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Kriegsehrenkreuz für heldenmütige Tat

War Honor Cross for Heroic Deeds

Kriegsehrenkreuz für heldenmütige Tat was instituted in one class only on December 08, 1914 “during dark times of war against multitude of enemies who opposed us by taking up arms” by the last Prince of Lippe Leopold IV (Leopold Julius Bernhard Adalbert Otto Karl Fritz Georg Gustav zur Lippe, 30.05.1871-30.12.1949) who reigned from September 26, 1904 until November 12, 1918. Succeeding to the throne on October 25, 1905 he had been initially governing the Principality since 1904 as regent.

War Honor Cross for Heroic Deeds was issued to the subjects of that tiny German state regardless of their descent, social status, military rank and position. Holders of decoration were mainly officers, NCOs and lower ranks of the 3rd battalion of the Infanterie-Regiment Graf Bülow von Dennewitz (6.Westfälisches) Nr.55 recognized for their exceptionally risk-bearing military merits and bravery in battles of the Great War. Subjects of the Principality serving in other German units were also eligible for decoration. Nominations for an award were submitted by unit commanders to the War Ministry of Lippe that decided appropriateness of decoration.

Interesting to know that unlike all the other similar awards instituted by other German states, decoration with the Prussian Iron Cross, 1st Class was not required to be issued with the War Honor Cross for Heroic Deeds of Lippe-Detmold. After demise of the holder of the Kriegsehrenkreuz für heldenmütige Tat decoration was kept by the closest relatives of the deceased as a token of remembrance and was not to be returned to issuing authorities.

War Honor Cross for Heroic Deeds had a shape of the salient equilateral Teutonic cross with polished edges and pebbled surface. Its upper arm bore a cipher of the prince Leopold IV – fancy letter “L” topped with the crown of Lippe, and its lower arm had the year of the institution of the decoration, i.e. “1914”. The full name of award was inscribed in capital letters in two lines on left and right arms of the cross: “Für mütige” (on the left) и “Helden Tat” (on the right). Round laurel wreath tied with a ribbon tie at its bottom was superimposed on the central part of the cross. The very centre bore an image of traditional pentapetalous rose of Lippe.

Official batch of decorations numbering 750 pieces was manufactured by the Pforzheim-based court jeweler company “Fabrikation deutscher und auslandischer Orden und Bijouterie Carl F.Zimmermann Pforzheim”. Fifty crosses intended for presentation to prominent persons were made of gilt silver, while the rest 700 pieces were minted of gilt bronze. No hallmarks are found on those official crosses. Kriegsehrenkreuz für heldenmütige Tat was presented to a hero in a dark-red square cardboard box measuring 65,75x66,6x20,75 mm without any inscriptions on its top.

War Honor Cross for Heroic Deeds, either pin-back or screw-back was manufactured until the fall of the Third Reich by two Berlin-based companies, “Paul Meybauer Militär-Effekten und Orden-Fabrik” and “J.Godet & Sohn”, the former bearing a maker’s mark. Those crosses were sold as duplicates to the holders of the decoration upon presentation of appropriate award documents.

Kriegsehrenkreuz für heldenmütige Tat measuring 46,0-46,1x46,0-46,1 mm, 2,7 mm thick and weighing 19,4 g approximately was worn at the lower left part of the tunic and was attached with a wide vertical pin and catching hook soldered to reverse of upper and lower arms of the cross. Depending on a manufacturer, some crosses were attached with a screw and various nuts, some even had additional intermediate cross-shaped plate.

Totally 740 War Honor Crosses for Heroic Deeds were awarded from 1915 until 1920: 47 pieces in 1915, 115 in 1916, 197 in 1917, 354 in 1918, and additional 27 decorations were presented to the Great War veterans in 1920. Prince of Lippe Leopold IV was made the very first holder of the Kriegsehrenkreuz für heldenmütige Tat in 1915. The last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Karl was decorated with the War Honor Cross for Heroic Deeds in 1917. 

War Honor Cross for Heroic Deeds 1