During the wars of
1813 and 1870 the Iron Cross 2nd class was awarded on a white ribbon
to deserving “non-combatants”. This included doctors, members of Govt.,
officials and men of industry. The 1914 Iron Cross with a white ribbon continued
this tradition and although even period publications still refer to it as the
“Eisernes Kreuz für Nicht-Kämpfer” the official statutes refer to it as an
award for service in the Heimat “on the Home Front”. Men serving outside the
borders of the Reich, in an area of Military operations qualified for the Iron
Cross on a black ribbon whether combatant, non-combatant, Military or civilian.
Although it sounds as
if the 1870 and 1914 crosses had similar award criteria, this is not the case.
The regulations for the 1914 Iron Cross were far more complex and could be
broken down into 4 basic award categories
Cross 2nd class with a black ribbon for bravery in the field for
Cross 2nd class with a black ribbon for service in the field for
Cross 2nd class with a black ribbon for exceptional military
merit/service on the home front (Approx 6 500 awards) (Military)
Cross 2nd class with a white ribbon for service to the war effort on
the home front (Approx 13 000 awards) (Civilians and Officials)
“In the field” referred to areas outside of
the German borders, either at the front or in the rear areas and the zones
controlled by the Generalgouvernements Belgien and Warschau. Among those who
could qualify for the Iron Cross for service in the field were military officials,
doctors, priests and officials serving in a theater or war.
At the outbreak of
the war the Iron Cross on the white ribbon was reintroduced for civilians and
soldiers serving within the borders of Germany, the “Heimat” or “Home-Front”. Due
to protests by the military the Kaiser made a change in March 1915 introducing
the Iron Cross on a black ribbon for exceptional military merit/service on the
home front. This apparently to undo the injustice that would see (for example)
an NCO training troops just outside of the German border, but far away from the
front, getting a black ribboned cross while his comrade just inside the border
doing the same task getting a white ribboned cross.
clarification was issued on the 12th of July 1915 stating that the
Iron Cross on a black ribbon for service on the home front could only be
awarded as a recompense for exceptional military services while the Iron Cross
on the white ribbon would be awarded for services to (presumably aiding) the
Military, Political or Economic fields as well as for men working as
administrative officials or medical capacities. The recipients would have to
demonstrate leadership capacity in an important sector or perform an
exceptional single deed.
covering the regulations for the home-front awards is extremely sparse rather
unclear. The reader can get a better idea of the criteria used for individual
awards by looking at the examples shown.
Bekleidungs Amt XIII. A.K. ( Lagerdiener August Breitling )
August Breitling did
his national service in 1898-99 as an infantryman in the Württ. Infanterie
Regiment 127. In 1903 he began his employ as a Civilian Lagerdiener (Depot
worker) in the Uniform Depot of the XIII. A.K. in Ludwigsburg where he stayed until
February 1921. His worked as “Packmeister” and was highly praised for his
efficiency and zeal in carrying out his duties during the war. Breitling was
awarded the Württemberg Wilhelmskreuz mit schwerten on the 1st of
Breitling was awarded the Iron Cross on a white ribbon because his service was
“to” the army while not being “in” the army.
The award was made on
the 3 August 1921 and signed on the 27 August 1921 by Oberstleutnant XXX,
Abteilungschef. It is a special print for the Reichswehrministerium,
Bekleidungs Amt X. A.K. ( Hauptmann d.L. II Clauditz )
Breitling Hauptmann der Landwehr II Clauditz was a serving member of
the Army. His Iron Cross award document is a print variation often seen used by
combat units so if it were not for the accompanying letter we could only have
assumed that the award was for war service on the homefront due to the fact
that he was serving in a Uniform Depot. The letter informs him that he had been
awarded the Iron Cross on a black ribbon for service on the Homefront (Heimat-verdienste). The
letter was accompanied by the award document and the cross would follow.
