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Hi all, just wanted to get some opinions/facts on what where the highest Bravery awards given to NCO's and men of the various German states during or prior to WWI. Just the name of the award will be fine, unless you care to get into detail.

Thanks so much as always!!!!

Greg

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Greg - that is a somewhat cumbersome question. Most would need to run off to references to give a good answer and then we could spend even more time in confusing debate. I think you are best served by going to Dave Danner's excellent website as a start. Link follows below:

http://home.att.net/~david.danner/militaria/states.htm

Enjoy.

Edited by W McSwiggan
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Because I haven't yet added text descriptions for a few of the states, some additional information:

Prussia:

Prussia's highest enlisted decoration was the Military Merit Cross (Milit?r-Verdienstkreuz), referred to as the "Pour le M?rite for NCOs and enlisted men". It is often referred to as the Golden Military Merit Cross to distinguish it from the Military Decoration 1st Class (Milit?r-Ehrenzeichen 1. Klasse), another decoration for enlisted soldiers which was identical except for being silver. The Golden Military Merit Cross was founded on February 27, 1864. There were 16 awards in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, 17 awards to Russians in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, 4 to Russians in 1902-04, 5 to Prussians in colonial conflicts between 1895 and 1906, and 1773 in World War I.

Also worth mentioning is the Member's Cross with Swords (Kreuz der Inhaber mit Schwertern) of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern. Although technically not the highest ranking enlisted award of Prussia, it was a much rarer honor in World War I. Only 16 were awarded. A disproportionate number of these were to aviators, which probably reflected the fact that enlisted aviators were racking up the kills that were earning their officer counterparts the Knight's Cross of the Hohenzollern House Order.

Saxony:

The highest enlisted decoration was the Golden Medal of the Military Order of St. Henry (Goldene Medaille des Milit?r St. Heinrich-Ordens). It was founded on March 17, 1796. There were about 250 total awards for the Napoleonic Wars, the Wars of Unification of Germany and the colonial wars.

There were 150 awards of the Golden St. Henry Medal in World War I. This works out to one for every 7,296 Saxon soldiers.

The first recipient was Sergeant Konrad Niemz of 5. Batterie/Fu?artillerie-Regiment Nr. 19. His was earned on February 18, 1915 (although awarded on June 18, 1915) after a fight at a sugar factory complex where his unit was trying to set up an observation post. He was later commissioned and served in the Reichswehr until 1921, and earned the EK1 and EK2, the Silver St. Henry Medal (22 Dec. 1914), the Friedrich August Medal in Silver, the Wound Badge and the Saxon Long Service Cross 1st Class for NCOs.

The last award was to Vizefeldwebel d.R. and Offizierstellvertreter Max Ludwig of 6. Kompanie/Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 102 on November 6, 1918. According to his regimental commander's account, Ludwig was leading his platoon in a counterattack and was shot through the right forearm. Unable to fire his pistol, he continued leading his men forward and throwing grenades with his left hand. He inflicted untold casualties on the enemy and took 11 prisoners, and despite weakness from blood loss, stayed with his platoon in pursuit of the retreating enemy.

Bavaria:

Bavaria's highest enlisted decoration was the Golden Military Merit Medal (Goldene Milit?r-Verdienst-Medaille), commonly (and after March 2, 1918 officially) referred to as the Golden Bravery Medal (Goldene Tapferkeitsmedaille). It was founded on October 30, 1794. Sources differ on the number awarded in World War I. My list of recipients from Die Bayern im Gro?en Krieg, published by the Bavarian War Archives, has 1003 names.

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Dave, thanks for that interesting info on the St. Henry Medal. Any idea how many silver ones were awarded in WW1? I just got in a nice spange with one on it.

Klietmann says 8,299, which is the same number as in the Ehrenbuch der Inhaber der S?chs. Goldenen Milit?r-St. Heinrichs-Medaille. Erhard Roth's list of recipients published in 1998 only has 7,972 names, though.

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Prussia:

Also worth mentioning is the Member's Cross with Swords (Kreuz der Inhaber mit Schwertern) of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern. Although technically not the highest ranking enlisted award of Prussia, it was a much rarer honor in World War I. Only 16 were awarded. A disproportionate number of these were to aviators, which probably reflected the fact that enlisted aviators were racking up the kills that were earning their officer counterparts the Knight's Cross of the Hohenzollern House Order.

If I remember correctly, 17 of these were awarded, if we do not forget the Jewish person that was erased from the list in Third Reich". A aviator as well, but I cannot remember his name at the moment.

BTW, Baden's highest bravery award for NCOs and men was the "Silberne Medaille des Milit?r-Karl Friedrich-Verdienstordens". There used to be a golden medal as well from 1807-1871, but in World War I, none such was awarded.

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BTW, Baden's highest bravery award for NCOs and men was the "Silberne Medaille des Milit?r-Karl Friedrich-Verdienstordens". There used to be a golden medal as well from 1807-1871, but in World War I, none such was awarded.
I didn't list all of them because the others were covered on the website. I just hadn't covered Bavaria, Prussia and Saxony yet.

