Original German WW1 mounted medal grouping: Iron Cross II. Class, Hanseatic Hamburg Cross & Honour Cross With Swords, IN VERY GOOD CONDITION, GENUINE RIBBONS, PERFECT PIN DEVICE, THE IRON CROSS IS MAGNETIC & 3 PIECE CONSTRUCTION, THE HAMBURG CROSS' ENAMEL IS INTACT, THE HONOUR CROSS IS MAGNETIC, MAKER MARKED: "PSL" (Paul Schulze & Co - Lübeck), A REALLY GOOD GROUPING
HISTORY OF THE AWARDS:
Iron Cross (German: Eisernes Kreuz) was a military decoration of the Kingdom of Prussia, and later of Germany, which was established by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia and first awarded on 10 March 1813 in Breslau. In addition to during the Napoleonic Wars, the Iron Cross was awarded during the Franco-German War, the First World War, and the Second World War. The Iron Cross was normally a military decoration only, though there were instances of it being awarded to civilians for performing military functions. Two examples, the civilian pilot Hanna Reitsch was awarded the Iron Cross First Class for her bravery as a test pilot during the Second World War and Melitta Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg (also a German female test pilot) was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class. The Iron Cross was also used as the symbol of the German Army from 1871 to 1915, when it was replaced by a simpler Greek cross. In 1956, the Iron Cross became the symbol of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces. The traditional design is black and this design is used on armored vehicles and aircraft. A newer design in blue and silver is used as the emblem in other contexts. The Iron Cross is a black four-pointed cross with white trim, with the arms widening towards the ends, similar to a cross pattée. It was designed by the neoclassical architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel and reflects the cross borne by the Teutonic Knights in the 14th century. The ribbon for the 1813, 1870 and 1914 Iron Cross (2nd Class) was black with two thin white bands, the colours of Prussia. The noncombatant version of this award had the same medal, but the black and white colours on the ribbon were reversed. Initially the Iron Cross was worn with the blank side out. This did not change until 1838 when the sprig facing could be presented. Since the Iron Cross was issued over several different periods of German history, it was annotated with the year indicating the era in which it was issued. For example, an Iron Cross from the First World War bears the year "1914", while the same decoration from the Second World War is annotated "1939". The reverse of the 1870, 1914 and 1939 series of Iron Crosses have the year "1813" appearing on the lower arm, symbolizing the year the award was created. The 1813 decoration also has the initials "FW" for King Frederick William III, while the next two have a "W" for the respective kaisers, Wilhelm I and Wilhelm II. The final version shows a swastika. It was also possible for a holder of the 1914 Iron Cross to be awarded a second or higher grade of the 1939 Iron Cross. In such cases, a "1939 Clasp" (Spange) would be worn on the original 1914 Iron Cross. (A similar award was made in 1914 but was quite rare, since there were few in service who held the 1870 Iron Cross.) For the First Class award the Spange appears as an eagle with the date "1939" that was pinned above the Cross. Although two separate awards, in some cases the holders soldered them together. A cross was the symbol of the Teutonic Knights (a heraldic cross pattée), and the cross design (but not the specific decoration) has been the symbol of Germany's armed forces (now the Bundeswehr) since 1871. The Iron Cross was founded on 10 March 1813 in Breslau and awarded to soldiers during the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon. It was first awarded to Karl August Ferdinand von Borcke on 21 April 1813. King Wilhelm I of Prussia authorized further awards on 19 July 1870, during the Franco-German War. Recipients of the 1870 Iron Cross who were still in service in 1895 were authorized to purchase a 25-year clasp consisting of the numerals "25" on three oak leaves. The Iron Cross was reauthorized by Emperor Wilhelm II on 5 August 1914, at the start of the First World War. During these three periods, the Iron Cross was an award of the Kingdom of Prussia, although given Prussia's pre-eminent place in the German Empire formed in 1871, it tended to be treated as a generic German decoration. The 1813, 1870, and 1914 Iron Crosses had three grades: Iron Cross 2nd Class (German: Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse), Iron Cross 1st Class (German: Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse), Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes, often simply Großkreuz). Although the medals of each class were identical, the manner in which each was worn differed. Employing a pin or screw posts on the back of the medal, the Iron Cross First Class was worn on the left side of the recipient's uniform. The Grand Cross and the Iron Cross Second Class were suspended from different ribbons. The Grand Cross was intended for senior generals of the German Army. An even higher decoration, the Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross, was awarded only twice, to Field Marshal Gebhard von Blücher in 1813 and to Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg in 1918. A third award was planned for the most successful German general during the Second World War, but was not made after the defeat of Germany in 1945. The Iron Cross 1st Class and the Iron Cross 2nd Class were awarded without regard to rank. One had to already possess the 2nd Class in order to receive the 1st Class (though in some cases both could be awarded simultaneously). The egalitarian nature of this award contrasted with those of most other German states (and indeed many other European monarchies), where military decorations were awarded based on the rank of the recipient. For example, Bavarian officers received various grades of that Kingdom's Military Merit Order (Militär-Verdienstorden), while enlisted men received various grades of the Military Merit Cross (Militär-Verdienstkreuz). Prussia did have other orders and medals which were awarded on the basis of rank, and even though the Iron Cross was intended to be awarded without regard to rank, officers and NCOs were more likely to receive it than junior enlisted soldiers. In the First World War, approximately four million Iron Crosses of the lower grade (2nd Class) were issued, as well as around 145,000 of the higher grade (1st Class). Exact numbers of awards are not known, since the Prussian archives were destroyed during the Second World War. The multitude of awards reduced the status and reputation of the decoration. Among the holders of the 1914 Iron Cross 2nd Class and 1st Class was Adolf Hitler, who held the rank of Gefreiter. Hitler can be seen wearing the award on his left breast, as was standard, in many photographs. The straight-armed Balkenkreuz, the emblem of the Wehrmacht, first used in a narrower form on Luftstreitkräfte aircraft in mid-April 1918, and as shown here, as it appeared on German planes, tanks, and other vehicles during the Second World War.
