Germany has minted its first new military medal since discontinuing the tainted Iron Cross. The Iron Cross was issued in 1813 but its use by the Nazis during Hitler’s regime, forever tarnished its image. Prior to that, however, the medal was worn with pride by countless soldiers who risked their lives to save others. Hitler himself wore the medal for his service in WWI.
The new medal, called the Honor Cross, is similar in design. It features a golden Maltese cross with a German eagle in the center, held on a ribbon with the colors of the German flag, with double oak leaves. Its predecessor, however, was made of blackened steel so as not to attract sniper fire. The Honor Cross replaces the blackened steel with is a brightly visible gold.
Since German armed forces began seeing active service again, first in Kosovo and then in Afghanistan, there has been a campaign to revive the Iron Cross and other military medals because Germany no longer had any awards specifically for active military service. In 2007, a petition to the German parliament to revive the Iron Cross decoration received over 5,000 signatures. In October 2008, the German defense minister instead created a new grade of the Ehrenzeichen der Bundeswehr, the Ehrenkreuz der Bundeswehr für Tapferkeit (Honor Cross of the Bundeswehr for Bravery).
The German government recently awarded the new Honor Cross to four soldiers.
Pictured above: the Ehrenkreuz der Bundeswehr für Tapferkeit (Honor Cross of the Bundeswehr for Bravery)
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