By the way, Baden medals trivia: what do the aviator Hermann Pfeifer and Albert Sch?pflin, commander of the 45. Reserve-Division, have in common?

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I didn't list all of them because the others were covered on the website. I just hadn't covered Bavaria, Prussia and Saxony yet.
Oh pardon, didn't realize this ...

By the way, Baden medals trivia: what do the aviator Hermann Pfeifer and Albert Sch?pflin, commander of the 45. Reserve-Division, have in common?

Hmm, Albert Sch?pflin received the Silver Karl Friedrich Medal for the 1870/71 war in 1871, and later, in WW I as a Generalleutnant the "Kommandeurkreuz mit Stern" of the same order. I guess he was the only one to receive these both ...

H. Pfeifer got as well the Silver Medal, and later, as officer, the Knight's cross - but both of them in WW I.

So both got the medal and later a class of the order

Edited by saschaw
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Thanks all, great info as always! I guess I was a bit vauge, I was looking at the smaller German States. Any help will be appreciated.

Thanks as always!!

Greg

P.S. Daves site is GREAT

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Hmm, Albert Sch?pflin received the Silver Karl Friedrich Medal for the 1870/71 war in 1871, and later, in WW I as a Generalleutnant the "Kommandeurkreuz mit Stern" of the same order. I guess he was the only one to receive these both ...

H. Pfeifer got as well the Silver Medal, and later, as officer, the Knight's cross - but both of them in WW I.

So both got the medal and later a class of the order

:cheers: As far as I know, they are the only two recipients of both the medal and the order. Sch?pflin was a Musketier in the 4. badisches Infanterie-Regiment when he was decorated in 1871 and was commissioned in 1872.

Thanks all, great info as always! I guess I was a bit vauge, I was looking at the smaller German States. Any help will be appreciated.

I think for the most part the smaller states really didn't have anything that corresponded to the special decorations that Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, W?rttemberg and Baden did, both for officers and enlisted men. In these states officers and enlisted were usually similarly situated. There was a basic award, often the state's house order (with rank determining which class one received) or an Iron Cross-type award, with a second award (whether called 1st class or not) being the higher award one might aspire to. But even in these cases, there was overlap.

In Saxe-Altenburg, for instance, the basic enlisted award was the Bravery Medal. For repeated acts of bravery, a private or corporal might receive the Silver Merit Medal with swords of the Saxe-Ernestine House Order (of course, he also would be eligible for the Iron Cross). But in 1918, the duchy established the pinback Duke Ernst Medal 1st Class with Swords. This was for both officers and enlisted essentially the highest award. But of the 32 enlisted recipients of the Duke Ernst Medal 1st Class with Swords, only about 10 or so received a grade of the Ernestine House Order (Merit Cross, Gold or Silver Merit Medals). So theoretically, if the war had continued and they had continued to distinguish themselves, the duchy had another honor to bestow.

Another thing to take into account is that for many of these states, another high honor to bestow on an enlisted man was a commission, welcoming him into the ranks of officers and gentlemen and the social privileges that meant in a class-based society. This would of course also open the door to officers' decorations.

Edited by Dave Danner
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Gentlemen,

Would the silver and/or gold medal to the W?rttemberg Military Military Order qualify? I?m also wondering about the Lippe-Detmold War Honor Cross for Heroic Deeds and the Reuss ?1914? War Merit Cross.

Regards,

Wild Card

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As noted above, only five of the German states had a specific award for bravery that ranked ahead of virtually everything else ("virtually" because I suppose the Order of the Black Eagle, for instance, outranked the Pour le M?rite). These were the four kingdoms - Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, W?rttemberg - and the Grand Duchy of Baden.

