Original German post WW2 version / 1957 pattern ribbon bar: Iron Cross II. Class, Luftwaffe Reconnaissance, Air-Sea Rescue and Meteorological Squadron Clasp in Bronze, Luftwaffe Pilot Badge & 1962 Hamburg Storm Flood Medal, VERY NICE CONDITION, NO PIN DEVICE / STITCHED VERSION, ATTRACTIVE & DETAILED MINIATURES
FEW FACTS ABOUT 1957 PATTERN AWARDS:
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 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.
The Reconnaissance, Air-Sea Rescue and Meteorological Squadron Clasp - To recognize the type and number of operational flights undertaken by aircrew and certain other Luftwaffe personnel, the FRONTFLUGSPANGE (literally "Front Flight Clasp") was progressively introduced from January 1941. Commonly referred to by collectors as Flight Bars, Operational Flying Clasps or Squadron Clasps, these badges consist of a central device encircled by a wreath of laurel leaves set between two 'wings' of oak leaves. In most designs, the ubiquitous swastika is set at the base of the wreath. Clasps measure around 7.5cm x 2.5cm (3" x 1"). The central device distinguishes between the types of flight undertaken. The color of the clasp, with the exception of the center which is usually blackened, identifies the number of flights achieved. Thus, the BRONZE clasp was awarded for 20 flights SILVER clasp was awarded for 60 flights GOLD clasp was awarded for 100 flights. Note that a flight was considered "operational" if the enemy was engaged or enemy airspace was penetrated by a given distance. If the number of hours in the air was exceeded by a given amount a single 'sortie' could also be counted as more than one flight towards an award of the Operational Flying Clasp. The central device of the eagle's head facing to the right denotes the award to Reconnaissance, Air-Sea Rescue and Meteorological flyers. In this unmarked example note the "star pendant" attached to the basic bar ... as operational flights quickly began to exceed the 110 represented by a Gold award, it became necessary to recognize these achievements by enhancing the badge. Introduced in June 1942, the pendant represents the completion of the following numbers of operational flights: Transport and Glider Squadrons - 500 Dive Bomber, Long Range Day Fighters, Air to Ground Support Squadrons - 400 Bomber, Air-Sea Rescue, Meteorological Squadrons - 300 Reconnaissance, Night fighter Squadrons - 250. The other feature of this badge to note is that it is manufactured from zinc alloy. These badges are very commonly found with the original color wash faded, or indeed, non-existent, having been absorbed over time by the base metal. Author Adrian Forman describes these as "crude", and certainly they command less money on the collectors' market. However, they generally maintain a solid standard of construction with sharp detail and serve to inform today's generation of the extreme demands on resources which occur in a war economy - if anything, they are historically interesting!
Luftwaffe Pilot Badge was instituted on August 12, 1935 by order of Reichsmarchall Hermann Göring (references are found in the ‘’Luftwaffen Verordnungsblatt’’ of may, 23, 1935). The pilot badge takes the form of a massive swooping eagle clutching a mobile swastika in it’s talons. The eagle is superimposed on a wreath of half laurel (left) and half oak leaves (right). The wreath imagery is carried over from the Imperial flight badge series. The Luftwaffe pilot badge portrays an image of unbridled aggression and ferocity. As with most Third Reich items, the pilot badge can be found in materials of different quality. Aluminum, nickel-silver, plated tombak, plated alloy and lacquered zinc were all used. Pre and early war versions tend to be executed in high quality nickel and tombak, while the mid to late war pieces tend to be of the alloy and zinc variety. Aluminum was used in the late 1930’s, but was rather quickly deemed unsuitable. Original aluminum badges are prized for their rarity and pristine finish. Pin assemblies are normally nickel or nickel plated tombak on earlier badges. Later types often have pins and hinges made of steel or alloy. The eagle and wreath are struck from an appropriate metal and always display good detail. Many early and high quality versions are made using a technique called die forging, which involves metal stock being heated until red hot and malleable. Theraw material is then struckwith an open die under tons of pressure. The resulting image is then removed and cooled. This process creates intricate patterns and multi-dimensional designs without undue wear on the toolings. The result is a crisp, detailed image with quite prominent die strike lines. The cooling process often renders small fissures in the image known as “cold shunts”. The fissures look like tiny folds or cracks and are often only apparent under magnification. The components are hand finished, which can render a slightly different outline to badges by the same maker. This feature is most obvious in the wingtip feathers, talon/swastika area and wreath. All pilot badges, even those made of inferior materials, are of a multi-piece, two rivet construction. The size and shape of the rivets vary with the maker and quality of the badge. High quality versions tend to have small, symmetrical precision rivets. Cheaper types use larger button rivets or even ones that are “squashed” into place. The high quality product of one maker, Gebruder Wegerhoff of Ludenscheid (GWL), has countersunk rivets with a tiny hollow “divet” in