Military Sports Cross of “Der Stahlhelm”

Military Sports Cross was instituted on October 04, 1930 by authorities of “Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten”, strong Weimar-era paramilitary conservative organization of war veterans, during one of their traditional mass gatherings, XI Convention of Imperial Front-Fighters (Reichsfrontsoldatentag XI) that was held in the Prussian city of Koblenz on October 04-05, 1930.

Stahlhelm Military Sports Cross PhotoThe badge was presented to winners of all-round events that were held in three successive stages, provided aspirants were over 18 years of age. The first stage called “Qualifying round” (Vorprüfung) was in fact a swimming test. Those who went through were eligible for the much more effortful second stage, or “General qualification round” (Allgemeine Befähigungsprüfung) that consisted of small-calibre shooting, demonstration of command abilities, map reading and distance estimation. The final and the most intensive test, “Principal military sports round” (Wehrsportliche Hauptprüfung) that should have been completed within five hours of the same day comprised of quick march that could be performed afoot, mounted or on race bicycles, small-calibre shooting, obstacle course running, hand grenade throwing and log throwing.

Tests evaluation that led to presentation of a badge was done by two arbiters from different territorial units (Ortsgruppen) of Stahlhelm, thus providing judging impartiality.

Interestingly enough, Stahlhelm-Wehrsportkreuz was issued indefinitely only for those elder than 35 years of age, while younger recipients from Stahlhelm itself and Jungstahlhelm as its youth organization were permitted to wear the badge for five years only, after which they were required to pass the third test described above. However, such condition most likely remained on paper as the very first badges were issued in May 1931 only, while “Der Stahlhelm” or, to be more precise “National-Socialist German Union of Front Fighters Stahlhelm” (Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Frontkämpferbund Stahlhelm) as it was known since March 1934, was disbanded on November 07, 1935 soon after the VII NSDAP Congress  (Reichsparteitag der Freiheit) that took place in Nuremberg, September 10-16, 1935.

Statistics of decoration with the Stahlhelm-Wehrsportkreuz is listed below. The very first 135 badges were awarded between May and late October 1931. Presentation of badges since then increased the total number of distributed pieces in the following way: 10.05.1932 – 250 badges; 02.07.1932 – 300; 15.08.1932 – 395; 30.11.1932 – 743; 31.12.1932 – 778; January 1933 – 818; 31.03.1933 – 851; 30.06.1933 – 880; 31.08.1933 – 948; 05.10.1933 – 970.

Stahlhelm-Wehrsportkreuz that measured 46,1х46,1 mm had a shape of an equilateral florid twelve-pointed cross with a central circular medallion that featured traditional Stahlhelm insignia, 13x21,2 mm German steel helmet with a Gothic inscription “Der Stahlhelm” in two lines. Crowned eagles that were situated between arms of a cross had their wings outstretched in a manner that reproduced external contour of the badge.

Military Sports Cross was made of silver or so-called Buntmetall. Several parts of a badge were enameled, i.e. inner cross was white, eagles – black, their beaks and feet – red. Crowns and raised elements retained silver colour.

The badge was worn on the left breast pocket and was attached to a tunic with a vertical pin soldered to its reverse. The latter also bore engraved serial number corresponding to that stated on back side of the award certificate in handwriting as well as on presentation case.

To date the highest serial number observed is No.1029 which was presented before the end of 1933. It must, therefore, be assumed that not more than 1,050-1,100 badges were presented in total since May 1931 up to the end of 1933.

Military Sports Crosses of “Der Stahlhelm” were manufactured by the Berlin-based company “J.C.Gante jr. Vereinsabzeichen-Fabrik Gravir- und Emaillier-Anstalt” (Berlin, S.14, Dresdner Straße 71) founded in 1888 and closed in 1945.

The colourful award document (Verleihungs-Urkunde) was issued together with a badge. A mention should be made here that early award certificates bore facsimile of both Stahlhelm leaders, Franz Seldte and Theodor Duesterberg (so-called “first” and “second” Bundesführers), together with that of Stahlhelm sports leader (Bundessportwart). However Duesterberg’s name was eliminated from letterheads after once influential monarchist fell into disgrace due to his anti-national-socialist sentiments.  

Thus Stahlhelm-Wehrsportkreuz turned out to be quite a short-lived decoration as it was abolished on November 14, 1935, exactly a week before Stahlhelm as an organization was finally disbanded and two years after its presentation discontinued. Nevertheless, on October 19, 1933 the badge was authorized for wearing by former Jungstahlhelm members who had been conscripted en masse to Reserve units of Stormtroopers (SA Reserve) in April 1933.

However Stahlhelm-Wehrsportkreuz never passed into oblivion being reintroduced nowadays. The badge was reinstituted on March 09, 1987 in the West Germany as an official award of the modern-day Stahlhelm with the same statute including similar design of an award certificate.

Stahlhelm Military Sports Cross