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Das Eiserne Kreuz 1914

 
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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 16:52    Onderwerp: Das Eiserne Kreuz 1914 Reageer met quote

A happy new year to all forum members!

As promised here is my article about the Eiserne Kreuz (Iron Cross) from 1914.

Lets begin with some history:

In 1813, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered large parts of Europe, the prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm III. hesitates to take part in the conflict. Finally he decides to lead his forces against Napoleon which begins with the Battle of Groß-Görschen on May 2, 1813.
Some months before that battle he decides to create an award, which shall be awarded to soldiers of all ranks for bravery in the field and for war merits in combination with leading the troops.

The new awards shall represent its time, the "iron time" and shall be of a very simple design but with a large symbolic power.
It shall be a simple cross made from cast iron, the metal the weapons are made of, and a frame made from silver, representing the clear and the good, around. The famous prussian architect Karl-Friedrich Schinkel, together with the king himself, begin to design that simple but very symbolic awards and it is the give the name "Das Eiserne Kreuz".

It shall be awarded in three classes, 2. Klasse with a ribbon in the prussian colors black and white, a 1. Klasse which shall be worn on the left breast and a Großkreuz (great cross) which shall be awarded only to the highest military leaders for winning a decisive battle. So far the first two classes can be awarded to everyone.


The Eiserne Kreuz was re-instituted in 1870, 1914 and 1939 with some changes of the classes, design etc.

Here I will concentrate on the Iron Cross from 1914.
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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 16:59    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The original Iron Cross was instituted on march 10, 1813. The second class had a simple plain black front. The back was designed with the name of the king "FW" with crown, three oakleafes in the middle and the year of its institution "1813" on the lower cross arm.

Later the back was usually worn as front. The first class was in the beginning a cross made from two sewn parts of iron cross 2. class ribbon but was changed very fast to a metal cross with pinback. The front was still plain and black painted cast iron.

The Großkreuz had the same design as the 2. class but was about twice its size. It was worn with a long and broad ribbon around the neck.

For field marshal Blücher a special grade, the "Blücherstern", was instituted which wasn't officially part of the EKs class system.

In 1870 the award was instituted again by Wilhelm I. for the war with France. The front of all three crosses was changed. Instead the plain front a crown on the upper cross arm, a "W" for Wilhelm in the middle and the new date "1870" on the lower arm were added.
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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 17:02    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

On august 5. 1914 Wilhelm II instituted the Iron Cross again, now with the date "1914" on the lower arm.

Here the new "Eiserne Kreuz 2. Klasse 1914" (front):





And the back:


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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 17:10    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

There were also two special types of Eiserne Kreuze 2. Klasse which were instituted too. The first one existed in 1813 too.
The "Eiserne Kreuz 2. Klasse am Bande für Nichtkämpfer" (non-combatants ribbon) was awarded with the ribbon in reversed colors to everyone who distinguished himself without any contact to the enemy. It was awarded mostly to ministry employees (Beamten).

Here the EKII 1914 with non-combatants ribbon on a single medal-bar:




Another special type of EKII was only instituted and awarded in 1915 during WWI. It was called "Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse am schwarz-weißen Bande für Kriegsverdienste in der Heimat" (EK on non-combatants ribbon for war merits at home). It was awarded like the non-combatants cross but for people who were directly involved in the war but not at the front.

It is impossible to identify these crosses without a certificate! The only possibility is if you find one on a large medal-bar together with the "Hindenburg Cross" for non-combatants.

Here is a large medal-bar with the rarest of all Iron Crosses from 1914. Note, that the WWI Memorial Cross (second from right) hasn't got swords.


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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 17:14    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

A little correction to the posting above. The EK with black-white ribbon for war merits at home was instituted in 1915 by the Kaiser but awarded for the complete war.

The next class is the "Eiserne Kreuz 2. Klasse 1914" which was awarded as a pinback cross and was worn on the left breast pocket. There are many variations of these crosses; pinback, screwback, vaulted etc.