the center. A feature to look for on higher quality pilot badges is the presence of solder neatly built up around the base of the rivet where it attaches to the back of the eagle. This was often done to stabilize the rivet and give a better surface for riveting. This is a quality touch not normally found on restrikes and reproductions. High quality pilot badges are almost always found with neatly soldered barrel hinges and catches formed from stout wire. The catches are neatly finished on the free end and are soldered directly to the wreath. Again, high quality GWL badges are a notable exception. They have small block hinges and catches that look like a tiny claw. Cheaper pilot badges often have hinges and catches attached with soldering plates of various designs. This technique was used to expand the surface area of the soldering point on components made of inferior, lead based alloys. The pin on virtually all original pilot badges is the needle type. On hi0gh quality versions, it is soldered directly into the barrel hinge, while on cheaper versions it can be found looped through the hinge in a shepherd’s crook shape. The tip of the pin is normally pointed or finished in a dome-like shape. Regardless of quality, the pilot badge is always finished with a dark, oxidized eagle and silver wreath. On high quality badges made of nickel silver or nickel silver plated tombak, the eagle is chemically darkened and the wreath is chemically frosted in a matte silver. The highlights of the wreath are often burnished to a shine, leaving the frosting behind in the recessed areas. The result is an exceptionally attractive badge with a pronounced three dimensional look. Cheaper badges use thin plating and lacquer washes to achieve the appropriate colors. These badges, while acceptable products, pale in comparison to their high quality counterparts. The specifications* for the pilot badge were mandated upon it’s creation in 1936. They are: Wingspan of eagle: 65mm, Height (and width) of swastika: 15-16mm, Thickness of eagle: 2.5mm,Width of wreath: 42mm, Height of wreath: 53mm, Thickness of wreath: 2.5mm. These dimensions vary slightly from badge to badge and maker to maker. The pilot badge was produced in comparatively large numbers by many different firms. I have geared my comments toward the more attractive and collector-desirable high quality badges. As the quality of materials declined, most makers tended to continue using the same dies in conjunction with cheaper pins and finishes. Some of the more commonly encountered or desirable types are: Juncker badges are arguably the best, and certainly one of the most desirable pilot badges. The early high quality versions can be found in two distinct patterns. The first, produced from 1936 to approximately 1939, has a very flat eagle and thinner wreath. The space between the eagle’s legs is often pierced in order to give a three dimensional look. The second pattern has a more massive eagle and thicker wreath. The second pattern is the most commonly encountered high quality Juncker pilot badge. Both styles have small, neatly finished dome rivets that often include a small flat spot on the top. These rivets also frequently have a dark copper color on badges that were worn. The hinges are of the barrel variety and typically measurein the neighborhood of 13.2 mm. The catches are formed from thick round stock and are soldered directly to the wreath. When worn, the hinges and catches display the same copper color found on the rivets. The finish of original high quality Juncker badges is exceptionally fine and delicate. The darkening of the eagle looks almost like the bluing on a gun as opposed to the thick, black oxide finish of other makers. Similarly, the silver frosting on the wreath is very thin and subject to wear. It is difficult to find an original Juncker pilot badge with all of it’s finish intact! Juncker pilot badges are almost always marked in one of two ways. The first version is the letters “CEJ” inside a rectangle. This is the earlier mark and is only found on the first pattern badge. The second marking is: C.E. Juncker Berlin SW. Note the full stop periods after the C. and E., but not after the S and W. Also, the Juncker maker stamp uses distinctive stylized lettering that make the various strokes look almost like tiny triangles. This is especially noticeable in the “L” of Berlin. High quality Juncker badges have a look and feel that is unmistakable. This goes for all of their high quality badges in the aircrew series. Once you’ve handled and really examined an original, you will never be fooled by a fake. The C.E. Juncker firm was the Tiffany and Company of German badge production. Consequently, Juncker badges look more like high quality jewelry than pieces of military insignia. Note: Juncker also produced the very first pattern of aircrew badge. This piece has a horizontally oval wreath and a large gangly looking eagle. Because it is actually the precursor of the Combined Pilot Observer badge, it will not be covered. The Berlin firm of IMME , often written JMME in keeping with the German practice of switching these two letters, also made very high quality pilot badges. Their products are virtually identical in pattern to the C.E. Juncker pilot badge. The construction is somewhat different in that the eagle is more vaulted and the wreath has a slightly more vaulted, thinner profile. JMME rivets are very tiny, and their high quality products have barrel hinges, needle pins and thick wire catches. JMME badges have a very