Original WWI / WWII German Medal Bar with Ribbon Bar - 6 Medals Including Saxon War Merit Cross

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is fantastic a 100% genuine medal bar removed from the uniform of a fallen or captured German soldier from Saxony during WWII, and brought home by an American soldier as a war trophy. The German soldier served in World War One and was decorated, and then he served again in WWII. It also includes a very rare ribbon bar, which correctly matches the medal bar.

The set of 6 medals consists of the following:

- WWI Iron Cross 2nd Class (Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse, or EKII)
- WWII War Merit Cross with Swords
- WWI War Merit Cross of Saxony
- WWI Honor Cross of the World War 1914/1918 (Hindenburg Cross) without Swords
- WWII Wehrmacht 25 Year Long Service Award (Gold)
WWII Wehrmacht 12 Year Long Service Award (Gold)

Iron Cross (Eisernes Kreuz) 2nd Class:
Emperor Wilhelm II reauthorized the Iron Cross on 5 August 1914, at the start of World War I. During these three periods, the Iron Cross was an award of the Kingdom of Prussia, although - given Prussia's pre-eminent place in the German Empire formed in 1871 - it tended to be treated as a generic German decoration. The 1813, 1870, and 1914 Iron Crosses had three grades.

The Iron Cross 1st Class and the Iron Cross 2nd Class were awarded without regard to rank. One had to possess the 2nd Class already in order to receive the 1st Class (though in some cases both could be awarded simultaneously). The egalitarian nature of this award contrasted with those of most other German states (and indeed of many other European monarchies), where military decorations were awarded based on the rank of the recipient. For example, Bavarian officers received various grades of that Kingdom's Military Merit Order (Militär-Verdienstorden), while enlisted men received various grades of the Military Merit Cross (Militär-Verdienstkreuz). Prussia did have other orders and medals which it awarded on the basis of rank, and even though the Iron Cross was intended to be awarded without regard to rank, officers and NCOs were more likely to receive it than junior enlisted soldiers.

Please 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.

War Merit Cross (Kriegsverdienstkreuz)
This 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 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.

War Merit Cross of Saxony
This was a was a military decoration of the Kingdom of Saxony. Established 30 October 1915 by King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony, it was awarded for humanitarian and patriotic work towards the war effort.

The War Merit Cross is made of bronze and in the shape of a Latin cross pattée. Between the arms of the cross is a laurel wreath. The obverse bears a circular medallion in the center with the left facing effigy of King Friedrich August III. Circumscribed around the medallion is FRIEDRICH AUGUST KÖNIG V. SACHSEN. In the upper arm is the Saxon crown and the date 1915 on the lower arm. The reverse of the central medallion bears the crowned cipher of King Friedrich August III. The left arm is inscribed WELT- and the right arm inscribed KRIEG (World War).

Honor Cross of the World War 1914/1918 (Hindenburg Cross) without Swords (non-combatant veterans)
The Honor Cross of the World War 1914/1918 (German: Das Ehrenkreuz des Weltkriegs 1914/1918), commonly, but incorrectly, known as the Hindenburg Cross was established by Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, President of the German Republic, by an order dated 13 July 1934, to commemorate the distinguished deeds of the German people during the First World War. This was Germany's first official service medal for soldiers of Imperial Germany who had taken part in the war, and where they had since died it was also awarded to their surviving next-of-kin. Shortly after its issuance, the government of NSDAP Germany declared the award as the only official service decoration of the First World War and further forbid the continued wearing of German Free Corps awards on any military or paramilitary uniform of a state or NSDAP Party organization.

Wehrmacht Long Service Award - 12 and 25 Years:
This award was a military service decoration of NSDAP Germany issued for satisfactory completion of a number of years in military service. The award itself is in fact both medals, as the service was cumulative, so after the 4th class, both a cross and a medal were worn, and the color indicated service.

On 16 March, 1936, Adolf AH ordered the institution of service awards for the first four classes, each reflecting the completion of a select number of years of military service.

Each branch of the Wehrmacht (army, navy, and air force) maintained their own version of the Long Service Award and the decoration was issued for four years (silver medal – fourth class), 12 years (gold medal – third class), 18 years (silver cross – second class), 25 years (gold cross – first class), and 40 years (1939 special class). The 40 years special class service award was introduced on 10 March 1939.

Professor Dr Richard Klein designed the awards. Recipients of lower year awards would wear the decoration simultaneously with higher level decorations. The manner they could be worn was:

3rd Class with 4th Class (gold medal with silver medal)
2nd Class with 4th Class (silver cross with silver medal)
1st Class with 3rd Class (gold cross with gold medal)

The Long Service Award was retroactive throughout a service member's career, encompassing Reichswehr service as well as service dating during and before World War I. As such, there were a handful of 40 year awards presented, even though the NSDAP era only lasted 12 years (1933-1945).

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