Brunswick War Merit Cross

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The Ducal Brunswick War Merit Cross (German: Herzoglich Braunschweigisches Kriegsverdienstkreuz) also known as the Ernst-August-Kreuz, was a military decoration of the Duchy of Brunswick. The prerequisite was Braunschweig citizenship[1] (this alleged original regulation was relaxed later[2]) and possession of the Iron Cross 2nd Class.

Awards and decorations of Walter Gerlach


the Brunswick War Merit Cross (1914–1918) must not be confused with the very rare Military Badge of Honour or Militär-Ehrenzeichen (BrMEz) established on 11 December 1879 by Wilhelm August Ludwig Maximilian Friedrich Duke of Brunswick for NCOs (Feldwebel) and below. The order was repealed on 25 April 1908. There is no evidence that the cross was ever actually awarded. On 18 August 1914, Duke Ernst August of Braunschweig reestablished the award (with a new design), now as a Military Merit Cross, for non-commissioned officers and men for particularly brave deeds. Only 20 known crosses (other sources state 25) were produced.[3][4] Again, there is no evidence as to whether any were ever awarded, although possible. It is therefore to be assumed (but not sure) that the modern Brunswick War Merit Cross replaced the Militär-Ehrenzeichen on 23 October 1914 and was open to all ranks.

The Cross was established 23 October 1914 by Ernst August Christian Georg, Duke of Braunschweig and Lüneburg, Prince of Hanover, Prince of Great Britain and Ireland (German: Ernst August Christian Georg Prinz von Hannover, Herzog zu Braunschweig und Lüneburg, Prinz von Großbritannien und Irland⁠). The cross was awarded without distinction of rank and status (ohne Unterschied des Ranges und Standes) in World War I. First, only in on Class, later two. The cross features on the obverse an embossed, central, "EA" cypher for Duke Ernest Augustus, flanked by oak-leaf clusters, with the Brunswick crown at the top arm and the original institution date of "1914" along the bottom arm. On the reverse, in three lines, is the inscription "Für Verdienst im Kriege" (For Merit in War).

Towards the end of the war, crosses made of bronzed war metal were also made. Braunschweig soldiers who served in Bavarian Army could also be nominated for the War Merit Cross if they had received a Bavarian war decoration, but not the Iron Cross. There are crosses with fine-grained and also smooth surfaces.

Award dates

23 October 1914

  • Brunswick War Merit Cross (BrKr) on a blue ribbon with yellow stripes for combatants to honor achievements that were not directly related to combat operations.

1 November 1915

  • Brunswick War Merit Cross (BrKr) on a yellow ribbon with blue stripes for non-combatants

20 March 1918

  • 1st Class (BrKr1/BrK1)
    • It was not until 20 March 1918 that a 1st class was added to the award, making the previous cross a 2nd Class. The prerequisite for the 1st Class was repeated outstanding service in the war and previous possession of the 2nd class. The 1st Class Cross was only awarded a total of around 2,660 times.[5]
  • 2nd Class with Clasp (BrKr2a/BrK2a)
  • 2nd Class without Clasp (BrKr2/BrK2) for combatants and non-combatants

Frontline Service Horse Clasp

The frontline service, honour or achievement clasp German: Bewährungsabzeichen for the War Merit Cross 2nd Class was instituted on 20 March 1918. It was issued to awardees of the said cross after two years of combat service, when the awardee had proven himself at the front. The two years of front service could be added together from several times. Hospital treatment not exceeding two months as well as furlough (Heimaturlaub) were counted as a frontline military service. Honour clasps could also be awarded to Brunswick military personnel issued with a written acknowledgement of an exemplary service. The badge had a shape of a circular wreath made of oak leaves and topped with a ducal crown. An image of a prancing horse facing westwards was situated in the middle of the wreath. Central element was joined to the inner rim of a wreath in several points-snout, tail and hoofs. Crossed swords were placed at the bottom of a wreath. Awarded specimen were always made of sheet iron. The split pins are soldered on the edge. Examples that are silver-plated and made of other materials, such as bronze, are privately procured second pieces upon presentation of an award certificate.

Kriegsverdienstkreuz für Frauen und Jungfrauen

The Brunswick War Merit Cross for Women and Virgins (young, unmarried German women of proper upbringing were automatically considered "virgins" or Jungfrauen in the German Empire) was founded on 13 September 1917 by Duke Ernst August. The award was one-class and was awarded without distinction of rank or status. Special contributions during the war were honored. This included self-sacrificing activities in charity, as a nurse and in war relief. The award was not subject to return. Due to the short award period, the crosses are very rare.[6]


The year – 1914 – is inscribed in the middle of the cross. The ornate monograms – EA – for Ernst August and alternately appear on the lettering ring – VL – for Viktoria Luise. Top left starting with – EA –.


The raised writing is distributed on the arms of the cross: above – For –, distributed across the middle: – Self-sacrificingServices –, below 2 lines – in –/– War – (für aufopfernde Dienste im Kriege). The ornate monograms – EA – for Ernst August and alternately appear on the lettering ring – VL – for Viktoria Luise. Top left starting with – EA –.


  1. Brunswick War Merit Cross, First Class
  2. Generally, the main criteria were citizenship of the state, service in that state's military units, or service in a unit otherwise connected to the state (such as where the state's ruler was regimental Chef or Inhaber). As the war went on, actual practice was also relaxed – someone who might have been rejected in 1915 might have been approved in 1918. For Braunschweig in particular, non-citizens of all ranks in the Braunschweigisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 92, Braunschweigisches Husaren-Regiment Nr. 17 and 2. (Braunschweigische) Batterie/Niedersächsisches Feld-Artillerie-Regiment Nr. 46 would routinely be considered for awards, since those were Brunswick formations. Officers and selected other ranks in the Husaren-Regiment „von Zieten“ (Brandenburgisches) Nr. 3 and the Königlich Bayerisches 1. Schwere-Reiter-Regiment „Prinz Karl von Bayern“, the regiments to which Ernst August was à la suite, would also be routinely considered. Command and staff officers of units and commands to which a sufficient number of Braunschweigers were attached would also be considered. On the flip side, it should be noted that citizenship in a state was often necessary, but not always sufficient. If you were a citizen of a state, but had spent most of your adult/working life outside the state, it was common for an award recommendation to be rejected. If your reasons for living elsewhere were outside your control, such as for professional soldiers and civil servants, that was not held against you, though.
  3. Eike Lehmann: Neue Erkenntnisse zum Militär-Verdienstkreuz des Herzogtums Braunschweig; in: O&E 82, 14. Jahrgang, December 2012, pp. 327 ff.
  4. Militär-Verdienstkreuz. Anfertigung der Firma Hermann Jürgens
  5. Kriegsverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse 1918
  6. Kriegsverdienstkreuz für Frauen und Jungfrauen