Original WWII German Medal Bar with Iron Cross 2nd Class, Wehrmacht 4 Year Service & West Wall Medals
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is very nice a 100% genuine medal bar removed from the uniform of a fallen or captured German soldier during WWII, and brought home by an American soldier as a war trophy. The medals and ribbons are attached to a very nice metal backing, with a nice hinged attachment pin and black fabric backing. It is even marked F. P. GEILING MOERS a/RHEIN, indicating the company that assembled the medal bar.
The set of 3 German medals consists of the following:
- WWII Iron Cross 2nd Class 1939 (Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse, or EKII)
- WWII Wehrmacht 4th Class Long Service Award (Silver) - 4 Years
- WWII West Wall Medal - 1939 Version
Iron Cross (Eisernes Kreuz) 2nd Class:
The Iron Cross (Eisernes Kreuz, abbreviated EK) was a military decoration in the Kingdom of Prussia, and later in the German Empire (1871–1918) and Nazi Germany (1933–1945). 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 during the Napoleonic Wars (EK 1813). Louise was the first person to receive this decoration (posthumous). The recommissioned Iron Cross was also awarded during the Franco-Prussian War (EK 1870), World War I (EK 1914), and World War II (EK 1939, re-introduced with a swastika added in the center).
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.
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.
Wehrmacht Long Service Award - 4 Years:
This award was a military service decoration of Nazi Germany issued for satisfactory completion of a number of years in military service. The award itself is cumulative, so after the 3rd class, both a cross and a medal were worn, and the color indicated service.
On 16 March, 1936, Adolf Hitler 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 Nazi era only lasted 12 years (1933-1945).
West Wall Medal - Siegfried Line Medal
The West Wall Medal (Deutsches Schutzwall-Ehrenzeichen) was a decoration of Nazi Germany. It was instituted on 2 August 1939 and was given to those who designed and built the fortifications on Germany's western borders, known as the Westwall or, in English, the Siegfried Line, between 15 June 1938 to 31 March 1939. On 13 November 1939 eligibility was extended to include servicemen of the Wehrmacht who served on the Westwall for at least ten weeks. In all 622,064 medals were awarded until 31 January 1941, when awards of the medal ceased. This early version was made of solid bronze. The back has the statement FÜR ARBEIT ZUM SCHUTZE DEUTSCHLANDS - "For Work to Protect Germany."
In 1944, after the allied invasion, the medal was re-instituted and awarded to those who renovated and strengthened the fortifications on the western borders. This version of the medal was commonly known as the "Defence Wall Honor Award", to distinguish the decoration from its 1939 counterpart. It was awarded to over 800,000 men in total by the end of the war. This version was made of bronzed zinc, and is much less desirable.
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