Original German WW1 mounted medal group: Iron Cross II. Class, Hesse-Darmstadt General Honour Decoration / Bravery Medal, Honorary World War Commemorative Medal of the German Legion of Honour with Frontline Badge & Prussian Service Medal for 12 Years' Service, IN VERY NICE CONDITION, GENUINE RIBBONS, PERFECT PIN DEVICE, THE IRON CROSS IS A THREE PIECE CONSTRUCTION WITH MAGNETIC CORE, A REALLY GOOD MEDAL 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.
HESSE-DARMSTADT - General Honour Decoration, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig, ‘For Bravery’, (Allgemeines Ehrenzeichen, Großherzog Ernst Ludwig, ‘Für Tapferkeit’),1894-1918 issue - Circular silver medal with loop for ribbon suspension; the face with the head of Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig facing left, circumscribed ‘ERNST LUDWIG GROSSHERZOG VON HESSEN’; the reverse inscribed ‘FÜR TAPFERKEIT’ (for Bravery) within a circular wreath of oak and laurel; on replaced correct ribbon with glue residue to the upper reverse. The decoration was instituted in 1843 and bore the image of the successive Grand Dukes of Hesse. It was used as an award for a number of purposes, the inscription on the reverse varying accordingly, that inscribed ‘Für Tapferkeit’ coming to be known as the Hesse Bravery Medal (‘Hessische Tapferkeitsmedalle’). This example dates from the period between the accession and abdication of Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig (1894 to 1918) and was probably awarded in the early years of World War I (later examples being of ‘Kriegsmetall’ light alloy rather than silver).
German Honorary Commemorative Medal of the World War (Deutsche Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges) - Unlike great number of various post-war commemorative badges that were issued by countless veterans associations all across the Weimar Republic thus gaining profit and fame, German Honorary Commemorative Badge of the World War boasts quite extraordinary origin. It might well be an official German decoration be it instituted as far back as autumn 1917, when necessity of introduction of a commemorative badge for front-fighters had been discussed by the great officers of the German Empire. Having enjoyed support from the Emperor Wilhelm II himself and several German rulers, the idea was put into life by a renowned German artist Franz Stassen (12.02.1869-18.04.1949) who elaborated design of the medal in July 1918. March of history was anything but favourable though, and the very idea was well forgotten amidst the worst crisis the Empire ever encountered – loss of war, abolition of monarchy, dissolution of a state and menace of revolution. Nevertheless, Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges rose like Phoenix from its ashes due to efforts of the post-war Berlin-based Union of Nationalist Soldiers (Verband nationalgesinnter Soldaten) that had its own Council of the Order (Ordensrat) focusing on various aspects of introduction of that badge. Shortly before the Union was banned by the Weimar authorities, Council of the Order of the German Honorary Commemorative Badge of the World War (Ordensrat der Deutschen Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges) managed to institute itself as an independent body, moved to the Bavarian city of Buxheim and set up its Charter on September 21, 1921. The Council was headed by the Honorary Marshal (Ehrenmarschall), a position held by the Generaloberst Karl Wilhelm Georg August Gottfried von Einem genannt von Rothmaler (01.01.1853-07.04.1934), former Prussian War Minister (1903-1909) and commander of the 3rd Army during the Great War. Another prominent leader of the Council was its chancellor, retired Hauptmann (Hauptmann außer Dienst) Rudolph Hering-Deutschwehr who held that position until his retirement in 1924. It’s worth mentioning here that it was Hering-Deutschwehr who took the lead in introduction of the Deutsche Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges. Holders of a German Honorary Commemorative Badge of the World War could, if they wished so, be entered in the so-called German Legion of Honour (Deutschen Ehrenlegion), an organization which name was derived from the French La Légion d'honneur. Deutschen Ehrenlegion was divided into “Knights’ groups” and its members could call themselves “Knight of the German Legion of Honour”. Apropos, Generaloberst Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (09.04.1865-20.12.1937), Generalfeldmarschall Karl Wilhelm Paul von Bülow (24.03.1846-31.08.1921) and famous Freikorps commander Oberleutnant Gerhard Roßbach (28.02.1893-30.08.1967) were among its prominent members. Administration of the Council of the Order concurrently was a governing body of the German Legion of Honour. The Council moved to Mecklenburg in 1924 and finally returned to Berlin in 1927. According to the statute of the Deutsche Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges