King Ludwig Cross was instituted by the King of Bavaria Ludwig III (07.01.1845-18.10.1921) on January 07, 1916 as a “token of commemoration and recognition of those who during this war have performed with particular merit for the army or for the general welfare of the homeland through official and voluntary activities”. That mass decoration awarded to civilian and in certain cases military personnel regardless of their rank and social status was similar to the Prussian Merit Cross for War Aid (Verdienstkreuz für Kriegshilfe).
König Ludwig-Kreuz was bestowed on distinguished subjects by six Royal Bavarian ministries, viz. Royal House and Foreign Affairs Ministry (Staatsministerium des Königlichen Hauses und des Äußern), War Ministry (Königlich Bayerischen Kriegsministerium), Home Ministry (K.B.Staatsministerium des Innern), Ministry of Justice (K.B.Staatsministerium des Justiz), Ministry of Finance (K.B.Staatsministerium der Finanzen) and Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs and Education (K.B.Staatsministerium des Innern für Kirchen- und Schulangelegenheiten). Award documents were presented in a special cardboard barrel or an envelope, while cross itself in a rectangular carton envelope with a crowned cipher of the Bavarian ruler.
Design of the König Ludwig-Kreuz was elaborated by the German sculptor professor Josef Bernhard Maria Bleeker (26.07.1881-11.03.1968), and a specimen was struck by engraver and medallist Alois Börsch (01.03.1855-10.04.1923).
Decoration had a shape of a vertically elongate cross pattée, 42х39 mm in size with an oval central medallion measuring 23x20 mm and a lateral loop for ribbon suspension.
An obverse bore the head of the King Ludwig III facing left. A reverse had a date of the institution of award, i.e. “7∙I∙1916” imposed on the lozenges of the Bavarian arms. It’s worth mentioning here that after abolition of monarchy König Ludwig-Kreuz was worn either obverse or reverse outside.
King Ludwig Cross was cast in the Royal Bavarian Mint in Munich and was initially made of blackened iron and bronze. By the end of the Great War, in 1918 due to shortage of strategic materials zinc was substituted. Crosses for Bavarian ministers, palace and other high ranking officials were manufactured of silver without blackening.
Decoration was worn suspended from a
Approximate figures of decorations issued in 1916-1918 were as follows: 250 silver crosses, ca. 20,000 iron crosses, ca. 30,000 bronze crosses and ca. 40,000 zinc crosses.