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Award of the Iron Cross 2nd Class


Ian
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Gents,

I have read a couple of threads in this forum that state the Prussian Eisernkreuz could not be awarded to enlsited perosnnel in the Austro-Hungarian Army (unless I have misread the previous topics). My understanding was that only the Kriegs Verdienst Medaille was awarded to foreign troops in lieu of the Eisern Kreuz.

I recently read a small booklet by J?rg Steiner (Die Tr?ger des Eiseren Kreuzes 1914/1918 in der k.u.k. Kriegsmarine) in which he gives several examples, by year, of awards of the EK 2 (no Ek 1's) to sailors and higher unteroffizers. He lists the authority for the award i.e. Marine PVBl (Personal Verordnungsblatt) Nr. 8 vom 3. Februar 1917 etc. To name two examples: Fliegermaat Heinrich Roschitz and Matrose 2 Klasse Peter Kopric.

Surely, if the Germans saw fit to award the EK 2 to sailors then to my way of thinking it is not such a long bow to see them awarded to soldiers and senior NCO's of the Austro-Hungarian Army; especially those serving under the direct control/authority of a German General.

I welcome your comments (good and bad) on this fasinating subject.

Regards,

Ian

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Ian, I met J?rg Steiner last Friday and showed him a printout of you question.

He told me that this few examples were only exceptions of the rule. As written before, also by Steiner in other publications, enlisted AH-Soldiers could only receive the kriegerverdienstmedaille. it even happend that NCO's who got the IC under german command had to return it and got a kriegerverdienstmedaille instead.

regards

josef

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Josef,

Thanks for the informative reply.

It seems strange that the Austrians would anounce the award of the EK2 in the Marine PVBL and then withdraw or cancel the award, substituting the Kriegsverdienstmedaille in its place.

As for Rick's comments I guess when you realise that the Austrians never permitted the promotion of common soldiers to the rank of Officer (one very notable exceptions) it does tend to support the strange 'rule' that soldiers could not be awarded an EK. One hopes that the soldiers took some 'comfort' from the fact that their kreigsverdientsmedaille was awarded fro bravery, unlike those EK's awarded to the senior officers and their staffs as some sort of payment for the butcher's bill!

Regards,

Ian

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This is really quite odd because there was no PRUSSIAN exclusion by rank for awards to allies at all. The impediment had to have been some sort of strange limitation imposed on the AUSTRIAN end.

Sure about that? In Prussia, there were "rules" that were nothing else than "the king has said oce..." and some of those are not even given in statutes. I've seen a Bulgarian WWI NCO group with Kriegerverdienstmedaille, have by now only seen Ottoman officers with any German WWI awards - those, of course, with Iron Crosses. The "rules" should have bee the same for Austrians, Bulgarian and ottomans... I don't think that was an Austrian but a very Prussian limitation given in WWI, by whatever reason.

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After the original renewal decree 5 August 1914: "Das Eiserne Kreuz soll ohne Unterschiede des Ranges und Standes an Angeh?rige des Heeres, der Marine und des Landsturmes..."

there was a supplementary clarification decree 16 March 1915: "1. Das Eiserne Kreuz soll in geigneten F?llen auch an Angeh?rige der verb?ndeten M?chte verliehen werden."

So there never was any statutory restriction on who the Prussians awarded the Crosses TO-- simply some weird refusal to allow their own citizens to ACCEPT one from the other side.

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Might be a silly question, but, :blush:

After 1938 in Austria could a serving ex-Austrian Military soldier / sailor / airman

upgrade his WW1 medal bar with a WW1 Prussian Iron Cross in lieu of the Kriegsverdienstmedaille ?

Kevin in Deva :beer:

That is a very interesting question indeed!!!

I guess they could NOT, but it must have been more an issue for minor party officials or very old reservists. I suppose most of the Austrians still serving would have been officers.

Best

Chris

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After 1938 in Austria could a serving ex-Austrian Military soldier / sailor / airman

upgrade his WW1 medal bar with a WW1 Prussian Iron Cross in lieu of the Kriegsverdienstmedaille ?

That would just have been fair as they were then treatet as soldiers of a German state as any other state - but it did not happen. From what I know, no Iron Crosses were handed out post 1924. But, I have seen at least one post 1938 "Austrian" ribbon bar with "EK" ribbon quite to the last. Not for an EK, but for the KrVM.