The document was
signed on the 16th August 1919 by Major XXX, Stabsoffizier
Staatsminister a.D. Theodor
Dr. h.c. Theodor Adolf
von Möller was a successful industrialist who also served as a Prussian State
Minister including a spell as Prussian Trade Minister under Reichskanzler von
Bülow from 1901-05. During his time as Trade Minister he presided over the
failed attempt to take control of the Hibernia Coal Company in Gelsenkirchen. The following year Miners strikes led to a compromise
solution about working conditions and wages which satisfied neither the Miners
nor the Mine owners which further added to his troubles. Soon after the strikes
rumors ran through the press that Möller would be resigning. Further problems
with the nationalizing of the coal mines and rumors of misuse of office for
personal gains caused von Bülow to signal a lack of confidence in Möller and in
October 1905 Möller’s resignation was accepted. As a reward for his services he
was raised to the nobility after he left office and he was able to add a “von” becoming
Theodor von Möller. Following his retirement from office he was involved in various
charities and the Red Cross. In 1907 he made an unsuccessful run for office as
a member of the Reichstag. He returned to private life until the outbreak of
the war. During the war he headed a number of war industry commissions
including a post as director of the department which controlled the leather
industry. In the years following the war Theodor von Möller spent much of his
time until his death in 1925 involved with committees dedicated to social work and
the Red Cross and had a special interest helping ex- soldiers with lung.
Although the end of
the war caused initial serious financial losses to the von Möller financial
empire in 2015 the Moeller group is going strong and has branches in Germany,
USA, China, UK, France and Romania.
„I have just learned
to my great and sincere pleasure that Your Excellency has been awarded the Iron
Cross and kindly ask you to accept my warmest congratulations on this award,
which is so unusual outside civil servant circles. I not only see in this Cross
the longest due acknowledgement of Your Excellency’s high personal merit, but,
in a certain sense, a rehabilitation of the unfortunately long-standing
accusation. Lehn." The telex congratulating von Möller
on his award hints at the scandal surrounding him when he left office.
The award was made on
the 26th of July 1918, the document signed on the 3rd of February
1919 by Major iG Thilo
von Bose, i.V. for the Chief of Staff of the Kriegsamt at the Kriegsministerium.
Hauptlaboratorium Ingolstadt : (ehem Ingenieurs a.W. Dr.
Ing. Wilhelm Bucher )
The title „Ingenieur
auf Widerruf (a.W.)“ means that he had the position for a limited time, i.e.
the duration of the war.
Willy Bucher was an
engineer who was initially drafted to the Bavarian Railway Ersatz Battalion in München
in mid-1916. In April 1917 he was released from military service and posted to
the Königliche Hauptlaboratorium in Ingolstadt. The weapons factory, along with
the Prussian center at Berlin-Spandau, was one of the key producers of
ammunition and weapons for the German army. By the time Willy Bucher was posted
to the Hauptlaboratorium they had stopped making small arms ammunition and had
concentrated on producing artillery shells. By 1918 4 500 men and 6 100 women
worked in the factory. In January 1918 the Hauptlaboratorium produced 273 000
artillery shells. Bucher was awarded the Bavarian König Ludwig-Kreuz for
service on the 29th of September 1918.
The Iron cross with a
White Ribbon was awarded on the 1st of May 1920, the document issued
without signature or stamp on the 5th of June 1920 by the
The Iron Cross
awarded to Willy Bucher has no maker mark on the ring and no maker on the paper
Ernst Vogelgesang was
a Military (Naval) Official in an administrative position at the Kaiserliche
Werft in Wilhelshaven. As is often the case with units or departments to whom
awards were not routine, the office issuing the notice of the award seems to
intend this letter to double as an award document. The text informs Vogelgesang
that the Kaiser has made the award and the cross is included. No mention is
made that another document will follow.
The award of the Iron Cross on a white ribbon was signed
on the 7th of June 1917 by Ernst Tresp, Marine Intendantursekretär in
(Landwehr Doc) The
format of the Landwehr Dienstauszeichnung 2nd Class awarded to
Vogelgesang in July 1911 is typical of the simple design used for service
awards. This simplicity was carried on in the initial Iron Cross Preliminary
award documents issued at Higher levels and the early Railway documents.
Grenadier-Regiment „König Friedrich Wilhelm IV.“ (1.
Pommersches) Nr. 2 ( Hauptmann der Landwehr Schwarz (II. Ersatz Bataillon) )
Hugo Schwarz was a
company commander in the 2nd Base/Training Battalion of Gren Regt.
2. The II. Armeekorps was based in Brandenburg and Pomerania, the Regt was part
of the 3rd Infantry Division based in Stettin. Schwarz received his
Iron Cross on a black ribbon for Kriegsverdienste in der Heimat. Schwarz
received a transmittal letter accompanied by a Besitz-zeugnis and the award
itself. The Stellvertretendes Generalkommando of the II. Armeekorps took the
unusual step of actually having special award documents printed for an award
that would have been given out in relatively small numbers. Most often
documents used on the homefront would have been dual purpose with the
possibility of entering a white or black ribbon.
