Item:
ONJR24READ155

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Original German WWII Wehrmacht Iron Cross 2nd Class 1939 with Ribbon - Unmarked - EKII

Regular price $295.00

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very good example of a German WWII Iron Cross 2nd Class 1939 (Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse 1939) with its original red, black, and white rayon ribbon. The cross itself is a lovely example with crisp beading. The silvering to the frame is in great shape, showing a tarnished patina on both sides, and the matte core paint on the iron center is fully present on both sides, showing just a bit of wear on the raised areas. There is also a lovely pattern of checking and crazing to the paint, showing that it has not been repainted.

The cross comes with its original ribbon, which is threaded through the hanger ring and is in excellent condition. It looks to be an unissued ribbon that was later paired with the award, as there is little to no staining of any type around the hanger ring. It has just a bit of fraying at the ends. This is just a lovely set, a great representative example of an Iron Cross 2nd Class.

The basic design of the WWII crosses is a central Tatzenkreuz (cross pattée) struck from iron and mounted in a silver frame which has a raised crenulated decorative border. The obverse of the cross bears the date 1939 under a "mobile" swas. Second class crosses would have a ring at the top where a ring was attached, and had more markings on the back. The first class award, however, was meant to attach directly to the front of the uniform.

Please also note the edge seam for authentication, which is not present on reproductions. Iron crosses were commonly constructed from an iron core sandwiched in a surrounding two part silver frame, normally the seam of these two silver parts is visible around the edge of the cross as is seen on this fine example.

Comes more than ready for display.

There is no more iconic German military award than the Iron Cross (Eisernes Kreuz, abbreviated EK). The long history of this order began during the Napoleonic Wars. It was established by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia in March 1813, backdated to the birthday of his late wife Queen Louise on 10 March 1813 (EK 1813), who was the first person to receive this decoration (posthumous). 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.

There were a number of different type and grades of Iron Cross awards throughout its long history, but the basic details of the most widely awarded grades: The Iron Cross 1st Class and Iron Cross 2nd Class- remained the same. The first class award was a breast badge, with fittings on the reverse to allow it to be worn on the uniform. These fittings varied widely over time and from maker to maker, and could be a simple in and catch, a screw post and retaining disc, or more elaborate setups. The second class award was suspended from a ribbon, originally in the Prussian colors of black and white, later in the Reich colors of black, red and white.

On the original versions of these crosses, in 1813, the front of the iron core of each grade was bare, and only the second class award had ornamentation: a crown over the initials “FW” representing the King, a sprig of oak leaves, and the date 1813. The core was redesigned in 1870, when the cross was re-instituted during the Franco-Prussian War. The reverse ornamentation on the Iron Cross 2nd Class remained the same, but the front of the core on both grades now bore another crown, a “W” representing Kaiser Wilhelm, and the date 1870. This pattern repeated again when the cross was reinstituted for WWI- everything stayed the same, only the date 1870 was replaced with 1914.

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.

The Iron Cross was normally a military decoration only, though there were instances of it being awarded to civilians for performing military functions. Two examples of this were civilian test pilots Hanna Reitsch who was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class and 1st Class and Melitta Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg, who was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class, for their actions as pilots during World War II.

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