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WW1 Iron Cross 2nd Class


Mark Crame
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Many years ago I was given a WW1 Iron Cross Second Class by a German friend who had helped clear the house of a friend whose relative had died. I have no ribbon with it and for some reason never did seem to find one or get around to it. I also (stupidly) never asked about the name of the recipient. In fact, I may give him a call to find out his friends name now I think of it! Anyway, two things, firstly, if I get his name can I trace any details about the circumstances behind the award? Secondly, and more importantly, where can I get a strip of ribbon from?

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Many years ago I was given a WW1 Iron Cross Second Class two things, firstly, if I get his name can I trace any details about the circumstances behind the award? Secondly, and more importantly, where can I get a strip of ribbon from?

HAlf a million Eirenes Kreuze 2 klasse issued certificate also given unlikely to find a specific award I feel.

On Ebay ribbons and rings come up and a tfairs-originals and repros

Hope this helps

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Hi Mark

There were around 3,803,384 awards of the 1914 Iron Cross second class, of which around 200,000 were post-war "catch-up" awards, and about 13,000 were non-combatant awards (this being distinguished by the ribbon colours being reversed, that is white with two black stripes)

As the other poster rightly said, without the award document you have virtually no chance of even beginning your research. Each Iron Cross came with an award document -some were just preliminary documents, intended to prove that the recipient had the right to wear the medal, right up to full award documents -these vary from simple typed examples right through to lavishly illustrated types bearing stormtroopers in body armour, Prussian eagles and the like. An entry would also be made into the soldier's paybook confirming the award.

Even with the award document, you would still have the odds against you. The document will show the soldiers unit, so it may be possible to find a regimental history -most German formations produced these post-WWI- however, the Iron Cross second class was so widely awarded -often to large groups of soldiers at a time- that most German regimental histories don't bother to list their recipients of this medal.

Shown below is an example of a preliminary award citation for the Iron Cross second class, made out to Ersatz Reservist Hermann Sumner of 2/Company of Infantry Regiment Nr 174 (10th Lotharian) who was awarded his cross "in the field" on August 18th 1917. Note the official regimental stamp and the signature of the battalion commander:

post-2041-1133468780.jpg

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I see, so it's not really much more than a campaign medal awarded to an effective combat soldier really then, rather than something like the MM even which took something a bit special to obtain. Interesting that.

As an afterthought, how many frontline troops did German have under arms in total?

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There is one type of research you can do with the cross, although it's not as exciting as discovering anything about the recipient. The maker-mark of the company which produced the cross is usually found stamped on the ribbon suspension ring (i.e: the loop the ribbon goes through) For example Fr indicates the firm of Friedlander.

Although some crosses are unmarked, and some maker's initials have yet to be identified, there is a good chance that we can ID the maker of your cross. Some makers are scarcer than others, and some are considered more desirable, so you might be lucky....if you find any maker's initials, post them on this thread and we'll have a crack at them.

Below is a standard Iron Cross second class together with it's packet of purchase -Wilhelm Froese didn't make Iron Cross's, but he did retail them to soldiers who could produce the relevent document. The cross itself is maker-marked KO, the standard supplier of most "issue" Iron Cross's:

post-2041-1133469292.jpg

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Mark

You caught me in mid-post there!

The quickest figures I can give are from Gordon Corrigan's "Mud, Blood and Poppycock" which states (page 55) that Germany mobilised 13,250,000 men during WWI, of which 1,950,000 (14.7%) were killed.

Don't under value your cross too much though -yes it was given out in great numbers, and sometimes en masse, especially in the later years of the war- but the soldier who wore it was proud to do so, and it was -an remains- a potent national symbol. In the earlier part of the war it still took something special to win the Iron Cross, especially the First Class, and only 174,220 second classes were awarded in 1914 (admittedly only from August to December) compared with 907,144 awarded in 1917 for example.

Let's not forget that many British vets made comments about certain medals "coming up with the rations" and that -at least initially- the MC was both for gallantry in combat and available in the Birthday Honours List.

Either way, it's a nice piece of history, and good luck in your search for a new ribbon. There are some copy ribbons on eBay.co.uk as has already been said, and for original ribbon you might wan't to try:

www.weitze.net

www.germanmilitaria.com

All the best

Paul.

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Hi Mark

The good news is that the maker-mark "V" is among the catalogued makers-marks found on original Iron Cross second class. The bad news is that the actual name and other details of this maker are one of the "unknown" ones on the list. Unless someone knows something I don't....

