Original German WWII Set of 3 Awards with Documents named to Oberleutnant Hans Gräf of Infantry Regiment 95 & 97

Item Description

Original Items: One-of-a-kind grouping. This is a fantastic named Heer award and document set, with three original German WWII awards, each with their original BESITTZZEUGNIS "possession/award" certificates. There are also other award certificates for items not included in the set, as well as some additional documents as well. All are named to the same soldier, Hans Gräf, sometimes referred to as Johann Gräf (Hans is short for Johann). He is first mentioned in 1937 as being an Unteroffizier, an NCO rank equivalent to a U.S. Army Sergeant, while by 1943 he is listed as being an Oberleutnant, an officer rank equivalent to a U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant. The documents show is progression from a Junior NCO all the way up to an officer during the war, having received many awards along the way! It's very rare that we get such a large document set showing the history of a soldier!

From the first document we have, we can see that on 22. 12. 1937. he was a member of the 8. / Jnfanterie-Regiment 95 (8th Company 95th Infantry). This document is in fact a record of Gräf, listed here as Johann Gräf, being promoted from Unteroffizier to Oberfeldwebel (T), a relatively larger promotion from the most Junior NCO rank to a senior NCO. Hans Gräf was still at the same unit and rank on 17. Februar 1939., when as per the next document he was awarded Die Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 1. Oktober 1938, commonly known as the Sudetenland Medal or Czech “Conquest” Medal. After this on 21. Juni 1940. he was awarded the Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse (Iron Cross 2nd Class 1939 - EK II), as indicated by the third document in the set, which also indicates his unit was in the 17. Division (17th Infantry Division).

There are no documents from 1941, but Gräf must have definitely had some major achievements, as the next document, dated 27. Januar 1942, lists him as Leutnant Gräf, Hans, indicating he was awarded the Eisernes Kreuz I. Klasse (Iron Cross 1st Class 1939 - EK I). He also was now part of 3. / Infanterie-Regiment 97 (3rd Company 97th Infantry), part of the 46 J. D. (46th Infantry Division). Before this, on 16. I. 1942, Gräf apparently suffered ein (one) injury, and on 25. V. 1942. he was awarded the Verwundetenabzeichen in Schwarz (Wound Badge in Black - 3rd Grade), while located in Brünn, the German name for Brno in Czechoslovakia. It looks like Gräf and the 3. / Jnf. Rgt. 97 were then deployed to the Eastern Front, as on 5. OKT. 1942 he was awarded the Krimschild (Crimea Shield) for service on the Crimean peninsula.

After this, there are no documents for the next year, however it looks like at some point his previous wound may have been later judged more serious. There is another award document regarding the 16. 1. 1942 wound, this time awarding him the Verwundetenabzeichen in Silber (Wound Badge in Silver - 2nd Grade) on 6. 11. 1943. while located in Nürnberg. This document also lists him as Oberleutnant Hans Gräf, so he received a promotion during the time after he received the Crimea Shield.

The last document we have in this set was awarded quite a bit later in he war, and is dated 1. Sept. 1944. It indicates that Oberleutnant (akt.) Hans Gräf of Gren. Ers. Btl. 21 was awarded the Kriegsverdienstkreuz 2. Klasse mit Schwerten (War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords - KvK II) in Nürnberg. The Grenadier Ersatz Bataillon 21 is a replacement group, most likely cobbled together during the late war after Germany was pushed back on the eastern front, and was part of the Division Nr. 413, raised very late in the war.

The three awards earned by Gräf which are included with this set (in date order) are the Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse 1939 (Iron Cross 2nd Class 1939 - EK II), Eisernes Kreuz I. Klasse 1939 (Iron Cross 1st Class 1939 - EK I), and the Kriegsverdienstkreuz 2. Klasse mit Schwerten (War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords - KvK II). All of the awards are in very good condition, and come with their original ribbons if they were issued with them. The only maker marked award is the EKII, which has 65 marked on the ring, the Präsidialkanzlei des Führers Lieferant (Presidential Chancellery Supplier) number for Klein & Quenzer of Idar-Oberstein.

All of the documents are dated, with their correct stamps and signatures. Most have typed in particulars, while some do have them written in stylized Germanic letters. They are in good condition, with the expected wear and yellowing from age, with most showing creases from folding. They vary in size somewhat, with some documents being the smaller 5 1/2" x 8" size, and some the larger 8" x 11 1/2" size. Please consult the pictures for condition specifics.

A really nice German WWII award set, complete with the original documents named to the same soldier. A great bit of history, showing Hans Gräf's progression during the immediate pre-war period, and over the years of the war. A fantastic research opportunity, as well as a great display piece!

There is no more iconic German military award than the Iron Cross. The long history of this order began during the Napoleonic Wars. King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia instituted the “Eisernes Kreuz” (Iron Cross) in March of 1813. The award criteria changed somewhat with time, but generally speaking, Iron Crosses could be awarded for individual acts of bravery, or for leadership achievements on the battlefield. The design was created by a Karl Friedrich Schinkel, his choice of the black cross with silver outline was derived from the heraldic emblem of the Teutonic Knights. This central Tatzenkreuz (cross pattée) struck from iron and mounted in a silver frame which has a raised crenulated decorative border. 

The final reinstitution of the cross came in 1939. For this version, the front of the core for both grades bore a swas and the date 1939. The oak leaves, crown and royal initials were removed from the reverse, with only the date 1813 remaining as a reminder of the legacy of this award. In WWII, hundreds of thousands of Iron Cross First Class awards were bestowed, and four and a half million Iron Cross Second Class awards. Iron Crosses were made by a large number of authorized manufacturers. Some variants of these awards were mass produced in huge numbers. Others were made in very limited quantities. Please note the edge seam for authentication, which is not present on reproductions.

The War Merit Cross (Kriegsverdienstkreuz or KvK) was a decoration of NSDAP Germany during the Second World War, which could be awarded to military personnel and civilians alike. By the end of the war it was issued in four degrees, and had a related civil decoration. It was created by Adolf AH in October 1939 as a successor to the non-combatant Iron Cross which was used in earlier wars. The award was graded the same as the Iron Cross: War Merit Cross Second Class, War Merit Cross First Class, and Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross. The award had two variants: with swords (mit schwertern) given to soldiers for exceptional service "not in direct connection with combat", and without swords for meritorious service to civilians in "furtherance of the war effort". As with the Iron Cross, Recipients had to have the lower grade of the award before getting the next level.

The ribbon of the War Merit Cross was in red-white-black-white-red; that was, the red and black colors being reversed from the ribbon of the World War II version of the Iron Cross. The ribbon for the War Merit Medal was similar, but with a narrow red vertical red strip in the center of the black field. Soldiers who earned the War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords wore a small crossed-swords device on the ribbon. The War Merit Cross 1st Class was a pin-backed medal worn on the pocket of the tunic (like the Iron Cross 1st Class). The ribbon of the War Merit Cross 2nd Class could be worn like the ribbon of the Iron Cross 2nd Class (through the second buttonhole). Nonetheless combat soldiers tended to hold the War Merit Cross in low regard, referring to its wearers as being in 'Iron Cross Training'. The Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross was a neck decoration and worn the same way as the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross.


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