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Kriegsehrenkreuz

War Honour Cross

War Honour Cross was instituted in one class only in 1925 by the Munich-based Registered Non-commercial Association “Honorary Union of German World War Participants” (Ehrenbund deutscher Weltkriegsteilnehmer E.V. [eingetragener Verein]), one of numerous post-WWI veterans’ organizations that mushroomed amidst the chaos of the Weimar Republic. The Union itself was founded on February 13, 1925 in Munich (Bavaria) and its headquarters was located at Ungererstraße 30, München 23.

The very idea of creation of yet another new decoration for German veterans came as a reaction to the disassociation of the former Emperor Wilhelm II residing in Doorn in exile from the still existing and widely popular German Honorary Commemorative Badge of the World War (Deutsche Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges). Thus, according to founders of the newly introduced decoration, it should have taken position of the main, but still unofficial, distinctive badge of the German Great War veterans. However, going forward, it should be admitted that “mission” of Kriegsehrenkreuz had failed.

Decoration together with award certificate was issued by the so-called “Department of Grandmaster of the War Honour Cross” (Großmeisteramt des Kriegsehrenkreuzes). Those who aspired to mount one more “award” to their medal bar had to join the Honorary Union first, submit written application for the Cross and provide documented proof of military service during the Great War. Front-fighters (Frontkämpfer) were eligible for decoration with War Honour Cross with Swords (“Kriegsehrenkreuz mit Schwertern”), while those who had served in rear areas, in homeland or with auxiliary services (Kriegsteilhehmer) were given ordinary War Honour Cross, i.e. without swords. Like all the other unofficial badges issued during the Weimar era, Kriegsehrenkreuz had to be privately purchased by veterans who covered badge, ribbon and certificate production expenses.

Kriegsehrenkreuz had a shape of an equilateral Maltese cross with pebbled surface and raised polished borders. Circular medallion with raised rim was placed in the centre of the cross. It was encircled with round oath wreath which fragments were visible between arms of the cross. Obverse of medallion bore image of an Imperial eagle with spread wings topped with a crown. Miniature black-, white- and red-enameled shield was superimposed on the breast of a bird of prey. Left arm of the cross bore the year the Great War started, i.e. “1914”, while the right one showed the date it ended, i.e. “1918”.

Reverse of medallion bore name of the issuing authority executed in five horizontal lines in capital letters: “Ehrenbund deutsch. Weltkriegsteilnehmer – E.V. –”. 

Combat emblem superimposed on the upper part of the cross that consisted of two crossed swords pointing upwards and tied with threefold ribbon at the centre was the distinctive feature of the decoration for front-fighters, officially named “Kriegsehrenkreuz mit Schwertern” (“War Honour Cross with Swords”).  

Kriegsehrenkreuz measured 41,7x41,7 mm, while dimensions of crossed swords were 25x1,2 mm. War Honour Cross for Front-Fighters weighed 14 g, and version for non-combatants weighed slightly less – 13,5 g.

War Honour Cross was manufactured of bronze with application of black, white and red enamel. It was worn on the left side of the breast suspended from a 30 mm wide silk ribbon representing two vertical rows made of black, white and red thin stripes, i.e. colours of German Imperial flag, placed symmetrically at edges. Centre of the ribbon was made of short alternate black and white horizontal stripes representing Prussian flag. 

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 Kriegsehrenkreuz was prohibited.

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