  • Prussia: for officers, the Orden "Pour le M?rite"; for enlisted men, the Milit?r-Verdienstkreuz.
  • Bavaria: for officers, the Milit?r-Max-Joseph-Orden; for enlisted men, the Goldene Milit?r-Verdienst-Medaille, AKA Goldene Tapferkeitsmedaille.
  • Saxony: for officers, the Milit?r St. Heinrich-Orden; for enlisted men, the Goldene Milit?r-St. Heinrichs-Medaille.
  • W?rttemberg: for officers, the Milit?r-Verdienstorden; for enlisted men, the Goldene Milit?rverdienstmedaille.
  • Baden: for officers, the Milit?rischer Karl-Friedrich-Verdienstorden; for enlisted men, the Verdienstmedaille des Milit?rischen Karl-Friedrich-Verdienstordens, AKA Karl-Friedrich-Milit?r-Verdienstmedaille.
The other states did not have equivalents for this. As I mentioned, they generally relied on their house orders and/or Iron Cross equivalents. But it is in many cases unclear what the hierarchy was, unlike in the cases above.
  • Hesse: before the establishment of the pinback Krieger-Ehrenzeichen in Eisen in 1917, Hesse essentially had only one bravery award, the General Honor Decoration "For Bravery", for both officers and enlisted men. The Krieger-Ehrenzeichen in Eisen became the higher award, but for all intents and purposes, it was closer to an Iron Cross 1st Class than to a Pour le M?rite or Milit?r-Verdienstkreuz. Theoretically, a grade of the Orden Philipps des Gro?m?tigen with Swords might have been an alternative higher award. Wartime awards of that decoration are certainly rare, but since the archives in Darmstadt were destroyed in World War II no one knows how many were awarded or to whom. So even if there were a dozen or 50 or 150 enlisted recipients of the Silver Cross with Swords of the order, without the lists, we wouldn't know if this was a higher award for bravery or a merit award for older Felwebelleutnants, Zahlmeisters, and the like.
  • Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz: both grand duchies had an Iron Cross-equivalent - a two-class award, one on ribbon and one pinback, awarded without regard to rank. In both cases, the pinback cross - Mecklenburg-Schwerin's Milit?rverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse and Mecklenburg-Strelitz's Kreuz 1. Klasse f?r Auszeichnung im Kriege, "Tapfer und Treu" - would probably qualify as the highest enlisted award. But as with the Krieger-Ehrenzeichen in Eisen, these were essentially Iron Cross 1st Class equivalents. Theoretically, the merit crosses of the Hausorden der Wendischen Krone might qualify as a higher award, but there doesn't seem to be much evidence for them as military awards during the war, much less as bravery awards.
  • Oldenburg: another grand duchy with an Iron Cross equivalent, the Friedrich August-Kreuz. The 1st Class would be the higher purely military award, but again basically an Iron Cross 1st Class equivalent. In Oldenburg's case, there were wartime awards to enlisted personnel of the various grades of the Ehrenkreuz with swords of the Haus- und Verdienstorden von Herzog Peter Friedrich Ludwig (as well as grades of the order to officers), but whether these would be considered higher or alternative awards to the Friedrich August-Kreuz 1. Klasse I don't know. I also don't know if they were awarded to frontline types for bravery or to rear area types for merit.
  • Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach: last of the grand duchies. Saxe-Weimar's main award for enlisted personnel was the General Honor Decoration with Clasp and Swords (Allgemeines Ehrenzeichen mit Bandschnalle und Schwertern. This came in gold, silver and bronze, but the grade was based on rank, not degree of bravery. The pinback Wilhelm-Ernst Kriegskreuz would be the higher award, for both enlisted men and officers (for whom the White Falcon was the basic award).
It would take some more time to go through the other states (except the three Hanseatic cities, which are easy because they only had one award), but the logic above generally applies to most.

However, in all these cases there is one other fact that must be kept in mind: only the Bavarian and Saxon armies were separate. All of the other states, including W?rttemberg (XIII. Armeekorps) and Baden (XIV. Armeekorps), had their armies as part of the Prussian Army. Therefore, the highest enlisted decoration in all of these states was in fact Prussia's Milit?r-Verdienstkreuz.

I have previously published a thread here on Baden recipients of both the Milit?r-Verdienstkreuz and the Karl-Friedrich-Milit?r-Verdienstmedaille. There were other Badeners who received only the former. I don't have the MVK list handy, but I do recall that there were also Meiningers from IR 32, Mecklenburgers from GR 89 and FR 90, Oldenburgers from IR 91, Braunschweigers from IR 92, Hessians from IR 116, etc.

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  • 6 years later...

QUOTE(Dave Danner @ Apr 13 2007, 18:40 )
Prussia:

Also worth mentioning is the Member's Cross with Swords (Kreuz der Inhaber mit Schwertern) of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern. Although technically not the highest ranking enlisted award of Prussia, it was a much rarer honor in World War I. Only 16 were awarded. A disproportionate number of these were to aviators, which probably reflected the fact that enlisted aviators were racking up the kills that were earning their officer counterparts the Knight's Cross of the Hohenzollern House Order.

If I remember correctly, 17 of these were awarded, if we do not forget the Jewish person that was erased from the list in Third Reich". A aviator as well, but I cannot remember his name at the moment.

Dear friends, sorry for revive an old post but, as I read these words of Dave I've noticed that I've ever seen a photograph of one of these 16 or 17 Prussian soldiers wearing this decoration. Is there photographic evidence of the Hohenzollern House Order Kreuz der Inhaber with Swords?

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In Vol. 2 of Neal O'Connor's series on aviation awards, there is a Sanke photo on page 154 showing Max Muller with the Member's Cross w/Swords. There is also a photo of Fritz Kosmahl on page 148 showing him with a button hole ribbon with crossed swords to differentiate it from an EKII ribbon.

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In Vol. 2 of Neal O'Connor's series on aviation awards, there is a Sanke photo on page 154 showing Max Muller with the Member's Cross w/Swords. There is also a photo of Fritz Kosmahl on page 148 showing him with a button hole ribbon with crossed swords to differentiate it from an EKII ribbon.

Dear Newman, is some of these the potos that you're talking about? The first is very small, and in the second

764128.jpg

muller_sm.jpg

I think that the Member Cross of House Hohenzollern with Swords can be the fourth award on this last photo, but it's also too small and bad quality.

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