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Krieger-Ehrenzeichen in Eisen

War Honor Decoration in Iron, a.k.a. “Bloody Ludwig”

Krieger-Ehrenzeichen in Eisen was instituted on March 03, 1917 by the Grand Duke of Hesse Ernst Ludwig (Großherzog Ernst Ludwig von Hessen, 25.11.1868-09.10.1937) in conjunction with the 25th jubilee of his reign.

Being highest award of the Grand Duchy for exceptional frontline bravery, criteria for decoration with the War Honor Decoration in Iron were quite strict. Thus, contender should have been a Hessian subject as of August 01, 1914; holder of the Prussian Iron Cross 2nd class and Hessian Silver Bravery Medal (Allgemienes Ehrenzeichen für Tapferkeit); frontline soldier or officer for at least two years (including recovery in hospital for less than two months), and last but not least, he should have been wounded during frontline operations. The latter led to the unofficial nickname “Bloody Ludwig” (“Blutiger Ludwig”) given to this award by frontline soldiers. Due to the connection of this decoration to the Bravery Medal sometimes it was qualified as the Hessian Bravery medal 1st class.

The award had a shape of a wide round laurel wreath topped with a crown of the Grand Duchy and tied at its bottom with a wide ribbon bearing number “25”. Intertwined letters “E” and “L” standing for  the ruler of Hesse Ernst Ludwig .

Krieger-Ehrenzeichen in Eisen measuring 38-39х43-44 mm was worn on the lower left side of a tunic and was attached either by a vertical pin with catching hook soldered to its reverse or by two screws with locking nuts.

Depending on a manufacturer, whose number was nearly twenty, badges differed in size and minor details. They were made of blackened or silvered iron, silver, zinc, copper or brass. Miniatures of Krieger-Ehrenzeichen in Eisen were produced as well.

Approximately 2,000 badges were issued. 

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Krieger Ehrenzeichen in Eisen 1Krieger Ehrenzeichen in Eisen 2