The award was made on
the 19th of December 1916 and signed on the 23rd of
December 1916 by “Der stellvertretende kommandierende General des II. Armeekorps
Freiherr von Vietinghoff General der kavallerie a la suite des
congratulatory letter from Von Vietinghoff which in its form is very similar to
certain preliminary award documents issued at higher levels. In the letter it
is mentioned the cross is included.
Inspection der Ersatz Abteilungen der Feldartillerie –
Hauptmann d.R. Friedrich Döhring.
served in the Feldartillerie Regiment 16 but his wartime service was
exclusively in the rear areas a staff officer. Initially he served in
Königsberg in the Stellvertrende Generalkommando of the I. Armeekorps where he
received an early black ribboned Iron Cross 2nd Class for
Kriegsverdienste in der Heimat then later outside of Germany as 1. Adjutant of
the Etappen Inspektion Nr. 15.
The award document
takes the form of a letter. The award was made on the 6th of July
1915 and signed by General der Kavallerie Graf zu Eulenburg
Kreis Hümmling - Landrat Freiherr Franz-Fritz von
Fürstenburg served as the Landrat (District Administrator) of Kreis Hümmling
(Hannover) from 1916 until 1931. The letter doubles as an award document,
forwarded with the award and best wishes, also the request to sign and return
The document for the
Iron Cross on a white ribbon was signed by the Regierungspräsident Albert
Tilmann of Regierungsbezirk Osnabrück.
Landwirtschaftskammer Posen ( Hauptgeschäftsführer Dr.
Arno Hoffmeister )
Dr. Hoffmeister was
the Managing Director of the Department of Agriculture for the province of
Posen. While employed in this role he received a number of non-combatant awards
including the Prussian Verdienstkreuz für Kriegshilfe, the Braunschweig
Kriegsverdienst Kreuz on a yellow-blue ribbon for non-combatants, then after
the war the Schlesicher Adler 2nd and 1st class still as
head of the Department of Agriculture.
The Iron cross was
awarded on the 24th of January 1918. Hoffmeister was informed by
Telex that the Award had been made and the cross would be sent one day after
the award by the department of food supply (Ernaehrungsamt). The Iron Cross
document was issued on the 1st of April 1919 and signed by XXX
Bureauvorsteher der Generalordenskommission. This version of the document was
reserved for awards that where still by the Kaiser.
award document for the Braunschweig Kriegsverdienstkreuz on the “yellow-blue”
(Schlesien) The 1st
class is one of only two known examples of a Schlesicher Adler 1st
class being awarded for Service. There was only provision for a 2nd
class award for service in the statutes.
Reichswerft Danzig ( Marine-Baumeister Leiss )
The Kaiserliche Werft
Danzig (KWD), along with the Kaiserliche Werft Kiel and Kaiserliche Werft
Wilhelmshaven was one of three German Navy Shipyards engaged in construction,
maintenance and repair of the ships and later Sea planes of the Reichsmarine.
Due to the relatively narrow Weichsel River the KWD was not able to produce
larger warships. It produced 12% of Germanys Submarines as well as small
numbers of German seaplanes. In 1918 7 000 men were employed at KWD. At the end
of the war the “international Shipbuilding and Engineering Company – Danziger
Werft” was formed with France and the UK each having 30% shares and Poland and
Danzig each having 20%
The award was made on
the 17 March 1920
The document was
signed (print) by Kanitz of the General-Ordens-Kommission and countersigned on
the back by an official of the Reichswerft in Danzig on the 27th of
March 19120. The document is a special print for the General-Ordens-Kommission and
replaced the earlier Generalkommission in Angelegenheiten der Königlich
Preusischen Orden document (See above)
Sanitätsamt Münster ( Kriegs-Assitenzarzt Dr. Wahn )
Dr. Wahn was awarded
his Iron Cross 2nd class on a White Ribbon by order of the
Wehrkreiskommando VI. He likely served at a military hospital near Münster. The
award was made on the 14th of October 1919, the document signed on
the 20th of October 1919 by Generaloberarzt XXX. The document is a
special print for the Sanitätsamt Münster i.W. (In Westfalen) and the stamp was
for the Sanitätsamt of the VII. Armeekorps