Friedrich August Cross

Friedrich-August-Kreuz was instituted on September 24, 1914 by the Grand Duke of Oldenburg Friedrich August (Großherzog Friedrich August von Oldenburg, 16.11.1852 – 24.02.1931) in two classes. It was awarded to military personnel and civilians regardless of rank and gender for combat merits and outstanding service at the home front during the Great War. Subjects of other German states were eligible for a decoration as well. Roughly saying Friedrich-August-Kreuz was Oldenburg’s equivalent of the Prussian Iron Cross. At the early stage of the war one should have been a holder of the Prussian Iron Cross, 2nd class to become a recipient of the Friedrich August Cross, 2nd class, but closer to the end of the WWI that rule wasn’t observed.

Friedrich-August-Kreuz had a shape of an equilateral cross pattée with a round laurel wreath between its arms and a loop for ribbon suspension.

A round medallion bearing initials of the Grand Duke (“FA”) in capital letters was superimposed on obverse. The Oldenburg crown appeared on the upper arm, while the year an award was instituted (“1914”) was placed on the lower arm of the cross. Reverse was similar to obverse but without any inscriptions.

Friedrich-August-Kreuz, 1st class was worn at the lower left part of a tunic and was attached by pin with catching hook or by screw. The 2nd class of decoration was worn suspended from a ribbon. The 1st class (Steckkreuz) was only awarded to recipients of the 2nd class. Miniatures of the Cross were manufactured as well.

Friedrich August Cross for military personnel and civilians differed in colour scheme of ribbon. Thus, the former were entitled for a “combatants’ ribbon” (Kämpferband), made of 35 mm wide dark blue silk with two 5 mm wide red vertical stripes at its edges leaving 2 mm wide dark blue stripes. The latter wore it on a “non-combatants’ ribbon” (Nichtkämpferband), that was red with two dark blue stripes. Late wartime ribbons are sometimes found of a poorer workmanship in the weft and weaving as well as other material being utilized, e.g. cotton.

Friedrich-August-Kreuz measuring 38,5-40,5х38,5-40,5 mm was initially manufactured of blackened iron (painted or lacquered) by court jewelers of the Grand Duchy. Since September 1916 Buntmetall and zinc were used as well.

Friedrich-August-Kreuz was a mass decoration of Oldenburg: by the end of the Great War 6,900 crosses of the 1st class and 62,800 crosses of the 2nd class were awarded. Like other German decorations, Friedrich August Cross was issued in the post-war Weimar Republic to those front fighters who were not able to receive well-deserved decoration during the WWI.

Battle clasp

Battle clasp (Spange) for combatants was instituted by the Grand Duke of Oldenburg Friedrich August on September 20, 1918, just two months before the Great War ended. It was issued to front fighters for particular merits together with the Friedrich-August-Kreuz, 2nd class. Battle clasp measuring 35,2х6,7 mm and weighing 2,5 g approximately had a horizontal rectangular shape with a distinctive border. An inscription “Facing the Enemy” (“Vor dem Feinde”) was made in raised capital Latin letters. The battle clasp was usually made of the same metal as the cross itself. It was attached to the ribbon by two flat non-pointed prongs soldered to its reverse.

As previous merits were not counted and the clasp couldn’t be awarded retrospectively, veterans obtained a right to purchase it upon presentation of a documented proof of combat experience. Privately purchased clasps measured 34,25-35,2х6,7-6,9 mm and weighed 2,1-2,5 g. Clasp in a miniature form were manufactured as well and were worn on miniature ribbon bars.

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