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Kriegervereins-Ehrenkreuz des Preußischen Landes-Kriegerverbandes

Honorary Cross of the Prussian State Veterans Association

Kriegervereins-Ehrenkreuz des Preußischen Landes-Kriegerverbandes was instituted in two classes in 1921 by the Berlin-based governing body of the Prussian State Veterans Association 

(Landesvorstand des Preußischen Landes-Krieger-Verbandes). Cross of the second Class was issued to members of various local veteran societies (Kriegervereine) as a recognition of their long-term meritorious service with the Association, while Cross of the first Class was presented to veterans for outstanding merits. Although statute stipulated that only those awarded with the lower class of the cross were eligible for decoration with the cross 1st Class, directorate of the Association did present both classes of the Honorary Cross in exceptional cases.

One interesting feature of Kriegervereins-Ehrenkreuz is that total quantity of crosses presented to members of local societies depended strictly on the strength of specific veteran organization that was part of the Prussian State Veterans Association. Thus, quota for crosses 2nd Class was one piece only for each ten members. Regulations for decoration with crosses 1st Class were even more strict and only one percent of society members could have been made holders of the Kriegervereins-Ehrenkreuz 1.Klasse.

Honorary Cross of the Prussian State Veterans Association had a shape of the equilateral Teutonic cross with wide raised border and circular medallions measuring 22 mm in diameter with wide borders superimposed on centre of both obverse and reverse. Rim made of raised dots was situated on face of the medallion, adjacent to its border. Inscription in Gothic letters “For Merit in Veterans Society Activities” (“Für / Verdienst / im / Kriegervereins / Wesen”) in five horizontal lines was placed on obverse of the medallion. Its reverse showed the likeness of the famous Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial with a sunburst behind it (fourteen straight rays on each side), said to be erected over the burial grounds of Friedrich I (also known as Friedrich Barbarossa, 1122-10.06.1190), the Holy Roman Emperor from 1155 until his death. Image of the monument (Kyffhäuserdenkmal) erected atop the Kyffhäuser hills not far from Leipzig, is frequently found as a central theme on insignia linked to German veterans organizations. 

Small plates are situated between the cross arms, each bearing one capital letter in stylized characters on its obverse: “P”, “L”, “K” and “V”, standing for the abbreviation of the Association – Preußischer Landes-Krieger-Verband. Each letter is surrounded with three raised dots, with the exception of “K” which is flanked with two dots only. Reverse of those plates bore raised mirror relief of four letters.

Kriegervereins-Ehrenkreuz des Preußischen Landes-Kriegerverbandes was manufactured of bronze. Cross 1st Class measuring 45x45 mm had gilt surface, while 2nd Class decoration measuring 44,2x44,2 mm was silvered. 16 mm miniatures were produced as well, either with long needle soldered to the central part of the reverse to be worn as a pin, or with an eyelet to be worn suspended from the chain.

Honorary Crosses of the Prussian State Veterans Association were manufactured by the Berlin-based Erster Berliner Abzeichen- und Fahnenfabrik Heinrich Timm, founded in 1846 and located at Wallstraβe 23-24, Berlin C19. Maker's mark, “H.Timm Berlin C.” executed in capital letters was minted in semi-circle on the lower portion of the loop for ribbon suspension.

Cross 1st Class was initially worn as a neck decoration, while that of the 2nd Class – on the left part of the chest suspended from the ribbon of Prussian colours: black and white short horizontal stripes in ladder pattern with thin white vertical stripes at edges. Pieces suspended from a ribbon bow with a safety pin sewn on the back of the ribbon, or Damenschleife, as commonly awarded to female personnel, are known to exist as well. 

Holders of both classes of the decoration wore them simultaneously.
Kriegervereins-Ehrenkreuz des Preußischen Landes-Kriegerverbandes was presented together with award certificate (Besitz-Zegnis) bearing signature or facsimile of the Association President. In Weimar Republic that post was held by Generaloberst Josias von Heeringen (09.03.1850-09.10.1926) and, after his demise, General der Artillerie a.D. [außer Dienst] Rudolf von Horn (09.07.1866-04.02.1934). By the way, President of the Prussian State Veterans Association historically served as a chairman of the Kyffhäuserbund, an umbrella organization for War veterans' and reservists' associations in Germany.

Some award certificates were signed by other leaders of the Preußischer Landes-Krieger-Verband, e.g. its "Third President", i.e. one of its Vice Presidents Generalmajor a.D. Paul Gobbin (1864-1935).  

Honorary Cross 1st Class as a neck decoration was issued until 1925, being replaced with a new pattern that was instituted on August 01, 1925 in similarity with the basic concept of the Prussian Iron Cross 1st Class. In other words, it was replaced with the pinback badge. Its obverse faithfully replicated that of the 1921 pattern cross with some notable exceptions. Firstly, arms of the cross were covered with white enamel leaving thin gilt outline close to edges. Secondly, Honorary Cross 1st Class of the 1925 pattern became salient in shape with flat reverse bearing maker's mark “Hch. Timm / Berlin C19” stamped in two horizontal lines in the very centre. It was worn on the left side of tunic or jacket being attached by vertical pin and catching hook soldered to the rverse. Kriegervereins-Ehrenkreuz 1.Klasse measuring 44,2x44,2 mm and weighing 24 g approximately was manufactured of gilt bronze.

Holders of the 1921 model 1st Class decorations were entitled to exchange them for pinback crosses by paying additional 6 Marks, but that procedure was in fact optional and veterans were allowed to continue wearing their original neck crosses.

Iconic catalogue by Jörg Nimmergut contains image of the Honorary Cross of the Prussian State Veterans Association 1st Class of the 1921 issue with cut-off eyelet and custom-soldered hinge with vertical pin and catching hook on reverse. That piece was obviously modified by its owner to a pinback badge from a neck decoration.  

Total number of Honorary Crosses issued to Prussian veterans isn't known to the author, but Kriegervereins-Ehrenkreuz 2.Klasse was undoubtedly one of the most common post-war decorations worn by German veterans. Approximate figures of crosses issued could be estimated judging from the period official reports. Thus, in 1903 German Empire had 26 veterans associations, the biggest amongst which was the Prussian one: it contained 13,453 societies with 1,167,187 registered members. Seven years later, on January 13, 1910, Prussian War Ministry issued a circular particularly stating: “Number of veterans societies (Kriegervereine) joining State associations (Landesverbände) is growing sustainably. As of October 01, 1909, Prussian State Veterans Association integrated 16,533 societies totaling 1,439,145 members”. Those figures are really impressive bearing in mind that in 1873 Deutscher Kriegerbund, or German Veterans League boasted 27,000 members approximately and their number rose to ca. 400,000 in 1890.  

It would be logical to assume, therefore, that number of veterans who joined the Prussian State Veterans Association in 1920s exceeded pre-WWI figures stated above, even taking into account natural membership decline due to advanced age.

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Honorary Cross of Prussian State Veterans Association 1