Worth a try though!

Cheers

Paul

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Hi Mark

The good news is that the maker-mark "V" is among the catalogued makers-marks found on original Iron Cross second class. The bad news is that the actual name and other details of this maker are one of the "unknown" ones on the list. Unless someone knows something I don't....

Worth a try though!

Cheers

Paul

Perhaps he was a Von ?!

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Perhaps he was a Von ?!

Don't even go there....!

It's only a matter of type before "V" marked Iron Crosses appear on eBay as "....marked "V" to indicate that the cross is the former property of Manfred VON Richthofen..." You can buy it now for £99,999... :(

Cheers

Paul.

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Chaps

Just looking through the collection of German bits that I have collected over the years, including an EKII of

WWI origin, and I have noticed that this one has a thinner and larger ring suspender and a flat space with what looks like 600 stamped\impressed into it. It has the combatants black-white ribbon and a non-combatant War Service Cross {minus swords} They are court mounted. Does the non combat version have a different ribbon to the combatant type?

Is the 600? a maker mark?

I never noticed these before this post.

Lee

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Hi Lee

I've attached a photo of an Iron Cross in my collection which is complete withit's original non-combatant ribbon -as you can see, the colours are reversed. By the way, anyone thinking of buying a non-combatant Iron Cross should take care -because only about 13,000 were awarded they command about double to three times the price of a standard Iron Cross. Obviously the only difference is the ribbon, so make sure that the non-combatant ribbon is an original and not a modern replacement -check the weave and texture, and subject it to the black-light test as well. if it glows, then steer clear.

The best advice I can give as regards your court mounted pair is this:

An Iron Cross with a non-combatant ribbon should ALWAYS be mounted with the non-combatant version of the 1914-18 Veteran's Cross

That said, the reverse isn't true, and it's perfectly feasible for an Iron Cross with a conbatant ribbon to be worn with a non-combatant 1914-18 Veteran's Cross. So on that basis your group seems perfectly legit.

I think that many people who on paper maybe should have received the non-combatant's Iron Cross actually received the standard version -certainly I've seen photos of medical personnel and (I think) Chaplains wearing the normal ribbon, thus validating the group you have. many awards of the non-combatant Iron Cross seem to have been made more for services to the war effort -this is somewhat recognised by the fact that in WWII the non-combatant Iron Cross was not introduced, and was basically replaced by the War Merit Cross/War Merit Medal series of awards.

The "600" observed on your cross is a bit of a puzzle. logically it could be the silver content of the cross frame and ribbon loop, as that's what numbers stamped on Iron Crosses usually refer to. Stephen Previtera's "The Iron Time", plus another privately put together list I have, list all the observed numbers on Iron Crosses as the following:

BD800 -Unknown Maker PS800 -Unknown Maker

CD800 -Unknown Maker S-W 950 -Sy-Wagner (Berlin)

D.R.G.M 653146 -Paul Maybaur (Berlin) Wilm 800 -H.R. Wilm (Berlin)

K800 -Unknown Maker

K5 -Unknown Maker

KO800 -Koniglisches Munzamt Orden (Berlin)

LV26 -Unknown Maker

In addition, the following silver content marks have been observed:

The word "SILBER"

A quarter moon with a crown and a silver mark (usually .800)

The following content marks on their own: .500, .750, .800, .900, .925, .935, .938, .950

So either your cross has maybe a .800 rather than .600, or it's one of the many crosses which have unexplained markings. There were so many makers of the Iron Cross in WWI that many crosses carry stampings or maker's marks that with the passage of time are simply "unknowns".

I hope this has been of some interest,

Cheers

Paul.

post-2041-1133703380.jpg

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Oh, by the way I have a combatant ribbon and same for a WW2 War Merit Cross now on their way to me. Thanks chaps.

Also, thanks for all the information! I've learnt loads.

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Paul

On closer inspection - with a very powerful magnifying glass - My eyes are not what they were, it is

800. This actually rings a bell with me, I think European countries have grades as you say where assay and hallmarks. I seem to remember being told this when buying a present for a friend in Germany.

I wondered about the combination of crosses, with/without [mit/ohne schwerten] swords. I suppose as a combatant, a man could be awarded the EKII, get wounded and be unfit for combat, so is put into an administrative position. What yo say makes perfect sense to me.

Thanks for your input. much obliged.

Lee :)

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