by the command of the Commanding Officers in Norway, General Böhme (20th Mountain army) and Admiral Krancke (Kriegsmarine). Interesting fact is that here for the first time the decoration was awarded by the command of the Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres and the Oberbefehlshaber der Kriegsmarine, and not as usual by order of Adolf Hitler himself. It also means that the awarding of the decoration was delegated tot the army and navy commanders, something we can see more often towards the end of the war.

The institution of the Lapplandshield was obviously done in a hurry. This can be illustrated by the great variety in the accompanying citations and the shields themselves. Many different citations are known. Some are written, others printed. Most of the citations are decorated with a drawing of the shield itself. Al citations were accompanied with a thin sheet of paper, containing a drawing of the shield. Almost all known citations are dated between July and September 1945. Another peculiar fact is that most of the citations are stamped with the German Eagle stamp without the Swastika of with the Swastika removed. This has also been done with the shield itself were never a Swastika was shown. The Lapplandshield was never produced in any factory or in any production series. As stated the recipient received a paper with the drawing of the shield and it was meant to produce the shield self or have it produced on own initiative. This also is the reason of the great variety in different types of the shield and the many different types of material used in the production. Therefore it is almost impossible to differ originals and replicas. Only shields that are produced like they were made with production machines are almost certainly a replica.

Because the criteria for awarding the shield are lost, it is very difficult to state when the decoration was awarded to someone. Looking at the Kriegsmarine it is almost certain the awarding was for actions along the Scandinavian polar coast. For where it is concerned the Army (Heer) and Air force (Luftwaffe) it’s most likely to be awarded for actions made inside the area of operations for the 20.Gebirgsarmee (20th Mountain Army), simply because of the fact that this area is pictured on the shield. Here it concerns fighting’s for the Salla fortress between 07-07-1941 and 08-07-1941, fighting’s in the operation area of the 20.Gebirgsarmee between 03-09-1944 and 03-10-1944, battles at Petsamo and Kirkenes between 14-10-1944 and 23-10-1944 and the battles in Northern Finland between 24-10-1944 and 07-11-1944.

Degen, Hans* February 18th, 1899
† November 18th, 1971