The back with pin and a silver stamp "800":


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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 17:15    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Another correction to above. It is of course the "Eiserne Kreuz 1. Klasse 1914"!
How can I edit my own postings???
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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 17:30    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The next and highest grade is the "Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes 1914" which was awarded only 5 times in WWI.

It was awarded to:

GFM Hindenburg
GFM Mackensen
General Ludendorff
GFM Prinz Leopold von Bayern
Wilhelm II. (not really awarded but he wear it too as "example" to his soldiers)

The cross had about twice the size of an EK1 and was worn on a black-white ribbon around the neck:




And a picture of Hindenburg wearing the Großkreuz under his Pour le Merite:


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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 17:32    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

During WWI and later, the EK was awarded until 1921, the following numbers of medals were awarded:

Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes 1914: 5
Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse 1914: ca. 218000
Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse 1914 am Kämpferband: ca. 5196000
Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse 1914 am Nichtkämpferband: ca. 13000
Eisernes Kreuz 2. Kl. 1914 am Kämpferband für Heimatverdienste: 6855

Here you can see how rare the EK2 with black-white ribbon for war merits at home really is. Only 6855 awards compared to over 5 million of the "normal" combatants cross.
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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 17:33    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Another beautiful EKII 1914:


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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 17:36    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

And how it looks like with battle damage...





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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 17:36    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

And now, if you have any questions or comments about the EK, feel free to ask. Smile
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Richard



Geregistreerd op: 3-2-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 17:38    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Just a comment: thanks for showing us.
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Patrick Mestdag
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 18:15    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote



Is this the marker or stamp you have to look for
To be assured of its authenticity ?
as i’ve heard there are many forgeries around .

appreciate the above explanation Feldgraue .
and what is the average value of a good kept EK .

@+
Patrick
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 18:24    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

One more question Smile
How do you differentiate the Ek 1 from the Ek2 klasse?

@+
Patrick
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Verdun ….papperlapapp! Louis Fernand Celine
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 18:28    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

only as it is a pinback cross ?
@+
Patrick
_________________
Verdun ….papperlapapp! Louis Fernand Celine
Ein Schlachten war’s, nicht eine Schlacht zu nennen“ Ernst Junger .
Oublier c'est trahir ! marechal Foch
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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 18:50    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Yep, that should be a makers mark in the large ring. But it doesn't tell you something about originality. However all EK2 fakes I saw look like complete crap!

The difference between EK1 and EK2 is the pinback (EK1). The EK2 has got a back, the ring and ribbon.
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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 18:53    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

I forgot to mention something about the qualification for the award.

You can ONLY get the 1. class if you already have the 2. class! It is impossible to get only the 1. class. But it is possible, for a very special deeds of valor, to get both classes the same day.

In WWII Günther Prien, who attacked the british Home Fleet at Scapa Flow and sunk the HMS Royal Oak, got, as he returned home, the EK1 by Dönitz in the harbor and one day later the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes by Hitler. But this practice was rare!
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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 19:00    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Why it is impossible to edit in this forum???

Ok, another information. The 2. class was never worn on the uniform except the day it was awarded (with the ribbon through a buttonhole) or as a big medal-bar. The recipient cut off a piece of the ribbon and sew it in the second buttonhole from above of his uniform. You see this very often in pictures, movies etc. The first class was nearly always worn on the left breast pocket. It was also possible to wear the 2. class as small ribbon-bar.

Here is another large medal-bar with the EKII, the Friedrichs-Orden from Württemberg and the Hindenburg Cross with the accompanying ribbon-bar. Usually only the ribbon-war was worn on the uniform, the large medal-bar only for special occasions or events.


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Der_Feldgraue



Geregistreerd op: 14-11-2005
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BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Jan 2006 19:02    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

ribbon-war = ribbon-bar

Sometimes you see ribbon-bars with a little EK device like this one. This does NOT denote an EK1! It was only an unofficial add-on which you can see very often on ribbon-bars from Sachsen or Bayern (like this one together with a Militärverdienstkreuz mit Schwertern und Krone):


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