The Austrian wound medals sometimes werer exchanged for the Prussian badges! Almost as weird...

there was a supplementary clarification decree 16 March 1915: "1. Das Eiserne Kreuz soll in geigneten F?llen auch an Angeh?rige der verb?ndeten M?chte verliehen werden."

So there never was any statutory restriction on who the Prussians awarded the Crosses TO-- simply some weird refusal to allow their own citizens to ACCEPT one from the other side.

Do you know that Austrian rule? If not, I'm still not convinced on this and think it was a very Prussian rule, even if not a written rule. I know at least one BULGARIAN NCO group with Prussian WWI KrVM. By no none Ottoman, but that has to be out there for sure.

Edited by saschaw
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If as Rick has suggested it was the Austro-Hungarian's who denied their men the EK 2, why then did they allow the promulgation of such awards in the PVBL when they could simply have put a stop to it and announced the award of the Kriegsverdientmedaille (no one would have been any wiser), and secondly

If Saschaw is correct and it was the Germans who did not allow the awarding of EK's to foreign enlisted, then who, within the German awards section notified the Austro-Hungarian 's that their men had been awarded the EK 2 and on what authority was the announcement made?

I would think unless we can locate a specific order (Austrian or German) that states the policy for the non award or non acceptance of EK's, by allied troops then we may never know. However, it remains possible, however unlikely, that EK 2's may have been awarded (either by design or in error) to the Bulgarian, Ottoman or Austro-Hungarian soldiers.

Regards,

Ian

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Bonsoir,

Oops I'm out of my turf here, but...

...I've been exploring the awarding of Foreign Orders to French Troops in the XIXth century and - who knows, there may be similarities ?

Let's take the example of the 1859 Italy campaign, with Sardinian Medals awarded to the French army.

1. The awards were granted "en bloc" : c.8000 "Al Valore Militare" medals given "for the French troops".

2. A very-very-very small number were actually awarded personnally for specific feats or merits ; a handful of such "Al Valore" where given here and there directly by King Victor-Emanuel to some French officers and men.

3. The actual distribution of the awards among the troops was decided upon by the receiving authorities, according to the Order's statutes, but also according to their own agenda :

- The "Al Valore Militare" medals were intended for the other ranks, while the officers would receive various orders (Ordre Militaire de Savoie, Ordre des Saints Maurice et Lazare) ; however the small contingent of such Orders awarded, compared to the number of officers in the French Army, prompted the French to check the "Al Valore militare" status, and, seeing that it could be awarded to officers as well... ; well a consequent part of the Medal contingent was promptly redirected towards the French officers corps...

- The distribution used a sub-quota system : HQ divided the medals between the Army Corps (taking their effective role into account.... but being sure not to forget anyone) ; within the Corps, some kind of balance would likely be found among regiments ; we only get to appraising the personnal merits of Jean-grenadier-who-bayonnetted-the-Austrians at regimental level.

- At individual level, further to the merit criteria explicitely selected for the award (military merit), it was thoroughy checked that the recipient was worthy of being decorated (good behaviour a must here ! Several men initially proposed, were taken out of the lists on such grounds).

As a result, the individual merit of recipients can vary greatly - and in the most severely engaged ones, many who behaved bravely will have received nothing, while other were decorated who did not actually fight ; but the system does ensure that 'global insatisfaction' is minimized.

Also to be noted, quite a few examples where somebody granted an order would die of wounds after the decision had been made - then the Medal is not lost but quickly recycled to someone else (who would have received nothing but for that death).

So what do we learn her ? Well the process is not quite as "intuitu personae" and as straightforward as one would think in the first place - and as the awarding certficates would have us believe.

And, in that general "cultural context", there's little chance that the awarding of a distinction to someone will embarrass his superiors - if they have their say.

Would the distribution of Crosses to mere soldiers have made the Austrian military system uneasy ? Most likely.

From the German Staff point of view, do you want to create tension and resentment within the officers' corps of your ally ? Doubtful.

Apologies if I strayed off-topic in that discussion !

It may be completely irrelevant to the case - but with what I've observed, I'm not surprised at all by the facts exposed here.

Not surprised of the overall trends, and not surprised either by the exceptions found here and there - where the actual merits of an individual may have been spotted and distinguished, without referring too high to politically minded command chains, who would have preemptively corrected something "inappropriate".

And I'm not surprised either that no written rule is found.

Salutations,

J?r?me

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