Medaille für aufopfernde Tätigkeit in Kriegszeit was instituted on November 10, 1915 by the last Prince Reuss Younger Line, His Serene Highness Heinrich XXVII (Heinrich XXVII Fürst Reuß jüngere Linie, 10.11.1858-21.11.1928). Interesting to know that all male heirs of the Principality of Reuss, both Elder and Junior lines, and not only ruling monarchs, were given traditional names Heinrich and ordinal numbers at birth. As for the Elder line, numeration of male heirs recommenced with the first, i.e. Heinrich I, after Heinrich the Hundredth, or Heinrich C was named.
The Medal for Selfless Labour during the War It was presented to male and female Reuss subjects in recognition of their meritorious service in the field of charity during the Great War. The medal was to be kept in the family after the demise of its holder as a token of remembrance.
The center of an obverse bore an inscription in capital letters running in five horizontal lines: “For Loyal Labour during Iron [e.g. Hard] Times 1914” (“Für treues Wirken in eisener Zeit 1914”). Actually, the very conception of the “Eiserne Zeit”, or “Iron Time” stood for the nation-wide campaign announced by the federal government that managed to realize by 1916 that the German Empire settled in for a longer and much costlier war than anyone imagined when the Great War broke out in 1914. It was then that the government appealed to its loyal subjects to donate their gold jewelry to the war effort in exchange for iron items, e.g. rings, tokens, medallions and watch chains. The legend was encircled with a wide oak wreath tied crosswise with four ribbon ties. Two slight variants of an obverse are known to exist, differing in position of the oak wreath: either siding with the edge or minted in a way to leave a thin blank rim.
A reverse with border showed a cipher of the prince Heinrich XXVII – Gothic letter “H” with numeral “XXVII” below – topped with the crown of Reuss.
Round medal measuring 33,2 mm in diameter and weighing 17,5 g was made of bronze and had a loop for ribbon suspension. It was minted by a Berlin-based manufacturer “Werner, Albert & Söhne”, founded in 1857 and also known as “AWES-Münze”. However, few medals made of Kriegsmetall, i.e. zinc are believed to exist as well.
Medal for Selfless Labour during the War was worn on the left side of the chest suspended from a silk ribbon which colors conformed to those of the state flag of Reuss: yellow with two vertical thin stripes at the edges, black and red. Female recipients wore the decoration on traditional women’s bow.
The medal was awarded from the late 1915 until 1918. At the end of 1915 Reuss authorities placed initial order comprising of 1,000 medals at “AWES-Münze”. Additional 600 pieces had been ordered in 1918. Thus, total number of issued medals might be around 1,500-1,600 pieces.