Wurttemberg Military Merit Medal, (Württemberg Militärverdienstmedaille), 1892-1918 - Circular silver medal with loop for ribbon suspension; the face with the head of King Wilhelm II of Württemberg facing right, circumscribed ‘WILHELM II KOENIG VON WUERTTEMBERG’, signature ‘K SCHWENZER’ (for Karl Schwenzer of Stuttgart), the reverse inscribed ‘FÜR TAPFERKEIT UND TREUE’ (For bravery and loyalty) within a wreath of laurel. The medal was instituted in 1818 to be awarded for military merit. Wilhelm II became king on 6 October 1891 and the new version of the medal bearing his image was introduced on 26 June 1892. It was suppressed in 1918 when, along with all other German rulers, Wilhelm was deposed at the end of World War I.
Cross of Honor, a.k.a. Hindenburgkreuz, Frontkämpferehrenkreuz (Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges 1914/1918) - Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges 1914/1918 was instituted on July 13, 1934 by the President Generalfeldmarshall Paul von Hindenburg aiming to commemorate all those who fought and fell during the Great War and therefore was nicknamed “Hindenburg Cross”. Cross of Honor was awarded to frontline veterans and non-combatants – German citizens and Germans who lost their citizenship due to the Versailles Peace Treaty as well as to relatives of the fallen soldiers – their widows and parents. Thus it aim was to reinforce pride not only in veterans but also military personnel of German Armed forces. Cross of Honor was instituted in three classes: 1. Cross of Honor for frontline soldiers (Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer). It was awarded only for the military personnel of the Imperial Army and Navy who had engaged the enemy in frontline combat. 2. Cross of Honor for war participants, i.e. non-combatants (Ehrenkreuz für Kriegsteilnehmer). It was awarded to military auxiliary personnel such as administrators and medics, as well as to civilians (state officials, etc.). 3. Cross of Honor for next-of-kin (Ehrenkreuz für Hinterbliebene). It was issued to widows and parents of those who were killed or died during WWI or were missing in action. Award was issued after an application accompanied by a prove of wartime service or loss of a relative was approved by the authorities, the Reichsminister of interior being in charge of the distribution of crosses. Cross of Honor was handed personally to the active military personnel and sent by post to veterans and civilians. Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges was created by Eugene Godet who received commission from the Reich Chancellery and its design was based on that of the Prussian Kriegsdenkmünze für die Feldzüge 1870/1871 Kriegsdenkmünze für die Feldzüge 1870/1871 reverse. It had a form of an equilateral 37x37 mm Teutonic cross with a 1 mm raised edge line and a recessed field. Two dates referring to the Great War were placed over each other in the central medallion – “1914” and “1918”. The upper arm of the cross had a 1,5-2 mm ribbon ring through which a ribbon loop ran. Three classes of the Honor Cross differed by the following details. Cross of Honor for frontline soldiers made of bronze or bronzed iron had a wreath of laurels on the center, tied at the base by a ribbon tie with the ends extending to the lower arm of the cross. The wreath was composed of five bunches of three leaves on each side, with a pair of laurel berries at each joint. A pair of 41 mm crossed swords were placed through the arms of the cross. Tricolor 25-30 mm ribbon featured central red stripe and black and white stripes on both sides accompanied by thin black stripes closer to both edges. Sometimes a crossed swords gilt device was worn on the ribbon. Cross of Honor for war participants made of bronze or bronzed iron was of a nearly similar design but had a wreath of oak leaves and lacked swords. Its ribbon was similar to that of the Cross of Honor for frontline soldiers. Cross of Honor for next-of-kin was similar to the Cross of Honor for war participants but was finished in black and its ribbon colors were inverted, i.e. central red stripe and white and black stripes on both sides accompanied by thin white stripes closer to both edges. It’s worth mentioning here that though award documents for the Cross of Honor for next-of-kin were of two different types (“Ehrenkreuz für Witwen” and “Ehrenkreuz für Eltern”) the award itself was only of one type as described above. The rarest type of the Cross of Honor for next-of-kin was made of iron and had a horizontal pin and catch on its reverse instead of ribbon ring that was missing. All three classes of the award had a flat reverse with maker’s mark. Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges was made of bronze or iron. The Cross of Honor was worn mounted as part of a group or on the ribbon bar. The award ranked above service and occupation medals but below combat related awards. Number of awards: Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer – 6,202,883 pieces, Ehrenkreuz für Kriegsteilnehmer – 1,120,449 pieces, Ehrenkreuz für Hinterbliebene – 345,112 pieces issued to widows with “Ehrenkreuz für Witwen” award document and Ehrenkreuz für Hinterbliebene – 372,950 pieces issued to parents who lost their sons with “Ehrenkreuz für Eltern” award document.