Original German Order of Merit Federal Republic post WW2 medal - Officer's Cross, BEAUTIFUL CONDITION, INTACT ENAMEL, PERFECT PIN DEVICE, STEINHAUER UND LUCK - LUDENSCHEID (ST&L), SIZE: 55 MM
HISTORY OF THE AWARD:
The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland) is the only general state decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has existed since 7 September 1951, and between 2,100 and 5,200 awards are given every year across all classes. Colloquially, the decorations of the different classes of the Order are known as Federal Cross of Merit (German: Bundesverdienstkreuz). Most of the German federal states (Bundesländer) have their own orders of merit, with up to three ranks (member, officer, commander). This excludes 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 Bundesverdienstkreuz has eight classes, in ascending order: Verdienstmedaille (Medal), Verdienstkreuz am Bande (Cross), international equivalent: Ritterkreuz (Knight's Cross), Verdienstkreuz 1. Klasse (Officer's Cross), Großes Verdienstkreuz (Halskreuz) (Commander's Cross or Grand Cross (Neck cross)), Großes Verdienstkreuz mit Stern (Knight Commander's Cross or Grand Cross with Star), Großes Verdienstkreuz mit Stern und Schulterband (Grand Cross with Star and Sash), international equivalent: Großkreuz 2. Klasse (Grand Cross of Merit, Second class) or Großkomturkreuz (Grand Commander's Cross), Großkreuz (Grand Cross 1st class) and Sonderstufe des Großkreuzes (Grand Cross special class). The President of the Federal Republic holds the Sonderstufe des Großkreuzes ex officio. It is awarded to him in a ceremony by the President of the Bundestag attended by the Chancellor, the President of the Bundesrat and the Supreme Court President. Other than the President of the Federal Republic, only a foreign head of state can be awarded with the highest class. There is also the provision of awarding the Großkreuz in a special rare design, which has so far only been used twice: for Konrad Adenauer and for 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. The ribbon is red with gold-black-gold stripes.