War Medals and Decorations – Imperial Era & Weimar Republic

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Grand Cross of the Iron Cross

1813 Grand Cross

Five men received the 1813 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross for actions during the Napoleonic Wars:

  • Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, commander of Prussian forces at the Battle of Waterloo, later elevated to the Star of the Grand Crossof the Iron Cross
  • Friedrich Wilhelm von Bülow
  • Crown Prince Charles John of Sweden (Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte) – earlier a Marshal under Napoleon, after becoming regent and crownprince of Sweden, he joined the Sixth Coalition against Napoleon.
  • Bogislav Friedrich Emanuel von Tauentzien
  • Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg.

1813 Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross

The Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Stern zum Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) was the highest military decoration of the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire. It was considered a senior decoration to the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross.

The Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to the most outstanding of generals who performed feats of leadership to the extreme benefit of the German state. It was awarded only twice, over a century apart, to Field Marshal Gebhard von Blücher in 1813 and to Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg in 1918. Von Blücher’s award was referred to as the Blücherstern while Hindenburg’s was known as the Hindenburgstern.

During the reign of Nazi Germany, it was intended to present the Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross as an award to the most successful German General of the Second World War, once Germany had achieved victory. As Germany was defeated in 1945, the decoration was never bestowed under Nazi authority and has not been awarded since.

The only known prototype example of this decoration is today located at the Museum of the United States Military Academy in West Point NY.

1870 Grand Cross

The Iron Cross was renewed on July 19, 1870, for the Franco-Prussian War. Nine men received the 1870 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross for service during that war. Seven Grand Crosses were awarded on March 22, 1871, to:

  • Crown Prince Albert of Saxony
  • August Karl von Goeben
  • Edwin Freiherr von Manteuffel
  • Helmuth Graf von Moltke the Elder
  • Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia.
  • Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (later Kaiser Friedrich III)
  • August Graf von Werder

Kaiser Wilhelm I received the Grand Cross on June 16, 1871, and Friedrich Franz II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, received it on December 4, 1871. The Kaiser was supreme commander of the Prussian Army, and Moltke was Chief of the General Staff. The others were senior combat commanders of the Prussian Army (Crown Prince Albert initially commanded the Saxon Army as a corps under a Prussian field army, but later took command of a combined Prussian/Saxon field army).

1914 Grand Cross

The Iron Cross was renewed again on August 5, 1914. There were five recipients of the 1914 Grand Cross in the First World War:

  • Kaiser Wilhelm II
  • Paul von Hindenburg, later elevated to the Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross
  • Erich Ludendorff
  • Prince Leopold of Bavaria
  • August von Mackensen

1813 Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross

The Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Stern zum Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) was the highest military decoration of the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire. It was considered a senior decoration to the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross.

The Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to the most outstanding of generals who performed feats of leadership to the extreme benefit of the German state. It was awarded only twice, over a century apart, to Field Marshal Gebhard von Blücher in 1813 and to Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg in 1918. Von Blücher’s award was referred to as the Blücherstern while Hindenburg’s was known as the Hindenburgstern.

During the reign of Nazi Germany, it was intended to present the Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross as an award to the most successful German General of the Second World War, once Germany had achieved victory. As Germany was defeated in 1945, the decoration was never bestowed under Nazi authority and has not been awarded since.

The only known prototype example of this decoration is today located at the Museum of the United States Military Academy in West Point NY.

 

Weimar Republic Era

Tank Crew Commemorative Badge

Tank Crew Commemorative Badge was instituted on July 13, 1921 by Reichswehrminister Otto Karl Geßler (06.02.1875 – 24.03.1955) and not being an award was available for private purchase by veterans.

The badge was awarded to military personnel regardless of rank who participated in at least three combat actions as crew members of German and captured Entente tanks or were wounded in action. Upon approval an award document was issued to the Great War veterans still on active service as well as to retired or reserve personnel.

The badge had a vertical oval shape bordered with a wreath made of two branches, oak at the left and laurel at the right. The wreath was tied at its bottom by a ribbon. Upper part of the badge was topped by a “Totenkopf”, i.e. skull and crossed bones of so-called Brunswick type.

An image of a German tank A7V moving westwards through barbed wire entanglement was situated in the middle of the badge. Three stick grenades are seen exploding above the hull.

Reverse of a badge had a horizontal pin with catching hook, no period originals are known with a screw back fitting.

The badge was worn just below left breast pocket of a tunic.

Tank Crew Commemorative Badge was made of silver or silvered bronze.

Only 99 badges were totally awarded that makes this decoration one of the rarest commemorative pieces from the Weimar-era.

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German Military History with a focus on World War 2 History including other areas of German History

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