Hamburg Hanseatic Cross was instituted in one class only by the Senate of the Free and Hanseatic city of Hamburg (Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg) on September 10, 1915 according to the three-party agreement between governments of all the three Hanseatic cities, i.e. Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck. Though the award was instituted jointly during discussions held in Hamburg, each Senate ratified its decoration separately, the Lübeck version being established first – on August 21, 1915. The Hamburg cross followed on September 10 and the Bremen cross – on September 14.
Hamburg Hanseatic Cross was issued to the following military personnel regardless of rank and social status:
- officers, NCOs and other ranks of the Infanterie-Regiment Hamburg (2.Hanseatisches) Nr.76;
- crew of the light cruiser “Hamburg” (SMS Hamburg);
- crew of other warships of the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) based in Hamburg;
- military personnel of units permanently stationed in Hamburg;
- military personnel of units temporarily stationed in Hamburg in time of war;
- natives and citizens of Hamburg serving in other units;
- officers of non-Hanseatic units that comprised of Hamburg natives, even if they were not numerous;
- military personnel of non-Hanseatic units that fought alongside Hanseatic units and rendered them combat assistance;
- medical service volunteer assistants involved in caring of the wounded soldiers in the battlefield.
When awarded for bravery or combat merit Hamburg Hanseatic Cross was an equivalent of the Prussian Iron Cross.
An award had a shape of an equilateral cross pattée with a superimposed central circular medallion. An obverse was red enameled, while a reverse had silvered surface.
An obverse of medallion shows a lesser coat of arms of Hamburg known since XII century –
castellation with closed gate symbolizing strength and independence, and three towers above. The middle one has a cross on its top, while two side-towers have six-pointed stars standing for the Blessed Virgin who is considered to be a divine protector of Hamburg. Colour scheme, i.e. silver castle against red background reflects a decision made by the senate of Hamburg on May 14, 1752 that introduced just that very coloring.
A reverse of medallion bore a Gothic inscription “For Merits in War
Hamburg Hanseatic Cross measuring 40x40 mm and weighing
An award was worn suspended from a silk white
Hamburg Hanseatic Cross was the most widely awarded among all the three Hanseatic crosses. Thus, 120,000 pieces approximately were issued as of September 1924.