Original German post WW2 Federal Republic Order of Merit Grand Cross (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland - Großes Verdienstkreuz), IN PERFECT CONDITION, ON GENUINE NECK RIBBON, INTACT ENAMEL, AN AMAZINGLY GOOD EARLY PIECE, MAKER STEINHAUER UND LUECK - LUDENSCHEID (ST&L), SIZE: 71 x 60 mm, A BEAUTIFUL AWARD
HISTORY OF THE AWARD:
The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland) is the only federal decoration of Germany. It was created by the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Theodor Heuss, on 7 September 1951. Colloquially, the decorations of the different classes of the Order are also known as Federal Cross of Merit (German: Bundesverdienstkreuz). Most of the German federal states (Länder) have each their own order of merit as well, with the exception of the Free and Hanseatic Cities of Bremen and Hamburg, which reject any orders (by old tradition their citizens, particularly former or present senators, will refuse any decoration in the form of an order. Most famous example: former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt). The order was established on 7 September 1951 by the decree of the then Federal President Theodor Heuss. The decree, which was co-signed by the President Heuss together with Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the Minister of the Interior, Robert Lehr, signed, states: "Bring Desiring deserved men and women of the German people and of foreign recognition and thanks to the visible expression, I record on 2 Anniversary of the Federal Republic of Germany the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is awarded for achievements that served the reconstruction of the country in the political, socio-economic and intellectual work, and is intended to mean an award of all those whose work contributes to the peaceful rise of the Federal Republic of Germany". The Order comprises four groups with in total eight classes: Grand Cross (Großkreuz), Grand Cross Special Class (Sonderstufe des Großkreuzes), Grand Cross 1st Class (Großkreuz), sometimes with laurel wreath (special design; Großkreuz besonderer Ausführung), Grand Merit Cross (Großes Verdienstkreuz), Grand Cross 2nd Class, or Grand Merit Cross with Star and Sash (Großes Verdienstkreuz mit Stern und Schulterband), Grand Officer's Cross, or Grand Merit Cross with Star (Großes Verdienstkreuz mit Stern), Commander's Cross, or Grand Merit Cross (Großes Verdienstkreuz), Merit Cross (Verdienstkreuz), Officer's Cross, or Merit Cross 1st Class (Verdienstkreuz 1. Klasse), Knight's Cross, or Merit Cross on Ribbon (Verdienstkreuz am Bande) and Merit Medal (Verdienstmedaille). The President of the Federal Republic holds the Grand Cross Special Class ex officio. It is awarded to him in a ceremony by the President of the Bundestag, attended by the Chancellor of Germany, the President of the Bundesrat, and the Supreme Court President. Other than the German president, only a foreign head of state can be awarded with this highest class. There is also the provision of awarding the Grand Cross 1st Class in a special rare design, in which the central medallion with the black eagle is surrounded by a stylized laurel wreath in relief. This Grand Cross special design has been awarded so far only twice, to former German chancellors Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl. Except for the lowest class, the badge is the same for all classes, but with slightly different versions for men and women (slightly smaller badge and ribbon for women): the badge is a golden Cross enamelled in red, with a central disc bearing a black eagle. The star is a golden star with straight rays, its size and points vary according to class, with the badge superimposed upon it. 8-pointed golden Star : Grand Cross Special Class, 6-pointed golden Star : Grand Cross 1st Class (with special design if golden oak crown between the cross branches around the medallion), 4-pointed golden Star : Grand Cross 2nd Class (Grand Merit Cross with Star and Sash) silver Square-upon-point : Grand Officer (Grand Merit Cross with Star). The ribbon is red with gold-black-gold stripes.