Original German WWII Set of 3 Awards with Documents named to Uffz. Xaver Betz of Reichs-Grenadier Regt. Hoch- und Deutschmeister

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 BESITZZEUGNIS "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, Xaver Betz, also mentioned as Franz Xaver Betz on one document. He is first mentioned in 1942 as being a Schützen (Rifleman), an enlisted rank equivalent to a U.S. Army private. By 1943 he is listed as being an Unteroffizier, an NCO rank equivalent to a U.S. Army Sergeant. The documents show his progression from the lowest enlisted rank up to a Junior NCO, quite a progression in a year! It's rare that we get such nice groupings showing the history of a soldier.

The first document in this set is actually from the pre-war period, and looks to be from before his enlistment in the armed forces. It is a H J National Youth organization award, a Ehren Urkunde (Certificate of Honor) awarded to Betz Xaver during the Reichsberufswettkampf (National professional competition) which took place during the Tag der nationalen Arbeit (National Labor Day) in 1939.

The first military award document we have shows that Schützen Betz, Xaver was awarded the Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse (Iron Cross 2nd Class 1939 - EK II) on 20. April 1942. Per the second document he was then awarded the Verwundetenabzeichen in Schwarz (Wound Badge in Black - 3rd Grade) on 24. Mai 1942, for a single wound sustained on 16. Januar 1942. For both of these awards he is listed as being a member of 12. / Jnfanterie-Regiment 97 (12th Company 97th Infantry regiment), which was then part of the 46th Infantry Division.

The next document is dated over a year later, and during that time Betz was deployed to the Eastern Front, and awarded the Medaille Winterschlacht im Osten 1941/42 (Eastern Front Medal) on 10. November 1943. There is no regiment mentioned but during this time Betz has been promoted, and is listed as Uffz. Betz, short for Unteroffizier, the lowest NCO rank.

Betz was transferred to a new unit, and apparently saw combat and was wounded, as on 11. 4. 1944. he was awarded the Verwundetenabzeichen in Silber (Wound Badge in Silver - 2nd Grade), for a total of three wounds. These include the previous award from 24. 5. 42, and two new wounds on 5. 1. 44 and 1. 2. 44. Uffz. Xaver Betz is also now listed as being part of 8. / Reichs-Gren. Rgt. "Hoch-und Deutschmeister". This regiment was part of the Reichsgrenadier-Division Hoch- und Deutschmeister, reformed from the remnants of the 44th Infantry Division which was destroyed at Stalingrad.

To bolster the morale of the re-formed unit and to assure continued Austrian dedication to the Reich, A H instilled the prestige, long history, and traditions of the Hoch-und Deutschmeister to the entire 44th Infanterie Division - especially within the Infanterie Regiment 134. This was the direct descendant of the Imperial Austrian Infanterie Regiment 4, known as the Infanterie-Regiment Hoch- und Deutschmeister. Where the pre-Stalingrad 44th Division boasted the Austrian Rot-Weiss-Rot ( Red – White – Red ) Babenberger shield, the post-Stalingrad Hoch-und Deutschmeister crest was the venerable cross of the Teutonic Knights with the additions of a Reichs eagle, swas and banner reading “Stalingrad“. The 134th regiment itself, already made a Grenadier regiment in 1942, was then renamed as the Reichs-Grenadier-Regiment Hoch- und Deutschmeister.

The wound badge issue stamp is from Gren. Rgt. 134, showing that they were still in the process of changing to their new designation, as the stamp from the Battalion commander has the correct Reichs-Grenadier-Regiment Hoch- und Deutschmeister II. Bataillon stamp under it. The last award document has Betz at the same rank and unit, and is for the Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse (Iron Cross 1st Class 1939 - EK I), which was awarded 18. 7. 1944, so he must have done well in the new regiment.

The three awards earned by Betz which are included with this set (in date order) are the Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse 1939 (Iron Cross 2nd Class 1939 - EK II), the Verwundetenabzeichen in Silber (Wound Badge in Silver - 2nd Class), and the Eisernes Kreuz I. Klasse 1939 (Iron Cross 1st Class 1939 - EK I). All of the awards are in very good condition and come with their original ribbons if they were issued with them. The EKI in particular is in fantastic condition! All three are also maker marked!

The EKII is marked on the hanger ring with 16, the Präsidialkanzlei des Führers Lieferant (Presidential Chancellery Supplier) number for Alois Rettenmaier of Schwäbisch-Gmünd, while the Silver Wound Badge is marked with 30, for the Hauptmünzamt (Main Mint) in Wien (Vienna), Austria. The EKI is maker marked with LDO number L/11 on the back under the pin catch, which represents Wilhelm Deumer of Lüdensched. The The LDO, (Leistungs Gemeinschaft der Deutscher Ordenshersteller - Administration of German orders Manufacturers), was a self-governing organization formed in 1941 which regulated the manufacturing of all German awards. The firm Wilhelm Deumer was fully licensed in the organization, entry number 11.

All of the documents are dated, with their correct stamps and signatures, and typed in particulars. They are in good condition, with the expected wear and yellowing from age, with most showing creases from folding. The award documents are all the smaller 5 1/2" x 8" size, with the HJ Certificate of Honor thee 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 Xavier Betz'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 Wound Badge (German: Verwundetenabzeichen) was a military decoration first promulgated by Wilhelm II, German Emperor on 3 March 1918, which was awarded to wounded or frostbitten soldiers of the Imperial German Army, during World War I. Between the world wars, it was awarded to members of the German armed forces who fought on the Nationalist side of the Spanish Civil War, 1938–39, and received combat related wounds. It was awarded to members in the Reichswehr, the Wehrmacht, SS and the auxiliary service organizations during the Second World War. After March 1943, due to the increasing number of Allied bombings, it was also awarded to wounded civilians in air raids. It was awarded when the wound was the result of enemy hostile action, with an exception being for frostbite.

The badge had three classes:
- Black (3rd class, representing Iron), for those wounded once or twice by hostile action (including air raids).
- Silver (2nd class) for being wounded three or four times.
- Gold (1st class, which could be awarded posthumously) for five or more times wounded.

The "progression" could be waived in the event of loss of a limb or eyesight; when such a severe wound occurred, the silver badge was awarded.

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