thick, frosty silver finish on the wreath and an oxidized eagle that is finished a bit like a Juncker. Their badges are typically marked “JMME” or “JMME & (u) Sohn Berlin”. Original JMME badges are very high quality articles. Like JMME products, the pilot badges made by the Wilhelm Deumer firm of Ludenscheid look very much like those of C.E. Juncker. The distinguishing feature of a Deumer badge is a thicker, more durable finish and a tiny hand done cut out between the legs. High quality versions have barrel hinges, needle pins and wire catches. Again, high quality is the key. These badges are normally marked : W. Deumer Ludenscheid. The Austrian firm of BSW made unique and particularly attractive pilot badges. Sometimes called “squat eagles”, they have a small, delicate look. Assembled with tiny precision rivets, BSWs also have a long narrow barrel hinge and a very different catch. Formed from a piece of stout wire, the catch is neatly soldered into the wreath at a right angle. BSW badges have a shiny silver finish and darkly burnished eagle. It should also be noted that the two outer sections of the barrel hinge are finished in silver, but the inner section is darkened along with the pin. High quality BSW finishes are tough and have held up well over the years. BSW pilot badges are incused with either the famous clover leaf insignia, or the firm’s name written out in tiny letters. The high quality BSW pilot badge embodies what I like about Third Reich badge collecting. The light, airy feel of their product is distinctly Austrian. Note the difference between it and the massive, definitely Prussian-looking Juncker badge. This firm churned out all manner of regalia for the German government. As such, their pilot badges have a slightly more “mass produced” feel. The early pieces are still of very nice quality, but they don’t compare to a Juncker or other high end maker. High quality Assmanns have distinctive die and construction characteristics. Compared to a Juncker badge, the wreath has a more concave appearance and the eagle is slightly less three dimensional. Also, the pattern on the wreath has a smooth, less “cut” appearance. The rivets are the most distinctive feature of an Assmannbadge. Often called “cupcake” rivets, their profile looks like the top of a cupcake. The rivets are also slightly countersunk and have concentric “spin” marks on them ending in a tiny nipple at the very top. This style of rivet disappeared as the war progressed. High quality Assmann badges have barrel hinges, needle pins and wire catches. They are also invariably marked with the incused, stylized “A” typical of Assmann products. GWL pilot badges are perhaps the most visually distinctive. They have a unique die pattern that gives the eagle a slightly chubby look compared to other makers. The wreath is highly detailed and multi-dimensional. The back of a GWL pilot badge is what really sets it apart. As mentioned above, GWLs have block hinges and catches that look like a tiny claw formed from flat metal stock. GWL pins are the Shepherd crook type and the rivets have a distinctive countersunk appearance with a small divet in the center. The finish of a GWL pilot badge is exceptionally attractive and is what makes them a very desirable addition to any collection. The eagle is oxidized in a rich caramel-bronze color and the wreath has a very frosty silver appearance. A GWL finish is durable and has held up well over the years. High quality GWL pilot badges are always marked with the firm’s logo, the letters “GWL” enclosed in a circle. The logo has a “break” in the circle at approximately the 7 o’clock position which is probably the result of a slightly defective stamp. Like a Juncker badge, high quality GWLs command a premium on today’s market. Nobody knows exactly what OM stands for, but their pilot badges are very high quality and quite desirable. OM badges have a distinctive look to the talons of the eagle. While most other makers used patterns that make the eagle look like it is actually clutching the swastika in it’s talons, OM eagles have talons that look one dimensional…almost like two three pronged forks. OM badges also have a small circular cut out between the eagle’s legs. OM badges have barrel hinges and wire catches, and are deeply marked with the letters “OM” in small incuse relief script. Original OM pilot badges are very rare and valuable. Some other original pilot badge makers are: Berg & N< Ludenscheid>, Paul Maybauer, Berlin (PM), MuK . The badge was worn on the upper left uniform pocket, below the Iron Cross 1st Class. Eligible to receive it were all those who completed pilot training. The pilot badge was also authorized in a cloth sew-on version. Judging from period photos, this was a popular option. Cloth badges for enlisted personnel are done in machine woven thread, while those for officers are made ofwire bullion. Both types are most typically found with Luftwaffe Blue-grey cloth backings.
1962 Stormflood medal Hamburg - In February of 1962, severe flooding struck several provinces in Northwest Germany. This flood was brought about by North Sea storm surges and affected mainly the coastal regions of Germany. Overall, the homes of about 60,000 people were destroyed, and the death toll amounted to 315 in Hamburg alone.. Many German civilians and military personnel served in the rescue efforts to save life and property. Further assistance was provided by NATO troops from other nations. This medal was issued by the province of Hamburg in recognition of this service.