Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918
The Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918 (German: Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges 1914/1918), also unofficially known as the Hindenburg Cross, was the German WW I Service Cross established by Reichspräsident (President of the German Reich ) Generalfeldmarschall Paul von Hindenburg by decree dated 13 July 1934 in order to commemorate the service of the German people and sometimes their allies of the Central Powers (German: Mittelmächte) during the First World War as well as on the battlefield as on the home front between 1 August 1914 and 31 December 1918.
- The Honour Cross of the World War – also known as the Hindenburg Cross or the Cross of Honor – was established on July 13, 1934 by the Reich President, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg. The development of the award was entrusted to Gebruder Godet & Co Berlin. The award was intended for front-line soldiers and non-combatants, as well as close relatives of those killed on the battlefield and missing during the First World War. All residents of the Reich and all ethnic Germans of the annexed territories who took part in the First World War had the right to receive the cross. The honorary cross of the World War II became the first award of the Third Reich and was established on July 13, 1934 by Reich President Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg. The cross was worn on a ribbon on his chest in a block with other awards. The memorial cross of the participant of the First World War is located after military awards and before awards for long service and Anschluß medals. [...]
- The award is made in the form of an equilateral Teutonic cross measuring 37×37 mm, with a 2.8 mm border at the edges. On the upper beam of the cross there is a whole-stamped eye with a diameter of 1.5-2 mm for the ring. The Hindenburg Cross with swords and without swords was made of steel, iron and bronze. Weight of the award (for those made of steel): with swords – 13.5 grams; without swords – 12 grams. Appearance of awards: On the obverse of the Honorary Cross for war veterans, the dates “1914-1918” are framed by a laurel wreath tied with a ribbon from below. Between the rays of the cross there are two 41-mm crossed swords with their points pointing up. The reverse is smooth, with the exception of the manufacturer’s marking. The ribbon of the award with a width of 25-30 mm is three-colored and consisted of five stripes of the same width: red in the center and symmetrically arranged black and white. Along the edges is a narrow black stripe. When wearing an award on a ribbon, a pad in the form of gilded crossed swords could be attached to it. A similar pad was attached to the bar to distinguish the “combat” class of the award from the “non-combat” one. Another variant of the lining was made in the form of a miniature of the cross itself with swords.
- The appearance of the Honor Cross for war veterans is similar to the previous one, except for the absence of swords. The ribbon is similar to the ribbon of the Cross of Honor for war veterans. Also there are linings for the award bar, made in the form of a miniature cross (without swords). The obverse of the Honorary Cross for relatives of the deceased is similar to the obverse of the Honorary Cross for war veterans, however, the cross itself is covered with black varnish. The second difference is the ribbon of inverted colors: five stripes of the same width – red in the center and symmetrically arranged white and black. Along the edges is a narrow white stripe. It is worth noting that the award documents for the Honorary Cross for relatives of the victims differed in the degree of relationship – there are forms for widows and for parents. However, the appearance of the 3rd degree award was uniform. A rare variety of the Cross of Honor for relatives of the deceased is a cross for wearing on a pin without a ribbon. This sample was made of blackened steel, the eyelet was missing, and a horizontal pin was attached to the reverse. The memorial cross of the participant in the First World War is one of the most common awards of the Third Reich.
After the accession of Austria to National Socialist Germany the soldiers of the k. u. k. Armee (de), now once again German nationals, would per decree dated 30 November 1938 also receive the Honour Cross of the World War. By this time thousands of Germans had already received the Austrian War Commemorative Medal (Österreichische Kriegserinnerungsmedaille).
By 1940, it had also been approved for persons of German heritage/descent from the freed lands of the Sudetenland, Danzig, Saar and Memel. Awarding of the cross to war participants of German heritage continued after the deadline for applications had closed within the previous boundaries of Germany. Such Honour Crosses were still being awarded as late as 1944. For all attached military personnel outside these regions, the Führer, through the ordinance of 30 June 1942, had already ordered approval of these awards.
- Honour Cross for front-line veterans (Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer) with swords
- some sisters or nurses of the German Red Cross, who served on the front lines and sometimes were even awarded the Iron Cross, would also receive the Honour Cross with swords
- Honour Cross for non-combatant veterans (Ehrenkreuz für Kriegsteilnehmer) without swords
- Honour Cross for surviving widows and parents of fallen (⚔) participants in the war (Ehrenkreuz für die hinterbliebenen Witwen und Eltern gefallener Kriegsteilnehmer) without swords.
- Women would wear their cross mostly on a ribbon, unless they wore a medal bar. Not only the fallen were taken into account, but also the widows and parents of those who died from their wounds, who died in captivity or were missing and declared dead. The first sentence of Paul von Hindenburg's decree reads:
- „Zur Erinnerung an die unvergänglichen Leistungen des deutschen Volkes im Weltkriege 1914/1918 stifte ich ein Ehrenkreuz für alle Kriegsteilnehmer sowie für die Witwen und Eltern gefallener, an den Folgen von Verwundung oder in Gefangenschaft gestorbener oder verschollener Kriegsteilnehmer.“
- "To commemorate the imperishable efforts of the German people during World War 1914/1918, I hereby establish a cross of honor for all participants of the war as well as for the widows and parents of fallen, from the consequences of wounds deceased or in captivity deceased or missing participants of the war."
A total of 8,041,414 crosses are nown to have been awarded:
- Combatants 6,202,883
- Non-combatants 1,120,449
- Widows 345,132
- Parents 372,950