that was published on December 01, 1922, it was instituted as “a token of remembrance of the fallen, a recognition of the surviving [veterans] and an example for the future generations”. It was awarded to veterans and civilians, men or women who faithfully served their Fatherland during the Great War. Combat experience wasn’t a compulsory condition for decoration with a badge, patriotic spirit and former merits for the benefit of Germany during war and peace were deemed sufficient. Interesting to know is that that being instituted after the Great War despite wartime efforts that failed, Deutsche Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges was issued “on behalf” (“in Vertretung”) of the exiled German Emperor Wilhelm II, who, however, abstracted away from that noble initiative. German Honorary Commemorative Badge of the World War had a shape of a drop-shaped circular medal, 36x32 mm with a hole for suspension in its upper part. An obverse had an allegoric design showing a tunic-clad winged goddess of victory crowning a bareheaded German soldier in a filed uniform with an olive wreath. Soldier held a steel helmet in his right hand and a rifle in his left hand. It’s worth mentioning here that the initial design of an obverse created by Franz Stassen in July 1918 proposed an image of the Emperor Wilhelm II. A reverse had an image of an obverse of the Prussian Iron Cross 1st Class model 1914 surrounded by oak branches at its bottom. An inscription “For Fatherland” (“Fürs Vaterland”) in capital Gothic letters ran above in semicircle. Frontline veterans were issued with a special award document that allowed them to buy a commemorative combat emblem (Kampfabzeichen) that was attached to a ribbon. It had a shape of a circular gilt laurel wreath, 18 mm in diameter with a sword across pointing upwards measuring 34x1,5 mm. Those not able to present a proof of combat experience were allowed to swear solemnly. Deutsche Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges was manufactured of gilt bronze and was worn on the left side of the breast on a silk ribbon that symbolized colours of the German Imperial flag. Thus, the ribbon was white with a central 8 mm wide black stripe flanked by two 1 mm wide red stripes and two 1 mm wide black stripes at its edges. As all the other post-war unofficial commemorative badges, German Honorary Commemorative Badge of the World War had to be privately purchased by veterans or those deemed eligible for a decoration upon presentation of an award document. According to a Decree published on November 14, 1935 (Verordnung zur Ausführung des Gesetzes über Titel, Orden und Ehrenzeichen vom 14.November 1935) that put into effect a Supplement to the Law regarding state awards of April 07, 1933, wearing of a Deutsche Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges was prohibited. Nevertheless, those regulations were sometimes violated. As for the Ordensrat der Deutschen Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges, it held its final meeting on July 28, 1934 after which it was disbanded, and Deutschen Ehrenlegion members were incorporated into the official veterans’ organization Kyffhäuser-Bund soon after.
Prussian 12-Year Military Long Service Medal (12 Jahre Dienstauszeichnung) was instituted in 1913 to replace the Militär Dienstauszeichnung Schnalle 3. Klasse. It was awarded to military active duty NCO's and enlisted personnel for 12 years active service and required the recommendation of their Commanding Officer. Awards of this medal continued until the 3rd Reich introduced a series of new medals. These medals are often found on WWI German medal groups and identifies the wearer as a Prussian. Originally, only one long service award could be worn, so this medal could not be worn with any other (as well as any of the Landwehr long service awards). It's important to remember that the Prussian Landwehr had a similar award which is very often confused with this one. During the 3rd Reich era, the rules were changed which allowed for the wearing of 2 long service awards. The 12-Year Long Service Medal was made of a golden coloured metal with a ring loop soldered on for the suspension ring (which is often of a dissimilar metal) through which a blue silk woven ribbon (UV-negative) is worn. The diameter varied over the years from about 32 mm to 35 mm and was relatively thick at slightly over 2 mm. The obverse had the Prussian crown centered with Treue Dienst (Faithful Service) arching the upper portion and bei der Fahne (with the colors) arcing in the lower portion. The reverse carried only a XII, which represented 12 years. No attachments were authorized but you sometimes encounter one with a 3rd Reich eagle device - which is absolutely incorrect. The presence or absence of a miniature 3rd Reich eagle device on a ribbon bar helps in identifying which medal is represented since the ribbons were often exactly the same.