Verdun Cross

Verdun Cross was instituted by one of the numerous veterans associations that mushroomed in the Weimar Republic. Exactly that one in question was based in Saxony and carried quite intricate name: Honorary Union of the Saxon World War Participants, Registered Association Comradeship of the German East and West Front Fighters (Ehrenbund Sächsischer Weltkriegteilnehmer e.V. [eingetragener Verein] Kameradschaftsbund Deutscher Ost- und Westfrontkämpfer). As it can easily be seen from the full name founders of that union stressed that an association had a status of a legally registered noncommercial organization.

Verdun Cross was issued to commemorate participation of German soldiers in one of the major, lonhest and most bloody battles of the Great War – the Battle of Verdun (Schlacht um Verdun), that was fought on the Western Front between the German and French Armies from February 21 till December 18, 1916. The Battle of Verdun that lasted nine months, three weeks and six days resulted in nearly one million casualties from both sides, more than 400,000 German and French soldiers were killed.

Depending on a manufacturer two types of the badge that differed in the shape of a cross existed: earlier one that was produced in Dusseldorf and later one made in Hamburg.

Verdun Cross manufactured in Dusseldorf had a shape of an equilateral Teutonic cross with quite narrow arms. Hamburg-made badge had a shape of a narrow Maltese eight-pointed cross.

Round medallion was superimposed on centers of both crosses, design of their obverses and ribbons were similar as well.

An obverse had arms of the cross enameled black at the edge and white at its centre separated by thin silver lines. A half round inscription “Verdun” executed in silver capital letters was running at the top of the central medallion accompanied by the dates of the Great War, “1914 1918” placed in two rows beneath.

Reverses of both types of Verdun-Kreuz had slightly pebbled surface and carried maker’s marks: either “Eugen Billig, Düsseldorf, Ges. Gesch.” in three rows or “Fleck & Sohn, Hamburg 3” in two rows.

The badge was worn on a 24 mm wide white ribbon with a central wide black stripe that had short horizontal white thin stripes. Gilt or silvered crossed swords were often attached to the ribbon to stress the “combat character” of that unofficial badge. Gilt battle clasp bearing an inscription “Verdun” in capital letters between two small diamonds was sometimes worn instead of crossed swords.

Like all the other badges manufactured during the Weimar era Verdun Cross had to be privately purchased by veterans upon presentation of award documents issued either by Dusseldorf or later by Chemnitz-based divisions of the above mentioned Saxon association.

Verdun Cross had a size of 39,6x39,6 mm and was made of silver colored non-ferrous metal and had enamel finish of two colors, white and black.

“Dusseldorf type” badge was issued in 1932 while “Hamburg type” – in 1933-1934. After an institution of an official WWI veterans’ award, i.e. the Cross of Honor  on July 13, 1934 Verdun Cross like vast majority of other unofficial Weimar-era commemorative and honor badges was prohibited to be worn.

Approximately 3,000 badges were issued.

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