Ehren-Kreuz für 25jährige treue Militär-Dienste

Cross of Honour for 25 Years of Faithful Military Service

Ehren-Kreuz für 25jährige treue Militär-Dienste was instituted on December 24, 1838 by Paul Friedrich August von Oldenburg (13.07.1783-27.02.1853), the Grand Duke of Oldenburg who reigned from May 28, 1829 until his demise. Introduction of the decoration marked the twenty-fifth jubilee of the patriotic appeal of the Grand Duke’s father, Duke Peter Friedrich Ludwig of Oldenburg (17.01.1755-21.05.1829) to his subjects. His proclamation aimed at creation of the national anti-French army has been made after his return to Oldenburg from voluntary exile in Russia following Napoleon’s fall. Though raised in 1814, Oldenburg infantry regiment never managed to participate in the French campaign and thus Oldenburg turned out to be the only German state that didn’t take part in that operation.

Decoration was awarded to all officers who have served twenty-five years or more, as well as to NCOs in the ranks of Feldwebel and below and soldiers with a service tenure of 25 years as of May next year. Officers deprived of liberty for six months and more within the last five years; NCOs downgraded within the last five years; military musicians and privates punished for defection or transferred to second class soldiers within the last five years were excluded from the list of those eligible for decoration.

Participation in combat actions, apart from 25 years of faithful military service, was the second condition for decoration with the Ehren-Kreuz für 25jährige treue Militär-Dienste. Combatants were found eligible for decoration automatically, while non-combatants in the Oldenburg army, such as military officials, military surgeons, office clerks, book-keepers, foragers, oboists, gunsmiths and other military mechanics, as well as provosts, foot and mounted gendarmes, grooms, train soldiers, muleteers, medical orderlies, etc. could claim the decoration, if present at least in one campaign.

Service counting was made according to the Pension Regulations for the Army (Militair-Pensions-Reglement) provisions and subsequent amendments and additions. Participation in 1813, 1814 and 1815 campaigns was calculated on preferential basis, i.e. one day of military service was counted as two. Lists of servicemen eligible for decoration were drawn up by military unit commanders and submitted to brigade headquarters. Those lists were subsequently reported to the Military Command of the Grand Duchy by 1 November each year together with originals of certified copies of documents confirming length of military service. At the same time every serviceman had the right to address himself to his immediate commander to obtain authorization to submit an application to the Military Command for decoration with the Ehren-Kreuz für 25jährige treue Militär-Dienste. Upon receipt of documentation package, the Application Verification Commission (Kommission zur Prüfung der Ansprüche) composed of one staff officer and two officers in the rank of Hauptmann (all three being holders of the decoration in question), has been convened by the Military Command. That Commission was granted the right to call up every additional information it deemed appropriate, e.g. excerpts from rewards and punishments registers, criminal records, etc. from civil and military authorities. By 1 December, Commission submitted its opinion letter to the Military Command, which, in turn, reported it together with its own conclusion to the Grand Duke for approval by 15 December. The day of distribution of the decoration was December 24 of each year. Awardees have been presented with extracts from the corresponding Order issued by the Military Command. Information on each decoration was published in the Official Gazette of Decrees (Verordnungsblatt). Renewable list of all local holders of the decoration was kept at the Military Commando of the Grand Duchy and was presented to the Grand Duke for familiarization at the end of December each year.

Those who have been decorated with the Ehren-Kreuz für 25jährige treue Militär-Dienste in the rank of Lieutenant but have not been subsequently promoted to Hauptmann during their active military service, received monthly addition to their pay worth 10 gulden (£1 or 6 silver rubles 40 kopecks as of 1858) paid from the military budget under “extraordinary expenses” section. NCOs, military musicians and soldiers enjoyed monthly allowance increase amounting to the half of their pay, the latter being established on April 05, 1832 (apropos, their allowances increased by one third after twelve years of military service), while long-service bonus, so-called Chevron-Zulage, introduced by the Order dated June 04, 1832, on the contrary, have ceased.

