Original Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany Knight Cross miniature medal for chain mounting, GOOD CONDITION - NICE DETAILED EXAMPLE, SIZE: cca 16 mm
In 1957 the West German government authorised replacement Iron Crosses with an Oak Leaf Cluster in place of the swastika, similar to the Iron Crosses of 1813, 1870, and 1914, which could be worn by World War II Iron Cross recipients. The 1957 law also authorised de-Nazified versions of most other World War II–era decorations (except those specifically associated with Nazi Party organizations, such as SS Long Service medals, or with the expansion of the German Reich, such as the medals for the annexation of Austria, the Sudetenland, and the Memel region). The main government contract to manufacture and supply these new de-nazified WW2 1957 official decorations went to the world famous German firm Steinhauer & Lueck, Luedenscheid Germany. Knights Crosses, Iron Crosses , Wound Badges, Tank Assault Badges etc were re-designed by Steinhauer & Lück - often with the oak-leaf spray replacing the swastika, with S&L having the sole patent rights to all WW2 1957 German decorations. S&L did not have the whole monopoly on medal making, other famous firms such as Deschler & Sohn, BH Maher and Juncker also manufactured these new German decorations. Lüdenscheid is situated between the cities Dortmund and Bonn. It was here that one of the youngest medal firms was founded in 1889 by August Steinhauer and Gustav Adolf Lück. The first production began in a cellar, the customer base continued to increase. A property was bought at 51 Hochstrasse which is still home for this famous company today. During WW2 Steinhauer & Lück produced medals and badges, like the famous Knights Cross and many other types of medals and badges. In 1957 this company was awarded the contract to produce all the newly re-designed legal WW2 1957 de-nazified decorations, plus the contract to manufacture all of Germany's official decorations including Germany's highest order the Bundesverdienstkreuz. Only a very limited number of original WW2 1957 medals are still produced, mainly Iron Crosses, German Cross Gold & Silver & Wound Badges and are considered 100% genuine by the German Government.
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.