Cross of Honor

by Chris William

Better known as the “Hindenburg Cross”

On July 13, 1934, Field Marshall Paul Von Hindenburg, Military hero of the German state and reelected Weimer president, designated the only national award given for World War One participants at the beginning of what was to become Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime. Officially called the Ehrenkreuz des Weltkriegs, 1914/1918 (“Honor Cross of the Word War, 1914/1918”), the newly created medal was known for its benefactor as the Hindenburg cross.

Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, President of the German Republic,established the Honor Cross of the World War 1914/1918 by an order dated 13 July 1934, to commemorate the distinguished deeds of the German people during WWI. This was Germany’s first official service medal for soldiers of Imperial Germany who had taken part in the war. It is also known as the “Hindenburg Cross.”

Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, President of the German Republic,established the Honor Cross of the World War 1914/1918 by an order dated 13 July 1934, to commemorate the distinguished deeds of the German people during WWI. This was Germany’s first official service medal for soldiers of Imperial Germany who had taken part in the war. It is also known as the “Hindenburg Cross.”

The Hindenburg Cross was awarded in three forms: Frontkämpfer (combatants), Andere Kriegsteilnehmer (non-combatants) and Witwen und Eltern (Widows and Parents of deceased soldiers). All three of the 38mm awards were designed by Eugene Godet of Berlin, and took the form of Maltese crosses with solid circular wreaths and trailing downward ribbons across the center. Inside of each circle was contained the dates “1914” and “1918.” The bronze-colored Combatants Cross had a wreath made of laurel leaves with crossed, point-up swords protruding from the four corners of the cross.

The bronze combatant’s cross hung from a bright red, black and white ribbon

The bronze combatant’s cross hung from a bright red, black and white ribbon

The reverse of the cross was plain with only a maker’s mark or number. A suspension ring was welded to the upper arm which connected to a ring mounted tri-colored ribbon of black, white, black, red, black, white black.

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The reverse of all crosses is marked only with the maker’s mark.

The Non-combatants Cross was of the same design and finish as that of the Combatants, but lacked the swords and had wreaths of oak leaves rather than laurel leaves. The suspension ribbon was the same color and design.

rosses could be attached to a variety of ribbons including full parade mounts.

Crosses could be attached to a variety of ribbons including full parade mounts.

The Widows and Parents Cross was the same design as the Non-combatants, but was finished in black rather than a bronze color and had a tri-colored ribbon of white, black, white, red, white, black, white.

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A private purchase model with pin back catch (31.5mm) was available, though not sanctioned as an official award. In addition, miniature versions were sold  to recipients as stickpins, lapel pins or ribbon bars.

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A common, simple, but attractive set is the Hindenburg cross and iron cross combination.

The Cross of Honor was presented in a paper packet or presentation case along with a corresponding award document. Crosses could be worn as single medals on the left front of military, paramilitary or civilian coats, or suspended from a medal bar with other awards.

The cross was highly regarded and took precedence over other service medals, but ranked below combat-related pieces. Crosses for widows and mothers were often suspended from ribbons fashioned into bows with attaching pins. As new territories (such as Austria) were added to the Reich, WWI veterans and relatives were awarded Crosses of Honor for their time in service.

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