Wearing of one to three long service chevrons on the left tunic sleeve was maintained, but regulations for their issue have changed: each cloth patch represented six years of active military service, i.e. they were presented after 6, 12 and 18 years of service. Meanwhile, long-service bonus was paid until decoration with the Ehren-Kreuz für 25jährige treue Militär-Dienste.

Chevrons were abolished on December 24, 1847 with the introduction of Long Service Awards (Dienstauszeichnungen) that came in three classes. 

Decree dated September 30, 1852 allowed officers to purchase authorized copy of the Ehren-Kreuz für 25jährige treue Militär-Dienste from their personal resources in order to avoid tedious procedure of mounting cross from one tunic to another.

Wearing of decoration was allowed after active duty retirement.

Repeat issue of the award in case of the loss of original was implemented according to the standard procedure dealing with renewal of lost orders and medals.

The cross had to be returned to the Military Command of the Grand Duchy in case of its deprivation or after the demise of its holder, and was subsequently sent to the Military Office. As for the award certificate, it was kept by the family of the deceased veteran as a token of remembrance. Seizure proceedings have activated in 1867, while before that date local authorities had generally turned a blind eye to such violations.

Shortly after the Military Convention between Oldenburg and Prussia (Militär-Konvention zwischen Oldenburg und Preußen) has been signed on July 15, 1867, Ehren-Kreuz für 25jährige treue Militär-Dienste was no longer awarded to military personnel and was presented to personnel of Großherzoglich Oldenburgisches Gendarmeriekorps (former Großherzoglich Oldenburgisches Landdragonerkorps) only.

The last award ceremony was held on September 28, 1867. By April 1868, depositaries of the State Ministry stored four unissued gilt and six silver crosses. Since 1867, Oldenburg officers were qualified for the Prussian Long Service Award for Officers (Dienstauszeichnung für Offiziere)

Eighteen gilt and six silver crosses have been issued during the very first award ceremony. Totally 82 gilt and 103 silver crosses have been awarded to military personnel within 1838-1867; and 111 crosses to gendarmes within 1868-1917.

Ehren-Kreuz für 25jährige treue Militär-Dienste had a shape of an equilateral cross pattée with polished cross arms measuring 32,5x32,5 mm with triple border and a central circular medallion measuring 15mm with triple border as well. Obverse of medallion bore a cipher of Paul Friedrich August (“P.F.A.” in capital Gothic letters) topped with the crown. Reverse of medallion had Roman numeral “XXV.” standing for twenty five years of active military service. Decoration weighing 9,4 g was manufactured of silver.

Oldenburg officers were decorated with gilt crosses (institutional decree mentioned “gold cross”, however) while NCOs and privates – with silver ones.

Prussian court jeweler Johann Georg Hossauer (05.10.1794-14.01.1874) minted 26 gilt crosses of high quality for officers in 1844. Butt end of the lower arm of such crosses bore manufacturer’s mark “Hossauer” executed in capital letters.

Silver crosses have been minted by J.G.Hossauer’s successor, Berlin-based “Sy&Wagner” company, headed by two ethnic Frenchmen, His Majesty’s court jeweler Emil August Albert Wagner (30.04.1826-?) and his business partner François Louis Jeremie Sy (1827-1881). Apropos, their company appeared to be a long-lived one, changing its name to “Vereinigte Juweliere GmbH” in 1934. 

Ehren-Kreuz für 25jährige treue Militär-Dienste had been worn on the left breast, suspended by a 38 mm wide silk crimson ribbon with 4 mm wide vertical blue stripes toward each edge, thus leaving 1,5 mm crimson stripes at borders. Passementerie manufacturer Otto Hallerstede, who resided in Oldenburg at 19 Mottenstraße, had been official supplier of ribbons in 1878-1902. By the way, ribbon of the same colour scheme was used as a “non-combatants’ ribbon” (Nichtkämpferband) for Friedrich-August-Kreuz, 2nd class during the Great War.

Everyday way of just a ribbon from the hole in the tunic button was prohibited.

Honour Cross for 25 Years Service 1